Although the British Army was almost continuously engaged in some form of military operations during the Victorian period, two areas of uncertainty affected the development of its professionalism. In the first of these areas there was, until the preparation by the Hon. Edward Stanhope, Secretary of State for War from 1887-92, of the Stanhope Memorandum, no precise definition of the purposes for which the military existed. Wolseley brought this out in 1887 in his evidence to yet another Royal Commission : (1)
We have had nothing decided by this country as to what the country wants, or as to what our military policy, its aims and requirements are. We have a certain number of horses and regiments, and those numbers vary according to the political exigencies as to what are the military requirements of the Empire ; how many troops we require to have in England, how many we require in our colonies, how many in India•••• This affected the army in a number of ways . Far too
frequently, when faced by new tasks imposed upon it by the government of the day, the military was forced to improvise and 'muddle through'. Military training programmes, which would, in theory, have prepared for these eventualities, lacked direction, 'planning for everything except war', because the end objective was uncertain. In specific military operations, the army was constrained by the actions of politicians who were unsure of the limits which should be set upon the activities of the army which they had involved in yet another campaign. When seeking money to expand the army to meet the demands thrust upon it, or to introduce new weapons, the military was confronted by the opposition of politicians and public who, uncertain of the purposes for which their army existed, saw no reason to waste money on its expansion .