Battles versus Campaigns (for Validation)

Battles versus Campaigns (for Validation)

So we created three campaign databases. One of the strangest arguments I have heard against doing validations or testing combat models to historical data, is that this is only one outcome from history. So you don’t know if model is in error or if this was a unusual outcome to the historical event. Someone described it as the N=1 argument. There are lots of reasons why I am not too impressed with this argument that I may enumerate in a later blog post. It certainly might apply to testing the model to just one battle (like the Battle of 73 Easting in 1991), but these are weeks-long campaign databases with hundreds of battles. One can test the model to these hundreds of points in particular in addition to testing it to the overall result.

In the case of the Kursk Data Base (KDB), we have actually gone through the data base and created from it 192 division-level engagements. This covers every single combat action by every single division during the two week offensive around Belgorod. Furthermore, I have listed each and every one of these as an “engagement sheet’ in my book on Kursk. The 192 engagement sheets are a half-page or page-long tabulation of the strengths and losses for each engagement for all units involved. Most sheets cover one day of battle. It took considerable work to assemble these. First one had to figure out who was opposing whom (especially as unit boundaries never match) and then work from there. So, if someone wants to test a model or model combat or do historical analysis, one could simply assemble a database from these 192 engagements. If one wanted more details on the engagements, there are detailed breakdowns of the equipment in the Kursk Data Base and detailed descriptions of the engagements in my Kursk book. My new Prokhorovka book (release date 1 June), which only covers the part of the southern offensive around Prokhorovka from the 9th of July, has 76 of those engagements sheets. Needless to say, these Kursk engagements also make up 192 of the 752 engagements in our DLEDB (Division Level Engagement Data Base).  A picture of that database is shown at the top of this post.

So, if you are conducting a validation to the campaign, take a moment and check the results to each division to each day. In the KDB there were 17 divisions on the German side, and 37 rifle divisions and 10 tank and mechanized corps (a division-sized unit) on the Soviet side. The data base covers 15 days of fighting. So….there are around 900 points of daily division level results to check the results to. I drawn your attention to this graph:

There are a number of these charts in Chapter 19 of my book War by Numbers. Also see:

Validating Attrition

The Ardennes database is even bigger. There was one validation done by CAA (Center for Army Analysis) of its CEM model (Concepts Evaluation Model) using the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Bases (ACSDB). They did this as an overall comparison to the campaign. So they tracked the front line trace at the end of the battle, and the total tank losses during the battle, ammunition consumption and other events like that. They got a fairly good result. What they did not do was go into the weeds and compare the results of the engagements. CEM relies on inputs from ATCAL (Attrition Calculator) which are created from COSAGE model runs. So while they tested the overall top-level model, they really did not test ATCAL or COSAGE, the models that feed into it. ATCAL and COSAGE I gather are still in use. In the case of Ardennes you have 36 U.S. and UK divisions and 32 German divisions and brigades over 32 days, so over 2,000 division days of combat. That is a lot of data points to test to.

Now we have not systematically gone through the ACSDB and assembled a record for every single engagement there. There would probably be more than 400 such engagements. We have assembled 57 engagements from the Battle of the Bulge for our division-level database (DLEDB). More could be done.

Finally, during our Battle of Britain Data Base effort, we recommended developing an air combat engagement database of 120 air-to-air engagements from the Battle of Britain. We did examine some additional mission specific data for the British side derived from the “Form F� Combat Reports for the period 8-12 August 1940. This was to demonstrate the viability of developing an engagement database from the dataset. So we wanted to do something similar for the air combat that we had done with division-level combat. An air-to-air engagement database would be very useful if you are developing any air campaign wargame. This unfortunately was never done by us as the project (read: funding) ended.

As it is we actually have three air campaign databases to work from, the Battle of Britain data base, the air component of the Kursk Data Base, and the air component of the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base. There is a lot of material to work from. All it takes it a little time and effort.

I will discuss the division-level data base in more depth in my next post.

Reviews of NPW

Reviews of NPW

I was just surfing yesterday and noticed that Trevor Dupuy’s book Numbers, Predictions and Wars had 8 reviews. This is odd as I think the book went out of print before existed. The version they were reviewing was the hardcover from 1979. All the reviews were from 2012-2018, all four and five stars. Interesting. Even I don’t have a copy of the hardback version.

Numbers, Predictions & War

Now, if only people would pay more attention to his greatest work, Understanding War. It only has two reviews.

Understanding War

The Battle of Britain Data Base

The Battle of Britain Data Base

The Battle of Britain data base came into existence at the request of OSD PA&E (Office of the Secretary of Defense, Program Analysis and Evaluation). They contacted us. They were working with LMI (Logistics Management Institute, on of a dozen FFRDCs) to develop an air combat model. They felt that the Battle of Britain would be perfect for helping to develop, test and validate their model. The effort was led by a retired Air Force colonel who had the misfortune of spending part of his career in North Vietnam.

The problem with developing any air campaign database is that, unlike the German army, the Luftwaffe actually followed their orders late in the war to destroy their records. I understand from conversations with Trevor Dupuy that Luftwaffe records were stored in a train and had been moved to the German countryside (to get them away from the bombing and/or advancing armies). They then burned all the records there at the rail siding.

So, when HERO (Trevor Dupuy’s Historical Evaluation Research Organization) did their work on the Italian Campaign (which was funded by the Air Force), they had to find records on the German air activity with the Luftwaffe liaison officers of the German armies involved. The same with Kursk, where one of the few air records we had was with the air liaison officer to the German Second Army. This was the army on the tip of the bulge that was simply holding in place during the battle. It was the only source that gave us a daily count of sorties, German losses, etc. Of the eight or so full wings that were involved in the battle from the VIII Air Corps, we had records for one group of He-111s (there were usually three groups to a wing). We did have good records from the Soviet archives. But it hard to assemble a good picture of the German side of the battle with records from only 1/24th of the units involved. So the very limited surviving files of the Luftwaffe air liaison officers was all we had to work with for Italy and Kursk. We did not even have that for the Ardennes. Luckily the German air force simplified things by flying almost no missions until the disastrous Operation Bodenplatte on 1 January 1945. Of course, we had great records from the U.S. and the UK, but….hard to develop a good database without records from both sides. Therefore, one is left with few well-documented air battles anywhere for use in developing, evaluating and validating an air campaign model.

The exception is the Battle of Britain, which has been so well researched, and extensively written about, that it is possible to assemble an accurate and detailed daily account for both sides for every day of the battle. There are also a few surviving records that can be tapped, including the personal kill records of the pilots, the aircraft loss reports of the quartermaster, and the ULTRA reports of intercepted German radio messages. Therefore, we (mostly Richard Anderson) assembled the Battle of Britain data base from British unit records and the surviving records and the extensive secondary sources for the German side. We have already done considerable preliminary research covering 15 August to 19 September 1940 as a result of our work on DACM (Dupuy Air Combat Model)

The Dupuy Air Campaign Model (DACM)

The database covered the period from 8 August to 30 September 1940. It was programmed in Access by Jay Karamales.  From April to July 2004 we did a feasibility study for LMI. We were awarded a contract from OSD PA&E on 1 September to start work on the database. We sent a two-person research team to the British National Archives in Kew Gardens, London. There we examined 249 document files and copied 4,443 pages. The completed database and supporting documentation was delivered to OSD PA&E in August 2005. It was certainly the easiest of our campaign databases to do.

We do not know if OSD PA&E or LMI ever used the data base, but we think not. The database was ordered while they were still working on the model. After we delivered the database to them, we do not know what happened. We suspect the model was never completed and the effort was halted. The database has never been publically available. PA&E became defunct in 2009 and was replaced by CAPE (Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation). We may be the only people who still have (or can find) a copy of this database.

I will provide a more detailed description of this database in a later post.

The Use of the Two Campaign Data Bases

The Use of the Two Campaign Data Bases

The two large campaign data bases, the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base (ACSDB) and the Kursk Data Base (KDB) were designed to use for validation. Some of the data requirements, like mix of personnel in each division and the types of ammunition used, were set up to match exactly the categories used in the Center for Army Analysis’s (CAA) FORCEM campaign combat model. Dr. Ralph E. Johnson, the program manager for FORCEM was also the initial contract manager for the ACSDB.

FORCEM was never completed. It was intended to be an improvement to CAA’s Concepts Evaluation Model (CEM) which dated back to the early 1970s. So far back that my father had worked with it. CAA ended up reverting back to CEM in the 1990s.

They did validate the CEM using the ACSDB. Some of their reports are here (I do not have the link to the initial report by the industrious Walt Bauman):

It is one of the few actual validations ever done, outside of TDI’s (The Dupuy Institute) work. CEM is no longer used by CAA. The Kursk Data Base has never used for validation. Instead they tested Lanchester equations to the ACSDB and KDB. They failed.

Lanchester equations have been weighed….

But the KDB became the darling for people working on their master’s thesis for the Naval Post-Graduate School. Much of this was under the direction of Dr. Tom Lucas. Some of their reports are listed here:

Both the ACSDB and KDB had a significant air component. The air battle over the just the German offensive around Belgorod to the south of Kursk was larger than the Battle of Britain. The Ardennes data base had 1,705 air files. The Kursk data base had 753. One record, from the old Dbase IV version of the Kursk data base, is the picture that starts this blog post. These files basically track every mission for every day, to whatever level of detail the unit records allowed (which were lacking). The air campaign part of these data bases have never been used for any analytical purpose except our preliminary work on creating the Dupuy Air Campaign Model (DACM).

The Dupuy Air Campaign Model (DACM)

This, of course, leads into our next blog post on the Battle of Britain data base.

Validation Data Base Available (Kursk)

Validation Data Base Available (Kursk)

The second large campaign validation database created was the Kursk Data Base (KDB), done 1993-1996. I was also the program manager for this one and it ran a lot smoother than the first database. There was something learned in the process. This database involved about a dozen people, including a Russian research team led by Col. (Dr.) Fyodor Sverdlov, WWII veteran, author and Frunze Military academy; and ably assisted by Col. (Dr.) Anatoli Vainer, ditto. It also involved was the author Dr. Richard Harrison, and of course, Richard Anderson and Jay Karamales. Col. David Glantz helped with the initial order of battle as a consultant.

The unique aspect of the database is that we obtained access to the Soviet archives and was able to pull from it the unit records at the division, corps and army-level for every Soviet unit involved. This was a degree of access and research never done before for an Eastern Front battle. We were not able to access the Voronezh Front files and other higher command files as they were still classified.

The KDB tracked the actions of all divisions and division-sized units on both sides for every day of the German offensive in the south for 4 July 1943 to 18 July 1943. Kursk is a huge battle (largest battle of WWII) and consists of four separate portions. This database covered only one of the four parts, and that part was similar in size to the Battle of the Bulge and the air battle was larger than the Battle of Britain. On the German side were 17 panzer, panzer grenadier and infantry divisions while on the Soviet side were 37 rifle divisions and 10 tank and mechanized corps. There were 9 attacking German armored divisions versus 10 Soviet tank and mechanized corps at the Belgorod Offensive at Kursk. At the Battle of the Bulge there were 8 attacking (engaged) German armored divisions versus 9 U.S. armored divisions. The database design and what data was tracked was almost the same as the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base (ACSDB). The stats on the data are here:

The database was programmed in Dbase IV and is DOS based. Dbase IV has the advantage that it allowed text fields. Dbase III did not, so we were limited to something like 256 characters for our remarks fields. With Dbase IV, the remarks fields sometimes grew to a page or two as we explained what data was available and how they were used to assemble daily counts of strengths and losses. Sometimes they were periodic (vice daily) reports and sometimes contradictory reports. It was nice to be able to fully explain for each and every case how we analyzed the data. The Dbase IV version of the KDB is publicly available through NTIS (National  Technical Information Service). The pictures in this blog post are screen shots from the Dbase IV version.

We also re-programmed the data base into Access and rather extensively and systematically updated it. This was in part because we took every single unit for every single day of the battle and assembled it into 192 different division-on-division engagements for use in our Division Level Engagement Data Base (DLEDB). This was done over a period of 11 years. We did the first 49 engagements in 1998-99 to support the Enemy Prisoner of War (EPW) Capture Rate Study for CAA (Center for Army Analysis), report E-4 (see Some of the other engagements were done later to support the study on Measuring the Value of Situational Awareness for OSD Net Assessment (Andy Marshall’s shop), reports SA-1. We (meaning me) then finished up the rest of the engagements in 2004 and 2009. In the end we had assembled an engagement record for every single division-on-division level engagement for the Belgorod Offensive. Added to that, in 1999 I began working on my Kursk book, which I had mostly finished in 2003 (but was not published until 2015). So over time, we rather systematically reviewed and revised the data in the database. This is not something we were able to do to the same extent for the ACSDB. The 192 engagements in DLEDB were then summarized as 192 separate “engagement sheets” in my Kursk book. There are also 76 of these engagement sheets available in my new Kursk book coming out in June: The Battle of Prokhorovka. This new book covers the part of the Belgorod offensive centered around the Battle of Prokhorovka.

Some More Statistics on Afghanistan (March 2019)

Some More Statistics on Afghanistan (March 2019)

Tank park of Soviet tanks near Kunduz, 4 May 2008. These were left over ordnance from the previous war (photo by William A. Lawrence II).

Just making a small update to my last posts on Afghanistan. Using the Secretary General quarterly reports on Afghanistan. Those reports are here:

The report was posted 6 March, even though it is dated 28 February. Always worth reading.

  1. “In 2018, the United Nations recorded 22,478 security-related incidents, a 5 per cent reduction as compared with the historically high 23,744 security-related incidents recorded in 2017.”
  2. “The Mission documented 10,993 civilian casualties (3,804 people killed and 7.189 injured between 1 January and 31 December 2018, the highest number of civilian deaths records in a single year since UNAMA began systematic documentation in 2009, and an overall increase of 5 per cent compared with 2017.”
  3. “UNAMA attributed 63 percent of all civilian casualties to anti-government elements (37 per cent to the Taliban, 20 per cent to ISIL-KP and 6 per cent to unidentified anti-government elements, including self-proclaimed ISIL-KP), 24 per cent to pro-government forces (14 per cent to Afghan national defense and security forces, 6 per cent to international military forces, 2 per cent to pro-government militias, and 2 per cent to undermined or multiple pro-government forces), 10 per cent to unattributed crossfire during ground engagements between anti-government elements and pro-government forces and 3 per cent to other incidents, including explosive remnants of war and cross-border shelling.”
  4. “Between 1 November and 10 January 49,001 people were newly displaced by the conflict, brining the total number of displaced in 2018 to 364,883 people.”

              Security           Incidences      Civilian

Year      Incidences       Per Month       Deaths

2008        8,893                  741

2009      11,524                  960

2010      19,403               1,617

2011      22,903               1,909

2012      18,441?             1,537?                             *

2013      20,093               1,674               2,959

2014      22,051               1,838               3,699

2015      22,634               1,886               3,545

2016      23,712               1,976               3,498

2017      23,744               1,979               3,438

2018      22,478               1,873               3,804


As I noted in my last post: “This war does appear to be flat-lined, with no end in sight.” I choose not to comment at the moment on the on-going peace negotiations.


Some Statistics on Afghanistan (Jan 2019)


Validation Data Bases Available (Ardennes)

Validation Data Bases Available (Ardennes)

We never seem to stop discussing validation at The Dupuy Institute even though it seems like most of the military operations research community only pays lip service to it. Still, it is something we encourage, even though it has only been very rarely done. A major part of our work over the years has been creation of historical databases for use in combat model validation, combat model testing, and combat model development. Over a series of posts, let me describe what databases are available.

First there are two big campaign databases. These are fairly well known. It is the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base (ACSDB) and the Kursk Data Base (KDB). I was the program manager for both of them.

The ACSDB is a database tracking the actions of all divisions on both sides for every day of the Battle of the Bulge, from 16 December 1944 to 16 January 1945. That was 36 U.S. and British Divisions and 32 German Divisions and Brigades. It tracked the strength, equipment, losses, ammunition and oil for each of these units. The stats on the database are here:

The ACSDB was done from 1987 to 1990 at Trevor Dupuy’s old company, DMSI. There was around 16 or so people involved with it, including consultants like Hugh Cole and Charles MacDonald. We pulled up the units records for all the units on both sides from the U.S. Archives, UK Public Records Office, and the German achives in Freiburg. It was the largest historical database ever created (I do seem to be involved in creating some large things, like my Kursk book).

The database was programmed in Dbase III and is DOS based. The data base was delivered to CAA (Center for Army Analysis). It is publicly available through NTIS (National Technical Information Service). The pictures in this blog post are screen shots from the DBase III version. We do have our own corporate proprietary version re-programmed into Access and with some updates done by Richard Anderson (coauthor of Hitler’s Last Gamble).



This blog post is generated as a response to one of Richard Anderson’s comments to this blog post:

Validating Attrition

Richard Anderson used to work with me at Trevor Dupuy’s company DMSI and later at The Dupuy Institute. He has been involved in this business since 1987, although he had been away from it for over a decade.

His comment was: “Keep fighting the good fight Chris, but it remains an uphill battle.”

It is an uphill battle. For a brief moment, from 1986-1989 it appeared that the community was actually trying to move forward on the model validation and “base of sand” type issues. This is discussed to some extent in Chapter 18 of War by Numbers (pages 295-298).

In 1986 the office of the DUSA (OR) * reviewed the U.S. Army Concepts Analysis Agency’s (CAA) casualty estimation process in their models. This generated considerable comments and criticism of how it was being done. In 1987 CAA, with I gather funding from DUSA (OR), issued out the contract to develop the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base (ACSDB). I was the program manager for that effort. That same year they issued out the contract to study Breakpoints (forced changes in posture) which I was also involved in.

So we had the army conducting an internal review of their models and finding them wanting. They then issued out a contract to validate them and they issued out a contract to examine the issue of breakpoints, which had not been seriously studied since the 1950s. This was at the initiative of Vandiver and Walt Hollis.

After than, everything kind of fell apart. The U.S. defense budget peaked in 1989 and the budget cuts started. So, even though the breakpoints study got a good start, there was no follow-on contract. The ACSDB ended up being used for a casual top-level validation effort that did not get into the nuts and bolts of the models. All the dozens of problems identified in the internal DUSA(OR) report resulted in no corrective action taken (as far as I know). Basically, budget was declining and maintaining hardware was more important that studies and analysis.

There was a resurgence of activity in the early 1990s, which is when the Kursk Data Base (KDB) was funded. But that was never even used for a validation effort (although it was used to test Lanchester). But funding was marginal during most of the 1990s, and the modeling community did little to improve their understanding and analysis of combat.

The nature of the missions changed after 9/11/2001 and The Dupuy Institute ended up focused on insurgencies (see America’s Modern Wars). Budget again started declining in 2009 and then sequestration arrived, killing everything.

The end result was that there was a period from 1986-1989 when the U.S. modeling community appeared to have identified their problems and were taking corrective action. Since 1989, for all practical purposes, diddlysquat.

So…..30 years later…..I am still fighting the “good fight.” But I am not optimistic. Nothing is going to happen unless people at senior levels fund something to happen. For the price of a Stryker or two, a huge amount of productive and useful work could be done. But to date, having an extra Stryker or two has been more important to the army.

For this year and next year the U.S. Army has increasing budgets. If they wanted to take corrective action….now would be the time. I suspect that bureaucratic inertia will have more weight than any intellectual arguments that I can make. Still, I have to give it one last try.


* DUSA (OR) = The Deputy Under Secretary of the Army (Operations Research). It was headed by Walt Hollis forever, but was completely shut down in recent times.

Paul Davis (RAND) on Bugaboos

Paul Davis (RAND) on Bugaboos

Just scanning the MORS Wargaming Special Meeting, October 2016, Final Report, January 31, 2017. The link to the 95-page report is here:

There are a few comments from Dr. Paul Davis (RAND) starting on page 13 that are worth quoting:

I was struck through the workshop by a schism among attendees. One group believes, intuitively and viscerally, that human gaming–although quite powerful–is just a subset of modeling general. The other group believes, just as intuitively and viscerally, that human gaming is very different….

The impression had deep roots. Writings in the 1950s about defense modeling and systems analysis emphasized being scientific, rigorous, quantitative, and tied to mathematics. This was to be an antidote for hand-waving subjective assertions. That desire translated into an emphasis on “closed” models with no human interactions, which allowed reproducibility. Most DoD-level models have often been at theater or campaign level (e.g., IDAGAM, TACWAR, JICM, Thunder, and Storm). Many represent combat as akin to huge armies grinding each other down, as in the European theaters of World Wars I and II. such models are quite large, requiring considerable expertise and experience to understand.

Another development was standardized scenarios and date set with the term “data” referring to everything from facts to highly uncertain assumptions about scenario, commander decisions, and battle outcomes. Standardization allowed common baselines, which assured that policymakers would receive reports with common assumptions rather than diverse hidden assumptions chosen to favor advocates’ programs. The baselines also promoted joint thinking and assured a level playing field for joint analysis. Such reasons were prominent in DoD’s Analytic Agenda (later called Support for Strategic Analysis). Not surprisingly, however, the tendency was often to be disdainful of such other forms of modeling as the history-base formula models of Trevor Dupuy and the commercial board games of Jim Dunnigan and Mark Herman. These alternative approaches seen as somehow “lesser,” because they were allegedly less rigorous and scientific. Uncertainty analysis has been seriously inadequate. I have demurred on these matters for many years, as in the “Base of Sand” paper in 1993 and more recent monographs available on the RAND website….

The quantitative/qualitative split is a bugaboo. Many “soft” phenomena can be characterized with meaningful, albeit imprecise, numbers.

The Paul Davis “Base of Sand” paper from 1991 is here:


Engaging the Phalanx (part 7 of 7)

Engaging the Phalanx (part 7 of 7)

Hopefully this is my last post on the subject (but I suspect not, as I expect a public response from the three TRADOC authors). This is in response to the article in the December 2018 issue of the Phalanx by Alt, Morey and Larimer. The issue here is the “Base of Sand” problem, which is what the original blog post that “inspired” their article was about:

Wargaming Multi-Domain Battle: The Base Of Sand Problem

While the first paragraph of their article addressed this blog post and they reference Paul Davis’ 1992 Base of Sand paper in their footnotes (but not John Stockfish’s paper, which is an equally valid criticism), they then do no discuss the “Base of Sand” problem further. They do not actually state whether this is a problem or not a problem. I gather by this notable omission that in fact they do understand that it is a problem, but being employees of TRADOC they are limited as to what they can publicly say. I am not.

I do address the “Base of Sand” problem in my book War by Numbers, Chapter 18. It has also been addressed in a few other posts on this blog. We are critics because we do not see significant improvement in the industry. In some cases, we are seeing regression.

In the end, I think the best solution for the DOD modeling and simulation community is not to “circle the wagons” and defend what they are currently doing, but instead acknowledge the limitations and problems they have and undertake a corrective action program. This corrective action program would involve: 1) Properly addressing how to measure and quantify certain aspects of combat (for example: Breakpoints) and 2) Validating these aspects and the combat models these aspects are part of by using real-world combat data. This would be an iterative process, as you develop and then test the model, then further develop it, and then test it again. This moves us forward. It is a more valued approach than just “circling the wagons.” As these models and simulations are being used to analyze processes that may or may not make us fight better, and may or may not save American service members lives, then I think it is important enough to do right. That is what we need to be focused on, not squabbling over a blog post (or seven).



Continuing my comments on the article in the December 2018 issue of the Phalanx by Alt, Morey and Larimer (this is part 6 of 7; see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5).

SMEs….is a truly odd sounding acronym that means Subject Matter Experts. They talk about it extensively in their article, and this I have no problem with. I do want to make three points related to that:

  1. A SME is not a substitution for validation.
  2. In some respects, the QJM (Quantified Judgment Model) is a quantified and validated SME.
  3. How do you know that the SME is right?

If you can substitute a SME for a proper validation effort, then perhaps you could just substitute the SME for the model. This would save time and money. If your SME is knowledgable enough to sprinkle holy water on the model and bless its results, why not just skip the model and ask the SME. We could certainly simplify and speed up analysis by removing the models and just asking our favorite SME. The weaknesses of this approach are obvious.

Then there is Trevor N. Dupuy’s Quantified Judgment Model (QJM) and Quantified Judgment Method of Analysis (QJMA). This is, in some respects, a SME quantified. Actually it was a board of SMEs, who working with a series of historical studies (the list of studies starts here: ). These SMEs developed a set of values for different situations, and then insert them into a model. They then validated the model to historical data (also known as real-world combat data). While the QJM has come under considerable criticism from elements of the Operations Research community…..if you are using SMEs, then in fact, you are using something akin, but less rigorous, than Trevor Dupuy’s Quantified Judgment Method of Analysis.

This last point, how do we know that the SME is right, is significant. How do you test your SMEs to ensure that what they are saying is correct? Another SME, a board of SMEs? Maybe a BOGSAT? Can you validate SMEs? There are limits to SME’s. In the end, you need a validated model.


Historical Demonstrations?

Historical Demonstrations?

Photo from the 1941 Louisiana Maneuvers

Continuing my comments on the article in the December 2018 issue of the Phalanx by Alt, Morey and Larimer (this is part 5 of 7; see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4).

The authors of the Phalanx article then make the snarky statement that:

Combat simulations have been successfully used to replicate historical battles as a demonstration, but this is not a requirement or their primary intended use.

So, they say in three sentences that combat models using human factors are difficult to validate, they then say that physics-based models are validated, and then they say that running a battle through a model is a demonstration. Really?

Does such a demonstration show that the model works or does not work? Does such a demonstration show that they can get a reasonable outcome when using real-world data? The definition of validation that they gave on the first page of their article is:

The process of determining the degree to which a model or simulation with its associated data is an accurate representation of the real world from the perspective of its intended use is referred to as validation.

This is a perfectly good definition of validation. So where does one get that real-world data? If you are using the model to measure combat effects (as opposed to physical affects) then you probably need to validate it to real-world combat data. This means historical combat data, whether it is from 3,400 years ago or 1 second ago. You need to assemble the data from a (preferably recent) combat situation and run it through the model.

This has been done. The Dupuy Institute does not exist in a vacuum. We have assembled four sets of combat data bases for use in validation. They are:

  1. The Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base
  2.  The Kursk Data Base
  3. The Battle of Britain Data Base
  4. Our various division-level, battalion-level and company-level engagement database bases.

Now, the reason we have mostly used World War II data is that you can get detailed data from the unit records of both sides. To date….this is not possible for almost any war since 1945. But, if your high-tech model cannot predict lower-tech combat….then you probably also have a problem modeling high-tech combat. So, it is certainly a good starting point.

More to the point, this was work that was funded in part by the Center for Army Analysis, the Deputy Secretary of the Army (Operations Research) and Office of Secretary of Defense, Planning, Analysis and Evaluation. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent developing some of these databases. This was not done just for “demonstration.” This was not done as a hobby. If their sentence was meant to be-little the work of TDI, which is how I do interpret that sentence, then is also belittles the work of CAA, DUSA(OR) and OSD PA&E. I am not sure that is the three author’s intent.

Physics-based Aspects of Combat

Physics-based Aspects of Combat

Continuing my comments on the article in the December 2018 issue of the Phalanx by Alt, Morey and Larimer (this is part 4 of 7; see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).

The next sentence in the article is interesting. After saying that validating models incorporating human behavior is difficult (and therefore should not be done?) they then say:

In combat simulations, those model components that lend themselves to empirical validation, such as the physics-based aspects of combat, are developed, validated, and verified using data from an accredited source.

This is good. But, the problem lies that it limits one to only validating models that do not include humans. If one is comparing a weapon system to a weapon system, as they discuss later, this is fine. On the other hand, if one is comparing units in combat to units in combat…then there are invariably humans involved. Even if you are comparing weapon systems versus weapon systems in an operational environment, there are humans involved. Therefore, you have to address human factors. Once you have gone beyond simple weapon versus weapon comparisons, you need to use models that are gaming situations that involved humans. I gather from the previous sentence (see part 3 of 7) and this sentence, that means that they are using un-validated models. Their extended discussions of SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) that follows just reinforces that impression.

But, TRADOC is the training and doctrine command. They are clearly modeling something other than just the “physics-based aspect of combat.”

Validating Attrition

Validating Attrition

Continuing to comment on the article in the December 2018 issue of the Phalanx by Alt, Morey and Larimer (this is part 3 of 7; see Part 1, Part 2)

On the first page (page 28) in the third column they make the statement that:

Models of complex systems, especially those that incorporate human behavior, such as that demonstrated in combat, do not often lend themselves to empirical validation of output measures, such as attrition.

Really? Why can’t you? If fact, isn’t that exactly the model you should be validating?

More to the point, people have validated attrition models. Let me list a few cases (this list is not exhaustive):

1. Done by Center for Army Analysis (CAA) for the CEM (Concepts Evaluation Model) using Ardennes Campaign Simulation Study (ARCAS) data. Take a look at this study done for Stochastic CEM (STOCEM):

2. Done in 2005 by The Dupuy Institute for six different casualty estimation methodologies as part of Casualty Estimation Methodologies Studies. This was work done for the Army Medical Department and funded by DUSA (OR). It is listed here as report CE-1:

3. Done in 2006 by The Dupuy Institute for the TNDM (Tactical Numerical Deterministic Model) using Corps and Division-level data. This effort was funded by Boeing, not the U.S. government. This is discussed in depth in Chapter 19 of my book War by Numbers (pages 299-324) where we show 20 charts from such an effort. Let me show you one now from page 315):


So, this is something that multiple people have done on multiple occasions. It is not so difficult that The Dupuy Institute was not able to do it. TRADOC is an organization with around 38,000 military and civilian employees, plus who knows how many contractors. I think this is something they could also do if they had the desire.




Continuing to comment on the article in the December 2018 issue of the Phalanx by Jonathan Alt, Christopher Morey and Larry Larimer (this is part 2 of 7; see part 1 here).

On the first page (page 28) top of the third column they make the rather declarative statement that:

The combat simulations used by military operations research and analysis agencies adhere to strict standards established by the DoD regarding verification, validation and accreditation (Department of Defense, 2009).

Now, I have not reviewed what has been done on verification, validation and accreditation since 2009, but I did do a few fairly exhaustive reviews before then. One such review is written up in depth in The International TNDM Newsletter. It is Volume 1, No. 4 (February 1997). You can find it here:

The newsletter includes a letter dated 21 January 1997 from the Scientific Advisor to the CG (Commanding General)  at TRADOC (Training and Doctrine Command). This is the same organization that the three gentlemen who wrote the article in the Phalanx work for. The Scientific Advisor sent a letter out to multiple commands to try to flag the issue of validation (letter is on page 6 of the newsletter). My understanding is that he received few responses (I saw only one, it was from Leavenworth). After that, I gather there was no further action taken. This was a while back, so maybe everything has changed, as I gather they are claiming with that declarative statement. I doubt it.

This issue to me is validation. Verification is often done. Actual validations are a lot rarer. In 1997, this was my list of combat models in the industry that had been validated (the list is on page 7 of the newsletter):

1. Atlas (using 1940 Campaign in the West)

2. Vector (using undocumented turning runs)

3. QJM (by HERO using WWII and Middle-East data)

4. CEM (by CAA using Ardennes Data Base)

5. SIMNET/JANUS (by IDA using 73 Easting data)

Now, in 2005 we did a report on Casualty Estimation Methodologies (it is report CE-1 list here: We reviewed the listing of validation efforts, and from 1997 to 2005…nothing new had been done (except for a battalion-level validation we had done for the TNDM). So am I now to believe that since 2009, they have actively and aggressively pursued validation? Especially as most of this time was in a period of severely declining budgets, I doubt it. One of the arguments against validation made in meetings I attended in 1987 was that they did not have the time or budget to spend on validating. The budget during the Cold War was luxurious by today’s standards.

If there have been meaningful validations done, I would love to see the validation reports. The proof is in the pudding…..send me the validation reports that will resolve all doubts.

Engaging the Phalanx

Engaging the Phalanx

The Military Operations Research Society (MORS) publishes a periodical journal called the Phalanx. In the December 2018 issue was an article that referenced one of our blog posts. This took us by surprise. We only found out about thanks to one of the viewers of this blog. We are not members of MORS. The article is paywalled and cannot be easily accessed if you are not a member.

It is titled “Perspectives on Combat Modeling” (page 28) and is written by Jonathan K. Alt, U.S. Army TRADOC Analysis Center, Monterey, CA.; Christopher Morey, PhD, Training and Doctrine Command Analysis Center, Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas; and Larry Larimer, Training and Doctrine Command Analysis Center, White Sands, New Mexico. I am not familiar with any of these three gentlemen.

The blog post that appears to be generating this article is this one:

Wargaming Multi-Domain Battle: The Base Of Sand Problem

Simply by coincidence, Shawn Woodford recently re-posted this in January. It was originally published on 10 April 2017 and was written by Shawn.

The opening two sentences of the article in the Phalanx reads:

Periodically, within the Department of Defense (DoD) analytic community, questions will arise regarding the validity of the combat models and simulations used to support analysis. Many attempts (sic) to resurrect the argument that models, simulations, and wargames “are built on the thin foundation of empirical knowledge about the phenomenon of combat.” (Woodford, 2017).

It is nice to be acknowledged, although it this case, it appears that we are being acknowledged because they disagree with what we are saying.

Probably the word that gets my attention is “resurrect.” It is an interesting word, that implies that this is an old argument that has somehow or the other been put to bed. Granted it is an old argument. On the other hand, it has not been put to bed. If a problem has been identified and not corrected, then it is still a problem. Age has nothing to do with it.

On the other hand, maybe they are using the word “resurrect” because recent developments in modeling and validation have changed the environment significantly enough that these arguments no longer apply. If so, I would be interested in what those changes are. The last time I checked, the modeling and simulation industry was using many of the same models they had used for decades. In some cases, were going back to using simpler hex-games for their modeling and wargaming efforts. We have blogged a couple of times about these efforts. So, in the world of modeling, unless there have been earthshaking and universal changes made in the last five years that have completely revamped the landscape….then the decades old problems still apply to the decades old models and simulations.

More to come (this is the first of at least 7 posts on this subject).

An Administrative Weakness

An Administrative Weakness

Another post is response the comments to this blog post:

The Afghan Insurgents

The comment was “…the insurgents are one side of the coin and the other is the credibility of the government we are trying to create in Afghanistan…If the central government is seen as corrupt and self serving then this also inspires the insurgents and may in fact be the decisive factor….”

This immediately brought to mind David Galula’s construct, which was based upon four major points (see pages 210-211 of America’s Modern Wars):

  1. Insurgents need a cause
  2. A police and administrative weakness
  3. A non-hostile geographic environment
  4. Outside support in the middle to late states.

He specifically state that: “the first two are musts. The last is a help that may become a necessity.”

Now, the problem is that we never took the time to measure an “administrative weakness” or even define what it was. Nor did David Galula. Furthermore, there is also probably an “administrative weakness” or two on the guerilla side. If the culture of Iraq/Afghanistan/Vietnam make it difficult to create government structures and armed forces that are highly motivated, unified and not corrupted, well I suspect some of those same problems exist among the guerillas drawn from that same culture. Therefore, to measure this requires some way of defining what these “administrative weaknesses” are, but also quantifying them, and then determining how they affected both (or more) sides. Needless to say, this was not going to be done in the initial phase of our analysis. We were never funded to conduct follow-up analysis.

This is the problem with David Galula’s construct. There is no easy way to measure it or analyze it. Galula offers no definition of what an “administrative weakness” is. If he does not define it, then how do I define it for his “theory?”

One does note that Galula in his description of the Viet Cong in 1963 states that:

The insurgent has really no cause at all: he is exploiting the counterinsurgent’s weaknesses and mistakes….The insurgent’s program is simply: “Throw the rascals out.: If the “rascals” (whoever is in power in Saigon) amend their ways, the insurgents would lose his cause.

As I note on page 48 of my book:

This was a war that eventually resulted in over 2 million deaths and insurgent force in excess of 300,000. As it is, one could infer from Galula’s statement that he felt that the insurgency could be easily defeated since it was based upon “no real cause.”  We believe that this view has been proven incorrect by historical events.

Clearly identifying insurgent cause and administrative weakness was also a challenge for David Galula.

Hausser wielding chalk

Hausser wielding chalk

The Battle of Prokhorovka took place on 12 July 1943 (and for several days after, depending on definition). The most famous part of the fighting was the attack from the Soviet XVIII Tank Corps and XXIX Tank Corps against the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler Division.

Several stories posted on the web and I a gather a few books mention something like: “Several German accounts mention that Hausser had to use chalk to mark and count the huge jumble of 93 knocked-out Soviet tanks in the Leibstandarte sector alone.”

Now, this makes for an interesting scene: General Hausser, the 62-year old founder of the Waffen SS, is crawling around the battlefield marking up 93 tanks with chalk. With the Totenkopf SS Division having to continue the offensive on the 13th and Das Reich SS Division in the days after that, I would think that the SS Panzer Corps commander would have a few more important things to do at this moment. Also suspect that significant parts of the battlefield were still under enemy observation. Its gets a little hard to imagine that Hausser was out there with chalk counting tanks.

Does anyone know the original source of this story?

Bernard Fall Quote

Bernard Fall Quote

We have gotten several interesting comments to this blog post:

The Afghan Insurgents

One comment stated in part that “….I am thinking the road building, school building, and all that has zero impact on winning the people…..”

This reminds me of a Bernard Fall quote related to the Vietnam War. I used it as the introduction to Chapter 14 (page 147) of my book America’s Modern Wars:

Civic action is not the construction of privies or the distribution of anti-malaria sprays. One can’t fight an ideology; one can’t fight a militant doctrine with better privies. Yet this is done constantly. One side says, “Land reform,� and the other side says, “Better culverts.� One side says, “We are going to kill all of those nasty village chiefs and landlords.� The other side says, “Yes, but look, we want to give you prize pigs to improve your strain.� These arguments just do not match.  Simple but adequate appeals will have to be found sooner or later.

 Bernard Fall, 1967


T-34s on 5 July 1943

T-34s on 5 July 1943

The biggest problem with the kill claims related to the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler (LSSAH) Division’s Tiger company on 5 July 1943 is that they claim dozens of T-34s killed on the 5th of July, when there were few in the area.

These specific claims are discussed here:

Panzer Aces Wittmann and Staudegger at Kursk – part 1

There were no units armed with T-34s that were attached to the Sixth Guards Army, and the armored units in the area with T-34s were not in action for most of the 5th (this would include the III Mechanized Corps and the II Guards Tank Corps).  So either the LSSAH Tigers shot up a lot of M-3 Lees and Stuarts and they have become T-34s in the retelling, or the claims are just grossly inflated or flat out wrong.

But….there may have been a few T-34s in the area. According to the March-April 1944 Soviet General Staff Study done on Kursk, 10 or 15 tanks were deployed in the fortified areas as part of the defense. See page 284 of my Kursk book. But, in the unit records we had, we never had a report on them (including in the Sixth Guards Army records). We have not seen any record of them other than the single report in the General Staff Study.

So there were 10 or 15 tanks deployed in the fortified areas. They do not say where and what types of tanks. It could have been T-34s in the Sixth Guards Army area….or it could not be. They could have been deployed together or scattered.

There are a few reports of dug-in T-34s on 4 and 5 July 1943.

Guenther Baer, II Battalion of the LSSAH Tank Regiment, reports for the 4th of July, the pre-battle evening clearing attack on the Soviet outpost line that:

We also came upon scattered dug-in T-34s, who were then quickly disabled by our own tanks. (page 282…interview was done in 1999 by MG Dieter Brand).

Lt. Franz-Joachim von Rodde, an adjutant with the 6th Panzer Regiment, 3rd Panzer Division reports that:

That evening [5 July]…penetrated all the way to a small village [Krasnyii Pochinok] along a narrow front line and staggered towards the rear. The village itself could not be taken in time, though. Here we encountered T-34s dug-in up to their turrets for the first time. (page 367…interview was done in 1999 by MG Dieter Brand).

As I note on page 368:

Lt. Rodde’s memory of T-34s dug-in around Krasnyii Pochinok cannot be confirmed. The Soviet 245th Tank Regiment did not have T-34s. The nearest forces with T-34s would be the 59th and 60th Tank Regiment attached to the Fortieth Army. While these forces may well have been in the area (as this is not the only report of tanks we have on the front line of the 71st Guard Rifle Division, 67th Guards Rifle Division, or the Fortieth Army units), we have not accounts of them being there in the Soviet records.

Just to continue Rodde’s quote:

This was another measure hitherto unknown. These dug-in tanks were very dangerous. They were camouflaged extremely well–as usual with the Russians–and could only be reconnoitered once they opened fire. They usually fired at short range so as to have a maximum chance of hitting something.

Then there also the reports of dug-in tanks from Alfred Rubbel, 503rd Heavy Panzer (Tiger) Battalion, in the area where the 6th Panzer Division was attacking on the 5th, but this is out of the area of our concern (see page 403). Still just to quote:

Our Tiger company suffered the first losses as well. For the first time we saw dug-in enemy tanks in this sector. In a way this was a surprise as that was a use of tanks not at all typical. There dug-in tanks were firing with great precision from their position and were thus very dangerous for us. On that day alone, we have four losses due to enemy fire, which could all be recovered but nevertheless represented the highest number of losses in one day of battle we had to absorb during the entire operation.

Those tanks were most likely from the Soviet 262nd Tank Regiment, which started the battle with 22 KV-1s.

So we have reports of dug-in T-34s in front of the LSSAH Division and in front of 3rd Panzer Division. These are two widely separated locations. So it is distinctly possible that the SS Panzer Corps could have encountered 6-9 dug-in T-34s. This is still considerably less than what they claim, but probably there is some basis to their claims. Still, it would appear that they, or subsequent authors, either over-claimed or credited every tanks as destroyed as being a T-34, even though most were not.

Hard to sort it out 75 years after the fact…..but it is clear that many of the published claims for 5 July 1943 are not correct.

The Afghan Insurgents

The Afghan Insurgents

Suicide bomber in Baghlan Jadid, April 2009. Photo by William A. Lawrence II

The charts looking at force ratios created by our regression analysis of 83 cases were very much based on insurgent cause, a subject that a lot of counterinsurgency analysts gloss over. The question is whether the insurgency is based upon a central political idea (like nationalism), an overarching idea (an ideology like communism) and a limited developed political thought (a regional or factional insurgency). This very much changes the difficulty of suppressing the insurgency. It also changes the odds of winning. The force levels and sometimes duration of insurgencies were significantly different for these cases. In my book America’s Modern Wars I end up spending three chapters on this subject: Chapter 4: Force Ratios Really Do Matter, Chapter 5: Cause Really is Important and Chapter 6: The Two Together Seem Really Important.

Now, this came up when we were doing our estimate in 2004 of U.S. casualties and the  duration of an insurgency in Iraq (which is in Chapter 1 of my book). In this case we have a country that was maybe 60% Shiite Muslim and an insurgency that was centered around the population of around 20% Sunni Muslim. Was this a regional or factional insurgency? Probably. We built that estimate on only 28 cases (because, you know, research takes time). In those cases that were based upon a central political idea, the insurgents won 75% of the time. In those cases that were based upon a limited political idea, the insurgents did not win in any of those cases. This is a big, and very noticeable difference. It was the one bright spot in my briefings (as people weren’t too excited about my conclusions that we would loose 5,000+ and it would take 10+ years…as that was not what was being promised by our political leaders in 2004).

The challenge is sorting out which applies to Afghanistan. There is no question that when they were fighting the Soviet Union, it was based upon a central political idea (nationalism). The question is, what is this insurgency based upon?

Part of the problem in sorting out what is happening in Afghanistan is that the country’s demographics are very complex. For example 42% of the population is Pashtun, 33% is Tajik, 9% is Hazara (who are usually Shiite Muslims), 9% are Uzbek, 4% Aimek, 3% Trukmen, 2% Baloch and 4% others (source World Factbook, 2013 estimate, courtesy of Wikipedia).

Language is a little better with 80% speaking Dari, which is Persian or Farsi. 47% speak Pashto, the native tongue of Pashtuns. 5% speak English.

The country is usually considered 85-90% Sunni Muslim and 7-15% Shiite Muslim.

A 2018 population estimate for Afghanistan is 31,575,018 (pretty precise for an estimate).

The insurgents tend to also be separated in a bewildering array of groups (as was also the case when they were fighting the Soviet Union). Some of the insurgent groups are:

Taliban: These are the previous rulers of Afghanistan. Was close to Al-Qaeda.

Haqqani Network: Offshoot of the Taliban. Al-Qaeda affiliate.

Fidal Mahaz: Splinter group from the Taliban

IEHCA: Splinter group from the Taliban

HIG: Gulbuddin Hekmatyar group, who has been doing this since 1980s. He signed a peace agreement with the Afghan government in 2016.

IMU: Originally an Uzbek movement.

Islamic Jihad Union (IJU): Militant Islamist organization. Split off from IMU. Al-Qaeda affiliate

ETIM: Uyghurs from China.

LeJ: anti-Shiite group

Pakistani Taliban or TTP: Primarily focused on Pakistan

Lel: Primarily focused on Pakistan

ISIL-KP: Islamic state affilliate.


This is a quickly cobbled together list. Some with more expertise are welcome to add or modify this list.

Wikipedia does give strengths for some of these groups. Have no idea how accurate they are:

Taliban: 60,000

Haqqani Network: 4,000-15,000

Fidai Mahaz: 8,000

IEHCA: 3,00-3,500

HIG: 1,500-2,200+

al-Qaeda: 50-100


So….when I was coding the over 100 cases that we now have in our database, it was relatively easy to determine if an insurgency was based upon a central idea, or an overarching idea or was regional or factional. There was very little debate in most cases.

On the other… is a little harder to tell what it should be in this particular case.

Interesting enough, I stumbled across an article last week discussing the same issue:

New York Military Affairs Symposium

New York Military Affairs Symposium

There is an 37-year old organization called the New York Military Affair Symposium that regular hosts speakers. Their website and speaker schedule is here:

This Friday (Jan 18), Max Boot will be presenting about his book The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam.

I will be presenting on 26 April based upon my book War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat.

The presentations are at the Soldier Sailors Club, 283 Lexington Avenue, New York City at 7 PM.

A Force Ratio Model Applied to Afghanistan

A Force Ratio Model Applied to Afghanistan

As many people are aware, the one logit regression that we had confidence in from the 83 cases we tested was a force ratio versus outcome model. This is discussed in the following blog post and in Chapter 6 of my book America’s Modern Wars.

We probably need to keep talking about Afghanistan

The key was that we ended up with two very different curves. One if there insurgency was based upon a central idea (like nationalism). There was a lesser curve if the insurgency was based upon limited political concept (a regional or factional insurgency). Now, we never really determined which applied to Afghanistan, because we actually never had a contract to do any work or analysis on Afghanistan. I am hesitant to reach conclusions without some research.

But let us look at the force ratios there now. I estimate that the insurgency has at least 60,000 full-time and part-time insurgents. There may have more than that. But, working backwards from the incident count of 20,000+ a year, and comparing those incident counts with insurgent strengths in past insurgencies, leads me to conclude that it is at least 60,000 insurgents. This process is discussed in depth in Chapter 11 of my book. Lets work with that figure for a moment.

The counterinsurgent forces consist of supposedly almost 400,000 people. Except…in our model we only counted army and air force, and only counted police only if it was clear that counterinsurgent operations was their primary duty. Therefore our model did not count most police.

Parsing out the data in Wikipedia shows that the Afghan Army and Air Force total around 195,000 active in 2014. The Wikipedia source was this article: I have no idea how correct number is. It might be a little optimistic (see my comments about auditing the police force rolls).

The Afghan National Police (ANP) have 157,000 members in September 2013 (again Wikipedia). I note that the UNAMA report in December 2018 on the audit reduced the ANP payroll from 147,875 to 106,189. But, this is a national police force. It includes uniform police, border police, a criminal investigation division of 4,148 investigators, etc. Lets to say for convenience that half of them are doing traditional police work and half are doing counterinsurgent work. I have no idea if this is a good or reasonable split. So lets say 53,000 ANP police involved in the counterinsurgency effort. The Afghan Local Police (ALP) are 19,600 as of February 2013. As they are clearly part of the counterinsurgency effort, I will count them.

The 18,000 ISAF are mostly training, so not sure how they should be counted, but we will count them. No sure if we should count the 20,000 contractors, as quite simply, there were not a lot of contractors in our previous 83 cases. The use of private contractors to fight insurgencies is a relatively new approach. For now I will not count them.

So, lets count counterinsurgent strength at 195,000 + 53,000 ANP + 19,600 ALP + 18,000 ISAF. This gives a counterinsurgent strength of 285,600 compared to an insurgent strength of 60,000. This is a 4.76-to-1 force ratio. This is a very precise number created from some very fuzzy data.

Now, if I look at the curve for an insurgency based upon an limited political concept, and I see that an 4.76-to-1 force ratio means that the counterinsurgent won roughly 86% of the time (see page 65 of my book). This is favorable. But right now, it doesn’t really look like we have been winning in Afghanistan over the last eight years.

On the other hand, if I code this as an insurgency based upon a central idea I see that a 4.76-to-1 force ratio results in the counterinsurgent winning 19% of the time. This is much worse.

So……I have yet to make a determination as to which curve should apply in this case. Perhaps neither do, as Afghanistan is a unique and complex case. Properly analyzing this would require a level-of-effort beyond what I am willing to invest. Keep in mind that our Iraq estimate was funded in 2004 (see Chapter 1 of my book). It was also ignored.

Some Statistics on Afghanistan (Jan 2019)

Some Statistics on Afghanistan (Jan 2019)

Camp Lonestar, near Jalabad, 7 October 2010 (Photo by William A. Lawrence II)

The fighting in Afghanistan continues, with a major attack reported a day ago in west Afghanistan that resulted in the death of 21 police and militia and 9 wounded: This was a pretty significant fight, with the government claiming 15 Taliban militants killed and 10 wounded.

I do lean on the Secretary General reports quarterly reports on Afghanistan for my data, as it may be the most trusted source available. Those reports are here:

So what are the current statistics?:

              Security           Incidences      Civilian

Year      Incidences       Per Month       Deaths

2008        8,893                  741

2009      11,524                  960

2010      19,403               1,617

2011      22,903               1,909

2012      18,441?             1,537?                             *

2013      20,093               1,674               2,959

2014      22,051               1,838               3,699

2015      22,634               1,886               3,545

2016      23,712               1,976               3,498

2017      23,744               1,979               3,438

2018      22,745               1,895               3,731      Estimated (see below)


At the start of 2013, we still had 66,000 troops in Afghanistan, although we were drawing them down. There were 251 U.S. troops killed in 2012 (310 killed from all causes) and 85 in 2013 (127 killed from all causes). Over the course of 2013, 34,000 troops were to be withdrawn and the U.S. involvement to end sometime in 2015. We did withdrawn the troops, but really have not ended our involvement. According to Wikipeida we have 18,000+ ISAF forces there (mostly American) and 20,000+ contractors. I have not checked these figures. The latest reports I have seen say around 14,000 American troops in Afghanistan. The Afghans have over 300,000 security forces (Army, Air Force, National Police, Local Police, etc.) to conduct the counterinsurgency.

The Secretary General 7 December 2018 report does note that “On 30 August, the Government complete the personnel asset inventory for existing Afghan National Police personnel…..Out of 147,875 records, 106,189 personnel were identified as legitimate for the payment of salaries. The remaining 41,686 records were removed from the payroll for such reasons as retirement, desertion and attrition.”

As we note in Chapter Twenty-One of my book America’s Modern Wars: “The 2013 figure of 20,093 incidents a year does argue for a significant insurgency force. If we use a conservative figure of 333 incidents per thousand insurgents, then we are looking at more than 60,000 full-time and part-time insurgents.â€�

This war does appear to be flat-lined, with no end in sight.

Camp Lonestar, near Jalabad, 7 October 2010 (Photo by William A. Lawrence II)


Notes for 2018 estimates:

  1. 15 December 2017-15 February 2018: 3,521 security incidences (6% decrease from previous year).

  2. 15 February-15 May: 5,675 security incidences (7% decrease from previous year).

  3. 15 May – 15 August: 5,800 security incidences (10% decrease from previous year)

  4. 16 August – 15 November: 5,854 security incidences (2% decrease from previous year)
  5. 1 January – 30 September: 2,798 civilian deaths (highest number since 2014)

    1. UNAMA attributed 65% of all civilian casualties to anti-government elements
      1.  35% to Taliban
      2.  25% to ISIL-KP
      3. 5% other
    2. 22% to pro-government forces
      1. 16% to Afghan national security forces
      2. 5% to international military forces
      3. 1% to pro-government armed groups
    3. 10% unattributed crossfire during ground engagements
    4. 3% to other incidents, including explosive remnants of war and cross-border shelling
    5. Causes of civilian deaths
      1. 45% caused by improvised explosive devices.
      2. 29% caused by ground engagements
        1. More than half of those casualties (313 people killed and 336 injured) caused by aerial strikes by pro-government forces)

 * The 2012 stats are a little garbled. They are missing 1-15 August 2012, but include 1 January through 15 February 2013.

Panzer Battalions in LSSAH in July 1943 – II

Panzer Battalions in LSSAH in July 1943 – II

This is a follow-up to this posting:

Panzer Battalions in LSSAH in July 1943

The LSSAH Panzer Grenadier Division usually had two panzer battalions. Before July the I Panzer Battalion had been sent back to Germany to arm up with Panther tanks. This had lead some authors to conclude that in July 1943, the LSSAH had only the II Panzer Battalion. Yet the unit’s tank strength is so high that this is hard to justify. Either the LSSAH Division in July 1943 had:

  1. Over-strength tank companies
  2. A 4th company in the II Panzer Battalion
  3. A temporary I Panzer Battalion

I have found nothing in the last four months to establish with certainly what was the case, but additional evidence does indicate that they had a temporary I Panzer Battalion.

The first piece of evidence is drawn from a division history book, called Liebstandarte III, by Rudolf Lehmann, who was the chief of staff of the Panzer Regiment. It states that they had around 33 tanks at hill 252.2 on the afternoon or evening of the 11th. It has been reported that the entire II Panzer Battalion moved up there on the 11th, and then pulled back their 5th and 7th companies, leaving the 6th company in the area of hill 252.2. The 6th Panzer Company was reported to have only 7 tanks operational on the morning of the 12th. So, II Panzer Battalion may have had three companies of 7-12 tanks each, and the battalion staff, and maybe some or all of the regimental staff there. The LSSAH Division according to the Kursk Data Base had as of the end of the day on 11 July 1943: 2 Panzer Is, 4 Panzer IIs, 1 Panzer III short, 4 Panzer III longs, 7 Panzer III Command tanks, 47 Panzer IV longs and 4 Panzer VIs for a total of 69 tanks in the panzer regiment. Ignoring the 4 Tiger tanks, this leaves 32 tanks unaccounted for. This could well be the complement of a temporary I Panzer Battalion.

The second unresolved issue is that the Soviet XVIIII Tank Corps is reported to have encountered dug-in tanks as they tried to push beyond Vasilyevka along the Psel River. They reported that their advance was halted by tank fire from the western outskirts of Vasilyevka. They also report at 1400 (Moscow time) repulsing a German counterattack by 50 tanks from the Bogoroditskoye area (just west of Vasilyevka, south of the Psel).

With the II Panzer Battalion being opposite the XXIX Tank Corps, then one wonders who and where those “dug-in tanks” were from. It is reported in some sources that the Tiger company, which was in the rear when the fighting started, moved to the left flank, but most likely there was another tank formation there. If the II Panzer Battalion was covering the right half of the LSSAH’s front, then it would appear that the rest of the front would have been covered by a temporary I Panzer Battalion of at least three companies.

This leads to me lean even more so to the conclusion that the LSSAH had a temporary I Panzer Battalion of at least three companies, the II Panzer Battalion of three companies, and the Tiger company, which was assigned to the II Panzer Battalion.

Force Draw Downs

Force Draw Downs

I do discuss force draw downs in my book America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam. It is in Chapter 19 called “Withdrawal and War Termination” (pages 237-242). To quote from parts of that chapter:

The missing piece of analysis in both our work and in that of many of the various counterinsurgent theorists is how does one terminate or end these wars, and what is the best way to do so? This is not an insignificant point. We did propose doing exactly such a study in several of our reports, briefings and conversations, but no one expressed a strong interest in examining war termination…..

In our initial look at 28 cases, we found only three cases where the counterinsurgents were able to reduce or choose to significantly reduce force strength during the course of an insurgency. These are Malaya, Northern Ireland and Vietnam. With our expanded database of 83 cases, these are still the only three cases of such.

Let us look at each in turn. The case of Malaya is illustrated below:

The most intense phase of the insurgency was from 1958 to 1952. Peak counterinsurgent deaths were 488 in 1951, with 272 in 1952 and only 95 in 1953. Over the course of 1959 and 1960, there were only three deaths.

When one looks at counterinsurgent force strength over that period, one notes a large decline in strength, but in fact, it is a decline in militia strength. Commonwealth troop strength peaked at 29,656 in 1956, consisting of UK troops, Gurkhas and Australians. It declined to 16,939 in 1960. Basically, even with no combat occurring for two years, the troop strength of the intervening forces (“UK Combat Troops� on the first graph) was reduced by one half and only during last couple of years. The decline is Malayan strength is primarily due to police force declining after 1953 and the “Special Constabulary� declining after 1952 and eventually being reduced to zero. There was also a Malayan Home Guard that was briefly up to 300,000 people, but most of them were never armed and were eventually disbanded.

This is the best case we have of a force draw down, and it was only done to any significance late in the war, where the insurgency was pretty much reduced to 400 or so fighters sitting across the narrow border with Thailand and scattered remnants being policed inside of Malaya.

Northern Ireland is another case in which the degree of activity was very intense early on. For example:

On the other hand, force strength does not draw down much.

In this case the peak counterinsurgent strength was 48,341 in 1972, and the counterinsurgent strength is still 22,691 in 2002. These two cases show the limitation of a draw down.

In the case of Vietnam, there was a four-year-long massive build up, and then four years of equally hasty withdrawal. This is clearly not the way to conduct a war and is discussed in more depth in Chapter Twenty-Two. Vietnam is clearly is not a good example of a successful force drawn down.

Besides these three cases, we do not have any other good examples of a force draw down except that which occurs in the last year of the war, and agreements are reached and the war ended. In general, this strongly indicates that draw downs are not very practical until you have resolved the war.

A basic examination needs to be done concerning how insurgencies end, how withdrawals are conducted, and what the impact of various approaches towards war termination is. This also needs to address long-term outcome, that is, what happened following war termination.

We have nothing particularly unique and insightful to offer in this regard. Therefore, we will avoid the tendency to pontificate generally and leave this discussion for later. Still, we are currently observing with Afghanistan and Iraq two wars where the intervening power is withdrawing or has withdrawn. These are both interesting cases of war termination strategies, although it we do not yet know the outcome in either case.

The bolding was added for this post.

Comparative Tank Exchange Ratios at Kursk

Comparative Tank Exchange Ratios at Kursk

Now, I don’t know what percent of German or Soviet tanks at Kursk were killed by other tanks, as opposed to antitank guns, mines, air attacks, infantry attacks, broken down, etc. The only real data we have on this is a report from the Soviet First Tank Army which states that 73% of their tanks were lost to AP shot.

Artillery Effectiveness vs. Armor (Part 2-Kursk)

Do not know what percent of the AP shots was fired from tanks vice towed AT guns. I would be tempted to guess half. So maybe 36% of the Soviet tanks destroyed was done by other tanks? This is a very rough guess. Suspect it may have been a lower percent with the Germans.

Still, it is natural to want to compare tank losses with tank losses. The Germans during the southern offensive at Kursk had 226 tanks destroyed and 1,310 damaged. This includes their self-propelled AT guns (their Marders).

German Damaged versus Destroyed Tanks at Kursk

The Soviet units during the southern offensive at Kursk had 1,379 tanks destroyed and 1,092 damaged. This includes their self-propelled AT guns, the SU-152s, SU-122s and the more common SU-76s. If I count SU-76s in the Soviet tank losses, then I probably should count the Marders in the German losses.

Soviet Damaged versus Destroyed Tanks at Kursk

So….comparing total losses to total losses results in 1,536 German tanks damaged or destroyed versus 2,471 Soviet tanks damaged or destroyed. This is a 1-to-1.61 exchange ratio.

On the other hand, some people like to only compare total destroyed. This comes out to a rather lop-sided 1-to-6.10 exchange ratio.

A lot of sources out there compare only lost tanks to lost tanks. This provides, in my opinion, a very distorted figure of combat effectiveness or what is actually occurring out on the battlefield.

Added to this some sources have been known to remove German command tanks from their counts of strengths and losses, even though at this stage the majority of command tanks were armed. The Germans sometime don’t list them in their own daily reports. Of course, Soviet command tanks are always counted (which are armed). Some have been know to remove German Panzer IIs and other lighter tanks from their counts, even though at Kursk on 4 July, 23% of Soviet tanks were the lighter T-60s, T-70s and M-3 Stuarts (see page 1350 of my book). Many counts remove the German self-propelled AT guns from their counts, but not sure if they have also removed the Soviet SU-152, SU-122s and SU-76s from their counts. Finally, a number of counts remove German assault guns from their comparisons, even though at Kursk they were often used the same as their tank battalions and sometimes working with their tank battalions. They were also better armed and armored than some of their medium tanks. In the later part of 1943 and after, some German tank battalions were manned with assault guns, showing that the German army sometimes used them interchangeably. So there are a lot of counts out there on Kursk, but many of them concern me as they do not give the complete picture.

James Mattis

James Mattis


Mattis on Afghanistan

Mattis’ Reading List (2007)

The Warrior Monk

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Soviet Damaged versus Destroyed Tanks at Kursk

Soviet Damaged versus Destroyed Tanks at Kursk

This is the other half of the comparison discussed here:

German Damaged versus Destroyed Tanks at Kursk

Here is the data I have for Kursk in July 1943 (from pages 1365, 1366, and 1367 of my Kursk book):

Unit…………….Tanks Destroyed……..Tanks Damaged……..Percent Destroyed

II TC                   91                               103                          47%

II GTC                82                               141                           37

X TC                   69                                39                           64

XVIII TC             37                               130                           22

XXIX TC           109                                 97                          53

III MC                132                                99                           54

V GMC              109                                50                           69

V GTC               131                                85                           61

VI TC                 118                                33                           78

XXXI TC            110                                70                           61

Truf Det.              23                                  6                           79

Tank Bdes         157                              164                           46

Tank Rgt            153                                64                           65

SP Art Rgts          58                                11                           84

Total                1,379                           1,092                           55%

There figures include assault guns and self-propelled artillery (SU-76s, SU-122s and SU-152s).

Amphitheater, 9 – 11 September 1943

Amphitheater, 9 – 11 September 1943

There used to be an engagement called “The Amphitheater, 9-11 July 1943′ in our databases. It was in the Land Warfare Data Base (LWDB) and we moved it over to our Division-Level Engagement Data Base (DLEDB). We did revise it. It now consists of two engagements:

Amphitheater Beachhead, 9 September: Created for EPW Study by Richard Anderson on 30 September 1998.

Amphitheater (rev), 10-11 September: Extensively revised 30 October for EPW study by Richard Anderson. Original engagement no. 3940 deleted.

Amphitheater Beachhead:

Engagement No:    23002

Duration:                  1 Day

Front Width:             3.5 km

Force Name:            Br 56th Infantry Division       Ger KG Stempel, 16th PzD

Total Strength:         12,480                                   5,241

Total Armor:                    52                                        27

Artillery Pieces:             110                                        36

Total Casualties:           444                                      142

Armor Losses:                 10                                         3

Artillery Losses:                 4                                       14

Enemy Captured:            54                                     120

Amphitheater (rev):

Engagement No:      23005

Duration:                   2 Days

Front Width:              13 km

Force Name:             Br 56th Infantry Division       Ger KG Stempel (+), 16th PzD

Total Strength:          12,036                                  10,271

Total Armor:                     42                                         90

Artillery Pieces:              106                                         38

Total Casualties:         1,213                                       478

Armor Losses:                   7                                          44

Artillery Losses:                 1                                         —

Enemy Captured:            23                                        725

This is response to the discussion under this post:

More on the QJM/TNDM Italian Battles

The DLEDB consists of 752 division-level engagements from 1904 to 1991. There are 121 fields per engagement, including 5 text fields. It is programmed in Access. It is company proprietary.

Cost of Creating a Data Base

German Damaged versus Destroyed Tanks at Kursk

German Damaged versus Destroyed Tanks at Kursk

In his last post Niklas notes that around 20% of German tanks lost in battle were destroyed. Here is the data I have for Kursk in July 1943 (pages 1336, 1337, and 1339 of my Kursk book):

Unit………………….Tanks Destroyed……….Tanks Damaged……..Percent Destroyed

3rd PzD                  12                                  70                            15%

GD PzGrD              26                                144                            15

Panthers                 42                                188                            18

11th PzD                 13                                124                              9

LSSAH PzGrD        20                                138                            13

DR SS PzGrD         18                                129                            12

T SS PzGrD            18                                121                            13

6th PzD                   18                                  87                            17

7th PzD                   26                                103                            20

19th PzD                 23                                  89                            21

503rd “T” Bn             5                                  70                              7

StuG units                 5                                  47                           10

Total                      226                              1310                           15%


Note that my count of tanks damaged/destroyed include those that broke down in combat. This is not an insignificant portion. It does not include tanks that were damaged or broken down during the day but were back in the action before they reported towards the end of the day a count of tanks ready-for-action. Rarely do we have reports of tanks damaged, mostly just reports of the number ready-for-action each day.

These figures include assault guns. Also, these figures include Marders (self-propelled anti-tank guns), which is why they differ slightly from the figures in my previous posts.

The units are listed from left to right (west to east) as they were deployed on 5 July 1943. They were organized into three panzer corps.

Also see:

III Panzer Corps Tank Loss Reports 9-21 July 1943


III Panzer Corps Tank Loss Reports 9-21 July 1943

III Panzer Corps Tank Loss Reports 9-21 July 1943

Germans World War II records are often not stereotypical “German-like” in their depth and detail. Often it is hard to tell on any given day how many tanks are damaged versus destroyed versus broken down. For much of my work on Kursk, I have had to rely on changes in daily tank strength reports, and work from there. Many authors seem to have hung their hat on German reports of total tank losses, or tanks destroyed, which is systematically reported. One the more detailed tank status reports we have came from the III Panzer Corps from 9 to 21 July 1943.

Let me show you want they have (this was the most complete report):

Tank Report as of 9 July 1943 early (morning):


……………………….II…..III k…..IIII l….IIII 7.5….IV k….IV l…Bef….Flamm…VI….StuG….Total

6th PzD               7                24      12                   14      3       10                              70 Pz

7th PzD               4                16        1          3       12      6                                         42

19th PzD                     2          5        4          1       23      1                                         36

503rd “T” Bn                                                                                           33                33

905th AG Bn                                                                                                    21       21

228th AG Bn                                                                                                    23       23

393rd AG Bty                                                                                                    8          8

Lost on 8 July 1943

…………………….II…..III k…..IIII l….IIII 7.5….IV k….IV l…Bef….Flamm…VI….StuG…..Total

6 PzD               1                           1                                                                             2

7th PzD            1                 6        6                      4       2                                          19

19th PzD                                                               2                                                     2

503rd “T” Bn

905th AG Bn                                                                                                 3             3

228th AG Bn

393rd AG Btty


And then there is a key at the bottom that said “+ (green) into repair” and “+ (red) total.” Of course my copy is in black and white, taken from microfilm at the U.S. archives (T312, R68, pg 4374). Perhaps someone has a color copy of this file from Germany.

Anyhow, 26 tanks lost this day. Note that they count Sturmgeshuetz (Assault Guns) as tanks (many authors don’t).

The total tank losses reported are:

8 July 1943: 26

9 July 1943: 60 + 48 for the 6th Panzer Division = 108 !!!

1. (they do not give losses for the 6th PzD but it only had 22 tanks ready-for action the early on 10 July).

2. See:

3. This is a significant action that is not clear from the records and certainly not from the 10-day “totally destroyed” list.

10 July 1943: No figures given

11 July 1943: 29 (but they only report for the 7th and 19th PzD.

12 July 1943: 21 (no reports from three battalions)

13 July 1943: 24 (no reports from 7th PzD and two of the Bns)

14 July 1943: 1

They don’t report any losses from the 15th through the 21st.

The 503rd Heavy Panzer Battalion (Tigers) reports 19 tanks lost on the 9th. Only two Tigers were reported destroyed from the 5th – 10th.

This is one of the few German reports I have seen that report damaged tanks, and it is clearly incomplete. Usually they just report ready for action and total destroyed. The problem is that the unit can be in significant action one day (like 9 July when III Panzer Corps lost over 100 tanks), and they end up only recording a couple of tanks destroyed.

Just to show the differences (data from pages 1336, 1337 and 1339 of my Kursk book):



6th PzD            16                             87

7th PzD            25                           101

19th PzD          22                            81

503rd “T” Bn      5                             70

StuG units          5                            47

Total               73                            386


These counts to not include Marders (self-propelled antitank guns).

I think, if you are really looking at analyzing and understanding German armor operations in World War II, then you need to look at the daily changes in ready-for-action, not just their “total destroyed claims.”

6th Panzer Division Tank Losses on 9 July 1943

Soviet Tank Repairs at Kursk (part 2 of 2)

Soviet Tank Repairs at Kursk (part 2 of 2)

This first blog post on this subject strongly made the point that the Russian armor repair effort was not at the same level as the German efforts, which is what I observed when assembling the Kursk Data Base (KDB). But, Zamulin, Demolishing the Myth, continued on pages 448-449, touting what a great job the repair people did. I figured for completeness, I needed to post this.

To continue P. A. Rotmistrov’s (Fifth Guards Tank Army commander) quote from the previous posting:

The mechanics’ profile was diverse. The 83rd Army-level Repair-Recovery Battalion and the corps’ mobile repair depots were staffed with qualified workers from the tank industry (the Stalingrad and Khar’kov factories), but who lacked work experience in field conditions. The tank brigade equipment companies, on the other hand, were staffed primarily with specialists on the repair of armored vehicles under combat conditions. Such a combination of cadres on the whole produced satisfactory results.

Major overhauls, like engine, gun, and turret replacements, were performed at the mobile repair depots of the tank corps. Each tank corps had two of these repair depots, each staffed with 70 to 80 men. For urgent repairs just 8-10 kilometers from the front lines, two army-level, three corps-level and nine brigade collection ppints for disbled vehicles were set up, whch shared all the reapir-recovery resources.

On the night of 12 July, as the 5th Guard Tank Army commander later remembered:

The repair workers faced the tank of restoring and reapiring parts and components, stripped from irreparably damaged tanks from those tanks that needed major overhauls. We had to get hold of 45 engines, 20 gear boxes and several engine and steering clutches. All of the recover and repair units and teams of the separate regimens, brigades, and corps and the army were mobilized to accomplish this tank.

To what Rotmistrov said I will add that in order to hasten the repair of the 5th Guard Tank Army’s damaged armored vehicles, the Front’s Armored and Mechanized Forces commander transferred 167 field repair depots from the 38th Army to the 5th Guards Tank Army on 14 July. The truly heroic effort produced results. Of the 420 damaged tanks in its brigades and regiments after the fighting of 12 July, 112 requiring minor or moderate repairs were restored to operation in the very first days after the battle. In addition, the Front command took other steps to assist the army. Already by 15 July, just three days after the engagement, the 5th Guards Tank Army began to receive new tanks. The 29th Tank Corps was the first to begin to received the new vehicles. The 31st Tank Brigade’s war diary notes, “15 July….An order arrived to pick up 16 T-34 tanks at Solntesevo Station. A procurement team had been sent.”

Soviet Tank Repairs at Kursk (part 1 of 2)

Soviet Tank Repairs at Kursk (part 1 of 2)

Below is text taken directly from Valeriy Zamulin’s book Demolishing the Myth, pages 447-448.

To quote:

The units of the [German] II SS Panzer Corps also left behind only a scorched field and demolished equipment when they eventually withdrew. The headquarters of the 2nd Tank Corps report on 16 July 1943 “…The enemy, organizing a retreat during the night, withdrew all his forces, evacuated all the damaged equipment, and torched the remaining knocked-out tanks and vehicles on the battlefield.”

In the Red Army, the main burden for recovering tanks and self-propelled guns and for transporting them to collection points for disabled vehicles lay on the brigades’ equipment companies and the personnel of the tank battalions. Usually, the crew themselves actively participated in the recovery of their damaged tanks or self-propelled guns and then performed any routine or moderately difficult repair jobs. Kommunar tractors, and Komintern and Stalinets-2 artillery prime movers were used for this work. Mainly, however, a single T-34 or a pair of them made the recover, because the tracotrs had bulky profiles, insufficient power, and no armor protection.

In contrast, the recovery and repair work in the units of [German] Army Group South was well-organized. Each panzer regiment had a well-equipped separate tank maintenance company, while a separate Tiger battalion had its own tank maintenance platoon. These elements managed to do 95% of all the repair work on the armored vehicles, which was performed in frontline conditions.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to say the same thing about the repair work in the corps formations of the [Soviet] 5th Guards Tank Army. At 2400 12.07.43, the headquarters of the 29th Tank Corps reported the following information in a combat dispatch:

The brigade and battalion of the corps are engaged in recovering the wounded and equipment. In the course of the night 3 T-34 tanks and 1 Su-122 self-propelled gun will be repaired.

The recovery of damaged vehciles is being implemented by three turret-less T-34 tanks and one M-3 tank. Five teams are performing the repair work; two teams from the 32nd Tank Brigade and one from the 31st Tank Brigade, in addition to the corps repair teams. One of the corps teams is doing the repair work on self-propelled guns.

Thus, of the 55 knocked-out tanks and self-propelled guns, the 29th Tank Corps was only able to repair four over the night. Naturally, at such a pace it was not easy to restore the combat capability of the corps quickly.

P.A. Rotmistrov [Fifth Guards Tank Army commander] later wrote:

The presence in the army of only mechanical tools could not guarentee the quick restoration and repair of parts, necessary for tank repairs. The lack of welding equipment and repair workshops delayed the fabrication and rehabilitation of spare parts, and thus also the repair of tanks and self-propelled guns within set periods. Army and Front depots of inventory of armored vehicles were located far way (150-300 kilometers), and the insufficient amount of transportation in the army’s corps and brigades complicated the timely supply of components and spare parts.

There were no special break-down teams in the repair units, so it was necessary to pull qualified mechanics from repair work in order to break down the tanks, which reduced labor productivity.

Population Now versus 2050

Population Now versus 2050

As you may have noted in my previous demographics posts, I was tracking the population of the various nations I was looking at, both in 1950, currently and the estimated for 2050. Let me summarize briefly what we are looking at (measured in millions of people):

                                       1950                    2017                    2050

China                               583 (1953)         1,411                   1,360

India                                 361 (1951)         1,324                   1,700

United States                   151                       309  (2018)          402

Soviet Union/Russia        182  (1951)           143  (2018)          132

Japan                                83                        127                       109

Germany                           69                          83                        79


Now, a lot of numbers there. Let us set the U.S. at a value of 1 and everyone else at a value relative to it. So:

                                       1950                     2017                    2050

China                               3.86                     4.57                      3.38

India                                 2.39                     4.28                      4.23

United States                  1.00                     1.00                      1.00

Soviet Union/Russia         1.21                       .46                        .33

Japan                                 .55                        .41                        .27

Germany                            .46                        .27                        .20


So, during the height of the bad old days (1950s), the Soviet Union had more population that the U.S.; and China, part of the communist bloc and actually in a hot war with us, had four times the population. Now….well the Soviet Union is gone. In 2050,  China will only have three times the U.S. population while a number of major powers (like Japan, Germany and Russia) will be a smaller fraction of the U.S. population.

Again, I note that some people like to talk about America in decline on the world stage. I really don’t see it economically or demographically.

U.S. versus The World (GDP)

Of course, the real challenge would be predict GDPs in 2050. Probably can with the U.S. On the other hand, it is pretty hard to say where the Chinese economy will be in 2050. I would be hesitant to do a straight line estimate.

U.S. versus China (GDP)

Force Ratios in Conventional Combat

Force Ratios in Conventional Combat

American soldiers of the 117th Infantry Regiment, Tennessee National Guard, part of the 30th Infantry Division, move past a destroyed American M5A1 “Stuart” tank on their march to recapture the town of St. Vith during the Battle of the Bulge, January 1945. [Wikipedia]

[This piece was originally posted on 16 May 2017.]

This post is a partial response to questions from one of our readers (Stilzkin). On the subject of force ratios in conventional combat….I know of no detailed discussion on the phenomenon published to date. It was clearly addressed by Clausewitz. For example:

At Leuthen Frederick the Great, with about 30,000 men, defeated 80,000 Austrians; at Rossbach he defeated 50,000 allies with 25,000 men. These however are the only examples of victories over an opponent two or even nearly three times as strong. Charles XII at the battle of Narva is not in the same category. The Russian at that time could hardly be considered as Europeans; moreover, we know too little about the main features of that battle. Bonaparte commanded 120,000 men at Dresden against 220,000—not quite half. At Kolin, Frederick the Great’s 30,000 men could not defeat 50,000 Austrians; similarly, victory eluded Bonaparte at the desperate battle of Leipzig, though with his 160,000 men against 280,000, his opponent was far from being twice as strong.

These examples may show that in modern Europe even the most talented general will find it very difficult to defeat an opponent twice his strength. When we observe that the skill of the greatest commanders may be counterbalanced by a two-to-one ratio in the fighting forces, we cannot doubt that superiority in numbers (it does not have to more than double) will suffice to assure victory, however adverse the other circumstances.


If we thus strip the engagement of all the variables arising from its purpose and circumstance, and disregard the fighting value of the troops involved (which is a given quantity), we are left with the bare concept of the engagement, a shapeless battle in which the only distinguishing factors is the number of troops on either side.

These numbers, therefore, will determine victory. It is, of course, evident from the mass of abstractions I have made to reach this point that superiority of numbers in a given engagement is only one of the factors that determines victory. Superior numbers, far from contributing everything, or even a substantial part, to victory, may actually be contributing very little, depending on the circumstances.

But superiority varies in degree. It can be two to one, or three or four to one, and so on; it can obviously reach the point where it is overwhelming.

In this sense superiority of numbers admittedly is the most important factor in the outcome of an engagement, as long as it is great enough to counterbalance all other contributing circumstance. It thus follows that as many troops as possible should be brought into the engagement at the decisive point.

And, in relation to making a combat model:

Numerical superiority was a material factor. It was chosen from all elements that make up victory because, by using combinations of time and space, it could be fitted into a mathematical system of laws. It was thought that all other factors could be ignored if they were assumed to be equal on both sides and thus cancelled one another out. That might have been acceptable as a temporary device for the study of the characteristics of this single factor; but to make the device permanent, to accept superiority of numbers as the one and only rule, and to reduce the whole secret of the art of war to a formula of numerical superiority at a certain time and a certain place was an oversimplification that would not have stood up for a moment against the realities of life.

Force ratios were discussed in various versions of FM 105-5 Maneuver Control, but as far as I can tell, this was not material analytically developed. It was a set of rules, pulled together by a group of anonymous writers for the sake of being able to adjudicate wargames.

The only detailed quantification of force ratios was provided in Numbers, Predictions and War by Trevor Dupuy. Again, these were modeling constructs, not something that was analytically developed (although there was significant background research done and the model was validated multiple times). He then discusses the subject in his book Understanding War, which I consider the most significant book of the 90+ that he wrote or co-authored.

The only analytically based discussion of force ratios that I am aware of (or at least can think of at this moment) is my discussion in my upcoming book War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat. It is the second chapter of the book:

In this book, I assembled the force ratios required to win a battle based upon a large number of cases from World War II division-level combat. For example (page 18 of the manuscript):

I did this for the ETO, for the battles of Kharkov and Kursk (Eastern Front 1943, divided by when the Germans are attacking and when the Soviets are attacking) and for PTO (Manila and Okinawa 1945).

There is more than can be done on this, and we do have the data assembled to do this, but as always, I have not gotten around to it. This is why I am already considering a War by Numbers II, as I am already thinking about all the subjects I did not cover in sufficient depth in my first book.

U.S. versus The World (GDP)

U.S. versus The World (GDP)

There has been a lot of statements lately coming out of Russia (Putin in particular), China and other places about how the U.S. is in decline. Not sure what is the basis of these statements. Right now the United States GDP is $19.391 Trillion. The entire world’s GDP, according to the World Bank, is $80.684 Trillion. This means that the U.S.’s GPD makes up only 24% of the world’s GDP. This hardly puts us out in the dumpster.

Now, it has changed over time. In 1960 the U.S. GDP was $543.3 billion while the World’s was $1.366 Trillion. This is 40%. So we have declined from having 40% of all the goods and services of the world to only having 24% of all the goods and services in the world. I would argue that in fact this is not a decline, but a growth on the part of the rest of the world, and in many cases a well-deserved growth. In fact, it was the intention of the Marshall Plan to restore the European economy for the purpose of making stable democratic economically viable counties. This is a plan that succeeded in spades. The data from 1960 is only 15 years after the devastating World War II, so it is really no surprise that the U.S. economy, living in “splendid isolationism” or at least conveniently isolated by two very large bodies of water, was in much better shape than those people who had panzers running back and forth across their front lawns.

As of 1980 the United States GDP was 26% of the world GDP. Much of this change was a result of the growth of the western European and Japanese economies. It was before the later boom of the Chinese economy. But this is close to the same percentage as it is now. Just to compare over time:

Year…………Percent GDP

1960             40%

1970             39%

1980             26%

1990             26%

2000             31%

2010             23%

2017             24%


There is definitely a trend here, but it is a trend caused by the rest of the world growing, not by the United States declining. You can definitely see the world economy growing significantly after 2000. But most significant relative shift occurred between 1970, when the U.S. economy made up 39% of the world’s economy, to 1980, when it was down to 26%. It is now 24%, so really not a hugely significant shift in the last 40 years. Not sure how you then conclude the United States is now in decline.

In the 57 years on this graph, the U.S. GPD actually only declined in one year (2009). That is a pretty good run.

Peacekeeping Institute?

Peacekeeping Institute?

It appears that the Army is looking at shuttering the rather small Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute:

Now, I have never had any intersection with this organization, so I have no idea of how effective, productive or useful it is. I gather they are looking at renaming it (because peacekeeping is a bad word?) and cutting it more than 2/3rds. This is minimal savings.

Now, my experience is that DOD, being command driven and mission oriented, tends to forget about missions that are not currently getting “command attention.” I discussed this problem in some depth in my book Modern American Wars. We have seen parts of DOD go from ignoring the study of insurgencies before 2001 to recently not being able to properly model conventional combat for training exercises. As outrageous as this last sentence sounds, I can back it up with real world examples, except I really don’t want to embarrass anyone. But let us say, that we have seen multiple examples over the years of DOD being overly focused on the mission de jure at the expense of its other missions. DOD missions range from conventional wars, to counterinsurgencies, to irregular operations, to peacekeeping, nation building, and even border protection. These missions come and go, but they always show back up. It has been the case for over 200 years. The DOD always needs to be ready to conduct all missions. The failures in Iraq, which cost American lives, drives home that point in blood.

Mine Effectiveness (Mines at Kursk III)

Mine Effectiveness (Mines at Kursk III)

There is an interesting statement in Zamulin’s book on Kursk (Demolishing the Myth, page 43) that says:

If in front of the line of defenses it required 350-400 anti-tank mines on average to damage or destroy one tank, then in the depths of the defense that number fell to 150-200 anti-tank mines. Such a difference is explained by the fact that mine emplacement in the depths of the defense occurred along lines of advance already revealed by the enemy.

I think I am reading that correctly, in that it takes 400 mines to damage or destroy one tank. There is no footnote to this passage, so I do not know if such a figure is from studies done in World War II, after World War II, or is just some rule of thumb. But, I have that data to test it here:

Mines at Kursk I

and here:

Tank Losses to Mines (Mines at Kursk II)

So, for the first day of the offensive in the south I have 131 to 154 German tanks lost to mines. So in first echelon of Sixth Guards Army there were 68,987 anti-tank mines (see my Kursk book, page 200). In the first echelon of the Seventh Guards Army there were 32,194 anti-tank mines in front of the III Panzer Corps (the 81st GRD and the 78th GRD, see page 201). This is a total of 101,181 anti-tank mines in the first echelon, opposite the three attacking German panzer corps.

So….101,181/154 = 657 or 101,181/131 = 772. Therefore, based upon this data, it appears that it was more like 657-772 mines per tank damaged or destroyed.

Now maybe I should only count 1/2 of the 71st Guards Rifle Division (GRD) mines, because the 332nd Infantry Division was opposite to half of the division (Kursk, page 378) and maybe 1/2 of the 67th GRD because both the 11th PzD and the 167th ID were opposite to it (Kursk, page 388). This reduces the mines counted against the German armor by 17,756. Now this is probably not really correct, as the mines are going to be biased towards the most obvious areas of attack (which is where the German armor went), but still (101,181-17,756)/154 = 541 or 101,181-17,756)/131 = 637.

So, it appears were are looking at a figure ranging from 541 to 772 anti-tank mines per tank damaged or destroyed.

Now……I can break it down by division attacking sector:

                            Estimated Tanks

                            Lost to Mines

Division               Low       High        Mines                               Range

3rd PzD                —                7            19,530 or less                383 or more per tank

GD PzGrD            —              25            as above                        as above

Panther Rgt         15             19            as above                        as above

11th PzD               —               8           15,981 or less                 1,998 or more per tank

LSSAH PzGrD     15             20           16,476                            515 to 687 per tank

DR SS PzGrD        9             12           as above                        as above

T SS PzGrD           9             12           17,000/2                        708 to 944 per tank

6th PzD      .69 x  20     .79 x 20          17,000/2 + 20,266/2      1165 to 1331 per tank

19h PzD     .69 x  19     .79 x 19          20,266/2 + 11,928/2      1073 to 1238 per tank

7th PzD      .69 x  21     .79 x 21          11,928/2                         351 to 426 per tank

Now, we never attempted to estimate the number of tanks damaged or destroyed by mines after the first day (5 July 1943) because we did not have the data. But this does give us some idea of how many anti-tank mines need to be laid to damage or destroy a tank. I have not done a “literature search” to determine if anyone else has done any other in-depth analysis of this.

U.S. versus China (GDP)

U.S. versus China (GDP)

Right now (as of 2017) the U.S. GDP is $19.391 Trillion according to the World Bank. The Chinese economy is $12.238 Trillion. This is 63% of the U.S. economy. No economy has been that close to the U.S. economy since Japan leading up to 1995.

It is a rather amazing growth on the part of China. Back in the bad old days, after we had fought a war with them over Korea, they were threatening to invade Taiwan, they were supporting North Vietnam against our ally South Vietnam, and allied with the Soviet Union as part of the Communist Bloc, the difference was much greater. The U.S. GDP in 1960 was 543.3 Billion, while China’s was 59.716, meaning the U.S. economy was 9 times greater. Now it is only 1.6 times greater.

Of course, the two economies are intertwined, with the United States being China’s largest trading partner. This sort of leads to the odd situation where some in the U.S. and China consider the other to be a rival. But, I can’t think of too many cases where major trading partners were opposing hostile players on the world stage. Still, it is a very uncomfortable arrangement with the U.S. nominally the leader of the free world, while China had been known to run over its people with tanks. They are still very much a dictatorship. So the two nations seem to exist as trading partners who are not really friends and not really enemies. They may be rivals in the long run, or may not. There is, of course, an on-going trade dispute between the two nations.

Now….if were extend those lines on the graph out… does look like they will cross at some point around 2050 or so. This of course, leads me back to this post:

Demographics of China

It is projected that by 2050 the Chinese population will decline to 1.36 billion by 2050 (it is currently 1.51 billion) while the U.S. will grow to 402 million by 2050 (it is currently 328 million). For a number of reasons, I don’t think we will see the Chinese economy exceed the U.S. economy by 2050.

Tank Losses to Mines (Mines at Kursk II)

Tank Losses to Mines (Mines at Kursk II)

This is a follow up post to this post:

Mines at Kursk I

This is excerpted directly from my Kursk book, page 423.

The German tank losses due to mines can be estimated for this day [5 July 1943]. There is a report that appears to record all the German tanks lost to mines on 5 July. The 3rd Panzer Division reported losing six tanks damaged to mines. One other was destroyed, and while the records do not explicitly so state, the assumption is that this one was also lost to mines. The Gross Deutschland reports that it lost 5 assault guns and about 20 tanks to mines. This was the worst loss to mines suffered by any division. The 11th Panzer Division reported losing eight tanks on 5 July. It is unclear, but it appear that all of these were also lost to mines. The Adolf Hitler SS Division reported losing 20 tanks on 5 July, including six Tiger tanks. The Totenkopf SS Division lost 12 tanks, including five Tigers. The record notes that these were “mostly from mines.” The Das Reich SS Division reported 12 tanks lost, including two Tigers. They do not report the cause of loss, but it is also assumed that most were from mines. A comparison of the calculated losses from these divisions (generate by subtracting the number of tanks ready-for-action on the evening of the 4th from the number ready-for-action on the evening of the 5th) compared to the reported losses due to mines shows the following:

                           Calculated losses     Reported losses     Mine loss 

                           (from all causes)      (mine losses)          as a percent

                            5 July                       5 July                     of total loss

3rd PzD                  10                                7                             70%

GD PzGrD              30                              25                             83%

11th PzD                12                                8                             67%

LSSAH PzGrD       20                               20                          100%

DR SS PzGrD        19                               12                            63%

T SS PzGD            15                               12                             80%

                            ——                           ——                            ——

                            106                               84                             79%


It is estimated that the Panther regiment lost 19 tanks to mines on this day. In the case of the III Panzer corps, it showed a decline in strength on the first day of 64 tanks. Assuming that the same percent were lost to mines as for the other two panzer corps, then another 51 tanks were lost to mines. We do know that at least 9 Tigers were lost to mines on this day and a total of 16 were lost to mines in the first three days of battle.

Therefore, it is estimated that on the 5th of July, the attacking Germans lost as many as 154 tanks to mines out of 249 damaged or destroyed that day. This amounts to 62 percent of the tanks lost on that day and accounted for 10 percent of the total German tanks lost between 4 and 18 Julty. This is the upper estimate, as the records often report that “most” of the tank losses were to mines. If one assumes that “most” means 75 percent lost to mines, then the figure are less. The XLVIII Panzer corps loss to mines would remained at 40, the SS Panzer Corps loss to mines would lower to 33, the Panzer Regiment von Lauchert to 15, and the III Panzer and Corps Raus to 44, for a total of 131 tanks lost to mines on 5 July.

Of those tanks lost to mines, only one or two, including one Panther, were clearly destroyed by mines. Most of the tanks lost to mines were damaged without loss to the crew. In many case the tanks were repaired and put back into action within a few days. There were also at least four Soviet tanks lost to mines on this day, probably their own mines, and we know of two German Tiger tanks that were lost to their own mines.

One more mine related post to follow.

China versus India

China versus India

In a blog posts on Indian demographics someone asked “The question is why India (per capita income $6,490-2016) is still so poor compared to China (per capital income $15,000 – 2016).” I have never really examined this, but it is an interesting enough question that I wanted to take a further look at it.

In 1960, the World Bank has China’s GDP at $60 billion. India’s GDP at $37 billion. India’s GDP is around 61% of China’s. Considering that India’s population was smaller, they were clearly at similar levels of development. This is, of course, back in the day when China and India were having border fights in the Himalayas (like in 1962).

Over the next couple of decades, India actually closed in on China. In 1970, India’s GDP was 67% of China’s GDP. In 1980 it was 96%. In 1990, they had separated a little with India’s GDP being 88% of China’s. So for three decades they grew at similar rates. And then as you can see rather clearly from the chart below, China’s economy took off.

By the year 2000, China’s GDP was 2.6 times larger than India’s. India was at 38% of China. By 2010, the disparity widened, with China’s GDP now 3.7 times larger than India’s (27%). As of 2017, the disparity continued to grow with China’s GDP now 4.7 times larger (or 21% for India). This is a pretty significant change over time, with clearly most of the difference developing from 1990 to the present. It has been an amazing three decades for China.

Of course, the last time we saw such amazing growth was with Japan up through 1995. Is China growth permanent and sustainable (like U.S. growth tends to be), or is it a bubble?


Where Did Japan Go?


Mines at Kursk I

Mines at Kursk I

Soviet TM-41 Antitank Mine

I have been doing some more work on Kursk recently. I have a rather extensive discussion of the Soviet defensive works at Kursk in Chapter 4 of my book, but I did want to better summarize the state of the works. In this case I focused on the mines. Here is what I wrote:

Just to look at one aspect of their defensive works, as part of these works were a considerable collection of the antitank and antipersonnel mines deployed in the first two defensive lines. This means in the first and second defensive echelons of the Sixth and Seventh Guards Armies. In the case of the Sixth Guards Army, this was 170,210 mines as of 4 July 1943. As of 30 June, it was 88,261 antitank mines and 53,324 antipersonnel mines. The mines were mostly deployed in the first echelon, which had 80% of the mines. They were deployed almost evenly between all four rifle divisions in the first echelon. The situation with the Seven Guards Army was similar, with 151,954 mines deployed by 5 July (66,814 antitank and 85,140 antipersonnel), of which 92% were in the first echelon. Unlike the Sixth Guards Army, their placement favored the divisions on each end of their line, the 36th Guards Rifle Division which was opposite the German XLII Corps, and the 81st Guards Rifle Division, which was facing the 6th Panzer Division. The Fortieth Army had 59,032 antitank mines, 70,994 antipersonnel mines as well as 6,377 “mine shells� (this is assumed to be artillery shells rigged to explode). The Fortieth Army, to the right of the Sixth Guards Army, was not attacked.

So for the defense phase of the Battle of Kursk (4-18 July), the Soviet Army laid at least 291,797 antitank mines and 294,378 antipersonnel mines. In the south this produced an impressive 1,666 mines per kilometer and 1,624 antipersonnel mines per kilometers.

Overall, the first defensive line of the Voronezh Front (including the first two echelons of the defending armies) had at least 221,846 antitank and 219,134 antipersonnel mines emplaced before the battle began (excluding the Thirty-eighth Army). The linear density of mines in the area (175.1 kilometers) is some 1,267 antitank mines and 1,251 antipersonnel mines per kilometer. While this appears impressive, what it would really amount to over the entire width of the front is a two-row deep minefield, with a little more than a single mine per meter in each row.

The density of the second echelon tended to be 100 to 200 mines per kilometers, or one per every five to ten linear meters of front. Clearly, the mines in the second echelon were not being laid in belts, but were instead being gathered around defensive points and blocking certain passages.

In contrast, in the third defensive belt was the First Tank Army, which reported having laid some 1,980 antitank mines and 1,520 antipersonnel mines by 4 July. Considering that the frontage of the Army was some 25 kilometers, this was indeed a very thin line of defensive works. The Sixty-Ninth Army, also deployed in the third belt had emplace as of 4 July 17,671 antitank mines and 16,848 antipersonnel mines.

There were of course, extensive earthworks, trench systems, gun pits and so forth. But again, this was heavily biased into the first echelon, with the army’s second echelon being considerably weaker. The front’s third echelon was even less prepared and some of the works, including tank ditches, had not been completed.

Anyhow, this is the first of three posts on the subject. Most of this is drawn from pages 199-205 of my Kursk book.

Japan versus Germany

Japan versus Germany

Comparing Japan and Germany is an interesting exercise….as they kind of started at the same point. Their leaders in World War II were disgraceful incompetents who got their nations into wars they could not win, leading to them being bombed into oblivion and then occupied. They both started at the same point for recovery. In 1970 Japan had a GDP of 212.609 billion while Germany had a GDP of 215.022 billion. They oddly enough, almost ended up at at the same point, for in 2017 Japan had a GDP of 4.872 trillion while Germany had a GDP of 3.677 trillion. Considering that in 2017 the Japanese population is 127 million, and the German population is 82 million, at this stage Germany actually had the higher per capita income, being $44,550 compared to $38,440 (or $50,206 compared to $42,659 using PPP – Purchasing Power Parity, IMF 2017 figures). On the other hand, their trips to these points are very different as shown in this graph:

From 1970 through 1977 their economic growth almost parrelled each other. After that Japan’s economy started growing faster, then it boomed and after 1995 it busted. The German economy also declined after 1995, but since then seems to have grown and then stabilized.

While both nations have a fertility rate well below 2.1 (which is the replacement rate) they have reacted differently to immigration. Germany has been far more accepting of immigration than Japan. The end result is that Germany’s population is projected to still be at around 79 million in 2050 while Japan is expected to decline to 109 million. I am probably on safe ground to state that in the long run, Germany will have a higher GDP than Japan, meaning it will probably rise to be the third largest economy in the world.

GD Light Tank

GD Light Tank


For some reason our blog was getting hits from youtube….so I went searching and discovered this newly posted youtube video about General Dynamics proposed “Light” tank:

As it says in the remarks (bolding is mine):

Smith’s emphasis upon how lighter-weight armored vehicles can address terrain challenges, and off-road mobility aligns with findings from analytical research performed years ago by the Dupuy Institute.

The research study, call “The Historical Combat Effectiveness of Lighter-Weight Armored Forces,” examined combat scenarios from Vietnam, The Korean War, the Persian Gulf War – and even WWII.

Commissioned by the US Army Center for Army Analysis, the study concluded that heavily armed, yet lighter-weight, more maneuverable armored combat platforms could provided substantial advantage to combat infantry in many scenarios.

“Vehicle weight is sometimes a limited factor in less developed area. In all cases where this was a problem, there was not a corresponding armor threat. As such, in almost all cases, the missions and tasks for a tank can be fulfilled with other light armor,” the study writes.

Drawing upon this conceptual premise, it also stands to reason that a medium-armored vehicles, with heavy firepower, might be able to support greater mobility for advancing infantry while simultaneously engaging in major combat, mechanized force-on-force kinds of engagements where there is armored resistance.

Now, this study is available as a download on our website here:

Or in the bigger picture here:

Interesting to discover that this study, that we did in 2001, is being referenced now. It was primarily done by me and Richard Anderson. It was done at the request of Walt Hollis, Deputy Under Secretary of the Army (Operations Research) and CAA was given the task of administering it. CAA seemed uncertain of what to do with it once they received it, but told us around 2002 that their big lesson from the study was that they needed to worry about mine protection for any projected future armor. This was before we went into Iraq.

Anyhow, there were many aspects to this study, which I will not belabor here as you can read it yourself; but it appears that people are cherry picking from parts of it.

German versus Soviet Artillery at Kursk

German versus Soviet Artillery at Kursk

On pages 1375-1378 of my Kursk book is an extended discussion of the artillery ammunition usage at Kursk. As it is buried back in Appendix III, let me quote a little bit of the discussion here:

The Voronezh Front, according to the 1944 Soviet General Staff Study, had 8,356 guns and mortars as of 4 July of which 1,944 were 76mm and larger divisional artillery. In contrast, the German units involved in the offensive started with 4,630 guns and mortars, of which 1,336 were 105mm or larger artillery. This gives the Soviet force a “tube count” advantage of 1.8 to 1.

Still, what is significant is not the number of tubes, but the weight of firepower. In the cases of the Germans, it is estimated that they fired a total of 51,083 tons of ammunition during the course of the battle. It is estimated that 49% by weight of the ammunition consumed was from the gun artillery. In the case of the Soviet forces of the Voronezh Front and the two reinforcing Steppe Front armies, they consumed a total of 21,867 tons of ammunition during the course of the battle. It is estimated that 36% by weight was from the gun artillery….

Overall, this means that while the Soviet forces outnumbered the Germans forces 1.8 to 1 according to tube count, they in fact were out shot according to weight of fire calculations, 2.34 to 1. This is a significant difference and certainly so, with artillery usually responsible for 50 to 70% of the killing on the battlefield. This may be a major factor in the measurable performance differences (especially casualty effectiveness) between the two armies….

Therefore, one is forced to look at a second reason, which is that the Soviet Army just did not have that much ammunition available. One notes in The Economy of the USSR During World War II that they make this point in the 1947 publication (which certainly has a propaganda-inspired slant). They report that the Soviet Union made 29 times more artillery pieces in World War II than were produced in the Russian Empire during World War I but they only produced 8.2 times as many artillery shells than they delivered to the army in the Russian Empire during World War I. This is a very interesting comparison.

This is a classic shortfall of the command-driven top-down communist system, where they manufactured huge numbers of glamorous big-ticket items, like tanks and guns, but did not provide the support material in the form of ammunition or transport. As such, the Soviet units were well equipped, but not well-supported. This certainly affected the relative combat capabilities of the opposing forces and the differences in their attrition rates….

This shortfall really affected the usefulness of the Katyushas. The Voronezh Front ended up with 13 independent guards’ mortar regiments, which usually had 24 Katyushas. This is a total of around 312 such eight-tube launchers. The potential weight of fire for these weapons is very high. Instead, what we see from them are very low volumes of fire. The Soviets during Kursk fired an estimated 2,422 tons of ammo from all of its Katyushas (both those in the guards mortar regiments and those in the units). With a total of 331 Katyushas, this comes out to 7.32 tons of fire per rocket launcher; or 93.50 pounds per round, an average of 20 8-shot volleys per Kayusha. In contract, the Germans with their 324 nebelwerfers and 16 Wurfrahmen, consumed 5,916 tons of ammunition. This made the German nebelwerfer a considerably more fearsome weapons than the legendary Katyusha.

Anyhow, quoting this because I am in a private discussion on Soviet ammunition production and supply during 1944-45. I have never seen a properly researched discussion of the Soviet artillery supply situation in 1944-45.

Where Did Japan Go?

Where Did Japan Go?

This post is a follow-up to this posting:

Demographics of Japan

In that post, I was talking about that there was a time in the 1980s when Japan’s GNP was 60% of the United States and people were talking about Japan’s economy outgrowing the United States by the year 2000, 2010 or 2020. Now…..we know that did not happen. The following chart, measuring GDP (Gross Domestic Product) shows this change of fortune rather dramatically:

In 1995, Japan’s GDP was $5.449 Trillion while the United States was $7.664 Trillion. Japan’s GDP was 71% of the United States and it looked to be closing. Now, in 2017 it was 25% of the United States ($4.872 versus $19.391). This is a hell of a change in fortune. Not near as bad as the collapse as the Soviet Union, but pretty damn significant in the larger picture.

Let us look how this developed over time (figures are from the World Bank):

Year       Japan GDP     U.S. GDP     Percent

1960         .044307          .5433             8%

1965        .09095             .7437           12%

1970        .212609         1.076             20%

1975        .521542         1.689             31%

1980       1.105              2.863             39%

1985       1.399              4.347             32%

1990       3.133              5.98               52%

1995       5.449              7.664             71%

2000       4.888             10.285            48%

2005       4.755             13.094            36%

2010       5.7                 14.964            38%

2015       4.395             18.121            24%


That is a trip. If the percentages were graphed out, it might start looking like a bell curve. I don’t have the depth of knowledge on the Japanese economy to pontificate as to why this developed this way.

So, we have seen a political and military challenge after World War II from the Soviet Union. They went from claiming that “We will bury you” (1956) to dissolving (1991). We have seen an economic challenge from our ally Japan, and it certainly impacted our car industry and consumer electronics. This has gone in only two decades from a point where the economic growth trajectory lines of Japan seemed to be on track to surpassing the United States to a point now where Japan’s economy is a quarter of our economy. And… still does not appear to be growing much. It makes you wonder about the next political, military or economic challenge…..and how that will play out.

6th Panzer Division Tank Losses on 9 July 1943

6th Panzer Division Tank Losses on 9 July 1943

There are some questions about the loss figures for the 6th Panzer Division on the 9th of July 1943. This is in response to this post:

Obscure Major Tank Battle on 9 July 1943

In my book (page 767) I state that the 6th Panzer Division lost 38 tanks this day. Let us look where those figures came from.

In the Provisional Army Kempf files is a report of “The Tank Situation on 9 July early [morning]. It is file T312, R58, page 4374. They report for the 6th Panzer Division

                            Ready for Action             Lost on 8.7.43

Pz II                         7                                     1

Pz III short              —

Pz III long              24

Pz III 75                 12                                     1

Pz IV short              —

Pz IV long              14

Command                3

Flame                    10

VI                            —

Assault Gun            —

Total                       70                                     2

The next page of the report for 10 July (again “early” as in früh, which I gather means “early” or “early in the morning”).

                           Ready for Action             Lost on 9.7.43

Pz II                         0?

Pz III short              —

Pz III long              12

Pz III 75                   1

Pz IV short              —

Pz IV long                7

Command                2

Flame                     —

VI                             —

Assault Gun            —

Total                       22

There is no report on losses for the 9th for the 6th PzD but there are for the other units (including the 19 Tigers lost by the 503rd Heavy Tank Battalion).

So….70 – 22 = 48. Now 5 of the 10 flamepanzers were detached to the 19th Panzer Division, so not sure of their status. If I subtract them out, I end up with 38 tanks lost.

As the first report is early on the 9th and the next report is early on the 10th, then I can only assume that most, if not all losses, were suffered on the 9th.

There was a book page that was copied by one commentator

You will note that it shows 70 tanks on 9 July (9Julam) and 22 tanks of 10 July (10 Julam). I am guessing that “9Julam” means morning of 9 July. If so, this chart appears to have been created from the same data I have and indicates up to 48 losses on 9 July.

Is this issue settled? There are similar reports for the rest of the armor units in Provisional Army Kempf.

What would a reconstituted Soviet Union/Russian Empire look like?

What would a reconstituted Soviet Union/Russian Empire look like?

The Soviet Union broke up into 15 separate countries in December 1991. What would a reconstituted Soviet Union/Russian Empire look like, if that is indeed one of the goals of Russian leadership (and some people say it is).

1. Russia, 2. Ukraine, 3. Belarus, 4. Uzbekistan, 5. Kazakhstan, 6. Georgia, 7. Azerbaijan, 8. Lithuania, 9. Moldavia, 10. Latvia, 11, Kirghizia, 12. Tajikistan, 13. Armenia, 14. Turmenistan, 15. Estonia.


The three Baltic states appear to be out of their grasp, being members of NATO. They are militarily protected by an alliance of 29 members, and their economic growth has been significant. The per capita income of Estonia is $19,840 (IMF 2017), while that of Russia is $10,608. Half of Russia’s GDP is in Moscow, just to drive home what the rest of the country is like.

Some of these countries are united into the Eurasian Economic Union. It consists of five countries: Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan. It was Ukrainian President Yanukovych’s decision to develop closer economic ties with Russia and the Eurasian Union and back away from an association agreement with the European Union (28 countries) that started the Euromaiden protests in November 2013 that lead to his removal from power in February 2014 (and the Russian seizure of Crimea and the Russian-influenced revolts in Lugansk and Donetsk). The Eurasian Union flag is below. Interesting map choice.

So who would be in a reconstituted Soviet Union/ Russia Empire?

There are the five “stans” in Central Asia (Kazakstan, Uzbekiskan, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan). By the nature of their geography they are somewhat isolated, landlocked, and potentially could be brought back into Russia’s orbit. Two countries are already members of the Russian created Eurasian Union. There is also Belarus, another Eurasian Union member. Belarus does not have a strong history of independence and could be brought back into Russia’s orbit. Belarus might very well rejoin Russia after its dictator Lukaschenko (age 64) moves on to wherever he ends up. These could reconstitute a new force if they could be brought into Russia’s orbit. Some stats:

                            (2018 est.)                 (IMF 2017)

                            Population                 GDP (millions)

Russia                  146,877,088              $1,527,469

Uzbekistan             32,653,900                    47,883

Kazakhstan            18,292,700                  160,839

Belarus                     9,478,200                    54,436

Tajikistan                  8,931,000                      7,234

Kyrgystan                 6,309,300                      7,061

Turkmenistan           5,851,466                    37,926

Sub-Total              228,393,654              1,842,848


This adds up. It is more significant demographically than economically. The per capita income of Uzbekistan is $1,491 per year and Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are worse. This recombined country would move from being the 12th richest in the world up to being the 10th richest, ahead of Canada but behind Italy.

Now there are three countries in the Caususus: Georgia, Azerbaijain, and Armenia and four odd political entities (Abkhazia, North Ossetia, Artsakh and Chechnya). Of the three former Soviet countries, Georgia is openly hostile to Russia (and Abkhazia and North Ossetia have been carved from it) and Azerbaijain and Armenia are hostile to each other. They fought a war over the province of Nagorno-Karabakh from 1988-1994, which Armenia won. It is now the Republic of Artsakh.

Only Armenia is a member of the Eurasian Union. It will be difficult for Russia to bring these three nations into its fold for a number of reasons, but again they remain relatively isolated with only Iran and Turkey as the neighbors in the region. So…lets us assume this somehow happens:

                            Population                 GDP (millions)

Old Sub-total     228,393,654                1,842,848

Azerbaijain             9,943,226                      40,670

Georgia                  3,729,600                      15,230

Armenia                  2,969,800                     11,037

Abkhazia                    240,705                     N/A

Artsakh                      145,053                      N/A

New sub-total    245,422,038                1,909,785


They are all pretty poor, with Azerbaijan having a per capita income of $4,141 and Georgia and Armenia having similar slightly lower numbers.This really does not get a new Russia Empire back to being a world power. Italy still has a larger GDP.

This now assembles 10 of the original 15 republics together. The three Baltic states are out of reach without a world war, and that leaves only Ukraine and Moldova.

                          Population                 GDP

Ukraine             42,248,129                 109,321

Moldova              3,550,900                    7,945

Transnistria           470,600                      N/A


Note that the Ukrainian population figures excludes Crimea and Sevastopol but includes Lugansk and Donetsk. The per capita income of Ukraine is $2,583 and Moldova is $2,280.

It is clear that if one was going to re-constitute the Soviet Union/Russian Empire that Ukraine is the real prize here. Some argue that this is what the conflict in 2013-2014 was about, and is the source of the continued conflict over Crimea, Lugansk and Donetsk.


P.S. The stats for the three Baltic states are:

                       Population                 GDP

Lithuania        2,799,127                    47,263

Latvia             1,923,400                    30,319

Estonia           1,319,133                    25,973

Obscure Major Tank Battle on 9 July 1943

Obscure Major Tank Battle on 9 July 1943

There is an extended discussion in my Kursk book called “The Reinforced 6th Panzer Division Crashes Forward” on pages 766-768.

There was a significant fight around the towns of Melikhovo and Shlyakhovoye in the III Panzer Corps sector on 9 July. The 6th Panzer Division had attached to it the panzer regiment from the 19th Panzer Division, the 503rd Heavy Panzer Battalion (Tiger) and the 228th Assault Gun Battalion.The Soviet defenders included the 305th Infantry Division, 92nd Guards Rifle Division and 96th Tank Brigade.

To quote:

This fighting must have been extremely deadly for the 6th Panzer Division, for it appears to have lost 38 of 73 tanks this day…The attached Tiger Battalion fared no better, with a loss of 19 of 33 tanks….The 228th Assault Gun Battalion was clearly in the middle of the fight also, indicating a loss of 12 Sturmgeschuetz IIIs of 23. The Panzer Group Westhoven, attached from the 19th Panzer Division, would also fair poorly, losing 30 tanks this day. This was a devastating loss of almost 100 tanks in one day!…

The unheralded day of fighting appears to have cost the III Panzer corps over 100 tanks and assault guns. This was not only the worst day of combat for the corps, but one of the worst for the Germans in the attack in the south….

To put this in perspective, the SS Panzer Corps’ worst day had been fewer than 80 tanks lost (on the 6th)…..Even at the famed Battle of Prokhorovka on the 12th of July, the SS Panzer Corps lost fewer tanks. While Rotmistrov and the Fifth Guards Tank Army became renown for this action, the fighting today (9 July) between Andreyevskiye and Melikhovo was truly unheralded, yet not mentioned in major histories of the battles and the Soviet defenders have not been singled out. 

A few photos of the area:

The first is of the area northeast of Belgorod, showing where the Lipovyii and Severnyii Donets meet, 2 June 1943. The railroad on the left (west) goes to Prokhorovka. The two large villages in the south are Staryii Gorod and Blizhnyaya Igumenka while the three lrager villages in the north are Belomestnaya, Petrpavllovka, and Dalnayaya Igumenka  (see page 580). The small town of Andreyevskiye is on the river just to the north-northeast (1 km) of Blizhnyaya Igumenka. It is in the river just west of the woods north of Blizhnyaya Igumenka (the woods almost in the center of the map). Melikhovo is 4+ km to the northeast of the those woods. It is in the northeast corner of the picture, but hard to see in the darkened section. Shlyakhovoye is just beyond it.

Next is Stayii Gorod, 3 July 1943. Note the trench works in the while area and elsewhere (see page 572).

Finally there is the close-up photo of the woods just south of Blizhnyaya Igumenka and east of Staryii Gorod, 7 July 1943. Note the trenchworks. This would be a second echelon defensive position. The same woods is visible in the previous photo east of Staryii Gorod (see page 573).


I have four engagement sheets covering the operation of the III Panzer Corps for this day (pages 770-773):

German        German        Soviet         German      Soviet    German       Soviet

Unit               Strength       Strength     Armor         Armor     Artillery       Artillery

168th ID          8,077           9,342          6                 0             48             111

19th PzD       19,347        10,179         13                0              161           107

6th PzD         22,792        16,241        158               54            143           151

7th PzD         19,355        19,658          52               28            127           171

Total              69,571        55,420        229               82            479           540


German        German        Soviet          German         Soviet

Unit               Casualties    Casualties  Tank Losses   Tank Losses

168th ID          98                 193                0                      0

19th PzD        472                935                6                      0

6th PzD          177             1,476               97                   13

7th PzD          367                270                 5                     0

Total            1,114             2,874             108                   13


This was very heavy tank losses for a single day of combat, yet there is no one who discusses it. Is there something about this day that I have mis-interpreted?

Population over Time (US vs USSR)

Population over Time (US vs USSR)

Over last decades, the population of major countries like China, India, Soviet Union/ Russia, Japan, Germany and the United States have changed. This has clearly changed the balance of power between them and will continue to as we move forward into the future. For example:

Unite States versus Soviet Union:

                                              Soviet Union/

Year           United States      Russia                    Ratio

1950/51      151.3 (1950)        182.3 (1951)           0.83-to-1

1980/82      226.5 (1980)        270.0 (1982)           0.84-to-1

2018           308.7                    142.9                      2.16-to-1

2050           402                       132                         3.05-to-1


Now, this is certainly the biggest change we will look at. Russia went from almost being a world power to being a pale reflection of its past power and glory (I am willing to argue that the Soviet Union was never really a world power….it just pretended to be one). Added to that is the economic changes over time. I hesitate to even discuss what the GDP of the Soviet Union was, as the ruble was artificially inflated. When it was floated in the 1990s, it went from one ruble per 1.11 dollars (it always was worth more than a dollar in the Soviet era, of course)…to something like 3,000 rubles to a dollar. They then shaved off two the zeros for the new ruble to make it less than 30 rubles to a dollar. The current exchange rate is 65 rubles to a dollar.

The current Russian GDP is 1.5 trillion (IMF 2017). This is compared to the United States GDP of 19.4 trillion (IMF 2017). So, right now, Russia has less than half the population and less than a tenth of the economy of the United States. In 2050 it will have only a third of the population of the U.S. Who knows what the economy will be. The Russia economy might still be pretty dependent on the price of oil.

With its population declining, its work force aging, its economy built upon export of oil and gas, with wide spread corruption, and an entrenched leadership; it is hard to imagine that Russia’s economy will have an extended economic growth that will return it to being a great power. Its economic growth last year (2017) was 1.5%. Russia is currently the 11th or 12th richest country in the world. It is behind Canada. My seat-of-the-pants estimate is that Russia will still not be among the 10 richest countries in 2050.

For Russia to return to its old glory, it really sort of needs to re-constitute the Soviet Union or the old Russian Empire to some degree. Some would argue that this has indeed been part of Putin’s plan. I will examine this in a future post.

Demographics of Germany

Demographics of Germany

Germany is the richest country in Europe. It is the second most populous country in Europe (after Russia). It is the fourth richest country in the world. Its demographic situation is similar to many of its neighbors, which include several large counties of around 60 million people, including the United Kingdom, France and Italy. Each are unique, but because of its central position in Europe, this is a perfectly good case to examine.

The population of Germany is almost 83 million (82,800,000 in 2017 estimate). The rate of growth has been slow. In 1939, they had 69 million people (inside current borders: not counting territory and population gains in the 1930s). They still only had 69 million in 1950. Its fertility rate is now 1.59 children born per woman (2016 estimate). This is low, but not as low as Japan. Since the 1970s, the German death rate has exceeded its birth rate. Its fertility rate has been below 2.00 since 1970.

Unlike Japan, there has been significant immigration to Germany. The rate of immigration to Germany, relative to the size of their population has been higher than in the United States. About 7 million of Germany’s residents do not have German citizenship and over 10 million of the people in Germany (12%) were born outside of Germany. They tend to be from everywhere, Turkey, Poland, Russia, Italy, Romania, Greece, Syria, other EU countries, and so forth.

So….the picture is different when it comes to the demographic “pyramid,” although because of the low birth rates, it is still not very pyramidal. Not as bizarre looking as Japan’s, but this clearly still shows a shortage of young labor and a potential burden on the younger population as the larger older population ages.

In many respects the comparison between Japan and Germany is most interesting, as Japan is a case of a country with low birth rate that does not have significant immigration, while Germany is the opposite. A proper in-depth study of this would look at the macro and micro economic impacts of this, the social impacts, and the long-term strengths and weaknesses these countries develop as a result of this. It is not a task I will be taking on.

As far as what the estimates for German population in 2050, hard to imagine it is going to be significantly different than what is today. It only grew 14 million in the last 80 or so years. A lot of this growth is due to immigration. So the United Nations estimates it will be 79 million in 2050. Sounds perfectly reasonable, although it is dependent on their continued immigration policy.

I have now briefly looked at six countries in the world, Russia, United States, China, India, Germany and Japan. This includes the three most populous counties in the world (followed by Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Russia, Mexico and Japan). They include five of the six richest countries in the world (with the UK being fifth on the list and France being seventh). I think that will be all for now.

FY2019 Defense Budget

FY2019 Defense Budget

I gather the defense budget for FY2019 is 674.4 billion. This is 17 billion more than 2018.

The bill only funds U.S. defense through 7 December (there is considerable irony in that date), and then they have to pass another bill. So it can all change. Added to that there will be the mid-term elections in November, although the new congress won’t be seated until late January.

The defense budget has gone from a high of 696 in 2010, down to 571 in 2015 and then up to 596 in 2016, 626 in 2017, and 653 in 2018. Source (as everyone seems to have a slightly different set of numbers):

By the way, worth your while to look through the tables on that site.

Also see:

Some Statistics on Afghanistan

Some Statistics on Afghanistan

Camp Lonestar, near Jalabad, 7 October 2010 (Photo by William A. Lawrence II)

I do have a chapter on Afghanistan in my book America’s Modern Wars. When it came to updating the Afghanistan chapter (as I had to update the book before it was published), I ended up leaning on the Secretary General reports quarterly reports on Afghanistan for my data, as it may be the most trusted source available. Those reports are here:

In Chapter Twenty-One my book I note that in 2013 there were 20,093 security incidences or 1,674 a month. This is a definite increase since 2008 and 2009 (741 and 960 a month respectively) and only a slight improvement (decrease) from 2011 (1,909 incidences a month). See pages 259-261 of my book.

So what are the current statistics?:

              Security           Incidences      Civilian

Year      Incidences       Per Month       Deaths

2013      20,093               1,674               2,959

2014      22,051               1,838               3,699

2015      22,634               1,886               3,545

2016      23,712               1,976               3,498

2017      23,744               1,979               3,438

2018      19,995               1,666               3,384      Estimated


2011 was the worse year of the war as far as incident count until 2016 and 2017. Based upon incident count, the war has been pretty much “flat-lined” for the last nine years (2010: 19,403, 2011: 22,903, 2012: 18,441). Civilian deaths show that same pattern.

At the start of 2013, we still had 66,000 troops in Afghanistan, although we were drawing them down. There were 251 U.S. troops killed in 2012 (310 killed from all causes) and 85 in 2013 (127 killed from all causes). Over the course of 2013, 34,000 troops were to be withdrawn and the U.S. involvement to end sometime in 2015. We did withdrawn the troops, but really have not ended our involvement. According to Wikipeida we have 18,000+ ISAF forces there (mostly American) and 20,000+ contractors. I have not checked these figures. We left behind an Afghan force of over 300,000 troops to conduct the counterinsurgency. That force has not grown significantly in size since then. At our peak, we had 114,066 troops there in 2006. Things were going better back then.

As we note in my book “The 2013 figure of 20,093 incidents a year does argue for a significant insurgency force. If we use a conservative figure of 333 incidents per thousand insurgents, then we are looking at more than 60,000 full-time and part-time insurgents.”

Now, we actually never did have a contract to do work on Afghanistan. After we were right on Iraq in 2004 (casualties and duration), we were given contracts to do more data research and analysis of insurgencies, but never given a contract to further refine our predictions for Iraq or do a similar prediction for Afghanistan. So we have never done any in-depth analysis of Afghanistan (you know, the type of work that requires a man-year or more of effort).

Camp Lonestar, near Jalabad, 7 October 2010 (Photo by William A. Lawrence II)



Notes for 2018 estimates:

  1. 15 December 2017-15 February 2018: 3,521 security incidences (6% decrease from previous year).

  2. 15 February-15 May: 5,675 security incidences (7% decrease from previous year).

  3. 15 May – 15 August: 5,800 security incidences (10% decrease from previous year)

  4. First quarter of 2018: 763 civilian deaths.

  5. Mid-year 2018: 1,692 civilian deaths.




Demographics of Japan

Demographics of Japan

There was a time in the 1980s when Japan’s GNP was 60% of the United States and people were talking about Japan’s economy outgrowing the United States by the year 2000, 2010 or 2020…but in our lifetime. Well, I am still alive and they have not. Right now, Japan’s GNP is about 25% of the United States (IMF 2017 figures) and it does not look like they are going into any extended economic boom any time soon. Now, this talk in the 1980s was understandable if one took a straight line of the Japanese economic growth over the previous couple of decades, and compared it the U.S. economic growth of say, the 1970s. And…if you assumed those two lines would continue unchanged for the next few decades, you could get there. That is obviously not what happened. Japan’s place as the booming economic challenger was replaced by the “Asian Tigers” and then by the Peoples Republic of China. Japan’s current GDP is growing at 1.7% a year (2017). One of the several underlying reasons for this slow growth is due to their shortages in workforce, caused by their demographics.

The population of Japan as of the 2017 census is 127 million people (126,672,000). It is the tenth most populous country in the world (just after Russia). They remain the third richest country in the world (3rd in GNP) after the United States and China.

In 1985 their population was 121 million. This is not much growth. Mostly the population is getting older and grayer. In 2012, 24% of the population was over 65 and it is projected to rise to almost 40% by 2050. The good news is that Japan has the second longest overall life expectancy of any country in the world at 83.5 years. Since 2010 Japan has had a net population loss caused by falling birth rates and almost no immigration. Its fertility rate is 1.41 children per woman (2012), which is by far the lowest figure of any of the countries we have discussed. This is an improvement from 2001-2005, when it was 1.32.

Oddly enough, Japan controlled its population in the previous two centuries. Japanese population remained around 30-35 million people for around 150 years, from the early 1700s (their first census was in 1721). This is unusual, extremely unusual as it was not caused by any natural or man-made disaster. It appeared to be caused by a culture of family planning that simply resulted in the population remaining relatively steady. I don’t know enough about Japanese history to know why this developed, but it is trend that you see in almost no other country in the world in the 1800s. Just to make everyone uncomfortable, apparently this population control was helped by “infanticide” (mabiki).

Japan is a country that is not very encouraging for immigration. It is 98.5% Japanese, 0.5% Korean, 0.4% Chinese and 0.6% Other (in 2011). One of those “other” is now Geoffrey Clark, one of our guest bloggers. He has just moved to Japan for work and will be returning to blogging soon.

Japan really had not relied on immigration as part of their response to declining population. This is also unusual. As a result their demographic “pyramid” has developed a really uncomfortable shape. This is about as close as you are going to get to just flipping the pyramid upside down.

In the bigger picture, this shows the impact of controlled de-population on a country’s demographics (and economy). This is the alternative to allowing large scale immigration. Every country will need to address this as their fertility rates drop below 2. It is estimated that in 2050 the population of Japan will be 109 million (2017 UN figures, medium variant). This compares to 402 million for the United States (or 396 million using the 2017 UN medium variant figures). Right now the per capita income of Japan is $38,440 compared to $59,501 for the U.S. (IMF 2017 figures). If the per capita income remains below the United States, then this means the GDP of Japan could well decline to being below a fifth of the United States. This is a very different picture than the estimates that they would economically surpass the U.S. in 2000.

Final thoughts:

                 Japanese             United States           Ratio

Year          Population          Population                U.S./Japan

1860          > 32 million           31 million                  0.97

1900             44 million           76 million                  1.72

1940             73 million            132                          1.64

1980           117                       227                          1.94

2020           127                       334                          2.63

2050           109                       396                          3.63


1860 was 7 years after Commodore Perry entered Edo Bay, which lead to the opening of Japan for trade.

1900 was when the U.S. and Japan were on good terms.

1940 was the year before Pearl Harbor and the U.S. and Japan went to war.


Really Old Stuff

Really Old Stuff

Oldest living animal (558 million years ago):

Oldest human (homo sapien) (300,000 years ago):

Oldest human (homo sapien) outside of Africa (177,000 – 194,000 years ago):


Demographics of India

Demographics of India

India is still not thought of by many to be a world power, but in the long run, as its economy and population grow, it will join this esteemed company. It is the 2nd largest population in the world and the 6th largest economy in the world. Its economy is about the size of its old colonial master, the United Kingdom. It is a nuclear power, although we gather it has not weaponized many nukes. Still, it is a poor country, with a per capita income of $1,983 per person (per year…IMF 2017 figures).

Unlike China, there was no draconian one-child policy adopted, so Indian population continued to grow at a rate that is about to catapult it past China as the most populous country in the world. This is expected to happen in 2024 or 2030, or whenever. Sometime in the next decade.

The population of India for 2017 is estimated at 1.324 million, or 1.3 billion. This puts the population of the world’s largest democracy around four times that of the United States. It is almost four times what its population was in 1951 (361 million). In the early 1950s China had a population around 60 percent larger than India. Now, they are almost equal, although China has considerable more wealth.

The rapid Chinese economic growth has lead to it having a GDP of $12 trillion compared to the more anemic GDP of India at only $2.6 trillion. Needless to say, there is also a big difference in per capita income.

But while China is growing at a rate of only .59% a year and its population is expected to fall, India is expected to continue growing. Its growth rate in 2016 was 1.19% and its fertility rates are 2.45 children per woman (2016 estimate from CIA World Factbook). The annual growth rate remains at over one percent a year. But, the growth rate of the population appears to be declining, like it is in most areas of the world, developed or developing. India does have some emigration and immigration, but the population is so massive that this does not have a huge impact on population growth rates. The demographic pyramid is actually much more pyramidal that the others we have seen, although it is clear towards that bottom of the pyramid that they are now controlling their population growth rates.

India is truly a multi-ethnic, multi-linguistic and multi-religious society. It has something like more than 2,000 ethnic groups. Forgive me if I don’t list them. About 40% of Indians speak Hindi (an Indo-European language) as their first language, and over half the population can speak it. Over 10% of the population speaks English, making it the second largest English speaking country in the world. Religious affiliation is a little more unified with Hindu’s making up almost 80% of the population. There are Muslims (14% or more), Christians (2.3%), Sikhs (1.7%), Buddists, Jainism and even practitioners of Zoroastrianism (look that one up in your Funk and Wagnells). Keep in mind that 14% of 1.3 billion makes this the third largest Muslim population in the world with over 170 million Muslims.

The Indian population is expected to grow for a while. The United Nations predicts the Indian population will be 1.7 billion in 2050. This compares to 402 million for the United States and 1.36 billion for China estimated in 2050.

India economic growth rate has been around 6% a year for the last two decades. Depending on continued economic growth, this is a country that will slowly and surely take its place among the nations of the world.


Panzer Battalions in LSSAH in July 1943

Panzer Battalions in LSSAH in July 1943

I was recently reviewing a book called Germany and the Second World War: The Eastern Front 1943-1944. On page 124 it stated that “[On 12 July] In reality, this [the Adolf Hitler SS Panzer] regiment consisted of only one battalion of three companies, to which a heavy armoured company with four operational Tigers had been attached. The other battalion was back in Germany undergoing conversion to Panthers.”

Now, the LSSAH (Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler) Division did send its I Battalion back to convert to Panthers, but I still believe that the tank (panzer) regiment was operating with two battalions and more than three regular panzer companies. They probably had a temporary battalion drawn from elsewhere as had been done for the Das Reich SS Division. The problem is that I do not have a detailed organization chart for the LSSAH Division for June or July 1943. I do have the Das Reich and Totenkopf organization charts for August and July respectively and they both have two battalions with 7 or 8 panzer companies. As the Adolf Hitler SS Division has more tanks than either of them, I assume it also had two panzer battalions. Yet other authors seem to want to imply that somehow the Adolf Hitler SS Panzer Regiment was at half-strength at Prokhorovka, even though it had more tanks than either of the other two SS divisions..

On page 136 of that book it states that “The conclusion is that on 12 July at Prokhorovka 5th Guards Armoured Army fought only against two SS Armoured Infantry Divisions (each with a single armoured battalion), apart from an insignificant skirmish at Rzhavets.”

To start with the LSSAH Division on 4 July had 90 Pz III and IVs, and 9 Pz III Command tanks. There is simply no way to assemble them into a battalion of three companies with a strength of only 22 tanks per company. Even if 5 Pz IIIs are with the 13th Panzer Company (the Tiger company), and another 9 – 13 tanks are with the battalion and regiment headquarters, this leaves at least 81 Pz III and IVs for the II Battalion. With only three companies, they were either operating with 27 or more tanks per company, or there was some other organization. Ribbentrop, the 6th company commander, did state that there were 22 tanks in his company and I don’t recall seeing overstrength tank companies in German organizations before.

So, either the LSSAH had 1) overstrength tank companies, 2) a 4th company in the II Battalion, or 3) a temporary I Battalion.

I do not have an organization chart of LSSAH for June, July or August. I do have the organization chart for the Das Reich on 1 August 1943. There it shows the II Panzer Battalion. In the place of the I Panzer Battalion is an AT Battalion which has three companies reporting to it, a tank company, and two antitank companies (but armed with tanks). It is clear that the Das Reich SS Division had created a temporary I Battalion to handle its tanks. It had done so by I August, and I suspect it had done that before the Battle of Kursk (which started 5 July). If the Das Reich SS Division had done this before Kursk, then I would not be surprised it LSSAH did something similar.

The records I have do reference a I Battalion with the LSSAH on 8 July. In my files is a report from the “Tagesmeldung” for LSSAH for 8/7/43 17.45. It states “Am 8.7.43, 05..00 Uhr, trat verstarktes I.Pz.Rgt.1 aus Prokrowka zum Angriff auf Bol. Majatschki…” (T354, R605, page 577). This was not a simple typo, for the same report is repeated in a “Presentation of Events” that states for 8 July: “05.00 Uhr. Angriff I.Pz:Rgt. “L-SS-AH” gegen Bol. Majatschki.” (T313, R368, note they use the Roman numeral I, which indicates battalion). So, either something or someone was serving as the first battalion of the regiment; or this is an incorrect report broadcast to two sources. This is referenced in my Kursk book on page 622 where the I Battalion of the Adolf Hitler SS Panzer Regiment is attacking at 0500 from Pokrovka towards Bolshiye Mayachki.

Another historian I have been discussing this with has also looked at the LSSAH division history for 1943 by Rudolf Lehmann and mentions an 8th panzer company that may have been created in May/June.

So, we are left with one of three constructs:

1. There are 27 or more Pz III and IVs in each tank company.

     A. This is both unusual and contradicted by Ribbentrop.

2. There is an 8th company in II Panzer Battalion

     A. Also contradicted by Ribbentrop.

3. There is a temporary I Battalion created.

    A. Similar to what Das Reich records on 1 August.

    B. And referenced in two reports on 8 July.


Of course, logic would dictate that the Adolf Hitler SS Division had an arrangement similar to what was done with the Das Reich. If they did not, then it begs the question of how did they command 106 Pz I-IVs with three tank companies. The division had 3 Pz I (one of them a command tank), 4 Pz IIs, 90 Pz IIIs and Pz IVs (79 of them Panzer IV longs), 12 Pz VI and nine Panzer III Command tanks. With 22 tanks per company, and the 12 Tiger tanks in one company, they clearly needed 6 to 8 companies to handle this collection of armor. There are 3 or 4 tank companies in a battalion. On 1 August, the Das Reich SS Division had seven regular tank companies (not counting the Tiger company) which had between them 8 and 21 tanks each, with only one company having as many as 21 tanks (T313, R387). The Totenkopf SS Division had six regular tank companies (T78, R719) throughout this period.

On 15 April I have a status report as of 30 April (not sure how that works) that clearly indicates that LSSAH and DR SS Divisions only have one battalion (see:T313, R366, page 2078). It lists “1 Pz.Abt” for LSSAH and “1 Pz.Abt” and “1 Tiger-Kp.” for DR SS Division. Yet on 1 August the Das Riech SS Division has two battalions, one a temporary battalion created from an AT tank Battalion. I have assumed this was also its organization as of 1 July 1943. At least to me, it makes the argument that both panzer regiments replaced the missing I Battalion with a temporary battalion for Kursk.

The tank status report for Das Reich for 1 May lists the panzer regiment without the 1st Battalion (T313, R387, page 369). The similar tank status report for 1 June lists the panzer regiment but no statement that it is without the 1st Battalion (T313, R387, page 505). Same with the 10 June report (T313, R387, page 560). Is this because something changed? This does lead me to strongly suspect that Das Reich created it temporary I Battalion on or before 1 June. If Das Reich did so, I would assume so to would LSSAH.

So, logic would dictate that the Adolf Hitler SS Panzer Regiment has two battalions, while two similar reports on 8 July 1943 also reference the I Battalion. Is there any documentation I have missed that could further clarify or resolve this issue?

Demographics of China

Demographics of China

China is the most populous country/region in the world. In its unified and un-unified forms, it has been forever, so it seems. It certainly has been since the fall of the Roman Empire, although one can argue that the British Empire was larger for a moment. Oddly enough, the pre-eminent position that it has held for over 1,500 years, is about to be surpassed by India. China, in its wisdom brought it population under control decades ago, encouraging smaller families. This has allowed it to further develop and economically grow. Quite simply, if a country’s economic growth is 3% a year, and its population growth is 3% a year, then the average person is basically getting nowhere. This has been the case for many nations in the developing world. China has broken from that pattern.

The population of China (People’s Republic of China) for 2017 is estimated at 1,511 million, or 1.5 billion. This is a staggering figure making it almost five times (4.6 times) as many people as the United States. It is around three times what its population was in 1950. The population in its first official national census taken by the People’s Republic of China in 1953 was 583 million. It was a little hard to determine what the population of China was until the post-war period. Post-war in this case means post-Warlord period, post-Sino-Japanese War, post-World War II and post-Chinese Civil War. The Chinese population was almost four times larger than the United States in 1950/1953, back in the days when we were at war with China in the Korean peninsula. The Chinese population is now growing at a rate of 0.59% percent a year (a half percent a year). This is very low.

The fertility rates in China are 1.62 children per woman (2016) according to National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) and 1.29 in 2016 according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). Not sure why there is such a difference. Regardless, this is not replacement rate and well below 2.1. It is a birth rate lower that what we see in many developed countries, although China is a still a developing country. This low birth rate was a result of the one-child policy instituted by the Communist Party in 1979. It appears to have not only worked, but it worked too well. In 2015, the government instituted a two-child policy. According to NHFPC, they are expecting the birth rate to grow to 1.8. I guess this is one of the goals of the 13th Five-Year Plan. This is still not replacement rate. China does have some emigration and immigration, but the population is so massive that this does not have a huge impact on population growth rates.

They have classified 91.51% of the population of China as Han Chinese. Still, 8.5% of 1.5 billion creates some significant minorities. This includes the Tibetians, with at least 2.8 million, and the Turkish Uyghurs estimated at 3.6 million. I ate recently at a Uyghur restaurant in Crystal City, VA. I have never seen to one of those before.

Most likely the Chinese population will experience negative population growth by 2030. The United Nations predicts the Chinese population will be 1.36 billion in 2050. This compares to 402 for the United States and 132 for Russian in 2050. Predicting population over 30 years is not that difficult. On the other hand, there is a projection that Chinese population will decline to 1.02 billion by 2100. I would not hang my hat on that last figure.

The population is aging, with its demographic “pyramid” developing a narrowing at the bottom. The demographic “pyramid” from 2015 is below:

These figures do not include Taiwan (Republic of China) or Macau (Macao Special Administrative Region). It does include the city of Hong Kong. Mainland China claims Taiwan is part of China and has had an army posed across the straights ready to invade for almost 70 years. I am guessing if they have not invaded in the last 70 years, they are not going to invade in the next 70, especially as Taiwan is a major trading partner. I do not expect re-unification as long as Taiwan remains democratic (and it has been since 1991/1996) and China remains a communist dictatorship. Taiwan had a population in 2010 of 23.1 million, and it is growing only very slowly. Macau, with a population of 552,300 in the 2010 census, is effectively under Chinese control, as is Hong Kong (7,097,600 in the 2010 census).

Demographics of the United States

Demographics of the United States

The United States is the third most populous country in the world, and has been since the collapse of the Soviet Union. It is likely to remain the third most populous country for a long time to come, as it will certainly not catch up to the two countries with over a billion people (China and India) and will not be surpassed by anyone else any time soon (Indonesia, 4th on the list, has a population of around 264 million in 2017 and a growth rate of 1.1% compared to the U.S. growth rate of 0.7%). It appears that we will be the third most populous country in the world for decades to come.

The United States population for 2018 is estimated at 328.3 million. This is more than twice what it was in 1950. It has been growing at 9.7% or higher for every decade since 1790, with the exception of the 1930s (7.3% for that decade). Annual growth rate in 2017 is 0.7%.

The fertility rates in the U.S. is 1.76 children per woman (2017). This is not that much higher than the 1.61 figure that Russia has (see my previous post on demographics). Almost all developed countries in the world now have a birth rate below 2. It needs to be around 2.1 to achieve replacement rate. The U.S. fertility rate dropped below 2.1 in 1972 and has remained below the replacement rate ever since then, except for two years (2006 and 2007). But, the U.S. population continues to grow, and that growth is due to immigration. If it was not for immigration, the U.S. population would be in decline.

The United States is currently 77.7% “white” (in 2013), which is defined by the census bureau as “having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.” Non-Hispanic “whites” make up 62.6% of the country’s population. The non-Hispanic “white” population is expected to fall below 50% by 2045. Needless to say, this has become a political issue inside the United States, one that I have no interest in discussing on this blog. See:

The United Nations predicts the U.S. population will be 402 million in 2050  (compared to their prediction of 132 for Russia in 2050). The U.S. census bureau projects the U.S. population will be 417 million in 2060.

The population has gotten older, with the median age now being 38.1 years. In 1970, at the height of the “youth culture” it was 28.1 years. The demographic “pyramid” from 2015 for the United States is below. This is worth comparing to the Russian “pyramid” in a previous post.

The legal immigration rate of the United States has averaged around 1 million a year from 1989. The legal immigration rate rose to 1.8 million in 1991 and was 1.2 million in 2016. This was very much driven by the Immigration Act of 1990, which raised the cap on immigration. See:

The illegal immigration rate is harder to calculate, as some illegal immigrants are deported, some return home and I gather a significant number of them later convert to legal immigrants. It is estimated that there are around 11 million illegal immigrants in this country (2016 estimate). In 1990, it was estimated that there were 3.5 million illegal immigrants. Does that mean that the actual immigration rate from illegal immigration is less than 300,000 a year (as many later become legal immigrants)? It is hard to say exactly, but it appears that our immigration rate is somewhere between 1,300,000 and 1,500,000 a year counting both legal and illegal immigrants.

This is the primary source of our population growth and will probably be so for some time to come. The United States ceased reproducing at replacement rate almost 50 years ago. This is not going to change anytime soon. Some immigration is probably essential to maintain our labor force at current or growing levels (this is as close to a political statement as I am going to get on the subject).

Next to China, India, Japan and Germany.

Destroyed tanks in Das Reich

Destroyed tanks in Das Reich

Still working on sorting out the events on 6 July 1943 with the Das Reich SS Division at Luchki.

Das Reich’s first reported destroyed tank was at 0235 on 7 July (T354, R605, page 556). It was a Panzer IV. It then provides a map showing 6 tanks destroyed SSW of Luchki (1 Pz III, 2 Pz IVs, 1 Pz VI and 2 T-34s). The map is undated, but is probably between 6 and 9 July. Das Reich took Luchki (south) on 6 July. This map is shown here:

The Das Reich Valley of Death?

There is a 10-day report for 10 July. These are usually the best source for total loss reports. The report total losses as of 10 July as being 1 Pz III long, 1 Pz IV long and 1 StuG (T313, R387, page 6831). There is also a Corps’ quartermaster log, where they report that as of 7/11, there were three tanks totally destroyed: 1 Pz III, 1 Pz IV and 1 StuG III (T354, R607, pg 507). Hard to square these reports up with the map of Luchki showing six tanks destroyed.

It is only until the 28th of July do we get a complete listing for Das Reich of total losses for the period of 5-18 July. There was no 10-day status report for the 20th of July. The 28 July report records for Das Reich total losses of 2 Pz III, 6 Pz IV, 1 Pz VI and 2 StuG (T354, R607, page 629). This is total of 11 tanks, but does not include T-34s, where at least two were totally destroyed. We ended up recording 18 as destroyed based upon multiple sources (see page 1336 of my Kursk book).

The same report also records LSSAH total losses as 1 Pz Ib, 1 Pz III, 9 Pz IV, 1 Pz VI, 3 StuG, and 3 “Pak Sf.” (Marders). Same for Totenkopf SS, where they report 6 Pz IIIs, 7 Pz IVs, 1 Pz VI, 1 StuG and 2 Marders.

Now this was a clean-up report. There were other earlier reports of total losses that indicate less losses. On 23 July there is a report of tanks destroyed by the corps (T354, R605, page 853). It reports for the II SS Panzer Corps 5 Pz III long, 23 Pz IV long, 3 Pz VI and 5 Sturmgeschutz (assault guns). This does not quite match the report on 28 July. On 28 July they report 9 Pz III (+4), 22 Pz IV long (-1), 3 Pz VI and 6 StuG (+1). There was no fighting between 23 and 28 July, 1943 as the SS Panzer Corps was moving to conduct its next offensive.

A few things come to mind here:

  1. According to our accounting, Das Reich lost 129 tanks damaged and 18 destroyed between 4 July and 18 July (see page 1337 of my Kursk book).
  2. They apparently only lost 13-18 tanks destroyed in that period.
  3. It does appears that tanks are being written off as destroyed several days after they were actually damaged, in some cases a week or more later.
  4. Clearly, looking at destroyed tanks only does not really give a full and proper accounting of the actual fighting.

If you really want to know what is going on with combat among the German armored divisions in WWII, you really need to compare and contrast the ready-for-action reports from day-to-day.

Anyhow, not sure I am any closer to determining what happened on the 6th of July, if any significant did happen.

Demographics of Russia

Demographics of Russia

I am far from an expert on demographics, but it something I do occasionally pay attention to. When it comes to measuring long-term military power and world influence, the basic measurement of power is wealth times population. Or, you can simply stack the countries up by GNP. This puts Russia 11th on the list, below Canada. But looking at Russia’s population alone is useful.

As of January 2018 the population of Russia is estimated at 146.9 million people. This does make it the 9th most populous country on the planet. This does include Crimea and Sevastopol, which has 2.4 million people.

The population of Russia was in steady decline from 1991 to 2013. Even in 2017 Russia was only producing 1.61 children per women. This is below the replacement rates of 2.1. The last time the Russian fertility rate was above 2 was in 1989 and that was only for 7 years. It was below 2 for most of the time before that going back to mid-1960s. Low child birth rates and small families rates seem to be very much a part of the culture. I know a lot of Russians that are only children.

Their population is growing ever so slowly due to immigration. For 2017 they had a net migration of 211,878, and a natural population loss of 135,818. This gave them population gains of 76,060, which is a very small annual gain (0.05% gain a year). In 2010, ethnic Russians made up 77% of the total population.

The population of Russia was 147.4 million in 1990, 148.7 million in 1991, and then it declined at a rate of 0.5% a year, dropped to 142.9 million in 2010 and has increased to 146.9 since then by immigration and seizure of Crimea and Sevastopol. In 2006 the Russian government started simplifying immigration laws, encouraging immigration of ethnic Russian from former Soviet republics. There is probably a limit to how many more people this can draw in. Russia also has about 7 million temporary migrant workers (these are 2011 figures). The Russian population tends to be older than most. The demographic “pyramid” is anything but pyramidal in shape.

As of 2018, the UN is still predicting that Russia’s population will fall to 132 million by 2050. See:

Now, lets compare the population of the Soviet Union/Russia to the United States over time:

                Soviet Union/Russia               United States

1951        182.3 million                             151.3 (1950)

1959        209.0                                        179.3 (1960)

1970        241.7                                        203.2

1977        257.7                                        226.5 (1980)

1982        270.0                                        226.5 (1980)

1990        290.9                                        248.7

1991        293.0                                        248.7 (1990)

2002       145.2 (Russia only)                   281.4 (2000)

2010       142.9                                         308.7

2018       146.9                                         328.3 (est.)


So, during the height of the “we will bury you” era the Soviet Union had a population of about 20% larger than the U.S. Russia now has a population less than half the U.S. (and a GDP of less than Canada). It appears that their population will not be growing very fast and may well continue to decline.

Wargaming Thread on Combat Results Tables

Wargaming Thread on Combat Results Tables

Thanks to a comment made on one of our posts, I recently became aware of a 17 page discussion thread on combat results tables (CRT) that is worth reading. It is here:

By default, much of their discussion of data centers around analysis based upon Trevor Dupuy’s writing, the CBD90 database, the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base (ACSDB), the Kursk Data Base (KDB)  and my book War by Numbers. I was not aware of this discussion until yesterday even though the thread was started in 2015 and continues to this year (War by Numbers was published in 2017 so does not appear until the end of page 5).

The CBD90 was developed from a Dupuy research effort in the 1980s eventually codified as the Land Warfare Data Base (LWDB). Dupuy’s research was programmed with errors by the government to create the CBD90. A lot of the analysis in my book was based upon a greatly expanded and corrected version of the LWDB. I was the program manager for both the ACSDB and the KDB, and of course, the most updated version of our DuWar suite of combat databases.

There is about a hundred comments I could make to this thread, some in agreement and some in disagreement, but then I would not get my next book finished, so I will refrain. This does not stop me from posting a link:

Lanchester equations have been weighed….


Das Reich Tank Losses on 6 July

Das Reich Tank Losses on 6 July

On 6 July 1943, we estimate that the Das Reich SS Division lost 30 tanks damaged and destroyed. We have them starting the battle on the evening of 4 July with the following:

Pz I Command:                1

Pz II:                                 0 (and 1 in repair)

Pz III short (Command):   8

Pz III short:                       1

Pz III long:                       52 (and 11 in repair)

Pz III Observation:            9 (not counted)

Pz III Command:               1

Pz IV long:                       30 (and 2 in repair)

Pz VI:                               12 (and 2 in repair)

StuG III:                            33

Marder II:                           2 (and one in repair)

Marder III 76.2mm:            8

T-34:                                18 (and 9 in repair)

Total                               166 (and 26 in repair)


This is from the Kursk Data Base (KDB).

Tank status report for 5 July from 4th PzA files (T313, R366, page 2209), no time given. It records:

Pz III short: 1

Pz III long: 45

Pz IV: 27

Pz VI: 12

Command: Not reported

StuG: 32


This file was not used. There are some errors in other parts of this report. The file we did use was 5.7.43 19:40 hours from the army files (T313, R368. page 4282), which states:

Pz III short: 1

Pz III long: 52

Pz IV long: 27

Pz VI: 11

T-34: 16

Command: 8

StuG: 21


It took me a while to find all these files, which is why this blog post was so late today.

The next report from Das Reich is at 0235 on 7 July. Not sure why the delay, as the other division’s in the corps were submitting daily reports. They report:

Pz III short: 1

Pz III long: 47

Pz IV: 16

Pz VI: 7

Command: 6

StuG: 14

Total losses: 1 Pz IV.


We assume that this report at 0235 on 7 July is the end of the day report for July 6. That gives us a count of at least 47-48 tanks lost since the start of the offensive. One will note that they claim only one tank completely lost, yet there are six tanks listed destroyed in the gully SSW of Luchki. Is this an indication that they may have been lost on subsequent days and towed there?

The Kursk Data Base records 19 tanks damaged/destroyed on the 5th and 30 tanks damaged/destroyed in the 6th. These counts include T-34 losses. On the 6th this includes 2 Pz III short (Command), 5 Pz III longs, 11 Pz IV longs (one listed as destroyed), 4 Pz VIs, 7 StuG IIIs, and 1 T-34.

The status report for 7 July is probably in the message of 8 July dated at 0830, which list tank status from 6.7.43. This could be a 7 July report and was used as such in the Kursk Data Base. It is from 4th Panzer Army files (T313, R366, page 2251):

Pz III: 43

Pz IV: 25

Pz VI: 6

Command tank: 7

T-34: 14

Stug: 7 (!)


Status report for 8 July (from 4th Panzer Army files, T313, R366, page 2247):

Pz III long: 31

Pz IV long: 14

Pz VI: 0  (hard to read)

Command Tank: 7

T-34: 12

StuG: 21


Report does have a handwritten figure of 45 next to it (31+14 = 45)

The next report of tank status we have for Das Reich is for 9 July. They report:

                           Division      Corps (1830)     Corps (1905)   4th PzA Report (2300)

Pz III short:            0

Pz III long:           31                   33                   31                      38 (31)

Pz IV:                  13                   15                    13                     13

 Pz VI:                   1                     1                      1                       1

Command tank:    7                     7                      7                            (7)

T-34:                     7                     7                      7

Stug:                   26                   26                    26                       26


For the Kursk Data Base, these were the nuts and bolt calculations we did for all nine German panzer and panzer grenadier divisions for all 15 days of the operation. We also did the same for all 10 Soviet tank and mechanized corps. While we may have made a error here and there on a given day, we did try to count and track tank strengths and losses for every single day, even when the records were not cooperating. I believe the KDB is the most accurate accounting of tank losses at the Battle of Kursk.

Anyhow, this is related to this previous post, as I am still trying to sort out what might of occurred near the village of Luchki on 6 July, 1943:

The Das Reich Valley of Death?

With six tanks reported destroyed to the SSW of Luchki, perhaps all on 6 July, and the Das Reich SS Division losing around 30 tanks on 6 July, there may have been a major fight there that is not otherwise documented.

The 3-to-1 Rule in Recent History Books

The 3-to-1 Rule in Recent History Books

This seems to be the rule that never goes away. I have a recent a case of it being used in a history book. The book was published in English in 2017 (and in German in 2007). In discussing the preparation for the Battle of Kursk in 1943 the author states that:

A military rule of thumb says an attacker should have a superiority of 3 to 1 in order to have a chance of success. While this vague principal applies only at tactical level, the superiority could be even greater if the defender is entrenched behind fortifications. Given the Kursk salient’s fortress-like defences, that was precisely the case.

This was drawn from Germany and the Second World War, Volume VIII: The Eastern Front 1943-1944: The War in the East and on the Neighboring Fronts, page 86. This section was written by Karl-Heinz Frieser.

This version of the rule now says that you have to have a superiority of 3-to-1 in order to have a chance of success? We have done a little analysis of force ratios compared to outcome. See Chapter 2: Force Ratios (pages 8-13) in War by Numbers. I never heard the caveat in the second sentence that the “principal applies only at tactical level.”

This rule has been discussed by me in previous blog posts. Dr. Frieser made a similar claim in his book The Blitzkrieg Legend:

The 3-to-1 Rule in Histories

These books were written by a German author who was an officer in the Bundeswehr, so apparently this rule of thumb has spread to some of our NATO allies, or maybe it started in Germany. We really don’t know where this rule of thumb first came from. It ain’t from Clausewitz.

The Das Reich Valley of Death?

The Das Reich Valley of Death?

When doing historical research questions often tend to lead to more questions which lead to more questions. You never seem to get to a final answer, you just move the questions further along. In my attempt to sort out the Staudegger fight of 8 July 1943, I ended up trying to figure out where the Das Reich SS Division’s Tiger tanks were (as one or two may have been involved in the fight against the II Tank Corps). That question led me to look back at the Tiger tank strengths of the Das Reich on the 8th, which led me to review the whole period from 6 to 9 July 1943. There is a hole there in the Das Reich records. This happens a lot (especially with the SS, who were not the best record keepers).

This then led me back to a diagram showing 6 tanks destroyed in a gully about one kilometer SSW of Luchki (south), roughly at grid 246404. They were one Panzer III, two Panzer IVs, 2 German T-34s and one Panzer VI (serial number 250085). See T313, R390, page 839.

If six tanks were destroyed there, then how many were damaged (could be 30+)? This would be a significant fight. Das Reich took Luchki on 6 July. There is no detailed records of any significant armor action there that I have found. Did six tanks just happen to get destroyed there because of a series of accidents and odd shots, or is this the ditch where they just happened to storing all their seriously damaged tanks, or as the map only has two “X’s” marked on it are the other four loss locations not marked, or is this an indication of a much larger undocumented fight that occurred on 6 July (or perhaps it was later). Right now, my Kursk book has several statements about the fighting at Luchki that does not indicate much armor action. They include:

It brought Luchki under attack at 1030 [6 July] but by 1045, the division was complaining that its attacks on height 243.2 was not making progress. Das Reich put its Der Fuehrer SS Regiment foremost and after overcoming stiff resistance, in particular from antitank guns and artillery, concentrated the fire of all heavy weapons onto hill 246.3, which the regiment then seized at 1130 [this height is located a little over 2 kilometers south of the tank “graveyard” in question]. On the other hand, the Adolf Hitler SS Division claims it seized hill 246.3 at 1115. (page 468-469)

But in the Corps log book (T313, R368) there is further detail for 6 July.

1115: message to commanding general: Das Reich attacking with panzers against Hill 246.3. Enemy strength unclear. Intention: Advance, go around Luchki on both sides.

1125: From Das Reich: Position west of Hill 246.3 in our hands, very fluid battle moving eastward.

1130: Message to commanding general: Hill 246.3 in our hands.

1340: Message to commanding general: 2nd Pz Regt [Das Reich] at Hill 232.0; Regiment Der Fuehrer apparently in Luchki. Ordering a change of position for the command post.

1405: From Das Reich: Regiment Der Fuehrer in combat in Luchki. Panzers moving against Hill 232.0.

1515: Orders to Das Reich: Continue attacking, objective Prokhorovka.

Back to my book:

By 1340, the panzer regiment had taken [probably should say were at] height 232.0 and Der Fuehrer SS Regiment had taken Luchki (1320 Berlin time). Nechayevka also fell to the Germans.

This is from page 469, I cannot locate height 232.0, but do not think it is near Luchki. It is stated for 6 July that end of the day the division succeeded in capturing Luchki (grid 2840), Sobachevskii (295440) and Kalinin (305460, as well as hill 232.0 (????), Oserovskii (2946) and the wooded section just NW of there. As this locations tend to be listed from left to right, this would indicate that height 232.0 is around 5 kilometers north of Luchki.

Our battalion had fought its way through the enemy entrenchments by the early hours of the afternoon and we occupied a place called Luckhi [the one on the Lipovyii Donets]. We reached the perimeter of this village that laid toward the enemy together with the first Grenadiers, but were completely out of ammunition. There was nothing left to do except wait for ammunition resupply under cover of this village.

While we waited for supply vehicles, cleaned out guns and prepared everything for loading ammunition, we were unexpectedly attacked by our own planes. A squadron of Hs-123s [German ground attack planes] dropped their bombs in a diving attack on Luchki. The bombs kept impacting closer until were hurriedly laid flat on the ground next to the vehicle tracks. Lots of bad language greeted the departing planes’ farewell. After this incident we removed the flag stretches across the hood for identification by air and instead the aerial observer on duty had to wave it forcefully whenever friendly planes were approaching. This apparently did the trick, as friendly planes no longer bothered us.

…In a great rush we filled up the magazines, transferred an extra few cases of ammunition over to our vehicle, refueled and quenched our thirst with the water from the containers brought along. We then closed up to the Grenadiers on the southern perimeter of Luchki at high speed. Another gun from our platoon was already engaged in an exchange of fire there. It took several more hours until the village had been taken.

There was an elevation behind Luchki that the enemy had to traverse in his retreat. We caught the enemy infantry columns with our 20mm guns on the bare include that provided almost no cover and caused great losses among them. The immediate follow up of our battalion was prevent by this bare terrain, through, mainly because of heavy fire from the flank to which we were exposed without protection. There was no way to move forward from there. Sharpshooters fired from extremely well camouflaged positions on every man who made a move and forced us to exercise greatest care. We repeatedly attempted to force enemy sharpshooters from their assumed positions by firing single, targeted shots. But the drama only ceased at nightfall. We remained ready for action throughout the night in position. There was no way to catch sleep as the exchange of fire never ceased completely at night.

The last four paragraphs are from page 470, from the interview with Private Kurt A. Kaufmann, loader with 14th company of the antiaircraft battery, Der Fuehrer SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment.

During the fighting near Luchki, the Tiger company claimed 12 T-34s. Also they report that a Russian armored train entered battle, causing some losses and was then set ablaze by the Tigers! (page 470, passage taken from Wolfgang Schneider, Tigers in Combat, Volume II, page 143)

The railroad track is four kilometers were of Luchki.

By the end of the day, the Das Reich SS Division was able to capture Luchki, Sobachevskii, Kalinin, heght 232.0, Ozerovskii, and the wooded section northwest of Ozerovskii. It lost 30 tanks and assault guns this day. (page 472)

This does not really indicate why there were 6 destroyed tanks to the SSW of Luchki (south). The town is hardly mentioned elsewhere in my book and does not appear to have been further fought over, although Luchki (north) was.


P.S. The Henschel 123 painting is from:


Putin visits Kursk

Putin visits Kursk

Russia’s Putin visits site of decisive WWII battle in Kursk

Suspect they went to the new museum at Prokhorovka, which was not there when I was visiting the site.

An Errant Battalion of the 99th Tank Brigade (versus Staudegger?)

An Errant Battalion of the 99th Tank Brigade (versus Staudegger?)

Interesting account from Valerii Zamulin’s book, pages 145-146, on the actions of the 99th Tank Brigade on 8 July 1943 (part of the late arriving II Tank Corps):

…the attack went in at 1400 8 July 1943. The 99th Tank Brigade attacked in the second echelon, behind the 169th and 26th Tank Brigades, with a combat formation also in two echelons: in the first–the T-34 tanks, in the second–the T-70 tanks. A motorized rifle battalion and an anti-tank rifle company rode into battle aboard the tanks….the brigade went into battle in the designated direction Hill 258.2–Teterevino–Luchki….

The commander of the 1st Tank Battalion, which was to attack in the brigade’s first echelon behind the 169th Tank Brigade, even as he was deploying the battalion at the jumping-off line for the attack (the railroad hut 500 meters north of Ivanovskii Vyselok), took a wrong turn and wound up 2 kilometers south of Ivanovskii Vyselok….the 1st Tank Battalion was halted, and it was assigned a different direction–to attack the southwest edge of the grove on the Komsomolets State Farm….

In the vicinity of the highway, the 1st Tank Battalion bumped into the 26th Tank Brigade’s column, although the battalon commader knew that the 26th Tank Brigade was supposed to operating on his right. Then the 1st Tank Battalion commander turned his column and began to attack along the shoulder of the highway in the direction of Tetevino. On the appooach to Hill 258.2, the battalion came under fire from two Panzer VI enemy tanks. An exchange of fire erupted, and the 1st Tank Battalion, suffering tank losses, fell back to the western edge of the woods on the Komsomolets State Farm and fired from its positon there.

So…..going back to our Staudegger discussion on 8 July: on stopping a tank brigade of 60 tanks and killing 22 of them:

Panzer Aces Wittmann and Staudegger at Kursk – part 3

II Tank Corps on 8 July 1943

It could have been:

  1. Staudegger could have ended up engaging both the tanks of the 26th Tank Brigade and the I Battalion/99th Tank Brigade
    1. This would put him against over 60 tanks.
      1. The 26th Tank Brigade had at least 20 T-34s and 20 T-70s.
      2. The I Battalion/99th Tank Brigade may have had around 10-11 T-34s and 10 T-70s.
        1. This assumes one company of T-34s and one company of T-70s.
        2. It could have had three companies.
        3. The 99th Tank Brigade had at least 31 T-34s and 21 T-70s.
    2. This would have explained more of his losses
      1. The 26th Tank Brigade lost at least 6 T-34s tanks this day (and 3 T-70s) .
      2. The 99th Tank Brigade either lost:
        1. At least 12 T-34s and 4 T-70s this day (Fond: 3407, Opis: 1, Delo: 108)
        2. or 21 T-34s and 2 T-70s this day (Zamulin, page 148).
          1. The two T-70s were lost in the II Battalion (Zamulin, page 146)
        3. Don’t know how many losses were in the I Battalion vice the II Battalion (which was also engaged).
        4. It is possible that many T-34s were lost in the I Battalion.
          1. We do not know the composition of the I Battalion, but it may have been 10 T-34s and 10 T-70s.
    3. Staudegger was by himself while the Soviet report states there were two Panzer VIs.
      1. Could be a mistake in the Soviet report.
      2. Or Staudegger had help (there was one other broken down LSSAH Tiger in Teterevino).
      3. Or could be Das Reich Tiger tanks (they had a company with around 6 Tigers ready for action as of 7 July).
        1. They may have lost all six of these tanks on 8 July, including 1 destroyed.
  2. It could be that Staudegger just engaged the I Battalion
    1. It does not appear that he stopped the 26th Gds Tank Bde
  3. The claim of killing 22 T-34s still looks high for this day
    1. 26th Tank Bde lost at least 6 T-34s
    2. 99th Tank Bde lost between 12 and 21 T-34s.
      1. The I Battalion may have only had 10 T-34s.
    3. The German infantry killed at least 2.
    4. Other parts of the Das Reich SS Division were in the area. I assume they did something. They were facing the rest of the 99th Gds Tank Bde.
  4. It is possible that the report of two Tigers engaging the lost I Battalion, 99th Gds Tank Bde is Staudegger.
    1. The Russians may have been seeing double.
    2. Or he may have had help.
    3. Or these two Tigers could have been from Das Reich (we assume that they were to the northwest with the rest of the panzer regiment).

Anyhow, still don’t have an answer, but getting closer.

As it is, I have revised the post “Revised Footnote on Staudegger.”

Revised Footnote on Staudegger

Armor Exchange Ratios at Kursk, SS Panzer Corps versus 48th Panzer Corps – part 2

Armor Exchange Ratios at Kursk, SS Panzer Corps versus 48th Panzer Corps – part 2

This text is pulled from page 745 of my Kursk book.

By comparison, the XLVIII Panzer Corps from the 5th through the 11th took 449 tank losses, including broken down Panthers, and may have been responsible for 471 Soviet tanks. Even if one assumes 120 Panthers broke down, and subtracts them from the calculation, this comes out to a 1-to-1.43 exchange ratio. One could, rather, look at the losses from the 6th to the 11th of July for both German corps. This has the advantage of skipping the 5th, when both German corps were penetrating the defensive lines and not facing much armor. Furthermore, it also eliminates a lot of the Panther losses and German losses to mines on the 5th. In this case, from 6 to 11 July, the SS Panzer Corps lost 234 tanks and may have been responsible for 598 Soviet tanks. This is a 1-to-2.56 exchange ratio. The XLVIII Panzer Corps lost 317 tanks while they may have been responsible for 438 Soviet tanks. This is a 1-to-1.38 exchange ratio.

This difference in the exchange ratios between the two German corps probably had a lot more to do with how their opponents choose to fight than the differences in performance between the two German corps. One does wonder if Katukov’s decision to defend with his First Tank Army was the main difference here, as compared to the heavy counterattacking against the SS Panzer Corps that was done under the command of Vatutin and Chistyakov.


In retrospect maybe I should have included this discussion in Chapter 3: Attacker versus Defender of my book War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat. There is a lot of the other Kursk material there in my discussion of human factors in combat.

Armor Exchange Ratios at Kursk, SS Panzer Corps versus 48th Panzer Corps – part 1

Armor Exchange Ratios at Kursk, SS Panzer Corps versus 48th Panzer Corps – part 1

This text is pulled from pages 744-745 of my Kursk book.

A look at the German and Soviet tank losses since the start of the battle against the SS Panzer corps shows:

             SS Panzer Corps   Opposing Soviet     Exchange

Date     Tank Losses           Tank Losses          Ratio

5th         54 tanks                     30 tanks               1:0.56

6th         79                            149                         1:1.89

7th         55                              86                         1:1.56

8th         47                           164                          1:3.49

9th         34                           135                          1:3.97

10th         3                             55                          1:18.33

11th       16                              9                           1:0.56

           ——                       ——-

           288 tanks              628 tanks                    1:2.18

This comparison is a case where one should not place too much reliance in the day-to-day statistics. While the German losses, calculated as a decline in ready-for-action, are reasonably accurate during this period for each day and for each division; the Soviet records are not. Overall, the Soviets lost as many or more tanks during this period, as indicated here, but there is some question how many were lost on exactly which day.

For the record, 118 tanks were lost by the Adolf Hitler SS Division while they may have been responsible for 255 Soviet tank losses (a 1-to-2.16 exchange ratio), the Das Reich SS Division lost 104 tanks, while they may have been responsible for 274 Soviet tanks (a 1-to-2.63 exchange ratio). The Totenkopf SS Division did not get as much credit, for although it lost only 66 tanks, it is only credited with 99 tanks (a 1-to-1.50 exchange ratio). One much keep in mind that these formations were supported by air, artillery, and elements of the 167th Infantry Division and they certainly played a role in causing Soviet tank losses. Furthermore, the assignment of which Soviet units faces which German units is sometime questionable as the unit boundaries overlapped and sometimes the German units were operating in close coordination with each other.

The reverse comparison can also be made, although it is less clear as there were often two different tank corps facing the same German divisions and sometimes elements of the same tank corps facing two different German divisions,. Still, one can  estimate that the XXXI Tank Corps lost 93 tanks while they may have been responsible for 15 German tanks (a 6.20-to-1 exchange ratio). The V Guards Tank Corps lost 166 while they may have been responsible for 62 German tanks (a 2.68-to-1 exchange ratio). The II Tank Corps lost 136 tanks while they may have been responsible for 34 German tanks (a 4.00-to-1 exchange ratio). Note that there is considerable overlap between these three formations and their opponents. Adding them together produces 395 Soviet tanks lost while they may have been responsible for 111 German tanks lost. this is a 3.56-to-1 exchange ratio. Finally, the carefully husbanded II Guards Tank Corps lost 48 tanks while they may have been responsible for taking out 32 German tanks (a 1.50-to-1 exchange ratio).

Franz Staudegger’s birth date

Franz Staudegger’s birth date

In my book, page 814, I have Franz Staudegger’s birth date as 12 February 1923. Several other internet sources have that date, as does Agte on page 120. Some Wikipedia-type sites and several other internet sources have his birth date as 1921.

I have the date he passed away as 16 March 1991, as does several internet sources. Some Wikipedia-type sites and several other internet sources have his date of death as 16 May 1995.

Does anyone have documentation, a grave stone picture or an obituary so I can confirm these dates?

Anyhow, I think this is my last post on Wittmann and Staudegger until someone comes up with more information. My posts on the subject have been:

Revised Footnote on Staudegger

II Tank Corps on 8 July 1943

Panzer Aces Wittmann and Staudegger at Kursk – part 4

Panzer Aces Wittmann and Staudegger at Kursk – part 3

Panzer Aces Wittmann and Staudegger at Kursk – part 2

Panzer Aces Wittmann and Staudegger at Kursk – part 1

Revised Footnote on Staudegger

Revised Footnote on Staudegger

I do maintain a detailed and regularly updated errata sheets for all my books. In case it is not obvious, I am currently working on yet another (smaller) Kursk book. My proposed revised footnote on Staudegger (drawn from page 814 of my original book) now reads:

Probably the most detailed account of this action is in Patrick Agte’s book, Michael Wittman and the Waffen SS Tiger Commanders of the Leibstandarte in WWII (Stackpole Press, Mechanicsburg, PA, 2006), pages 103-105 and pages 119-121. The claim of facing 50-60 tanks comes from his Knight’s Cross award citation and Nazi-era press (propaganda) releases. The event could not have occurred near 252.2 as it occurred on the 8th of July (or 7 July in some sources). A number of internet sources (but not Agte) mention it occurring at the village of Psyolknee. We have not located a village called Psyolknee on any maps we have. While we do not doubt that some event like this occurred, the details are not support by anything in either side’s unit records.

We have examined the unit records of all Soviet tank brigades in the area, and it is hard to determine exactly which brigade would have been engaged to the northeast of Teterevino by Staudegger. The three closest Soviet armor units in the area were the V Guards Tank Corps, the X Tank Corps and the II Tank Corps.

Certainly the V Guards Tank Corps lost of lot of tanks this day with reported losses of 28 T-34s and 9 T-70s: 14 T-34s and 7 T-70s from the 20th Gds Tank Bde and 14 T-34s and 2 T-70s from the 21st Gds Tank Bde. The 22nd Gds Tank Bde reports it has no losses for this day. See Fond: 3403, Opis: 1, Delo: 18a, pages 143-156. Of course, if the claims for Staudegger are correct, then this would mean that he was responsible for 22 out of 28 T-34s lost by the V Guards Tank Corps on the 8th. As it were, it appears the tank corps was to the east of the Das Reich SS Division and at 1030 has reached the line of Sobachevskii-Kalinin-Belenikhino. In combat report #0112, 2200 July 8, 1943 they place the 20th Guards Tank Brigade two kilometers south of Sobachevskii and the 22nd Guards Tank Brigade in Belenikhino (Fond: 3403, Opis: 1, Delo: 18).

The X Tank Corps is another candidate except it reports that it only lost two tanks between 7 and 11 July (Fond 3410, Opis: 1, Delo: 17, page 10 and Fond: 3410, Opis: 1, Delo: 14, page 5). Unit strength reports for this unit do not contradict these reports. The nearest of its tanks brigades to the northeast of Teterevino on 8 July was the 178th Tank Brigade. The other two tank brigades were to the west of it and moving further west.

The II Tank Corps is the most likely candidate. It attacked in the afternoon and lost at least 31 tanks on the 8th and 9th of July. We do not know the precise location of its tank brigades. An interview from the 99th Tank Brigade would indicate that this force was engaged with a combined arms team. They do report their losses as of 0700 on 10 July of 12 T-34s knocked out and 4 undergoing repair, and 4 T-70s knocked out and 4 broken down. The actions of the 26th Tank Brigade are not known but they do report losses of 6 T-34s knocked out and 3 broken down, and 3 T-70s knocked out and 3 broken down. The actions of the 169th Tank Brigade are also not known but they do report losses of 3 T-34s knocked out and 5 broken down and 1 T-70 knocked out. The 15th Guard Heavy Tank Regiment reports 2 Churchills knocked out and 2 broken down. These reports probably account for the actions of both 8 and 9 July (see Fond: 3407, Opis: 1, Delo: 108, pages 195-216).

The most likely candidate is the 26th Tank Brigade with 6 T-34s knocked out. One is left with the conclusion from an examination of the Soviet unit records that the claims of 22 T-34s killed by Staudegger on 8 July 1943 is probably overstated and possibly overstated by a significant degree.

Now granted, this is a very long footnote, but I have no way of otherwise addressing this issue. As it were, the claims of 22 T-34s by Staudegger are mentioned and quoted in my book from an interview done of retired Bundeswehr Brigadier General Guenther Baer (who was a tank commander with the II Battalion, Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler Panzer Regiment in July 1943). He was interviewed in 1999.


P.S. This picture is of Staudegger taken on 23 July 1943. I am guessing it was done back in Germany. This copy of the picture was borrowed from:


The Tank Repair and Replacement Efforts of II Guards Tank Corps compared to Totenkopf SS Division

The Tank Repair and Replacement Efforts of II Guards Tank Corps compared to Totenkopf SS Division

As I result of a discussion I am having about Kursk with Niklas Zetterling, I have decided to compare the actual repair and replacement efforts of the Soviet II Guards Tank Corps to the German Totenkopf (Death’s Head) SS Panzer Grenadier Division. The II Guard Tank Corps was selected as it has some of the more complete records and it maintained its position in the “Donets triangle” from the beginning of the battle on 5 July 1943 until the 15th of July 1943. Its headquarters at Kosukhin on 4 July (can’t locate), it was at Kalinin on 6 July (305455?), and it was at Sazhnoye (3734)  by 0700 7 July, moved to Kleimenovo (4037) by 0700 10 July, moved to Plota (4345) by 0700 11 July, moved to Zhilomostnoye (4048) by 0700 12 July, and moved to Bereznik (490555), 3 km east of Krasnoye by 0700 15 July. The unit was never overrun or forced back by an attack, so it was in a decent position to repair and replace tanks.

The Totenkopf was selected as it was the German armor unit nearest to it and engaged with it. The Totenkopf SS Division ended up holding down the SS Panzer Corps right flank until the 9th, when it then moved up to cross the Psel River and try to take Prokhorovka from the north-northwest.

So lets look at Totenkopf for a moment (this is data from the Kursk Data Base):

Date       Tank Strength*     Destroyed     Damaged   In Repair    Returned to Duty

7/04        165                         0                      0                11

7/05        150                         1                    14

7/06        139                         3                      8

7/07        133                         1                      7                               2

7/08        122                         2                      9                               0

7/09        105                         4                    15                               2

7/10        116                         0                      0                             11

7/11        134                         0                      3                             21

7/12        106                         3                    25                               0

7/13          77                         2                    27                               0

7/14          76                         2                     6                                7

7/15          80                         0                     1                                5

7/16          97                         0                     0                              17

7/17          98                         0                     2                                3

7/18          96                         0                     2                                0

Total                                    18                 119                              68

* On 4 July this tank strength consisted of 59 Pz III long, 8 Pz III Command, 7 Pz IV short, 40 Pz IV long, 11 Pz VI, 1 Pz VI Command, 28 SuG III and 11 Marder IIs. AFVs not included in this count are 5 Pz III Observation, 5 Hummel, 12 Wespe, 36 armored cars, 56 light halftracks (including 3 250/10 with 37mm AT) and 69 medium halftracks (including 2 251/9 with 75mm lt IG and 7 251/10 with 37mm AT).

Strength figures are nominally as of 1800 on that day.

It appears that around 13% of the tanks destroyed/damaged/broken-down were written-off as destroyed. The Totenkopf SS Division appears to have repaired 57% of the damaged tanks during this time (and they may have repaired more later).

Now, let us look at the II Guards Tank Corps (also data from the Kursk Data Base)

Date       Tank Strength     Destroyed     Damaged    In repair    Returned to Duty

7/04        187  *                   0                   0                30  **           0

7/05        187                      0                    0                30               0

7/06        159                    17                  11                41               0

7/07        171                      0                    7                29  **        19 T-34s **

7/08        155                      6                  10                39               0

7/09        133                      7                  23                54               5-8 Churchills ***

7/10        139                      0                    2                48               8

7/11        140                      3                    2                44               6 (4 Churchills)

7/12          82                    24                  35                78               0-1 Churchill

7/13          80                      1                    4                                   3

7/14          59                    13                    8                                   0

7/15          57                      2                  14                                 14 T-34s ****

7/16          63                      0                    0                                   6 ****

7/17          63                      0                    0                                   0

7/18          31                      9                  25                                   2

Total                                 82                141                                 63-67

    Less tanks that were probably not repaired:                         – 19

    Less the confusing Churchill reports:                                    –   9 – 13

Total returned to duty (RTD) was probably around:             35

* On 4 July this tank strength consisted of 99 T-34s, 72 T-70s and 16 Churchills. The unit also had 28 BA-64 (armored cars) and 20 Bren Gun Carriers. Note that there is another report that records the corps on 4 July as having 121 T-34s, 75 T-70s, 21 Churchills (Fond: 2nds GTC, Opis: 1, Delo: 23, pages 4-9). We believe this is total tanks, not just tanks ready-for-action.

It appears that around 37% of the tanks destroyed/damaged/broken-down were written-off as destroyed. The II Guards Tank Corps appeared to repair 45% of the damaged tanks during this time (and they may have repaired more later), but as 28 of these repairs were probably not repaired tanks (see the ** and *** remarks below), then it appears that they repaired around 25% of the damaged tanks during this time.

So, compared to the Germans, the Soviet unit wrote off a higher percentage of tanks written off as destroyed (13% versus 37%) and a lower percentage of damaged tanks repaired (57% repaired versus 25% repaired). This is pretty typical for all the German panzer and panzer grenadier divisions compared to Soviet tank and mechanized corps at Kursk. Also, most of the Soviet repaired arrived on the 15th and 16th, after the battle was winding down.



P.S. The map is of the II Guards Tank Corps operation on 6 July 1943 from page 475 of my book. It is the II Guards Tank Corps map for 1800, 6 July 1943.

P.P.S.: The remaining notes are here:

** These tanks almost certainly are reserve T-34s, vice recently repaired ones. In operational report #181, dated 0700 8 July, they list a corps reserve of 20 T-34s and 10 T-70s. They state that “the 20 tanks in corps reserve are located in Bubnovo.” I have yet to locate Bubnovo on a map.The keeping of 20 or 30 spared tanks was a normal practice at Kursk at this time. The difference between the ready-for-action reports and other tank counts on 4 July do indicate that there was a spare 22 T-34s, 3 T-70s, and 5 Churchills with the unit (see the * remark). The 19 RTD tanks are certainly the 20 spare tanks activated. This is the only mention of the “corps reserve’ in the II Guards Tank Corps records we have.

*** These are all Churchills. From 7/09 through 7/12 we have 9-13 Churchills RTD. The actual report of Churchill strength and losses from 7/08 – 7/13 is confusing:

0700 7/08: 1. 5 Churchills at 2400 July 7

                  2. Combat ready tanks: 5 Churchills (from 2 reports)

0700 7/09: 1. 5 Churchills.

                  2. Losses on July 8: 2 Churchills burned, 3 Churchills knocked out.

0700 7/10: 1. “The regiment suffered losses, including 2 Churchills burned, out of 5 combat-ready.”

                   2. “47ths Gds Heavy Tank Rgt, with 3 Churchills is in the area of Khokhlovo….”

                   3. On July 9 the corps lost 1 Churchill burned and 1 Churchill knocked out.

                   4. Combat ready tanks: 3 Churchills (2 reports)

                   5. Corps lost 5 Mk-4s on 9 July (from a different report)

0700 7/11: Combat ready tanks: 3 Churchills (2 reports)

0700 7/12: 1. “47th Gds Heavy Tank Rgt, with 6 Churchills…”

                  2. At 2400 on July 11…..47th Gds Heavy tank Rgt, consisting of 2 Churchills, is in the corps commander reserve north of Leski.

                  3. Corps losses for July 11: 3 Churchills burned, 2 Churchills knocked out.

                  4. Combat Ready Tanks: 2 Churchills (2 reports)

0700 7/13: Report is missing

0700 7/14: Combat Ready Tanks: 2 Churchills

The unit, the 47th Guards Heavy Tank Regiment, was operating independent of the corps, having gotten separated on the 7th and moved over to face the III Panzer Corps.  It appear unlikely over these three days that 16-19 Churchills were damaged or broken down, and that 13-16 of them were repaired, but this is the only way to get totals to work. It is either that assumption, or one has to dismiss some parts of the records as in error, and it is hard to know what to dismiss. This is most likely anomalous data in the II GTC records.

**** These 14 tanks we believe are repaired. they reported at 0700 15 July to have combat-ready 30 T-34s, 12 T-70s, and 2 Churchills, they report losses for 15 July of 6 T-34s knocked out, 1 T-34 burned, 2 T-70s knocked out, 1 burned (10 tanks total) and they reported on 0700 16 July combat-ready 45 T-34s, 18 T-70s. Another report for the 16th states that “following repairs, the corps had the following tanks in line: 38 T-34s and 15 T-70s.”

P.P.P.S. The Totenkopf SS Division lost around 57 tanks on 12th and 13th of July (and we don’t know how many were actually lost on what given day). Some authors, in their accounts of Prokhorovka seem to ignore its efforts and its losses, even though it was engaged with elements of Rotmistrov’s Fifth Guards Tank Army and its objective was Prokhorovka (which it did not achieve).

Armor Exchange Ratios at Kursk, 5 and 6 July 1943

Armor Exchange Ratios at Kursk, 5 and 6 July 1943

Just a little more on armor exchange ratios at Kursk. This is taken from pages 640-641 of my book.

It has been determined that the German tank losses due to mines was somewhere around 131 for the 5th of July. On the 6th of July, it gets harder to determine the mine losses, and an estimation has placed the losses tentatively at 69 tanks. This is 37.95 percent of the armor loss for those two days and 13.11 percent of total armor losses for 4 to 18 July. After that, it appears that the percentage of tanks lost to mines declined to perhaps five percent or less for the subsequent days. Overall, mines probably caused around 15 to 20 percent of German tank losses during the course of the entire battle.

If one does a loss-exchange ratio analysis, less the German mine losses in the first two days, the following figures are generated:

                                                              Decline in Strength

First Tank Army (less XXXI TC & 2 Bdes)       289

XLVIII Panzer Corps                                        332

  less Panther breakdowns                             -115

  less mine losses, 5th                                      -54

  less mine losses, 6th                                      -32



This now shows an exchange ratio of 2.21 to one in favor of the German XLVIII Panzer Corps. A look as the SS Panzer Corps shows a very lopsided result:

                                                          Decline in Strength

Other Voronezh Front Armor                         385

SS Panzer Corps                                           187

  less mine losses, 5th                                    -33

  less mine losses, 6th                                    -14



This shows an exchange ratio of 2.75 to one in favor of the Germans. Still, if one could factor out the other weapons effects, it would appear that the Germans, in their tank operations, were achieving kill ratios of two to one or greater. Furthermore, it does appear that the kill ratios achieved by the SS armor was superior to the neighboring Wehrmacht units, although it also appears that the primary reason for this was the way Soviet armored operations were conducted east of the Vorskla (under Vatutin and Chistyakov’s direction) as opposed to those west of the Vorskla (under Katukov’s command).

I left out the footnotes.



P.S. Picture is labeled: “Panzer-Abteilung 51 Panthers knocked out in a minefield ambush while advancing in Cherkasy, Ukraine – July 1943. Source:

P.P.S. Suspect they mean Cherkasskoye, Russia.


Armor Exchange Ratios at Kursk

Armor Exchange Ratios at Kursk

A friend recently sent me part of an article from a foreign magazine that pulled data from my Kursk book, which in translation reads:

The German tank losses in the battle at Kursk has been debated. Until the 1990s, Soviet propaganda figures dominated, which claimed that the Germans lost 2,952 tanks and 195 assault guns. Subsequently, the pendulum swung back, as research in German archives showed that no more than 278 German tanks were lost during the battle at Kursk 5-23 July.

By far the most thorough study of the battle has been conducted by Chris Lawrence and is presented in his 1,600 page book about Kursk, which was released in 2015. Lawrence shows that previous figures, which suggest that ten Soviet tanks were lost for each German tank lost, is a comparison of apples and oranges….

….Lawrence finds that if German tanks included in the same way as Soviet losses, von Mansteins formations lost 1536…tanks and assault guns 5-18 July. The opposing Soviet forces lost 2471 tanks and assault guns, a much less lopsided ratio.

I took out the parts that of that quote that I didn’t want to debate or that gave the wrong impression.

I have also been bothered by other published comparisons of tank losses, where the author focused on total German tanks destroyed vice total Soviet tanks destroyed. This, of course, produces a very lop-sided exchange figure. This is not a valid measure of combat effectiveness. What would be a valid measure is total tanks destroyed and damaged compared to total tanks destroyed and damaged. I can talk for awhile about the differences in the German and Soviet repair systems and philosophies, but to try to shorten the discussion, lets just say that the Germans refused to write off any tanks if possible, whereas the Soviets often willingly wrote off tanks because they had spare tanks in their units, a steady flow of tanks from the factory, and I suspect a lack of repair parts (a fundamental flaw in the Soviet system, both military and civilian). In many respects you are comparing apples and oranges.

For my book I ended up comparing total destroyed, damaged and broken down over night compared to total destroyed, damaged and broken down over night. As my primary trusted source of tank losses was the ready-for-action reports for both sides from day-to-day, I ended up picking up those that broke down and were not returned to duty the same day along with those destroyed and damaged. It was pretty typical for the Germans to report 1 tank destroyed for around every 10 tanks not ready-for-action. When the Soviets reported total destroyed for a day (which they often did), it was not unusual that the number ready-for-action the next day indicated more were damaged or broke down. Now, broken down tanks may make up 10 to 20% of the total losses for a day, but total losses for the day (regardless of cause) is clearly a more valid measure of combat effectiveness than total destroyed.

So, I do end up with a very different comparison of the exchange ratio of armor compared to some authors. Also, I count tank-like vehicles (like Sturmgeshuetz and Marders) as tanks. I also count any German light tanks and command tanks as tanks. Most comparisons I gather count Soviet assault guns and light tanks in their figures, so they need to make sure that both sides forces are counted by the same rules. This results in my having higher figures for German tanks than some other sources do, among many other differences. Now I do take the time to break down the counts by exact vehicle type in my appendices, so anyone who wants to calculate otherwise can do so. Note my figures include tanks lost to mine damage, which very rarely destroys tanks. Using total destroyed (or more to the point, destroyed totally) simply ignors the effects of mines on the battle.

The exchange ratios for armor are discussed in my book on pages 640-641, 744-745, 809-811, 1021-1022, and 1209-1211. The figures of 2,471 German tanks destroyed, damaged or broken down and 1,536 Soviet tanks destroyed, damaged and broken down comes from page 1210, among other places (pages 1338, 1339, 1340, 1367 and 1368). This is a 1.61 armor exchange, although the majority of tanks were probably not taken out in combat between tanks.


P.S. Picture is labeled: “Crew of a Wehrmacht repair unit working on a Panzer III.” Source:

II Tank Corps on 8 July 1943

II Tank Corps on 8 July 1943

This post is a follow-on to the post about the claims that Franz Staudegger’s  (1921-1995) killed 22 T-34s on 8 July 1943.:

Panzer Aces Wittmann and Staudegger at Kursk – part 3

There is an unsourced posting on the internet dated 1 November 2017 that claims that the Soviet 26th Tank Brigade attacked and took Teterevino on 8 July. I only stumbled across it this last Friday. The post is here:

The poster stated in the second half of his post:

The 8th of July 1943. The village of Teterevino with the railway station was defended by panzergrenadiers of the 3rd Battalion of the 3rd SS “Deutschland� Regiment assigned to the 2nd SS Tank Division “Das Reich�. There was also a Tiger #1325 of SS-Unterscharführer Franz Staudegger undergoing minor repairs. This tank was assigned to the 13th Heavy Company of the 1st SS Tank Division “Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler�.

The village was attacked by the 26th Soviet Tank Brigade of the 2nd Tank Corps coming from north east. 34 T-34 medium tanks and 19 T-70 light tanks with an infantry support. You see, no 50 to 60 T-34s as the German propaganda claimed. The brigade was supposed also to be supported by 11 Mk IV Churchills of the 15th Guards Heavy Tank Regiment. However it came under an air attack and couldn’t participate. If it could, the battle outcome would be worse for the Germans.

So, the Soviet tanks attacked the German positions near the village. The panzergrenadiers knocked out two Soviet tanks before Staudegger engaged. According to his Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross submission, he knocked out 17 Soviet tanks in one attack (it took him 2 hours) and followed them to knock out 5 additional ones before running low on ammunition and fuel. The rest fled, so he also left the area. No doubt a nice story for the Wehrmachtbericht.

What really happened that the Soviet attack started at 14:00. The Soviet tanks of the 26th Tank Brigade pushed the Germans out of the village by 15:20. Werner Ostendorff, the Chief of Staff of the 2nd SS Panzer Corps, ordered a counter-attack at 15:25. The “Das Reichâ€� HQ reported 40 Soviet tanks with an infantry support going westwards from Teterevino at 15:30. How come 40 tanks? The brigade had 53 tanks originally and Staudegger claimed to knock out nearly half of them. The next report from the “Das Reichâ€� HQ said the Soviet advance was halted, but they prepare for another attack. The Soviets breached German defences on the left flank of the 3rd Battalion at 16:00. SS-Hauptsturmführer Helmuth Schreiber, the commander of the 10th Company, led a counter-attack which routed the Soviets and took back the village in a bloody hand-to-hand combat. The situation was unstable, so SS-Obersturmbannführer Hans Albin Freiherr von Reitzenstein, the commander of the 2nd Tank Regiment, was ordered to move from Kochetovka with his force of about 60 tanks to flank the Soviets near Teterevino at 17:00 (there were other Soviet troops advancing between Teterevino and Prokhorovka: the 169th and 99th Tank Brigades). The Soviets breached defences of the 2nd Battalion of the SS “Deutschlandâ€� Regiment at 17:50. 30 tanks of the 26th Soviet Tank Brigade attacked Teterevino again. The German counter-attack was followed by an air strike of four wings of Junkers Ju.87 bombers and two wings of Henschel Hs.129 ground-attack aircraft of the 8th Air Corps which scattered the Soviet tanks retreating to Prokhorovka (a major battle to be held there in 4 days – Battle of Prokhorovka). By the end of day, the 26th Tank Brigade lost completely (burnt) 12 T-34s and 9 T-70s. 5 T-34s were damaged. 5 T-34s were battle ready. Location of 12 T-34s and 10 T-70s was unknown after the air strike. 26 killed, 35 wounded, 150 missing.

So, staff reports don’t confirm the story of Staudegger destroying and routing the whole Soviet tank brigade as it kept fighting for the rest of day. Their reported losses also don’t match numbers the German propaganda claimed.

This post is unsourced and the poster is not known to me, but is listed at Paul V. Bolotoff.  Not sure of his sources for the 26th Tank Brigade, but the detail posted indicates that he probably had Soviet or Russian sources.

According to my records, the 26th Tank Brigade at 0700 on 10 July reported 11 T-34s (3 broken down, 6 knocked out) and 4 T-70s (3 broken down, 3 knocked out) (TSAMO, Fond: 3407, Opis: 1, Delo: 108, pages 195-216). It then makes that unusual statement that “In all, there are 20 T-34s and 20 T-70s.” Assuming the brigade started with a strength of around 32 (or 34) T-34s and around 20 T-70s, then this means that it could have lost 6 T-34s knocked out, 3 T-34s broken down, and at least 12 T-34s damaged or not reported on. For the T-70s, this is 3 T-70s knocked out, 3 T-70s broken down, and at least 10 T-70s damaged or not report on. This adds up to 18 T-34s and 13 T-70s that could have been lost on the 8th (or the 9th). This does not match well with the claim that Staudegger alone killed 22 T-34s. Also, there were other units in the area. There was the III Battalion of the 3rd SS (Deutschland) Panzer Grenadier Regiment that Staudegger was supporting. This unit killed two T-34s (Agte, page 103). Then there were other units of the Das Reich SS Division, which may have been holding positions in and around Teterevino, probably including the I Battalion (see Agte, page 103). So the 31 or more tanks that the 26th Tank Brigade that may have been lost this day had to be shared among these units. This makes the claims for Staudegger a little more tenuous.

Panzer Aces Wittmann and Staudegger at Kursk – part 4

Panzer Aces Wittmann and Staudegger at Kursk – part 4

Finally, there are some additional claims made for panzer ace Michael Wittmann (1914-1944) for the 12th of July 1943 and for the entire Battle of Kursk in July 1943. They are:

  1. It is claimed that Wittmann destroyed 8 Soviet tanks, 3 AT guns and one gun battery on the 12th.
  2. During the battle Wittmann killed 30 T-34s, 28 AT guns, and two destroyed batteries.
    1. Source: Agte, page 127.

I am not going to attempt to check these claims. There were lots of Soviet tanks killed on the 12th, I have no way of knowing if the claim of 8 is close to correct or not. There were also lots of Soviet tanks killed in the entire battle. I have no way of knowing if the claim of 30 T-34s is close to correct or not. One does note though that the claim was that he killed 8 T-34s on the 5th (even though they probably were not T-34s), killed 3 T-34s on the 7th and 8th, and claimed 8 tanks on the 12th. This only adds up to 21. I do not know when and where the other 9 T-34s were claimed.

I could certainly choose to get preachy about the need for two-sided research from unit records, but I fear that I have made this point ad naseum already. I think these posts again make this point. I do need to stress that unless an author has actually checked the numbers to the opposing sides reports, any data like this should be stated only as a claim, probably footnoted as to source, the validity and reliability of the source considered, and probably should be noted as not confirmed. Anyhow, sorry for the previous long post, but I felt I needed to show the grunt work involved in trying to chase down just one of these claims. All too often, I have seen authors use medal award claims, newspaper accounts and propaganda claims as some form of hard reliable data. They are very rarely crossed checked with the opposing side’s data. This is fraught with problems (just to get a little bit preachy).


P.S. Picture is of Wittmann’s Tiger 007, destroyed 8 August 1944 by British forces at Saint-Aignan-de-Cramesnil, Normandy, France. Picture was taken in 1945. Source is Wikipedia.


Panzer Aces Wittmann and Staudegger at Kursk – part 3

Panzer Aces Wittmann and Staudegger at Kursk – part 3

My previous posts on this subject looked at the claims of two panzer aces made on the 5th of July 1943 and the claims for Wittmann for 7 and 8 July. Let me address a couple of more claims credited to Michael Wittmann (1914-1944) and Franz Staudegger (1921-1995).

  1. It is claimed that Staudegger killed 22 T-34s on 7 or 8 July.
    1. Including two tanks in close combat.
      1. Agte’s book does note two tanks killed in close action in the battle of 8 July but this was done by the infantry of the 2nd SS (Deutschland) PzGr Rgt (Agte, page 103). This was in addition to the 22 T-34s Staudegger killed.
      2. But Agte does note the two T-34s killed in close action by Staudegger on the 5th, crediting him with 24 kills for the battle (Agte, page 128).
    2. At the village of Psyolknee.
      1. Agte does not claim it was at Psyolknee.
      2. But these people do (and they date the battle 7 July):
        4. As does many other sites (just search Staudegger & Psyolknee)

His actual Knight’s Cross submission says 8 July (Agte, page 105), so not sure where the 7 July date comes from. Usually the sources that mention the 7 July date also mention the village of Psyolknee. Well, I have the 1:50000 scale maps, and I cannot find a village anywhere called Psyolknee. Have no idea where that name comes from (actually let me guess…several kilometers north of them was the river the Psel. It could also have been transliterated as Psyol. Not sure where the “knee” comes from).

The story is that his unit went off to the NW leaving him in Teterivino. There was then an attack by 50-60 tanks from the NE and he drove out of Teterivino, engaged them alone, but with the 2nd SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment in the area and also engaged. He killed 17 tanks in two hours. The Soviet armor withdrew. He then drove after them, ran across them in a hollow and destroyed five more, running out of ammo. All were T-34s.

So, which Soviet unit was attacking on 8 July to the NE of Teterivino with 50-60 tanks?

Well, as reported in my book (Kursk, page 622) the LSSAH panzer group attacked to the northwest out of Teterevino (map grid 3050). Most of this force became embroiled with a fight with parts of the XXXI Tank Corps, specifically the 100th Tank Brigade. I note that the assault gun battalion, reinforced by the 2nd SS PzGr Rgt was sent to Luchki (map grid 2546) to guard against a new tank threat from the area northeast of Teterevino (probably the X Tank Corps, but it could have been the newly arriving II Tank Corps). I do have maps from the SS Panzer Corps (page 624) and the XXXI Tank Corps (page 626) for that day in the book. Luchki is actually SW of Teterevino (north). Note that there is a second Teterevino on the map at map grid 3340. They are only around 10 kilometers from each other. I also have a map of the X Tank Corps positions around Prokhorovka and the Psel River for 1700 on 7 July and 2100 on 8 July (page 627).

  1. The SS Panzer Corps map for 8 July shows Das Reich SS PzGrD operating in Teterevino (actually in both of them) — see page 624
  2. XXXI Tank Corps is definitely not near Teterevino — see page 626
  3. The X Tank Corps is to the north and northeast of Teterevino, with the 178th Tank Brigade being the closest — see page 627.

So where was the X Tank Corps on the 8th? Well, the unit records I have don’t help a lot here. They specifically claim that on the July 7 at 1700 the corps was in the area of Prokhorovka along the following line (TSAMO, Fond: 3410, Opis: 1, Delo: 17):

  1. 178th Tank Bde: The bushes–ht. 252.4–the brick;
  2. 183rd Tank Bde and self-propelled gun rgt; the road from Prokhorovka to the southeast—northern outskirts of Lutovo (3957)–the upper reaches of the gullies 1 km south of Prokhorovka (4156);
  3. 11th Mech Bde with a mortar rgt: ht. 230.5–the road junction 2 km northeast of ht. 230.5;
  4. The 186th Tank Bde forms the reserve in the area of Litovka (4261)-Borchevka (4259). this is north of Prokhorovka.

By 2100 on 8 July the situation was as follows:

  1. 11th Mech Bde with a mortar rgt: Krasnyi Oktiabr (2758)–Prokhorovka (2857)–Vasilyevka (3056);
    1. Note that there are two Prokhorovka’s on the map, one at 2857 on the Psel River and the larger and more famous one at 4057. They are 12 kilometers apart. This unit is clearly on the Psel River.
  2. 183rd Tank Bde with a SP gun rgt: the southern outskirts of Kruglik–southern outskirts of Kalinovka;
    1. This is opposite the 48th Panzer corps.
  3. 178th Tank Bde with an AT art rgt: the southern spur of the gully south of Andreyevka (3256?…on the Psel river?) – northern slopes of ht. 240.6
  4. 186th Tank Bde: Situation unchanged

Now you kind of need to look at the 1:50000 scale maps of the area to sort this out (I do have them in my book). I will place the grid coordinates of every named place in their discussion, as they can be mapped out on graph paper (i.e. 3350 is the 33 kilometer on the north-south line and 50 kilometer on the east-west line). But…..we can probably shorten the discussion by looking at the unit strength and losses. The July 7 the 10th Tank Corps had:

  1. 186th Tank Bde; 32 T-34s, 21 T-70s
  2. 183rd Tank Bde: 32 T-34s, 22 T-70s
  3. 178th Tank Bde: 32 T-34s, 21 T-70s
  4. 1450th SP Art Rgt: 9 SU-76s, 12 SU-152s
  5. Elsewhere: 3 T-34s

Now it states for the Corps that losses from 7 – 11 July were 515 killed, 1,124 wounded, 25 guns, 16 AT rifles, 10 cars, 2 tanks, 4 mortars and 57 machine guns (page 10 of TSAMO, Fond: 3410, Opis: 1, Delo: 17). Also note Fond: 3410, Opis: 1, Delo: 14, page 5: X Tank Corps losses from 7-12 July 1943: 515 KIA, 1,124 WIA, 7 76mm, 18 45mm, 4 mortars, 57 machineguns, and 2 T-34s. The First Tank Army (primarily opposite 48th Panzer Corps) started reporting the X Tank Corps on 9 July on two of its tanks brigades (identified in a 10 July report at the 183rd and 186th tank brigades). We have no reports on the 178th Tank Brigade until we receive a personnel loss report from the First Tank Army for 5-19 July. The 178th Tank Brigade lost 34 KIA and 134 WIA for this period. On 15 July the 10th Tank Corps, which had driven into Tolstoye Woods, had a reported tank strength of 110 tanks: 1 KV, 63 T-34s and 45 T-70s (the math error is in the original). So all indications are that no tank brigade from this unit was seriously shot up on the 8th. If one was, it would have had to been the 178th Tank Brigade.

So what is one to do? It appears that while the X Tank Corps three brigades were in the area on the 7th, they were moving over to the 48th Panzer Corps sector and never did attack towards Teterevino. Clearly the German claim of 50 to 60 tanks would indicate one full strength Soviet tank brigade. None of their tank brigades appear to have taken any significant losses at this time. I gather most of the losses were taken by their mechanized brigade, which remained in the Prokhorovka area after the rest of the tank corps had moved over to the northwestern flank of the 48th Panzer Corps.

Lets briefly also look at the XXXI Tank Corps.

  1.  According to Operational Report #206, 1st Tank Army, 0700 July 8, 1943: XXXI Tank Corps with the attached 192nd Tank Bde is defending the line Krasnaya Polyana–ht. 252.5–western outskirts of Malye Mayachi–western half of Greznoye–ht. 227.8. From 0600 the corps is fighting with enemy tanks where have broken through towars ht. 239.6. Enemy aircraft, in groups of 20-30 planes, is severely bombing the corps’ units.
  2. According to Operational Report #207, 1st Tank Army, 1800 July 8, 1943: XXXI Tank Corps with the 192nd Tank Bde; during the day fougth along the line Krasnaya Polyana–Malye Mayachi–Greznoye, repelled the enemty’s attempts to break through to Veselyi. By 1500 the enemy had broken through our front in the direction of Grenzye and Kochetovka from the area of ht. 224.5. Simultaneously, 100 enemy tanks launched an attack in this direction from the area of Veselyi. The fighting continues. Losses for July 7 are 25 tanks knocked out or burned personnel losses are being calculated.
  3. According to Operational Report #208, 1st Tank Army, 1900 July 9, 1943: XXXI Tank Corps, with the 59th Ind Tank Rgt and the 4th AT Art Rgt defended the line along the western bank of the Solotinka River on the Sukhoe Solotino sector–ht. 188.1, with the mission of preventing a breakthrough by the enemy’s tanks in the direction of Kochetovka–the Oboyan highway…..There is no information on losses at this time.
  4. Also according to Operational Report #208, 1900 July 9, 1943: Two brigades of the X Tank Corps reached the fighting at 1600 and were ordered to deploy and attack the enemy, as to halt his further advance to the north and northwest, and to close the break in the line….
  5. Operational Report #210, 1900 July 10, 1943:
    1. X Tank Corps: “On July 9 the corps lost 2 T-34s burned.”

Determining the locations and actions of the II Tank Corps on the 8th and 9th of July are somewhat of a challenge. We have detailed daily reports of actions and losses starting the 10th.

  1. At 0700 on July 10 the enemy attacked the Komsomolets Sokhoz (3253). II Tank Corps is defending the line (excl.) Vasilevka (3056)–Andreyevka (3256) –Mikhailovka (3357) –ht. 241.6–the railroad crossing 2 km north of Belenikhino (3350), with the mission of preventing an enemy advance on Prokhorovka.
    1. This does stretch the corps from the Psel River to in front of Prokhorovka to opposite the Das Reich SS Division.
  2.  The same report (TSAMO, Fond: 3407, Opis: 1, Delo: 108, pages 195-216) does give strength and losses.
    1. 99th Tank Bde: 31 T-34s (15 ready for action, 12 knocked out and 4 undergoing repair), 21 T-70s (16 ready for action, 4 knocked out, and 4 broken down)
    2. 26th Tank Bde: 11 T-34s (3 broken down, 6 knocked out); 4 T-70s (3 broken down, 3 knocked out). In all there are 20 T-34s and 20 T-70s.
    3. 169th Tank Bde: 31 T-34s (5 broken down, 3 knocked out); 19 T-70s (1 knocked out).
    4. 15th Guards Heavy Tank Rgt: 13 Churchills (2 broken down, 2 knocked out).
    5. So based upon losses it is possible on 8 July that 99th Bde could have been engaged (and lost 16 tanks) or the 26th Tank Bde could have been engaged (and lost 9 tanks) or the 169th Tank Bde could have been engaged (an lost 4 tanks). Of course, this is the strength as of 0700 on 10 July. The incident in question happened on the 8th.
  3. My book notes that:
    1. The II Tank Corps was originally ordered to Korocha on the 6th (page 496).
    2. It was alerted the night of 6/7 July (at 2345) and by 0800 on 8 July had concentrated in the Kamyishevka and Pravorot area (page 497) or Pravorot (4052) and Krasnoye (4555) (see page 534)..
    3. It then concentrated in the Vinogradovka area (3650) on the morning of the 8th after its 200 kilometer march on the 7th (page 534).
    4. It attacked on the afternoon of the 8th (page 534).
    5. The II Tank Corps lost at least 31 tanks on the 8th (page 534).
    6. Its attack on the 8th is described in depth on page 629.
      1. The corps attacked at 1320 (Moscow time).
      2. Lost more than 30 tanks.
      3. Between 2100 and 2200 one the brigades of the tank corps attacked height 258.2, which was occupied by the Soviet 183rd Rifle Division.
      4. I do have an interview on that page from a tank commander in the 99th Tank Bde (Senior Sergeant Petr Petrovich Ivanov, born 1924, interviewed 1999).
        1. “…Our tank brigade moved forward in two battalion columns followed by one battalion and motorized rifle units. The Germans started shelling us, but we got a command to move faster. We saw the German tanks when we were about two kilometers away from them. We continued moving closer….When the German tanks and artillery started their massive fire and one of their shells hit my tank turret, my mood dropped, but I continued moving forward in the first line of the brigade. The tank battle lasted for several hours. We could not move forward. Actually, we had to retreat some because the Germans started to go around our tank brigade from the flanks. Then I got a little bit scared. On top of everything, an artillery shell hit the tank. The shell did not penetrate the tank, but a piece of armor, chipped from inside of the tank because of the shell, wound the gunner in the shoulder….
      5. Note this discussion is in the section about the fighting by Das Reich.
        1. I have it in my engagement sheet on page 642 as opposite Das Reich.
      6. Regardless, it does not look like the engagement or the unit that Staudegger engaged.

The fourth and final candidate is the V Guards Tank Corps (as the II Guards Tank Corps has good records and clearly was not a candidate, see the tank corps map in my book on page 636). We actually have decent records from the V Guards Tank Corps for the 8th.

  1. At 1030 the corps launched a counterattack and reached the line Sobachevskii (3044)–Kalinin (3246)–Belenikhino (3348)
    1. This would put it opposite the Das Reich SS Division.
    2. More detail positions by Tank Bde are provided by Combat Report #0112, 2200, July 8, 1943: (TSAMO, Fond: 3403, Opis: 1, Delo 18),
    3. 20th Gds Tank Bde = 2 km south of Sobachevskii
    4. 22nd Gds Tank Bde = Belenikhino, where it was halted by intense tank and antitank gun fire.
    5. This is the report that incorrectly states: “II Tank Corps, on the right, was concentrating in the Vinogradovka area, but did not attacking during the day.”
  2. Losses for July 8 are:
    1. 20th Gds Tank Bde = 14 T-34s and 7 T-70s
    2. 21st Gds Tank Bde = 14 T-34s and 2 T-70s
    3. 22nd Gds Tank Bde = none (it says that)
  3. Tank in line on the evening of July 8:
    1. 20th Gds Tank Bde = 7 T-34s, 7 T-70s
    2. 21st Gds Tank Bde = 7 T-34s, 7 T-70s
    3. 22nd Gds Tank Bde = 7 T-34s, 5 T-70s
  4. Souce: TSAMO, Fond: 3403, Opis: 1, Delo: 18a
  5. There is also the 48th Guards Tank Rgt with the unit which started the battle with 21 Churchills. On the morning of July 7 it was still reporting 21 Mk-4s. At 2200 8 July it was reporting 5 Churchills..

So in conclusion…..

  1. It does not appear to have been the X Tank Corps (unless they did an attack and only lost two tanks, or they did an attack, lost a lot of tanks and did not report it…at all, ever);
    1. If it did attack, the most likely candidate is the 178th Tank Brigade.
  2. It does not appear to have been the XXXI Tank Corps (unless a tank brigade detached from the corps, moved many kilometers across the front of the SS Panzer Corps advance and came down from the NE…but this seems extremely unlikely).
  3. It does not appear to be from the II Tank Corps; although it could have been. This is the best possible candidate.
    1. The 99th Tank Bde had lost at least 16 tanks, but appears to have been engaged with the combined arms force from Das Reich.
    2. The 26th Tank Bde had lost at least 9 tanks (at least 6 T-34s).
    3. The 169th Tank Bde does not appear to have been seriously engaged (at least 4 tanks lost, 3 were T-34s).
  4. And the V Guards Tank Corps on the 8th was clearly facing Das Reich and was to the left (south) of II Tank Corps.
  5. Therefore, the most likely candidate is the 26th Tank Bde, which we don’t have location and action data for. It lost at least 9 tanks on the 8th (6 T-34s, 3 T-70s).

So which Soviet unit attacked there and what were their losses? Does anyone out there have better records of the II Tank Corps actions on the 8th?


P.S. The picture is of a Tiger I at the Battle of Kursk: Source:

Panzer Aces Wittmann and Staudegger at Kursk – part 2

Panzer Aces Wittmann and Staudegger at Kursk – part 2

My previous post on this subject looked at the claims of two panzer aces made on the 5th of July 1943. Let me address a couple of more claims credited to Michael Wittmann (1914-1944) and Franz Staudegger (1921-1995).

  1. It is claimed that Wittmann killed two T-34s, two SU-122s and 3 T-60s/T-70s on 7 and 8 July 1943.
    1. Sources of these claims:
      5. and there are others.
    2. These claims are not mentioned in Agte’s book on Wittmann.

The challenge here is finding where those SU-122s were. They were:

  1. The 1440th SP Artillery Rgt that was attached to the 67th GRD, opposite the German 48th Panzer Corps and probably lost most of its armor on the 5th.
    1. The Germans report that the Gross Deutschland Panzer Rgt encountered Su-122s on 7 July (see my Kursk book, page 510).
    2. On the 11th of July the XXXII Guards Rifle Corps had the 1440th SP Artillery Rgt attached to it, which had 2 SU-76s and 7 SU-122s ready for action (14 Su-76s and 8 SU-122s total).
    3. An unscathed Su-122 was found around Tolstoye Woods and handed over the 3rd Panzer Division for its use (see Kursk, page 1078).
  2. The 1438th SP Artillery Rgt that was part of the Seventh Guards Army and clearly never faced the SS. It has 9 Su-76s and 12 Su-122s.
  3. The 1447th SP Artillery Rgt which was part of the V Guards Mechanized Corps and still had 9 Su-75s and 12 Su-122 as of 11 July.
  4. The 1461st SP Artillery Rgt attached to the First Tank Army and was part of VI Tank Corps. It was far from the SS Panzer Corps.
  5. The XXIX Tank Corps has 12 Su-122s. But the corps did not see battle until 12th of July. They lost nine of them on 12 July (see Kursk, page 951).

Therefore, by default, the 1438th, 1447th, 1461 SP Art Rgts and XXIX Tank Corps Su-122 would have never encountered the SS. The 1440th may have, but the 67th Guards Rifle Division and XXXII Guards Rifle Corps was primarily opposite the 11th Panzer Division. As the LSSAH was to the east of the 11th Panzer Division, it is possible that it could have been engaged by the LSSAH and Michael Wittmann. Overall, the claims for 7 and 8 July were possible. Do not know how probable they are.

Will address the claims for Staudegger in a subsequent post.

P.S. The first picture is of from Kubinka Tank Museum in Moscow Oblast. Not sure where the second picture of a German Su-122 came from, it was in an image gallery. Also see these links:

Panzer Aces Wittmann and Staudegger at Kursk – part 1

Panzer Aces Wittmann and Staudegger at Kursk – part 1

Two of the top panzer aces at the Battle of Kursk were Michael Wittmann (1914-1944) and Franz Staudegger (1921-1995). They were both in the heavy panzer company (armed with Tiger Is) of the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler Panzer Grenadier Division (LSSAH or LSSAH PzGrD). I only briefly addressed them in my Kursk book. I now find myself going back over their efforts.

The problem is that while there are very detailed narratives on their actions from 5-12 July 1943, there are unresolved issues with these narratives. Let me address a couple of them:

  1. It is claimed that Wittmann killed 8 T-34s and 7 AT guns on 5 July 1943 (source: Agte, page 96, 126).
    1. Some accounts say 12. For example:
    2. Some accounts say 13 T-34s and 2 AT guns.
  2. It is claimed that Staudegger killed two tanks (T-34s?) the evening of 5 July in close combat. (source: Agte, pages 98-99)
    1. Some accounts say it was a T-34. For example:
    2. and

First of all, the unusually high German claims are the Eastern Front are often believable because of the unusually high losses by the Soviet Union. It often becomes difficult to disprove any claims. For example, on page 875 of my Kursk book I examine the German claims of tank kills compared to actual Soviet losses.

The biggest problem with the claims of killing T-34s on 5 July was that there was not many (if any) T-34s in and around the SS Panzer Corps on that day. The German accounts state that they were facing dug-in T-34s in their attack on 5 July (see Agte, pages 93, 95, 96 and 97). The attack of the LSSAH was in the area of Byikovka against the 52nd Guards Rifle Division, Sixth Guards Army. The armor units attached to the Sixth Guards Army were: 1) the 230th Tank Regiment, 2) the 245th Tank Regiment, 3) 1440th Self-Propelled Artillery Regiment, and 4) the 96th Tank Brigade. The 245th Tank Regiment was armed with 27 U.S. built M-3 Stuart tanks and 12 U.S. built M-3 Grants. The 96th Tank Brigade had 5 T-70s and 46 T-34s. We did not have detailed unit records for the other two regiments, but we assumed for the Kursk Data Base (KDB) that the 230th Tank Regiment was also armed with American built tanks. Valerii Zamulin in his book has the 230th Tank Regiment with 32 Stuarts and 7 Lees (one in repair) on 1 June 1943. He also confirmed in a meeting with me at the now out-of-business Grevey’s Sports Bar that they were armed with American tanks. Zamulin’s book shows the 1440th Self-Propelled Artillery Regiment on 1 June 1943 with 9 T-70s (one in repair) and 12 T-34s, but adds a footnote that states that at the beginning of the Kursk offensive the regiment was given a complete standard complement of a mix of 21 Su-76 and Su-122s. That is also what we had originally assumed (see Kursk: page 145).

So, to summarize, only one unit attached to the Sixth Guards Army, the 96th Tank Brigade, was armed with T-34s. This unit was located northeast of Belgorod, attached to the 375th Rifle Division, but to the east of Gostishchevo and behind (to the NE) of the 81st Guards Rifle Division (Seventh Guards Army). The SS Panzer Corps was deployed with the LSSAH on its left (west), the Das Reich SS Panzer Grenadier Division (DR) in the center and the Totenkopf SS Panzer Grenadier Division (T) on the right. The Sixth Guards Army was deployed with the 52nd Guards Rifle Division opposite both LSSAH and DR and to its east was the 375th Rifle Division, opposite T PzGrD. The 245th Tank Regiment we have records for and it appears that it lost most of its tanks on 5 July. They were to the west of the SS Panzer Corps, opposite the German 48th Panzer Corps. The accounts and interviews we did from the units of the 48th Panzer Corps reported American tanks there. The 1440th SP Artillery Regiment was attached to the 67th Guards Rifle Division, which was also opposite the 48th Panzer Corps. Certainly, in the morning of 5 July, it raises the question of which, if any, T-34s could have been engaged.

Now, we do have the records of the 96th Tank Brigade. It reports for 5 July that the moved on the 5th to defend the Lipovyii Donets crossings of the Nepkhayevo, Visloye and Ternovka. This is in the area of the T SS PzGrD. They report no losses on the 5th. They specifically state “No tank losses” on the 6th (TSAMO, Fond: 3191, Opis: 1, Delo: 3, pages 15-17). On July 8 they report a strength of 46 T-34s and 6 T-70s, so they had gained 1 T-70 since 4 July. They also reported their first losses (3 tanks burned and 3 knocked-out).

There were units moving up to the Soviet second defensive echelon. The 1st Guards Tank Brigade of the III Mechanized Corps was moving up to the left of the SS Panzer Corps. They report that they lost one T-34 at 23:30 on 5 July. This is discussed in my Kursk book on page 754. The biggest armored formation in the area was the excellently lead II Guards Tank Corps. It was to the NE of Belgorod, behind the 96th Guards Tank Brigade. It not receive orders to move on the 5th of July until 1635 (Kursk: 417).  The corps was deployed along the Lipovyii Donets at 0400 (Moscow time) on the 6th of July (Kursk: 473), which would put it facing T PzGrD.

Therefore, one of five things occurred:

  1. The 230th Tank Regiment was armed with T-34s (not likely)
  2. The 1440th SP Artillery Regiment was armed with 12 T-34s and saw action against the LSSAH (not likely).
  3. The 96th Tank Brigade saw significant action on the 5th (not likely).
  4. There were unreported T-34s that were part of the rifle divisions (not likely).
  5. The Germans were killing American tanks and claiming them as T-34s (most likely).

Finally one must consider the count. It appear that there were only around 39 tanks in the 230th Tank Regiment. The accounts published never mention any assault guns encountered on the 5th of July. Assuming 30 tanks from the 230th Tank Regiment were lost this day (which is what we assumed for the KDB), then did indeed Michael Wittmann kill 8 of them (27 percent)? Keep in mind this Soviet armor unit was facing two SS Panzer Grenadier Divisions, both of similar size and armament. Furthermore, Wittmann’s tank company was one of eight tank companies in his division, and one of 16 tank companies among these two divisions, plus there were 6 or so assault gun companies, four infantry regiments, many anti-tank guns, significant artillery, massive air support, etc. So could Wittmann have really killed 27 percent of the tanks the SS Panzer Corps faced that day, or his company killed 23 Soviet tanks (Kusk: page 392) or around 77 percent of the tanks the SS Panzer Corps faced that day? It is possible. Not sure how probable it is.

So, there are a lot of other experts out there. Please let me know where I might be wrong in questioning this.



  1. The first picture is of Michael Wittmann, but colorized. It is from this site:
  2. The second picture is supposedly of Michael Wittmann, but no claims as such, nor time and place. See:
  3. Picture of a Grant, although not from the Eastern Front.
  4. Picture of a Stuart, not from the Eastern Front.
  5. Picture of a T-34/76. See:

P.P.S.: Some accounts of such claims:

Patrick Agte, Michael Wittmann: And the Waffen SS Tiger Commanders of the Leibstandarte in WWII: Volume One (Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA., 1996).

Also see my Kursk book, pages 145, 148, 267, 270, 271, 274, 284, 286, 392, 394, 395, 402, 417, 447, 473, 474, 754



U.S. Military Deaths from 2006

U.S. Military Deaths from 2006

Interesting chart from the Congressional Research Service (CRS). Source:

OCO Deaths = Overseas Contingency Operations — meaning mostly Iraq and Afghanistan.

Non-OCO Deaths = means mostly accident, self-inflicted wounds, and illness. There are the almost 1,000 deaths a year that are going to occur in the U.S. military even when at peace. They listed accidents as 4,599 cases, self-inflicted deaths as 3,258 cases and illness/injury as 2,650 cases. Note that OCO operations also include accidents (471), self-inflicted wounded (282) and illness and injury (119). There are also 458 homicides in non-OCO and 41 homicides among the OCO deaths (along with 2,698 killed in action and 874 died of wounds).

It would have been more interesting if they started those charts in 2000 or 2001.

A few other interesting charts from that link:

The chart below is Iraq war deaths from 2006. Total Iraq war deaths since 2003 were over 4,500.

And these are Afghanistan war deaths from 2006. Total Afghanistan war deaths since 2001 add up to over 2,300.

These are, of course, only U.S. DOD deaths. There are also U.S. contractors, NATO allies, other U.S. allies, Iraq and Afghanstani forces, militia, civilians, insurgents, etc. It starts adding up.

Urban Combat in War by Numbers

Urban Combat in War by Numbers

So our work on urban warfare ended in 2005 with the Stalingrad contract being cancelled because of the weather. It was a pretty significant body of work, but the Army’s interest shifted to insurgencies and so did our work. From 2005 through 2009, our major work was on insurgencies, which is summarized in my book America’s Modern Wars.

When things finally got quiet enough for me to consider writing books, I briefly considered doing a book on urban warfare. But, the subject had fallen out of fashion. I therefore decided to try to summarize all our conventional warfare work into a single book, War by Numbers.

Our urban warfare work is described in a half dozen earlier posts. It is covered in much more depth in two chapters of my book War by Numbers. Chapter 16: Urban Legends, cover the three phases of this work (Phase I = ETO, II = Kharkov, III = Manila and post-WWII). The chapter is called “urban legends,” because so much of the work on urban warfare in the time immediately preceding our work overemphasized the intensity, casualties, fatigue and actions that would occur in urban warfare. They had, mistakenly, created a mythology about urban warfare, based upon looking at a few extreme case studies. This discussion on urban warfare flowed into the next chapter, Chapter 17: Use of Case Studies. As I pointed out at the start of that chapter (pages 265-266):

Unfortunately, military history is often the study of exceptions…..What often gets lost is the norm, or what is typical….we at the Dupuy Institute are not averse to using case studies; we simply prefer not to use them as our only analytical tool….We look for the norms and the typical situation and use case studies only as part of a further examination of the study.

The rest of the chapter is based upon the outstanding work that Richard C. Anderson did looking at a number individual division’s operations in a variety of cities (in particular Brest, Aachen, Cherbourg and Manila). More than six different case studies. The most significant one was the work done on urban operations and combat stress, or battle fatigue (it is in our Phase I report, which is on line). This was the work that caused RAND to revise their work and prepare a report that paralleled our research effort.

Chapter 16 is 59 pages long, while Chapter 17 is 20 pages.


P.S. Source of picture (Berlin 1945):



Urban Phase IV – Stalingrad

Urban Phase IV – Stalingrad

So, the Center for Army Analysis (CAA) decided to award us a contract to do Stalingrad based upon our recommendations at the end of the Phase III effort (see the previous post) and our proposal of dated 31 August 2004. We noted in our proposal that we had looked at 304 urban engagements and compared them to 319 non-urban engagements.

This is certainly the most comprehensive collection of urban combat data collected. Still, it is not definitive. In almost all cases, the defender is in a losing battle and is being enveloped. While this is the norm for urban warfare, one is left to wonder if the results for the first three phases of the analysis changes if the urban terrain is part of the front line and part of a set piece attack.

So we ended up proposing to create around 60 division-level urban engagements from the Battle of Stalingrad and compare them to 120 or more non-urban engagements from Kursk.

As we noted in our proposal “Assuming a contract award of 31 March 2005, The Dupuy Institute intends to complete the effort by the end of December 2005.”

Well, the contract was not awarded quite as quick as we liked. But it was in the government contracting office in August 2005, and fully funded. We had our Soviet research team ready to go. They had access to the Soviet unit records. We had a staff of researchers in place (including me and Shawn). We had our German and Russian translators lined up. We were ready to start work in October 2005.

Then Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. It was 29 August 2005. In early September the tragedy was so significant and the U.S. rescue and recovery efforts were overwhelmed, that the U.S. military was called in to help. No additional funding was provided for this, so the military had to pay for it from existing funds. The DOD then decided to fund the rescue effort by grabbing all non-essential funds from any contract not awarded, and this included ours. So come October 1st, instead of us starting work on a new contract, we discovered, on rather short notice, that it was no longer funded. Instead I had to hand out pink slips.


P.S. We later assembled most of the Russian unit records we needed for this project, but were never able to convince CAA to fund this fourth phase of our urban study effort.

Measuring the Effects of Combat in Cities, Phase III – part 3

Measuring the Effects of Combat in Cities, Phase III – part 3

Am 25.10.1941 konnte die faschistische deutsche Wehrmacht mit überlegenen Kräften Charkow, die Hauptstadt der Ukraine erobern.
UBz.: Panzer und Infanterie bei Strassenkämpfen in der Stadt

Description: Street fighting at Kharkov on 25 October 1941: infantry advancing covered by a StuG III assault gun and Sd.Kfz. 250 halftrack(Bundesarchiv Bild 183-L20582)

So, in our three phases of urban warfare study, taking place over three years, how much urban warfare did we examine? Well by count of engagements, we looked at 304 urban cases, division-level and battalion-level. Mostly what this means is one division or battalion-level engagement per day. Still, this is not insignificant.

We did assemble back in 2003 a listing of all the significant urban engagements we had identified since 1904. There are not all that common. We counted 117 of them in conventional combat between 1904 and 2003 (they are listed on pages 3-7 of the Phase III report). Of those 117, we had examined 22 of them (18.8 percent). We considered that 38 or so of them were major urban battles (division-level or larger). Of those, we examined 17 (44.7%). Only three of the remaining 21 major urban battles are known to have good data for both sides. The biggest remaining untapped source of data was the Battle of Stalingrad, which could yield over a hundred division-level engagements. This led us to make four points (page 10-11 of the report):

We suggest that there remain a number of ways in which we can broaden and deepen or knowledge of the effects of urban warfare.

  1. Conduct a detailed study of the Battle of Stalingrad. Stalingrad may also represent one of the most intense examples of urban combat, so may provide some clues to the causes of the urban outliers.
  2. Conduct a detailed study of battalion/brigade-level urban combat. This would begin with an analysis of battalion-level actions from the first two phases of this study (European Theater of Operations and Eastern Front), added to the battalion-level actions completed in this third phase of the study. Additional battalion-level engagements would be added as needed.
  3. Conduct a detailed study of the outliers in an attempt to discover the causes for the atypical nature of these urban battles.
  4. Conduct a detailed study of urban warfare in an unconventional warfare setting.

Anyhow, it was clear that our next step was Stalingrad. You will also note that in 2003/2004 we were also suggesting we study urban warfare in an unconventional warfare setting. This suggestion seemed to get no attention.


Measuring the Effects of Combat in Cities, Phase III – part 2.1

Measuring the Effects of Combat in Cities, Phase III – part 2.1

I forgot a cool graphic from these charts I posted the Phase III – part 2 discussion:

This is on page 61 of the Phase III report. It is also on page 260 of my book War by Numbers.

There is some explanatory text for this chart on pages 60-61 (and pages 259-261 of my book War by Numbers). The text from the report is below:

Over time one may note that the average weighted percent-loss-per-day in urban operations from 1943 to 2003 – a 60-year time span – ranges from 0.50 to 0.71 if Soviet attacks are excluded. In contrast, the average weighted percent-loss-per-day in non-urban terrain ranges from 0.76 to 1.27 if the Soviet attacks and Tet are excluded.

These data can be plotted over time by simply inserting the various percentage-loss-per-day for each of the engagements under the appropriate year. To do so we have eliminated the Eastern Front Soviet attacks (urban and non-urban) and Tet Offensive non-urban outliers and have normalized the intervening years where there are no data points. The result is interesting and clearly establishes that that over the last 60 years urban warfare has remained less intense than non-urban warfare (at least at the division-level and as measured as a percent-loss-per-day).

It is notable that the sole point at which the two lines intersect – during the 1973 Arab-Israeli War may actually shed some light upon why the belief that urban warfare is more costly and/or intense than that in other types of terrain exists. Quite simply, the urban case in the 1973 War – the Battle of Suez City – is one unique engagement fought during that entire war and is just one of 32 engagements from that war that was fought in urban terrain. And it is one of the few cases that we have found where division-level urban combat was as intense as the average non-urban combat during the same campaign. Overall in just seven of the 31 non-urban engagements in the 1973 War was the attacker percent-per-day loss higher than 1.57 percent found at Suez City, and in only two of those were the attackers Israeli. Nor were the Israeli armor losses extraordinary at Suez City, they amounted to only about 11 tanks, for a loss rate of just 4.6 percent-per-day. This may be contrasted to the 11.43 percent-per-day armor loss that the Israelis averaged in the nine non-urban attacks they made against the Egyptians in the 1973 War.[1]

That Suez City stands out as unique should hardly be surprising. What is surprising is that it – and the few other possible outliers we have found – has become identified as the “typical� urban battle rather than as a unique case. In that respect Suez City and the other outliers may provide copious lessons to be learned for future battles in urban terrain, but they should not be accepted as the norm. On that note however, it is somewhat depressing to see that many lessons of urban warfare apparently learned by the different combatants in World War II apparently were forcibly relearned in later wars. That the mistakes made in earlier urban battles are repeated over and over again in later wars – such as avoiding sending unsupported armor into built-up areas – is more than somewhat perplexing. Worse, we have been unable to find any example in World War II of the misemployment of armor in an urban environment that mirrors the foolishness exhibited by the attackers at Suez City or Grozny. Thus it could be supposed that any benefit of technological evolution in warfare over time might be counterbalanced in part by the simple failure to draw adequate lessons from the past.

[1] The highest rate was at Chinese Farm I when the Israelis armor loss was 24.40 percent-per-day.


Measuring the Effects of Combat in Cities, Phase III – part 2

Measuring the Effects of Combat in Cities, Phase III – part 2

Another part of our Phase III effort was to look at post-World War II cases. This is, by its nature, invariably one-sided data. Maybe at some point we will get the Chinese, North Koreans, Vietnamese, Syrians, etc. to open up their archives to us researchers, but, except for possibly Vietnam, I don’t think that is going to happen any time in the near future. So, we ended up building our post-World War II cases primarily from U.S. data.

We added 10 engagements from the Inchon/Seoul operation in 1950. For Vietnam we added  65 division-level urban engagements from the Tet Offensive in 1968 and 57 division-level non-urban engagements. We also added 56 battalion-level urban engagements from the Tet Offensive (all in Hue). We had 14 division-level urban engagements and 65 division-level non-urban engagements from various contingencies and conventional operations from 1944 to 2003. This included ELAS Insurgency, Arab-Isreali Wars, Panama, Mogadishu, the 1991 Gulf War and Baghdad in 2003. We also added 9 battalion-level urban cases, mostly from Beirut 1982-1984.

To add it all up this was:

                                                 Urban       Non-urban

Phase I (ETO)                              46              91

Phase II (Kharkov/Kursk)             51              65

Phase III (Manila/PTO)                53              41

Post-WWII – Division-level           89            123

Post-WWII – Battalion-level          65               0

                                                   ——-         ——

Total cases                                 304           319

This is a lot of cases for comparisons.

Just to show how they match up (from page 28 of the report):

Attackers in Division-Level Engagements:


PTO Kor Tet Oth ETO EF (Ger Atk) EF (Sov Atk)
Avg Str/day 12,099 28,304 6,294 10,903 34,601 17,080 17,001
Avg Cas 78 30 94 254 178 86 371
Avg Cas/day 78 30 39 59 169 86 371
Avg % Loss/day 0.63 0.71 0.78 0.56 0.50 0.49 1.95
Wgt % Loss/day 0.65 0.71 0.62 0.54 0.49 0.50 2.18



PTO Tet Oth ETO EF (Ger Atk) EF (Sov Atk)
Avg Str/day 17,445 13,232 18,991 21,060 27,083 27,044
Avg Cas 663 44 377 469 276 761
Avg Cas/day 221 22 191 237 206 653
Avg % Loss/day 0.83 0.19 1.56 1.09 1.00 2.39
Wgt % Loss/day 1.27 0.17 1.01 1.13 0.76 2.41

I will pick up more on the Phase III effort in a subsequent posting (a part 3 to this series). These charts are also on page 238 of War by Numbers.

P.S. The image was taken from this website:

It says image by Bettmann/CORBIS.

Measuring the Effects of Combat in Cities, Phase III – part 1

Measuring the Effects of Combat in Cities, Phase III – part 1

Now comes Phase III of this effort. The Phase I report was dated 11 January 2002 and covered the European Theater of Operations (ETO). The Phase II report [Part I and Part II] was dated 30 June 2003 and covered the Eastern Front (the three battles of Kharkov). Phase III was completed in 31 July 2004 and covered the Battle of Manila in the Pacific Theater, post-WWII engagements, and battalion-level engagements. It was a pretty far ranging effort.

In the case of Manila, this was the first time that we based our analysis using only one-side data (U.S. only). In this case, the Japanese tended to fight to almost the last man. We occupied the field of combat after the battle and picked up their surviving unit records. Among the Japanese, almost all died and only a few were captured by the U.S. So, we had fairly good data from the U.S. intelligence files. Regardless, the U.S. battle reports for Japanese data was the best data available. This allowed us to work with one-sided data. The engagements were based upon the daily operations of the U.S. Army’s 37th Infantry Division and the 1st Cavalry Division.

Conclusions (from pages 44-45):

The overall conclusions derived from the data analysis in Phase I were as follows, while those from this Phase III analysis are in bold italics.

  1. Urban combat did not significantly influence the Mission Accomplishment (Outcome) of the engagements. Phase III Conclusion: This conclusion was further supported.
  2. Urban combat may have influenced the casualty rate. If so, it appears that it resulted in a reduction of the attacker casualty rate and a more favorable casualty exchange ratio compared to non-urban warfare. Whether or not these differences are caused by the data selection or by the terrain differences is difficult to say, but regardless, there appears to be no basis to the claim that urban combat is significantly more intense with regards to casualties than is non-urban warfare. Phase III Conclusion: This conclusion was further supported. If urban combat influenced the casualty rate, it appears that it resulted in a reduction of the attacker casualty rate and a more favorable casualty exchange ratio compared to non-urban warfare. There still appears to be no basis to the claim that urban combat is significantly more intense with regards to casualties than is non-urban warfare.
  3. The average advance rate in urban combat should be one-half to one-third that of non-urban combat. Phase III Conclusion: There was strong evidence of a reduction in the advance rates in urban terrain in the PTO data. However, given that this was a single extreme case, then TDI still stands by its original conclusion that the average advance rate in urban combat should be about one-half to one-third that of non-urban combat/
  4. Overall, there is little evidence that the presence of urban terrain results in a higher linear density of troops, although the data does seem to trend in that direction. Phase III Conclusion: The PTO data shows the highest densities found in the data sets for all three phases of this study. However, it does not appear that the urban density in the PTO was significantly higher than the non-urban density. So it remains difficult to tell whether or not the higher density was a result of the urban terrain or was simply a consequence of the doctrine adopted to meet the requirements found in the Pacific Theater.
  5. Overall, it appears that the loss of armor in urban terrain is the same as or less than that found in non-urban terrain, and in some cases is significantly lower. Phase III Conclusion: This conclusion was further supported.
  6. Urban combat did not significantly influence the Force Ratio required to achieve success or effectively conduct combat operations. Phase III Conclusion: This conclusion was further supported.
  7. Nothing could be determined from an analysis of the data regarding the Duration of Combat (Time) in urban versus non-urban terrain. Phase III Conclusion: Nothing could be determined from an analysis of the data regarding the Duration of Combat (Time) in urban versus non-urban terrain.

So, in Phase I we compared 46 urban and conurban engagements in the ETO to 91 non-urban engagements. In Phase II, we compared 51 urban and conurban engagements in an around Kharkov to 49 non-urban Kursk engagements. On Phase III, from Manila we compared 53 urban and conurban engagements to 41 non-urban engagements mostly from Iwo Jima, Okinawa and Manila. The next blog post on urban warfare will discuss our post-WWII data.

P.S. The picture is an aerial view of the destroyed walled city of Intramuros taken on May 1945

U.S. and Russian Troops Fight

U.S. and Russian Troops Fight

Just wanted to post up this article by The National Interest….as they linked to our blog in the article: Did U.S. and Russian Troops Fight Their Bloodiest Battle Since World War I in February

We had no idea they were linking to us….I just noticed a few hits from their site, so decided to check. Our link is on the first line of the second page, under “ill-judged attack”:

Ribbentrop Memoirs – 1943

Ribbentrop Memoirs – 1943

I have been back to doing a lot of work lately on events in July 1943. This led me to Joachim von Ribbentrop’s memoirs, who was Hitler’s foreign minister. He wrote his memoirs while he was in prison after World War II. In 1946 he was the first Nazi leader to be executed. Below is a very interesting passage covering much of what he had to say about events in late 1942 and all of 1943. It is from pages 168-171. It can be found at:

When the Anglo-American landing in North Africa took place in November, 1942, 1 happened to be in Berlin. The very first reports showed the remarkable tonnage employed — four millions were mentioned. Clearly, an operation of such vast dimensions was very serious, and we had apparently been very wrong in our estimates of enemy tonnage. Indeed, Hitler later admitted as much. Since fortunes in the African theatre had always swayed backwards and forwards, I now feared the worst concerning the Axis position in the Mediterranean.

After contacting the Fuhrer I invited Count Ciano to come to Munich immediately for a conference; the Duce could not be spared to leave Italy. I flew to Bamberg, where I boarded the Fuhrer’s special train, which arrived there from the East.

I briefly reported as follows: The Anglo-American landing was serious, for it showed that our estimates of enemy tonnage, and therefore of the prospects of our U-boat war, had been radically wrong. Unless we could expel the British and Americans from Africa, which seemed very doubtful in view of our transport experiences in the Mediterranean, Africa and the Axis army there were lost, the Mediterranean would be open to the enemy, and Italy, already weak, would be confronted with the gravest difficulties. In this situation the Fuhrer needed a decisive reduction of his war commitments, and I asked for authority to make contact with Stalin through Mme Kollontay, the Soviet Ambassadress in Stockholm; I suggested that, if need be, most of the conquered territories in the East would have to be given up.

To this the Fuhrer reacted most strongly. He flushed, jumped to his feet and told me with indescribable violence that all he wanted to discuss was Africa — nothing else. His manner forbade me to repeat my proposal. Perhaps my tactics should have been different, but I was so seriously worried that I had aimed straight at my target.

Since the previous spring my power of resistance in face of such scenes had declined. It struck me then, as it did on subsequent occasions, that any two men who had had so violent a quarrel as mine with Hitler simply had to part company. Our personal relations had been so shattered that genuine co-operation seemed no longer possible.

There was nothing left for me but to discuss a few details concerning Count Ciano’s visit, and then the Fuhrer curtly ended the interview.

The next few days brought no further opportunity to mention my proposed contact with Stalin, although at that time — before the Stalingrad catastrophe — our negotiating position with regard to Moscow was incomparably stronger than it became soon afterwards. A week later the Russians attacked, our allies on the Don front collapsed, and our Sixth Army’s catastrophe at Stalingrad followed. For the time being, negotiations with Russia were ruled out — especially in the opinion of Hitler.

During the sad days which followed the end of the battle of Stalingrad I had a very revealing talk with Hitler. He spoke, as he often did, of his great admiration for Stalin. In him, he said, one could perceive what one man could mean to a nation. Any other nation would have broken down under the blows of 1941 and 1942. Russia owed her victory to this man, whose iron will and heroism had rallied the people to renewed resistance. Stalin was his great opponent, ideologically and militarily. If he were ever to capture Stalin he would respect him and assign to him the most beautiful palace in Germany. He added, however, that he would never release such an opponent. Stalin had created the Red Army, a grandiose feat. He was undeniably a historic personality of very great stature.

On this occasion and in a later memorandum I again suggested peace feelers to Moscow, but the memorandum, which I asked Ambassador Hewel to present, suffered an inglorious end. Hewel told me that the Fuhrer would have nothing to do with it and had thrown it away. I mentioned the subject once again during a personal conversation, but Hitler replied that he must first be able to achieve a decisive military success; then we could see. Then and later he regarded any peace feeler as a sign of weakness.

Nevertheless, I did make contact with Mme Kollontay in Stockholm through my intermediary, Kleist, but without authority I could do nothing decisive.

After the treachery of the Badoglio Government in September, 1943, I again acted very energetically. This time Hitler was not as obstinate as in the past. He walked over to a map and drew a line of demarcation on which, he said, he might compromise with the Russians. When I asked for authority, Hitler said he would have to think the matter over until the following morning. But when the next day came, nothing happened. The Fuhrer said he would have to consider this more thoroughly. I was very disappointed, for I felt that strong forces had again strengthened Hitler’s inflexible attitude against an understanding with Stalin.

When Mussolini arrived at the Fiihrer’s headquarters after his liberation, the Fuhrer told him, to my surprise, that he wanted to settle with Russia, but when I thereupon asked for instructions I again received no precise answer, and on the following day the Fuhrer once more refused permission for overtures to be made. He must have noticed how dejected I was, for later he visited me in my quarters, and on leaving said suddenly: ‘You know, Ribbentrop, if I settled with Russia today I would only come to grips with her again tomorrow — I just can’t help it.’ I was disconcerted and replied: ‘This is not the way to conduct a foreign policy, unless you want to forfeit confidence.’ My helplessness made me regard the future with gloom.

Source of the picture is:

The person who originally posted that picture guesses that the picture was from 1943 taken at Rastenburg Station, East Prussia (which is 5 miles west of Hitler’s headquarters, the Wolf’s Lair).



Measuring the Effects of Combat in Cities, Phase II – part 2

Measuring the Effects of Combat in Cities, Phase II – part 2

There was actually supposed to be a part 2 to this Phase II contract, which was analysis of urban combat at the army-level based upon 50 operations, of which a half-dozen would include significant urban terrain. This effort was not funded.

On the other hand, the quantitative analysis of battles of Kharkov only took up the first 41 pages of the report. A significant part of the rest of the report was a more detailed analysis and case study of the three fights over Kharkov in February, March and August of 1943. Kharkov was a large city, according to the January 1939 census, it has a population of 1,344,200, although a Soviet-era encyclopedia gives the pre-war population as 840,000. We never were able to figure out why there was a discrepancy. The whole area was populated with many villages. The January 1939 gives Kharkov Oblast (region) a population of 1,209,496. This is in addition to the city, so the region had a total population of 2,552,686. Soviet-era sources state that when the city was liberated in August 1943, the remaining population was only 190,000. Kharkov was a much larger city than any of the others ones covered in Phase I effort (except for Paris, but the liberation of that city was hardly a major urban battle).

The report then does a day-by-day review of the urban fighting in Kharkov. Doing a book or two on the battles of Kharkov is on my short list of books to write, as I have already done a lot of the research. We do have daily logistical expenditures of the SS Panzer Corps for February and March (tons of ammo fired, gasoline used and diesel used). In March when the SS Panzer Corps re-took Kharkov, we noted that the daily average for the four days of urban combat from 12 to 15 March was 97.25 tons of ammunition, 92 cubic meters of gasoline and 10 cubic meters of diesel. For the previous five days (7-11 March) the daily average was 93.20 tons of ammunition, 145 cubic meters of gasoline and 9 cubic meters of diesel. This it does not produced a lot of support for the idea that–as has sometimes been expressed (for example in RAND’s earlier reports on the subject)–that ammunition and other supplies will be consumed at a higher rate in urban operations.

We do observe from the three battles of Kharkov that (page 95):

There is no question that the most important lesson found in the three battles of Kharkov is that one should just bypass cities rather than attack them. The Phase I study also points out that the attacker is usually aware that faster progress can be made outside the urban terrain, and that the tendency is to weight one or both flanks and not bother to attack the city until it is enveloped. This is indeed what happened in two of the three cases at Kharkov and was also the order given by the Fourth Panzer Army that was violated by the SS Panzer Corps in March.

One must also note that since this study began the United States invaded Iraq and conducted operations in some major urban areas, albeit against somewhat desultory and ineffective opposition. In the southern part of Iraq the two major port cities Umm Qasar and Basra were first enveloped before any forces were sent in to clear them. In the case of Baghdad, it could have been enveloped if sufficient forces were available. As it was, it was not seriously defended. The recent operations in Iraq again confirmed that observations made in the two phases of this study.

P.S. The picture is of Kharkov in 1942, when it was under German occupation.

Measuring the Effects of Combat in Cities, Phase II – part 1

Measuring the Effects of Combat in Cities, Phase II – part 1

Our first urban warfare report that we did had a big impact. It clearly showed that the intensity of urban warfare was not what some of the “experts” out there were claiming. In particular, it called into question some of the claims being made by RAND. But, the report was based upon Aachen, Cherbourg, and a collection of mop-up operations along the Channel Coast. Although this was a good starting point because of the ease of research and availability of data, we did not feel that this was a fully representative collection of cases. We also did not feel that it was based upon enough cases, although we had already assembled more cases than most “experts” were using. We therefore convinced CAA (Center for Army Analysis) to fund a similar effort for the Eastern Front in World War II.

For this second phase, we again assembled a collection of Eastern Front urban warfare engagements in our DLEDB (Division-level Engagement Data Base) and compared it to Eastern Front non-urban engagements. We had, of course, a considerable collection of non-urban engagements already assembled from the Battle of Kursk in July 1943. We therefore needed a good urban engagement nearby. Kharkov is the nearest major city to where these non-urban engagements occurred and it was fought over three times in 1943. It was taken by the Red Army in February, it was retaken by the German Army in March, and it was taken again by the Red Army in August. Many of the units involved were the same units involved in the Battle of Kursk. This was a good close match. It has the additional advantage that both sides were at times on the offense.

Furthermore, Kharkov was a big city. At the time it was the fourth biggest city in the Soviet Union, being bigger than Stalingrad (as measured by pre-war population). A picture of its Red Square in March 1943, after the Germans retook it, is above.

We did have good German records for 1943 and we were able to get access to Soviet division-level records from February, March and August from the Soviet military archives in Podolsk. Therefore, we were able to assembled all the engagements based upon the unit records of both sides. No secondary sources were used, and those that were available were incomplete, usually one-sided, sometimes biased and often riddled with factual errors.

So, we ended up with 51 urban and conurban engagements from the fighting around Kharkov, along with 65 non-urban engagements from Kursk (we have more now).

The Phase II effort was completed on 30 June 2003. The conclusions of Phase II (pages 40-41) were similar to Phase I:

.Phase II Conclusions:

  1. Mission Accomplishment: This [Phase I] conclusion was further supported. The data does show a tendency for urban engagements not to generate penetrations.
  2. Casualty Rates: This [Phase I] conclusion was further supported. If urban combat influenced the casualty rate, it appears that it resulted in a reduction of the attacker casualty rate and a more favorable casualty exchange ratio compared to nonurban warfare. There still appears to be no basis to the claim that urban combat is significantly more intense with regards to casualties than is nonurban warfare.
  3. Advance Rates: There is no strong evidence of a reduction in the advance rates in urban terrain in the Eastern Front data. TDI still stands by its original conclusion that the average advance rate in urban combat should be one-half to one-third that of nonurban combat.
  4. Linear Density: Again, there is little evidence that the presence of urban terrain results in a higher linear density of troops, but unlike the ETO data, the data did not show a tendency to trend in that direction.
  5. Armor Losses: This conclusion was further supported (Phase I conclusion was: Overall, it appears that the loss of armor in urban terrain is the same as or less than that found in nonurban terrain, and in some cases is significantly lower.)
  6. Force Ratios: The conclusion was further supported (Phase I conclusion was: Urban combat did not significantly influence the Force Ratio required to achieve success or effectively conduct combat operations).
  7. Duration of Combat: Nothing could be determined from an analysis of the data regarding the Duration of Combat (Time) in urban versus nonurban terrain.

There is a part 2 to this effort that I will pick up in a later post.

The Dupuy Institute on Youtube

The Dupuy Institute on Youtube

Well, there are a few videos related to TDI on youtube:

  1. The Battle of Kursk interview done for Voice of America (VOA): http://1.
  2. Trevor Dupuy’s voice: http://1.
    1. Short version:
  3. R. Earnest Dupuy’s announcement on D-Day:

This all there is on youtube. Maybe we should start our own channel.

Next interview, I will remember to say “material” instead of “stuff.”

My Response to my 1997 Article

My Response to my 1997 Article

Shawn likes to post up on the blog old articles from The International TNDM Newsletter. The previous blog post was one such article I wrote in 1997 (he posted it under my name…although he put together the post). This is the first time I have read it since say….1997. A few comments:

  1. In fact, we did go back in systematically review and correct all the Italian engagements. This was primarily done by Richard Anderson from German records and UK records. All the UK engagements were revised as were many of the other Italian Campaign records. In fact, we ended up revising at least half of the WWII engagements in the Land Warfare Data Base (LWDB).
  2. We did greatly expand our collection of data, to over 1,200 engagements, including 752 in a division-level engagement database. Basically we doubled the size of the database (and placed it in Access).
  3. Using this more powerful data collection, I then re-shot the analysis of combat effectiveness. I did not use any modeling structure, but simply just used basic statistics. This effort again showed a performance difference in combat in Italy between the Germans, the Americans and the British. This is discussed in War by Numbers, pages 19-31.
  4. We did actually re-validate the TNDM. The results of this validation are published in War by Numbers, pages 299-324. They were separately validated at corps-level (WWII), division-level (WWII) and at Battalion-level (WWI, WWII and post-WWII).
  5. War by Numbers also includes a detailed discussion of differences in casualty reporting between nations (pages 202-205) and between services (pages 193-202).
  6. We have never done an analysis of the value of terrain using our larger more robust databases, although this is on my short-list of things to do. This is expected to be part of War by Numbers II, if I get around to writing it.
  7. We have done no significant re-design of the TNDM.

Anyhow, that is some of what we have been doing in the intervening 20 years since I wrote that article.

Response To “CEV Calculations in Italy, 1943”

Response To “CEV Calculations in Italy, 1943”

German infantry defending against the allied landing at Anzio pass a damaged “Elefant” tank destroyer, March 1944. [Wikimedia/Bundesarchiv]

[The article below is reprinted from August 1997 edition of The International TNDM Newsletter. It was written in response to an article by Mr. Zetterling originally published in the June 1997 edition of The International TNDM Newsletter]

Response to Niklas Zetterling’s Article
by Christopher A. Lawrence

Mr. Zetterling is currently a professor at the Swedish War College and previously worked at the Swedish National Defense Research Establishment. As I have been having an ongoing dialogue with Prof. Zetterling on the Battle of Kursk, I have had the opportunity to witness his approach to researching historical data and the depth of research. I would recommend that all of our readers take a look at his recent article in the Journal of Slavic Military Studies entitled “Loss Rates on the Eastern Front during World War II.� Mr. Zetterling does his German research directly from the Captured German Military Records by purchasing the rolls of micro�lm from the US National Archives. He is using the same German data sources that we are. Let me attempt to address his comments section by section:

The Database on Italy 1943-44:

Unfortunately, the Italian combat data was one of the early HERO research projects, with the results ï¬�rst published in 1971. I do not know who worked on it nor the specifics of how it was done. There are references to the Captured German Records, but significantly, they only reference division ï¬�les for these battles. While I have not had the time to review Prof. Zetterling‘s review of the original research. I do know that some of our researchers have complained about parts of the Italian data. From what I’ve seen, it looks like the original HERO researchers didn’t look into the Corps and Army ï¬�les, and assumed what the attached Corps artillery strengths were. Sloppy research is embarrassing, although it does occur, especially when working under severe ï¬�nancial constraints (for example, our Battalion-bevel Operations Database). If the research is sloppy or hurried, or done from secondary sources, then hopefully the errors are random, and will effectively counterbalance each other, and not change the results of the analysis. If the errors are all in one direction, then this will produce a biased result.

I have no basis to believe that Prof. Zetterling’s criticism is wrong, and do have many reasons to believe that it is correct. Until l can take the time to go through the Corps and Army ï¬�les, I intend to operate under the assumption that Prof. Zetterling’s corrections are good. At some point I will need to go back through the Italian Campaign data and correct it and update the Land Warfare Database. I did compare Prof. Zetterling‘s list of battles with what was declared to be the forces involved in the battle (according to the Combat Data Subscription Service) and they show the following attached artillery:

It is clear that the battles were based on the assumption that here was Corps-level German artillery. A strength comparison between the two sides is displayed in the chart on the next page.

The Result Formula:

CEV is calculated from three factors. Therefore a consistent 20% error in casualties will result in something less than a 20% error in CEV. The mission effectiveness factor is indeed very “fuzzy,� and these is simply no systematic method or guidance in its application. Sometimes, it is not based upon the assigned mission of the unit, but its perceived mission based upon the analyst’s interpretation. But, while l have the same problems with the mission accomplishment scores as Mr. Zetterling, I do not have a good replacement. Considering the nature of warfare, I would hate to create CEVs without it. Of course, Trevor Dupuy was experimenting with creating CEVs just from casualty effectiveness, and by averaging his two CEV scores (CEVt and CEVI) he heavily weighted the CEV calculation for the TNDM towards measuring primarily casualty effectiveness (see the article in issue 5 of the Newsletter, “Numerical Adjustment of CEV Results: Averages and Means“). At this point, I would like to produce a new, single formula for CEV to replace the current two and its averaging methodology. I am open to suggestions for this.

Supply Situation:

The different ammunition usage rate of the German and US Armies is one of the reasons why adding a logistics module is high on my list of model corrections. This was discussed in Issue 2 of the Newsletter, “Developing a Logistics Model for the TNDM.â€� As Mr. Zetterling points out, “It is unlikely that an increase in artillery ammunition expenditure will result in a proportional increase in combat power. Rather it is more likely that there is some kind of diminished return with increased expenditure.” This parallels what l expressed in point 12 of that article: “It is suspected that this increase [in OLIs] will not be linear.â€�

The CEV does include “logistics.� So in effect, if one had a good logistics module, the difference in logistics would be accounted for, and the Germans (after logistics is taken into account) may indeed have a higher CEV.

General Problems with Non-Divisional Units Tooth-to-Tail Ratio

Point taken. The engagements used to test the TNDM have been gathered over a period of over 25 years, by different researchers and controlled by different management. What is counted when and where does change from one group of engagements to the next. While l do think this has not had a significant result on the model outcomes, it is “sloppy� and needs to be addressed.

The Effects of Defensive Posture

This is a very good point. If the budget was available, my �rst step in “redesigning� the TNDM would be to try to measure the effects of terrain on combat through the use of a large LWDB-type database and regression analysis. I have always felt that with enough engagements, one could produce reliable values for these �gures based upon something other than judgement. Prof. Zetterling’s proposed methodology is also a good approach, easier to do, and more likely to get a conclusive result. I intend to add this to my list of model improvements.


There is one other problem with the Italian data that Prof. Zetterling did not address. This was that the Germans and the Allies had different reporting systems for casualties. Quite simply, the Germans did not report as casualties those people who were lightly wounded and treated and returned to duty from the divisional aid station. The United States and England did. This shows up when one compares the wounded to killed ratios of the various armies, with the Germans usually having in the range of 3 to 4 wounded for every one killed, while the allies tend to have 4 to 5 wounded for every one killed. Basically, when comparing the two reports, the Germans “undercount” their casualties by around 17 to 20%. Therefore, one probably needs to use a multiplier of 20 to 25% to match the two casualty systems. This was not taken into account in any the work HERO did.

Because Trevor Dupuy used three factors for measuring his CEV, this error certainly resulted in a slightly higher CEV for the Germans than should have been the case, but not a 20% increase. As Prof. Zetterling points out, the correction of the count of artillery pieces should result in a higher CEV than Col. Dupuy calculated. Finally, if Col. Dupuy overrated the value of defensive terrain, then this may result in the German CEV being slightly lower.

As you may have noted in my list of improvements (Issue 2, “Planned Improvements to the TNDMâ€�), I did list “revalidating” to the QJM Database. [NOTE: a summary of the QJM/TNDM validation efforts can be found here.] As part of that revalidation process, we would need to review the data used in the validation data base ï¬�rst, account for the casualty differences in the reporting systems, and determine if the model indeed overrates the effect of terrain on defense.

Stanley Cup Playoffs Odds II

Stanley Cup Playoffs Odds II

Instead of blogging about quantitative analysis of warfare….I have been watching hockey. Sorry.

When I blogged about this last time, the Washington Capitals has won the first two games of the seven-game series. One of the commentators states that only twice in the last 41 years (or cases) has a team won the third series of the play-offs after loosing the first two games. So, historically, in only 4.878% (say 5%) of the cases has someone come back from loosing the first two play-off games to win. I then calculated that if the teams were even, then the odds of Tampa Bay winning 4 of the next 5 games was .09375 or 9%.

Stanley Cup Play-off Odds

Well….it turned into a dramatic series, for after the Capitals won the first two games, they then lost the next three. The Capitals had to win the next two games after that (odds are 25% if the two teams are even in ability). They did, winning the series 4-3.

So, were the two teams even? I actually don’t think so. The Capitals won 4-3 (making the argument that they were 57-to-43). On the other hand, over the course of 7 games the Capitals scored 23 goals to Tampa Bays’ 15. Particularly telling is that Tampa Bay was shut out in the last two games (meaning they did not score). So, 23/38 makes the case for the comparison to be 61-to-39. But particularly telling was that the Capitals out shot (made more shots on the goal) than Tampa Bay in all but the last game (32-21, 37-35, 38-23, 38-19, 30-22, 33-24, 22-29). So total shot count was 230-173…so 57-to-43.

Now there is a whole lot more going on in a hockey game than just shots on goals and scoring, which is why we watch. But….it does appear that the Capitals were the better team and, after the fact, we may be able to say that they had a 57% chance of winning each game. Now, if I could figure out the odds before the series….I could make a lot of money in Vegas!

Degrees of Bacon

Degrees of Bacon

For those who have not examined the Oracle of Bacon…check this site:

It clearly establishes that if you are working in an industry or field (like in Hollywood), it is hard not to know someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows someone.

Anyhow, a Cambridge University professor named Stefan Halper is now in the news, involved in the latest twist to the Russian investigation: Who is Stefan A. Halper?

I have never heard of him before, but it turns out he was a contractor to Office of Net Assessment (ONA) from 2012-2016. We did a number of contracts for Andy Marshall’s shop, although the last one was in 2008. See: Andrew Marshall

He also turns out to have married Ray S. Cline’s daughter. Trevor Dupuy knew Ray Cline and published one of his books in 1986 through Hero Books. I met him once, when I was trying to put together a far ranging proposal on East Asia for Net Assessment. See: Terrorism as State Sponsored Covert Warfare. This book is out of print.

Anyhow, this is the nature of living and working in the Washington DC area. On the other hand, my favorite barber knows even more of the people we see on the news.

Pompeo’s 12 Demands for Iran

Pompeo’s 12 Demands for Iran

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo outlined 12 basic requirements for a new agreement with Iran on nuclear and regional issues:

  • 1. Iran must provide a complete account of its previous nuclear-weapons research.
  • 2. Iran must stop uranium enrichment and never pursue plutonium reprocessing.
  • 3. Iran must provide the International Atomic Energy Agency “unqualified accessâ€� to all sites in the country.
  • 4. Iran must stop providing missiles to militant groups and halt the development of nuclear-capable missiles.
  • 5. Iran must release all U.S. and allied detainees.
  • 6. Iran must stop supporting militant groups, including Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
  • 7. Iran must respect Iraqi sovereignty and permit the demobilization of the Shiite militias it has backed there.
  • 8. Iran must stop sending arms to the Houthis and work for a peaceful settlement in Yemen.
  • 9. Iran must withdraw all forces under its command from Syria.
  • 10. Iran must end support for the Taliban and stop harboring al Qaeda militants.
  • 11. Iran must end support by its paramilitary Quds Force for militant groups.
  • 12. Iran must end its threats to destroy Israel and stop threatening international ships. It must end cyberattacks and stop proxies from firing missiles into Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.


I doubt that Iran is going to fulfill all these demands without a regime change.




Another interview with Voice of America (VOA), this time it is on the current Russian Army:

I may get around to translating it at some point. There will be a video later.

General McInerney

General McInerney

Lt. General Thomas McInerney has been in the news lately, mostly for saying things that are getting him kicked off of news shows:

It is my understanding that he was the person who was responsible for making sure that DACM (Dupuy Air Combat Model) was funded by AFSC. He then retired from the Air Force in 1994. We completed the demonstration phase of the DACM and quite simply, there was no one left in the Air Force who was interested in funding it. So, work stopped. I never met General McInerney and was not involved in the marketing of the initial effort.

The Dupuy Institute Air Model Historical Data Study

The Dupuy Air Campaign Model (DACM)

But, this is typical of the problems with doing business with the Pentagon, where an officer will take an interest in your work, generate funding for it, but by the time the first steps are completed, that officer has moved on to another assignment. This has happened to us with other projects. One of these efforts was a joint research project that was done by TDI and former Army surgeon on casualty rates. It was for J-4 of the Joint Staff. The project officer there was extremely interested and involved in the work, but then moved to another assignment. By the time we got original effort completed, the division was headed by an Air Force Colonel who appeared to be only interested in things that flew. Therefore, the project died (except that parts of it were used for Chapter 15: Casualties, pages 193-198, in War by Numbers).

Our experience in dealing with the U.S. defense establishment is that sometimes research efforts that takes longer than a few months will die……because the people interested in it have moved on. This sometimes leads to simple, short-term analysis and fewer properly funded long-term projects.

Stanley Cup Play-off Odds

Stanley Cup Play-off Odds

Last night, as I was watching the Capitals trash Tampa Bay in the third round of the Stanley Cup play-offs….the announcer mentioned that only twice in the last 41 years (or cases) has a team won the third round of the play-offs after loosing the first two games. Tampa Bay was lost the first two games. So, historically, in only 4.878% (say 5%) of the cases has someone come back from loosing the first two play-off games to win. Note that the Capitals did this against Columbus in the first round.

Now, there are seven games in a play-off round.  So with five games left, Tampa Bay has to win 4 of the 5 games. So, assuming the teams are equal (50% chance of either winning a game), then the odds of Tampa Bay winning 4 of the next 5 games I calculate as .09375 (mathematicians…please check me on this) or 9%. So if the teams are equal, then Tampa Bay should statistically have a 9% chance of coming back and winning the round. Historically, it has only happened 5% of the time.

Suppose Tampa Bay is the better team. Lets say their odds of winning are 60% for each game, then their odds of winning 4 out of 5 rises to 18.144%. They did win 2 out of 3 games against the Capitals in the regular season, so maybe their odds of winning any single game is really 67%. This is a 26.34% chance of coming back. Let us say they are really good and motivated and have a 75% of winning each game, then the odds are  39.55%. On the other hand, to get to the historical 5% win rate in this situation, then team that is behind had to have around a 42% chance of winning each game.

Anyhow…..not sure what it all means.

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