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.

Was Kursk the Largest Tank Battle in History?

Was Kursk the Largest Tank Battle in History?

[This post was originally published on 3 April 2017.]

Displayed across the top of my book is the phrase “Largest Tank Battle in History.� Apparently some people dispute that.

What they put forth as the largest tank battle in history is the Battle of Brody in 23-30 June 1941. This battle occurred right at the start of the German invasion of the Soviet Union and consisted of two German corps attacking five Soviet corps in what is now Ukraine. This rather confused affair pitted between 750 to 1,000 German tanks against 3,500 to 5,000 Soviet tanks. Only 3,000 Soviet tanks made it to the battlefield according to Glantz (see video at 16:00). The German won with losses of around a 100 to 200 tanks. Sources vary on this, and I have not taken the time to sort this out (so many battles, so little time). So, total tanks involved are from 3,750 to up to 6,000, with the lower figure appearing to be more correct.

Now, is this really a larger tank battle than the Battle of Kursk? My book covers only the southern part of the German attack that started on 4 July and ended 17 July. This offensive involved five German corps (including three Panzer corps consisting of nine panzer and panzer grenadier divisions) and they faced seven Soviet Armies (including two tank armies and a total of ten tank corps).

My tank counts for the southern attack staring 4 July 1943 was 1,707 German tanks (1,709 depending if you count the two Panthers that caught fire on the move up there). The Soviets at 4 July in the all formations that would eventually get involved has 2,775 tanks with 1,664 tanks in the Voronezh Front at the start of the battle. Our count of total committed tanks is slightly higher, 1,749 German and 2,978 Soviet. This includes tanks that were added during the two weeks of battle and mysterious adjustments to strength figures that we cannot otherwise explain. This is 4,482 or 4,727 tanks. So depending on which Battle of Brody figures being used, and whether all the Soviet tanks were indeed ready-for-action and committed to the battle, then the Battle of Brody might be larger than the attack in the southern part of the Kursk salient. On the other hand, it probably is not.

But, this was just one part of the Battle of Kursk. To the north was the German attack from the Orel salient that was about two-thirds the size of the attack in the south. It consisted of the Ninth Army with five corps and six German panzer divisions. This offensive fizzled at the Battle of Ponyiri on 12 July.

The third part to the Battle of Kursk began on 12 July the Western and Bryansk Fronts launched an offensive on the north side of the Orel salient. A Soviet Front is equivalent to an army group and this attack initially consisted of five armies and included four Soviet tank corps. This was a major attack that added additional forces as it developed and went on until 23 August.

The final part of the Battle of Kursk was the counter-offensive in the south by Voronezh, Southwestern and Steppe Fronts that started on 3 August, took Kharkov and continued until 23 August. The Soviet forces involved here were larger than the forces involved in the original defensive effort, with the Voronezh Front now consisting of eight armies, the Steppe Front consisting of three armies, and there being one army contributed by the Southwestern Front to this attack.

The losses in these battles were certainly more significant for the Germans than at the Battle of Brody. For example, in the southern offensive by our count the Germans lost 1,536 tanks destroyed, damaged or broken down. The Soviets lost 2,471 tanks destroyed, damaged or broken down. This compares to 100-200 German tanks lost at Brody and the Soviet tank losses are even more nebulous, but the figure of 2,648 has been thrown out there.

So, total tanks involved in the German offensive in the south were 4,482 or 4,727 and this was just one of four parts of the Battle of Kursk. Losses were higher than for Brody (and much higher for the Germans). Obviously, the Battle of Kursk was a larger tank battle than the Battle of Brody.

What some people are comparing the Battle of Brody to is the Battle of Prokhorovka. This was a one- to five-day event during the German offensive in the south that included the German SS Panzer Corps and in some people’s reckoning, all of the III Panzer Corps and the 11th Panzer Division from the XLVIII Panzer Corps. So, the Battle of Brody may well be a larger tank battle than the Battle of Prokhorovka, but it was not a larger tank battle than the Battle of Kursk. I guess it depends all in how you define the battles.

Some links on Battle of Brody:

Afghan Migration

Afghan Migration

Fascinating article from a British-based analyst, Dermot Rooney:

A few highlights:

  1. “…war alone cannot account for the vast number of Afghan migrants or the great distance they are travelling.”
    1. “Globally, up until 1960, the ratio of refuges to fatalities in conflict zones was below 5:1.”
    2. “…in 2015 there was an almost unprecedented 50 as asylum applicants for every civilian killed.”
    3. “Whereas in 1979 over 90% of the Afghan refugees travelled less than 500 km and cross one border, now more than 90% travel over 5,000 km to seek asylum…”
  2. “There are now 1.3 million internally displaced Afghans, with the total increasing by 400,000 a year.”
  3. “The pull of economic opportunity plays a large part in the decision to migrate.”
  4. “In 2015, the population of Afghanistan was 32 million.”
    1. “…it is nonetheless obliged to import enough wheat to feed 10 million people…”
  5. “…Afghanistan’s population will pass 40 million in ten years.”
    1. “the natural growth rate of 2.3% a year added 700,000 to the Afghan population in 2015.”
    2. “Unless there is a dramatic improvement in the economy and security in that time, 16 million will depend on food aid…”


Battle of Kursk on VOA

Battle of Kursk on VOA

Zentralbild, II. Weltkrieg 19139-45
Der von der faschistischen deutschen Wehrmacht während des Krieges entwickelte neue Panzerkampfwagen Typ “Panther”.
UBz: die Verladung neuer “Panther”-Panzerkampfwagen zum Transport an die Front (1943).

The Voice of America (VOA) interviewed me about Kursk and the current Russian Army for some articles they were working on. The interviewer, Alex Grigoryev, was a journalist in Russia before he immigrated to the United States. The first interview, on Kursk, is on video here, with me speaking in English with Russian subtitles:

A few things I would change, but I don’t think I completely embarrassed myself.

Army Recruiting Goals

Army Recruiting Goals

This map is from 2003.

It appears that the Army has lowered its recruiting goals for 2018. In the first six months of the recruiting year, they brought in only 28,000 new soldiers. The goal for the year was 80,000. The overall goal is to grow the Army to 483,500. They have been able to maintain strength by retaining current soldiers (86% retention, compared to 81% in past years). Of course, the problem is the strong economy reduced recruits and “the declining quality of the youth market.”

Army lowers 2017 recruiting goal; more soldiers staying on

What the article does not state is that there is a limit to how long they can maintain the force through retention. At some point, they need to recruit more.

There is one interesting statement towards the end of the article that gets my attention: “Defense officials have also complained that despite the last 16 years of war in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, the American public is increasingly disconnected from the military, and they say many people have misperceptions about serving and often don’t personally know any service members.”

Back in 2003-2005 we did some contracts for the state of Pennsylvania in preparation for the upcoming round of base closures. This was not our normal line of business, but some people who knew us contacted us and asked if we could help. It then got weird, because some people in Pennsylvania wondered why they were using a historical think-tank for this as opposed to all their politically connected lobbyists and consultants. So, they replaced us, except for Pittsburg, who independently maintained us as a contractor (The Military Affairs Council of Western Pennsylvania) . The end result was that all the bases targeted for closure in Eastern Pennsylvania were shut down, but Pittsburg managed to justify and keep their bases open (for the time being).

Anyhow, one of the arguments I was developing for Pennsylvania is that the U.S. military needed to maintain a presence in the Northeastern United States. As we pointed out in our first report we did in 2003 for the “Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development Base Retention and Conversion-Pennsylvania Action Committee”:

As of 31 March 1943 New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey were among the top ten states in terms of War Department civilian employment….By fiscal year 2001 no Northeastern Sates was in the top ten in terms of Army and Air Force civilian employment….One side effect of Department of Defense downsizing and the BRAC process has been a continued shrinkage of the presence of the United States Armed Forces in the Northeastern U.S. and concurrent with that, the representation of Northeasterners in the Armed Forces….The U.S. Armed Forces is in danger of being transformed from a truly national force to a force with unusually strong regional representations: with a significant portion of the U.S. Armed Forces based, oriented and recruited from the Southeast. The Dupuy Institute does not believe that these trends are healthy, either for the nation as a whole or for the Armed Forces themselves.

Just to drive home point:

The Northeast has always played a significant part in the defense of the United States. Some of America’s most famous military figures have come from the region…and yet, since World War II it appears that this pattern has shifted. For example an examination of the biographies of nineteen of the senior commanders in the U.S. military show that now only two are from the Northeast, and this from a region that constitutes one-fifth of the population of the United States….Currently (as of 2000) only 14.6 percent of all personnel recruited annually in the U.S. military are from the Northeast.

And listed under possible reasons for this shift in participation:

  1. A stronger economy in the Northeast. U.S. military recruiting tends to be more successful in those area that have a lower per capita income. The Northeast has historically been one of the wealthiest areas of the U.S.
  2. A lack of major U.S. military presence in the Northeast…..They all reduce the visibility of the military in the region relative to other regions of the U.S.
  3. A lack of military families in the Northeast…..And since volunteers for military service often come from military families the reduced presence of the military in the Northeast has probably led to a decline in recruitment from the region…
  4. Cultural differences. For a variety of personal, political and economic reasons the citizens of the Northeast may be less likely to join the military.

Anyhow, this is part of a larger concern that I have had with our all-volunteer military becoming increasing regionally based and not being representative of the United States population as a whole.

U.S. Army Force Ratios

U.S. Army Force Ratios

People do send me some damn interesting stuff. Someone just sent me a page clipped from U.S. Army FM 3-0 Operations, dated 6 October 2017. There is a discussion in Chapter 7 on “penetration.” This brief discussion on paragraph 7-115 states in part:

7-115. A penetration is a form of maneuver in which an attacking force seeks to rupture enemy defenses on a narrow front to disrupt the defensive system (FM 3-90-1) ….The First U.S. Army’s Operation Cobra (the breakout from the Normandy lodgment in July 1944) is a classic example of a penetration. Figure 7-10 illustrates potential correlation of forces or combat power for a penetration…..”

This is figure 7-10:


  1. Corps shaping operations: 3:1
  2. Corps decisive operations: 9-1
    1. Lead battalion: 18-1

Now, in contrast, let me pull some material from War by Numbers:

From page 10:

European Theater of Operations (ETO) Data, 1944


Force Ratio                       Result                          Percent Failure   Number of cases

0.55 to 1.01-to-1.00            Attack Fails                          100%                     5

1.15 to 1.88-to-1.00            Attack usually succeeds        21%                   48

1.95 to 2.56-to-1.00            Attack usually succeeds        10%                   21

2.71-to-1.00 and higher      Attacker Advances                   0%                   42


Note that these are division-level engagements. I guess I could assemble the same data for corps-level engagements, but I don’t think it would look much different.

From page 210:

Force Ratio…………Cases……Terrain…….Result

1.18 to 1.29 to 1        4             Nonurban   Defender penetrated

1.51 to 1.64               3             Nonurban   Defender penetrated

2.01 to 2.64               2             Nonurban   Defender penetrated

3.03 to 4.28               2             Nonurban   Defender penetrated

4.16 to 4.78               2             Urban         Defender penetrated

6.98 to 8.20               2             Nonurban   Defender penetrated

6.46 to 11.96 to 1      2             Urban         Defender penetrated


These are also division-level engagements from the ETO. One will note that out of 17 cases where the defender was penetrated, only once was the force ratio as high as 9 to 1. The mean force ratio for these 17 cases is 3.77 and the median force ratio is 2.64.

Now the other relevant tables in this book are in Chapter 8: Outcome of Battles (page 60-71). There I have a set of tables looking at the loss rates based upon one of six outcomes. Outcome V is defender penetrated. Unfortunately, as the purpose of the project was to determine prisoner of war capture rates, we did not bother to calculate the average force ratio for each outcome. But, knowing the database well, the average force ratio for defender penetrated results may be less than 3-to-1 and is certainly is less than 9-to-1. Maybe I will take few days at some point and put together a force ratio by outcome table.

Now, the source of FM 3.0 data is not known to us and is not referenced in the manual. Why they don’t provide such a reference is a mystery to me, as I can point out several examples of this being an issue. On more than one occasion data has appeared in Army manuals that we can neither confirm or check, and which we could never find the source for. But…it is not referenced. I have not looked at the operation in depth, but don’t doubt that at some point during Cobra they had a 9:1 force ratio and achieved a penetration. But…..this is different than leaving the impression that a 9:1 force ratio is needed to achieve a penetration. I do not know it that was the author’s intent, but it is something that the casual reader might infer. This probably needs to be clarified.

Response 3 (Breakpoints)

Response 3 (Breakpoints)

This is in response to long comment by Clinton Reilly about Breakpoints (Forced Changes in Posture) on this thread:

Breakpoints in U.S. Army Doctrine

Reilly starts with a very nice statement of the issue:

Clearly breakpoints are crucial when modelling battlefield combat. I have read extensively about it using mostly first hand accounts of battles rather than high level summaries. Some of the major factors causing it appear to be loss of leadership (e.g. Harald’s death at Hastings), loss of belief in the units capacity to achieve its objectives (e.g. the retreat of the Old Guard at Waterloo, surprise often figured in Mongol successes, over confidence resulting in impetuous attacks which fail dramatically (e.g. French attacks at Agincourt and Crecy), loss of control over the troops (again Crecy and Agincourt) are some of the main ones I can think of off hand.

The break-point crisis seems to occur against a background of confusion, disorder, mounting casualties, increasing fatigue and loss of morale. Casualties are part of the background but not usually the actual break point itself.

He then states:

Perhaps a way forward in the short term is to review a number of first hand battle accounts (I am sure you can think of many) and calculate the percentage of times these factors and others appear as breakpoints in the literature.

This has been done. In effect this is what Robert McQuie did in his article and what was the basis for the DMSI breakpoints study.

Battle Outcomes: Casualty Rates As a Measure of Defeat

Mr. Reilly then concludes:

Why wait for the military to do something? You will die of old age before that happens!

That is distinctly possible. If this really was a simple issue that one person working for a year could produce a nice definitive answer for… would have already been done !!!

Let us look at the 1988 Breakpoints study. There was some effort leading up to that point. Trevor Dupuy and DMSI had already looked into the issue. This included developing a database of engagements (the Land Warfare Data Base or LWDB) and using that to examine the nature of breakpoints. The McQuie article was developed from this database, and his article was closely coordinated with Trevor Dupuy. This was part of the effort that led to the U.S. Army’s Concepts Analysis Agency (CAA) to issue out a RFP (Request for Proposal). It was competitive. I wrote the proposal that won the contract award, but the contract was given to Dr. Janice Fain to lead. My proposal was more quantitative in approach than what she actually did. Her effort was more of an intellectual exploration of the issue. I gather this was done with the assumption that there would be a follow-on contract (there never was). Now, up until that point at least a man-year of effort had been expended, and if you count the time to develop the databases used, it was several man-years.

Now the Breakpoints study was headed up by Dr. Janice B. Fain, who worked on it for the better part of a year. Trevor N. Dupuy worked on it part-time. Gay M. Hammerman conducted the interview with the veterans. Richard C. Anderson researched and created an additional 24 engagements that had clear breakpoints in them for the study (that is DMSI report 117B). Charles F. Hawkins was involved in analyzing the engagements from the LWDB. There were several other people also involved to some extent. Also, 39 veterans were interviewed for this effort. Many were brought into the office to talk about their experiences (that was truly entertaining). There were also a half-dozen other staff members and consultants involved in the effort, including Lt. Col. James T. Price (USA, ret), Dr. David Segal (sociologist), Dr. Abraham Wolf (a research psychologist), Dr. Peter Shapiro (social psychology) and Col. John R. Brinkerhoff (USA, ret). There were consultant fees, travel costs and other expenses related to that. So, the entire effort took at least three “man-years” of effort. This was what was needed just get to the point where we are able to take the next step.

This is not something that a single scholar can do. That is why funding is needed.

As to dying of old age before that happens…..that may very well be the case. Right now, I am working on two books, one of them under contract. I sort of need to finish those up before I look at breakpoints again. After that, I will decide whether to work on a follow-on to America’s Modern Wars (called Future American Wars) or work on a follow-on to War by Numbers (called War by Numbers II…being the creative guy that I am). Of course, neither of these books are selling well….so perhaps my time would be better spent writing another Kursk book, or any number of other interesting projects on my plate. Anyhow, if I do War by Numbers II, then I do plan on investing several chapters into addressing breakpoints. This would include using the 1,000+ cases that now populate our combat databases to do some analysis. This is going to take some time. So…….I may get to it next year or the year after that, but I may not. If someone really needs the issue addressed, they really need to contract for it.

C-WAM 4 (Breakpoints)

C-WAM 4 (Breakpoints)

A breakpoint or involuntary change in posture is an essential part of modeling. There is a breakpoint methodology in C-WAM. According to slide 18 and rule book section 5.7.2 is that ground unit below 50% strength can only defend. It is removed at below 30% strength. I gather this is a breakpoint for a brigade.


Let me just quote from Chapter 18 (Modeling Warfare) of my book War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat (pages 288-289):

The original breakpoints study was done in 1954 by Dorothy Clark of ORO.[1] It examined forty-three battalion-level engagements where the units “broke,� including measuring the percentage of losses at the time of the break. Clark correctly determined that casualties were probably not the primary cause of the breakpoint and also declared the need to look at more data. Obviously, forty-three cases of highly variable social science-type data with a large number of variables influencing them are not enough for any form of definitive study. Furthermore, she divided the breakpoints into three categories, resulting in one category based upon only nine observations. Also, as should have been obvious, this data would apply only to battalion-level combat. Clark concluded “The statement that a unit can be considered no longer combat effective when it has suffered a specific casualty percentage is a gross oversimplification not supported by combat data.� She also stated “Because of wide variations in data, average loss percentages alone have limited meaning.�[2]

Yet, even with her clear rejection of a percent loss formulation for breakpoints, the 20 to 40 percent casualty breakpoint figures remained in use by the training and combat modeling community. Charts in the 1964 Maneuver Control field manual showed a curve with the probability of unit break based on percentage of combat casualties.[3] Once a defending unit reached around 40 percent casualties, the chance of breaking approached 100 percent. Once an attacking unit reached around 20 percent casualties, the chance of it halting (type I break) approached 100% and the chance of it breaking (type II break) reached 40 percent. These data were for battalion-level combat. Because they were also applied to combat models, many models established a breakpoint of around 30 or 40 percent casualties for units of any size (and often applied to division-sized units).

To date, we have absolutely no idea where these rule-of-thumb formulations came from and despair of ever discovering their source. These formulations persist despite the fact that in fifteen (35%) of the cases in Clark’s study, the battalions had suffered more than 40 percent casualties before they broke. Furthermore, at the division-level in World War II, only two U.S. Army divisions (and there were ninety-one committed to combat) ever suffered more than 30% casualties in a week![4] Yet, there were many forced changes in combat posture by these divisions well below that casualty threshold.

The next breakpoints study occurred in 1988.[1] There was absolutely nothing of any significance (meaning providing any form of quantitative measurement) in the intervening thirty-five years, yet there were dozens of models in use that offered a breakpoint methodology. The 1988 study was inconclusive, and since then nothing further has been done.[2]

This seemingly extreme case is a fairly typical example. A specific combat phenomenon was studied only twice in the last fifty years, both times with inconclusive results, yet this phenomenon is incorporated in most combat models. Sadly, similar examples can be pulled for virtually each and every phenomena of combat being modeled. This failure to adequately examine basic combat phenomena is a problem independent of actual combat modeling methodology.


[1] Dorothy K. Clark, Casualties as a Measure of the Loss of Combat Effectiveness of an Infantry Battalion (Operations Research Office, Johns Hopkins University, 1954).

 [2] Ibid, page 34.

[3] Headquarters, Department of the Army, FM 105-5 Maneuver Control (Washington, D.C., December, 1967), pages 128-133.

[4] The two exceptions included the U.S. 106th Infantry Division in December 1944, which incidentally continued fighting in the days after suffering more than 40 percent losses, and the Philippine Division upon its surrender in Bataan on 9 April 1942 suffered 100% losses in one day in addition to very heavy losses in the days leading up to its surrender.

[1] This was HERO Report number 117, Forced Changes of Combat Posture (Breakpoints) (Historical Evaluation and Research Organization, Fairfax, VA., 1988). The intervening years between 1954 and 1988 were not entirely quiet. See HERO Report number 112, Defeat Criteria Seminar, Seminar Papers on the Evaluation of the Criteria for Defeat in Battle (Historical Evaluation and Research Organization, Fairfax, VA., 12 June 1987) and the significant article by Robert McQuie, “Battle Outcomes: Casualty Rates as a Measure of Defeat� in Army, issue 37 (November 1987). Some of the results of the 1988 study was summarized in the book by Trevor N. Dupuy, Understanding Defeat: How to Recover from Loss in Battle to Gain Victory in War (Paragon House Publishers, New York, 1990).

 [2] The 1988 study was the basis for Trevor Dupuy’s book: Col. T. N. Dupuy, Understanding Defeat: How to Recover From Loss in Battle to Gain Victory in War (Paragon House Publishers, New York, 1990).

Also see:

Battle Outcomes: Casualty Rates As a Measure of Defeat

Pompeo: A couple hundred Russians were killed

Pompeo: A couple hundred Russians were killed

We usually stay away from the news of the day, but hard to ignore this one as we were recently blogging about it:



In testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mike Pompeo, currently the CIA Director and nominee to serve as Secretary of State stated that “a couple hundred Russians were killed” by U.S. forces in Syria.

Our discussion of this:

Russian Body Count: Update

More on Russian Body Counts

More Russian Body Counts

Russian Body Counts

Response 2

Response 2

In an exchange with one of readers, he mentioned that about the possibility to quantifiably access the performances of armies and produce a ranking from best to worst. The exchange is here:

The Dupuy Institute Air Model Historical Data Study

We have done some work on this, and are the people who have done the most extensive published work on this. Swedish researcher Niklas Zetterling in his book Normandy 1944: German Military Organization, Combat Power and Organizational Effectiveness also addresses this subject, as he has elsewhere, for example, an article in The International TNDM Newsletter, volume I, No. 6, pages 21-23 called “CEV Calculations in Italy, 1943.” It is here:

When it came to measuring the differences in performance of armies, Martin van Creveld referenced Trevor Dupuy in his book Fighting Power: German and U.S. Army Performance, 1939-1945, pages 4-8.

What Trevor Dupuy has done is compare the performances of both overall forces and individual divisions based upon his Quantified Judgment Model (QJM). This was done in his book Numbers, Predictions and War: The Use of History to Evaluate and Predict the Outcome of Armed Conflict. I bring the readers attention to pages ix, 62-63, Chapter 7: Behavioral Variables in World War II (pages 95-110), Chapter 9: Reliably Representing the Arab-Israeli Wars (pages 118-139), and in particular page 135, and pages 163-165. It was also discussed in Understanding War: History and Theory of Combat, Chapter Ten: Relative Combat Effectiveness (pages 105-123).

I ended up dedicating four chapters in my book War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat to the same issue. One of the problems with Trevor Dupuy’s approach is that you had to accept his combat model as a valid measurement of unit performance. This was a reach for many people, especially those who did not like his conclusions to start with. I choose to simply use the combined statistical comparisons of dozens of division-level engagements, which I think makes the case fairly convincingly without adding a construct to manipulate the data. If someone has a disagreement with my statistical compilations and the results and conclusions from it, I have yet to hear them. I would recommend looking at Chapter 4: Human Factors (pages 16-18), Chapter 5: Measuring Human Factors in Combat: Italy 1943-1944 (pages 19-31), Chapter 6: Measuring Human Factors in Combat: Ardennes and Kursk (pages 32-48), and Chapter 7: Measuring Human Factors in Combat: Modern Wars (pages 49-59).

Now, I did end up discussing Trevor Dupuy’s model in Chapter 19: Validation of the TNDM and showing the results of the historical validations we have done of his model, but the model was not otherwise used in any of the analysis done in the book.

But….what we (Dupuy and I) have done is a comparison between forces that opposed each other. It is a measurement of combat value relative to each other. It is not an absolute measurement that can be compared to other armies in different times and places. Trevor Dupuy toyed with this on page 165 of NPW (perhaps Shawn could post a graphic of this page), but this could only be done by assuming that combat effectiveness of the U.S. Army in WWII was the same as the Israeli Army in 1973.

Anyhow, it is probably impossible to come up with a valid performance measurement that would allow you to rank and army from best to worse. It is possible to come up with a comparative performance measurement of armies that have faced each other. This, I believe we have done, using different methodologies and different historical databases. I do believe it would be possible to then determine what the different factors are that make up this difference. I do believe it would be possible to assign values or weights to those factors. I believe this would be very useful to know, in light of the potential training and organizational value of this knowledge.

Why is WWI so forgotten?

Why is WWI so forgotten?

A view on the U.S. remembrance, or lack thereof, of WWI from the British paper The Guardian:

We do have World War I engagements in our databases and have included in some of our analysis. We have done some other research related to World War I (funded by the UK Ministry of Defence, of course):

Captured Records: World War I

Also have a few other blog post about the war:

Learning From Defeat in World War I

First World War Digital Resources

It was my grandfather’s war, but he was British at the time.



Why it is difficult to withdraw from (Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan….)

Why it is difficult to withdraw from (Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan….)

Leaving an unstable country in some regions is an invite to further international problems. This was the case with Afghanistan in the 1990s, which resulted in Al-Qaeda being hosted there. This was the case with Somalia, which not only hosted elements of Al-Qaeda, but also conducted rampant piracy. This was the case with Iraq/Syria, which gave the Islamic State a huge opening and resulted in them seizing the second largest city in Iraq. It seems a bad idea to ignore these areas, even though there is a cost to not ignoring them.

The cost of not ignoring them is one must maintain a presence of something like 2,000 to 20,000 or more support troops, Air Force personnel, trainers, advisors, special operations forces, etc. And they must be maintained for a while. It will certainly result in the loss of a few American lives, perhaps even dozens. It will certainly cost hundreds of millions to pay for deployment, security operations, develop the local forces, and to re-build and re-vitalize these areas. In fact, the bill usually ends up costing billions. Furthermore, these operations go on for a decade or two or more. The annual cost times 20 years gets considerable. We have never done any studies of “security operations” or “advisory missions.” The focus of our work was on insurgencies, but we have no doubt that these things tend to drag on a while before completion.

The cost of ignoring these countries may be nothing. If there is no international terror threat and no direct threat to our interests, then there may not be a major cost to withdrawing. On the other hand, the cost of ignoring Somalia was a pirate campaign that started around 2005 and where they attacked at least 232 ships. They captured over 3,500 seafarers. At least 62 of them died. The cost of ignoring Afghanistan in the 1990s? Well, was it 9-11? Would 9-11 have occurred anyway if Al-Qaeda was not free to reside, organize, recruit and train in Afghanistan? I don’t know for sure…..but I think it was certainly an enabling factor.

I have never seen a study that analyzes/estimates the cost of these interventions (although some such studies may exist).  Conversely, I have never seen a study that analyzes/estimates the cost of not doing these interventions (and I kind of doubt that such a study exists).

Hard to do analyze the cost of the trade-off if we really don’t know the cost.


Syrian Disengagement

Syrian Disengagement

The United States has struggled with what to do in Syria. We never had good relations with the dictatorial Assad family. Their civil war started with civil protests on 15 March 2011 as part of the Arab Spring. The protests turned bloody with over a thousand civilian dead (have no idea how accurate this number is) and thousands arrested. It had turned into a full civil war by late July 2011. Our initial response was to remain disengaged.

It is only when Assad used chemical weapons against his own population, similar to Saddam Hussein of Iraq, that we finally considered intervening. President Obama announced a “red line” on 20 August 2012 against the use of chemical weapons. Assad’s forces violated this on 17 October 2012 in Salqin, 23 December 2012 at Al-Bayadah, most notably in 19 March 2013 in Aleppo and in several other locations during March and April,  29 April 2013 in Saraqib and a couple of more incidents in May, 21 August 2013 in Ghouta and several other incidents in August. All attacks used the nerve agent Sarin. Instead of responding militarily, this then turned into a coordinated international effort to eliminate all the Syria chemical weapons, which was done in conjunction with Russia. This was not entirely successful, as repeated later incidences would demonstrate.

In my opinion, the United States should have intervened with considerable force in March 2013 if not before. This would include an significant air campaign, extensive aid to the rebels, and a small number of advisors. This would have certainly entailed some American casualties. Perhaps the overall results would have been no better than Libya (which has also been in civil war from 2011). But, at least with Libya we did got rid of Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011. Gaddafi had most likely organized a terrorist attack against the United States. This was the 1988 Lockerbie bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 which killed 270 people, including 190 Americans (and was most likely conducted in response to Reagan’s 1986 U.S. bombing of Libya).

Still, an intervention in Syria at that point may well have ended Assad’s regime and empowered a moderate Sunni Arab force that could control the government. It may have also forestalled the rise of ISIL. Or it may not have…it is hard to say. But, what happened over the next eight years, with the rise of ISIL, their seizure of Mosul in Iraq, and the extended civil war, was probably close to a worse case scenario. This was a case where an early intervention may have lead to a more favorable result for us. I suspect that our intervention in Libya probably created a more favorable result than if we had not intervened.

The problem in Syria is that Assad represents a minority government of Shiite Arabs. They make up around 13% of the population (largest group are Alawites). This lords over a population of 69-74% Sunni (most are Arabs but it includes Kurds and Turcoman). In the end, given enough decades and enough violence, the majority will eventually rule. It is hard to imagine in this day and age that a minority can continue to rule forever, although Bashir Assad and his father have now ruled over Syria for almost 49 years. Part of what makes that possible is that around 10% of the population of Syria is Christian and 3% Druze. They tend to side with and support the Alawites, as a dominant, non-democratic Sunni rule would be extremely prejudiced against them. Needless to say, something like an Islamic State would be a nightmare scenario for them. So, for all practical purposes, Assad tends to have the support of at least a quarter of the population. From their central position, and armed by Russia, this makes them a significant force.

So, the question becomes, should the United States now disengage from Syria, now that the Islamic States is gone (but as many as 3,000 of their fighters remain)? Right now, we have at least 2,000 troops in and around Syria, with most of them outside of Syria (mostly based with our fellow NATO member Turkey). We have lost a total of two people since this affair started. We are allied with and supporting small moderate Sunni Arab groups and some Kurdish groups (which Turkey is opposed to and sometimes engages in combat). Turkey is supporting some of its own moderate Sunni Arab groups. Also in Syria is the radical Arab groups, Al-Qaeda and of course, the Islamic State (whose leader is still at large) and Al-Nusrah. So, is it time to leave?

What are the possible outcomes if we leave?

  1. Assad will win the civil war and we will have “peace in our time” (written with irony).
    1. As the moderate Sunni groups are primarily based in Turkey they may not disappear anytime soon, especially if they are still being given support from Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations, even if the U.S. withdraws support.
    2. The Kurdish groups are still in Syria and probably not going away soon. They have some support from the Kurds in Iraq.
    3. Al-Qaeda and ISIL and other radical groups are probably not going away as long as Syria is ruled by the Alawites.
    4. There is a border with Iraq that facilitates flow of arms and men in both directions.
  2. The civil war will continue at a low level.
    1. A pretty likely scenario given the points above.
    2. Will this allow for the resurgence of radical Islamist groups?
  3. The civil war will continue at significant intensity for a while.
    1. Hard to say how long people can maintain a civil war, but the war in Lebanon went on for a while (over 15 years, from 1975 to 1990).
    2. This will certainly allow for the resurgence of radical Islamist groups.
  4. We will have a period of relative peace and then there will be a second civil war later.
    1. The conditions that lead to the first revolt have not been corrected in any manner.
    2. Syria is still a minority ruled government.
    3. This could allow for the resurgences of radical Islamist groups.
  5. There is a political compromise and joint or shared rule.
    1. I don’t think this was ever on the Assad’s agenda before, and will certainly not be now.
  6. Assad is overthrown.
    1. This is extremely unlikely, but one cannot rule out an internal Alawite coup by a leadership with a significantly different view and approach.
    2. As it is, it does not look like he is going to be defeated militarily any time soon.

So, where does continued U.S. engagement or disengagement help or hinder in these scenarios?

A few related links:

  1. Map of situation in Syria (have no idea how accurate it is):
  2. Comments by Lindsey Graham on Syria:
  3. More Maps:





A fellow analyst posted an extended comment to two of our threads:



Military History and Validation of Combat Models

Instead of responding in the comments section, I have decided to respond with another blog post.

As the person points out, most Army simulations exist to “enable students/staff to maintain and improve readiness…improve their staff skills, SOPs, reporting procedures, and planning….”

Yes this true, but I argue that this does not obviate the need for accurate simulations. Assuming no change in complexity, I cannot think of a single scenario where having a less accurate model is more desirable that having a more accurate model.

Now what is missing from many of these models that I have seen? Often a realistic unit breakpoint methodology, a proper comparison of force ratios, a proper set of casualty rates, addressing human factors, and many other matters. Many of these things are being done in these simulations already, but are being done incorrectly. Quite simply, they do not realistically portray a range of historical or real combat examples.

He then quotes the 1997-1998 Simulation Handbook of the National Simulations Training Center:

The algorithms used in training simulations provide sufficient fidelity for training, not validation of war plans. This is due to the fact that important factors (leadership, morale, terrain, weather, level of training or units) and a myriad of human and environmental impacts are not modeled in sufficient detail….”

Let’s take their list made around 20 years ago. In the last 20 years, what significant quantitative studies have been done on the impact of leadership on combat? Can anyone list them? Can anyone point to even one? The same with morale or level of training of units. The Army has TRADOC, the Army Staff, Leavenworth, the War College, CAA and other agencies, and I have not seen in the last twenty years a quantitative study done to address these issues. And what of terrain and weather? They have been around for a long time.

Army simulations have been around since the late 1950s. So at the time these shortfalls are noted in 1997-1998, 40 years had passed. By their own admission, they had not been adequately addressed in the previous 40 years. I gather they have not been adequately in addressed in the last 20 years. So, the clock is ticking, 60 years of Army modeling and simulation, and no one has yet fully and properly address many of these issues. In many cases, they have not even gotten a good start in addressing them.

Anyhow, I have little interest in arguing these issues. My interest is in correcting them.



Now, in the article by Michael Peck introducing C-WAM, there was a quote that got our attention:

“We tell everybody: Don’t focus on the various tactical outcomes,â€� Mahoney says. “We know they are wrong. They are just approximations. But they are good enough to say that at the operational level, ‘This is a good idea. This might work. That is a bad idea. Don’t do that.’â€�


I am sorry, but this line of argument has always bothered me.

While I understand that no model is perfect, that is the goal that modelers should always strive for. If the model is a poor representation of combat, or parts of combat, then what are you teaching the user? If the user is professional military, then is this negative training? Are you teaching them an incorrect understanding of combat? Will that understanding only be corrected after real combat and loss of American lives? This is not being melodramatic… fight as you train.

We have seen the argument made elsewhere that some models are only being used for training, so…….

I would like to again bring your attention to the “base of sand” problem:

Wargaming Multi-Domain Battle: The Base Of Sand Problem

As always, it seems that making the models more accurate seems to take lower precedence to whatever. Validating models tends to never be done. JICM has never been validated. COSAGE and ATCAL as used in JICM have never been validated. I don’t think C-WAM has ever been validated.

Just to be annoyingly preachy, I would like to again bring your attention to the issue of validation:

Military History and Validation of Combat Models





Here are two C-WAM documents: their rule book and a CAA briefing, both from 2016:

C-WAM’s rule book:

CAA briefing on C-WAM:

A few highlights (rule book):

  1. Grid size from 2 to 10 km, depending on terrain (section 2.2)
    1. Usually 5 km to a grid.
  2. There is an air-to-air combat table based upon force ratios (section 3.6.4).
  3. There is a naval combat table based upon force ratios (section 3.9.4).
  4. There are combat values of ground units (section 3.11.5.B)
  5. There is a ground combat table based upon force ratios (section 3.11.5.E)
  6. There is a “tactics degrade multiplier” which effectively divides one sides’ combat power by up to 4 (section 3.11.5.P).
  7. These tables use different types of dice for probability generation (showing the influence of Gary Gygax on DOD M&S).

A few highlights (briefing)

  1. Executes in 24 or 72 hours time steps (slide 3)
  2. Brigade-level (slide 18)
  3. Breakpoint at 50% strength (can only defend), removed at 30% strength (slide 18 and also rule book, section 5.7.2).

Anyhow, interesting stuff, but still basically an old style board-game, like Avalon Hill or SPI.


Saudi Missile Defense

Saudi Missile Defense

The Houthi’s in Yemen are lobbing missiles at Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia does have a missile defense system (I assume made in America). Apparently they are missing the incoming missiles:

A few other points:

  1. One interceptor appears to have “pulled a u-turn” and exploded over Riyadh.
    1. This interceptor may have been the source of the Saudi casualties (one dead, two injured)
  2. This could be the largest barrage of missiles fired at Saudi Arabia by the Houthi’s yet.

I wonder what interceptor Saudi Arabia was using. I wonder if failure is common with most missile defense systems (the situation with North Korea comes to mind here).



Linked here is an article about a wargame called C-WAM, the Center for Army Analysis (CAA) Wargaming Analysis Model:

A few points:

  1. It is an old-style board game.
  2. Results are feed into RAND’s JICM (Joint Integrated Contingency Model).
    1. Battle attrition is done using CAA’s COSAGE and ATCAL.
  3. Ground combat is brigade-level.

More to come.

Reinventing the Army

Reinventing the Army

Interesting article: 2018 Forecast: Can the Army Reinvent Itself

A few highlights:

  1. They are standing up the Army Futures Command this summer.
    1. Goal is to develop new weapons and new ways to use them.
    2. It has not been announced where it will be located.
  2. They currently have eight “Cross Functional Teams” already set up, lead by general officers.
    1. Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley has a “Big Six” modernization priorities. They are: 1) Long-range missiles, 2) new armored vehicles, 3) high speed replacements for current helicopters, 4) secure command networks, 5) anti-aircraft and missile defense, 6) soldier equipment.
      1. There is a link for each of these in this article:
    2. This effort will start making their mark “in earnest” with the 2020 budget.
      1. The 2018 and 2019 budgets have been approved. In the current  political environment, hard to say what the 2020 budget will look like [these are my thoughts, not part of the article].
    3. The U.S. Army has approved Active Protection Systems (APS) for their tanks to shoot down incoming missiles, like Russia and Israel are using.
      1. Goal is to get a brigade of M1 Abrams tanks outfitted with Israeli-made Trophy APS systems by 2020 [why do I get the sense from the wording that this date is not going to be met].
      2. They are testing APS for Bradleys and Strykers.
        1. Also testing anti-aircraft versions of these vehicles.
        2. Also testing upgunned Strykers.
      3. Army is building the Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) light tank to accompany airborne troops.
        1. RPF has been issued, contract award in early 2019.
    4. The Army is the lead sponsor for the Future Verticle Lift (FVL) to replace existing helicopters. Flight testing has started.
    5. This is all part of the Multi-Domain Battle
      1. They are moving the thinkers behind the Multi-Domain Battle from the Training & Doctrine Command (TRADOC) to the Futures Command.
      2. Milley has identified Russia as the No. 1 threat. [We will note that several years ago some influential people were tagging China as the primary threat.]
      3. Still, Milley has stood up two advisor brigades [because we have wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Niger/Mali, Somalia, Yemen, etc. that don’t seem to be going away].
Russian Presidential Election

Russian Presidential Election

Traditionally, elections in Russia and the Soviet Union have a higher voter turnout than U.S. Presidential elections. While Putin handily won the presidential election on March 18, there were some efforts made to make sure the voter turnout was high enough.

For the record, Putin won the election with 76.66% of the vote. Pavel Grudinin of the Communist Party got 11.80% of the vote and Vladimir Zhirinovsky of the LDPR was 5.66%. I assume Zhirinovsky still wants Alaska back. There was no serious opposition candidate.

Oddly enough, the percentage of vote that Putin got was higher than the opinion polls or the exit polls. The opinion polls tended to show 60-65% while the exit polls were between 74-76%. From my experience, Russian’s are not very open to pollsters.

Turnout was officially 67.47%. In 1996, which was a free and open election, and which I accidently ended up witnessing, the turnout was 69.7% in the first round. The turnout in the last U.S. presidential election was 55.7%. U.S. voter turnout has not been above 60% since 1968 and has not been above 66% since 1900.

There were some who questioned the integrity of the election, including chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov and our very own Edward Snowden, now living in Moscow in exile (and would be arrested if he returned to the U.S.)



Anyhow, Putin has been elected for a second six-year term. According to the constitution, he can still only serve two consecutive terms. He served two four-year terms, the Medvedev served a four-year term with Putin as his prime minister. They then changed to constitution so that the presidential terms were now six years in length, and Putin is now starting his second six-year terms. He is 65 now and will be 71 when that term ends. A lot of people assume that he will never really let go of power.


Also See:,_2018

Army Manpower

Army Manpower

Spotted this little article: After years of drawdowns, Army needs 80,000 new soldiers to meet 2018 growth targets

To summarize:

  1. In December 2016, the Army was on a draw-down from 565,000 to 450,000 than back to 476,000.
  2. For 2017 they had to find 68,500 more recruits.
  3. For 2018 they have to find 80,000 more recruits.
  4. This is “….owing most to congressional budget decisions that first prompted it to shed soldiers as quickly as possible, then to suddenly pivot back into growth mode.

Now…..this is not that unusual. Instead of slowly shrinking the force and systematically increasing the force….we “Yo-yo” the force (we = the American people and the elected representatives that they vote into office). This does nothing to help the quality of the recruits, unit cohesion, morale, etc. Nothing new here, we seem to go through the same cycle every decade or so. Without getting into the “guns or butter” debate, it would probably help if defense budgets incrementally decreased and increased vice suddenly decreasing and increasing.

Source (and larger, readable version):


A few other interesting stats in the article:

  1. Only three in 10 Americans of enlistment age meet the military’s basic qualifications to serve.
  2. They recruit 11-12% more enlistees than they need as that is the number of soldiers who won’t make it through basic training and advanced individual training.
Novichok Dva

Novichok Dva

An article about Vil Mirzayanov:


  1. He was the Soviet scientists who revealed Novichok.
  2. He is 83 and now lives in the United States.
  3. He has witnessed several scientists fail to regain their health after exposure:
    1. “The damage it inflicts is practically incurable.”
    2. “These people are gone — the man [Sergei Skripal] and his daughter. Even if they survive they will not recover.”
  4. He published his memoirs in 2002.
  5. Russia declared in 2017 that is had destroyed all of its chemical weapon stockpile.


Use of nerve agents gets my attention. The attack in Salisbury, England on 4 March not only put their targets in critical condition (Sergei Skripal and his daughter), but left one responding British police officer seriously ill, two others with minor injuries.

The nerve agent used is Novichok, which was invented in the Soviet Union, and as far as I know, is unique to Russia:




P.S. I can see only three reasons to use this agent for an assassination:

  1. Because it is easy to smuggle in the agent or its component ingredients.
  2. To make sure everyone understands that it was done from Russia (although not necessarily by the Russian government).
  3. To terrorize defectors/opposition/business associates by using unusual and nasty agents (i.e. like Polonium used on Litvinenko).


We Will Bury You, Part Dva

We Will Bury You, Part Dva

As the Cold War appears to be on some people’s mind these days, I am reminded of this study: Reproductive Behaviour at the End of the World: The Effect of the Cuban Missile Crisis on U.S. Fertility

A few highlights:

  1. Portner (2008) and Evans, Hu & Zhao (2008) show that fertility decreases with hurricane and high-severity storm warnings, whereas Rodgers, John & Coleman (2005) and Trail & Borst (1971) find that fertility increased in Oklahoma County after Oklahoma City Bombing, in 1995 and in New York after the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor in 1941, respectively.
  2. We find that on average, the Cuban Missile Crisis did not have an effect on fertility. However, states closer to Cuba and with a greater presence of military installations experienced surges in births 8-10 months after the Cuban Missile Crisis.
  3. The findings suggest that individuals are more likely to engage in reproductive activities when facing high mortality risks, but reduce fertility when facing a high probability of enduring the aftermath of a catastrophe.

Just for the record, my father was deployed to Florida for the Cuban Missile Crisis and was part of the units that would have landed in the initial wave. It was an volunteer only effort, as they were anticipating high casualties. None of the men in his unit choose not to volunteer.

I was born well before that time, and, I am the youngest of the family. I have no relatives in Florida.


We Will Bury You

We Will Bury You

Hard to ignore the news today coming from Russia. Some of links:

  3. http://1.

A few highlights:

  1. Putin: “We aren’t threatening anyone, we aren’t going to attack anyone, we aren’t going to take anything from anyone,” — Why does this remind me of a Twisted Sister song?
  2.  Putin: “The growing Russian military power will guarantee global peace.”
  3. America has 652 deployed ICBMs, submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) and heavy bombers, while Russia has 527. The U.S. possesses 1,350 nuclear warheads on deployed ICBMs, SLBMs and heavy bombers, while Russia has 1,444. The U.S. claims 800 deployed and nondeployed nuclear launchers, while Russia is estimated to have 779. Note that this is all limited under existing treaties between the U.S. and USSR.
  4. Putin: “I want to tell all those who have fuelled the arms race over the last 15 years, sought to win unilateral advantages over Russia, introduced unlawful sanctions aimed to contain our country’s development: All what you wanted to impede with your policies have already happened. You have failed to contain Russia.”

On the other hand, if you are going to get into an arms race….you kind of need to have the mula to back it up.

U.S. GDP = 19,362,129 Million $ (2017 IMF figures)

USSR Russia’s GDP = $1,469,341


This is 7.6% of the U.S. GDP. Russia’s GDP is lower than South Korea’s. The European Union’s GDP is $17,112,922 million.



More on Russian Body Counts

More on Russian Body Counts

Don’t have any resolution on the casualty counts for the fighting on 7 February, but do have a few additional newspaper reports of interest:

  1. The Guardian reposts that the Russian foreign ministry reports that dozens were killed or wounded.
    1. So, if 9 were killed (a figure that is probably the lowest possible count), then you would certainly get to dozens killed or wounded. As this is a conventional fight, I would be tempted to guess a figure of 3 or 4 wounded per killed, vice the 9 or 10 wounded per killed we have been getting from our operations in Iraq and Afghanistan (see War by Numbers, Chapter 15: Casualties).
    2. Guardian article is here:
  2. The BBC repeats these claims along with noting that “…at least 131 Russians died in Syria in the first nine months of 2017…”:
  3. Wikipedia does have an article on the subject that is worth looking at, even though its count halts on 3 February:
  4. The original report was that about 100 Syrian soldiers had been killed. I still don’t know if this count of 100+ killed on 7 February is supposed to be all Russians, or a mix of Russians and Syrians. It could be possible there were 9 Russians killed and over 100 people killed. On the other hand, it could also be an inflated casualty count. See:
  5. Some counts have gone as high as 215 Russians killed:

Conclusions: A significant fight happened on 7 February, at least 9 Russians were killed and clearly several dozen wounded. It might have been over 100 killed in the fight, but we cannot find any clear confirmation of that. I am always suspicious of casualty claims, as anyone who has read my book on Kursk may note (and I think I provide plenty of examples in that book of claims that can be proven to be significantly in error).

More Russian Body Counts

More Russian Body Counts

Interesting article form the Telegraph: Putin’s shock troops-how Russia’s secret mercenary army came up against the U.S. in Syria

That copy may be behind a paywall…so try this:

A few highlights:

  1. Russian newspapers (which still maintain some independence from the government) have listed the names of 9 Russian’s who died in Syria on 7 February.
    1. This clearly contradicts the foreign ministry claim that 5 were killed.
  2. This is again claimed to be a battalion-sized action (500 Russians)
  3. There are some interesting conspiracy theories offered in the article as to why this Russian unit was sent in to be slaughtered. I am hesitant to explain by conspiracy something that can be explained by incompetence. There is no shortage of incompetence in warfare (or any other human affairs).
  4. Supposedly 3,000 Russians have fought for the Wagner Group in Syria since 2015.
    1. Before 7 February, there were 73 deaths (official figure is 46).
  5. It has been busy. In the last two weeks an Al-Qaeda affiliated rebel group shot down a Russian jet, Kurdish fighters downed a Turkish helicopter, Israel downed an Iranian drone and the Syrian army shot down an Israeli F-16.

This was a direct confrontation between U.S. forces and Russian-paid contractors. During the Vietnam War, some Russians were killed in our bombing of North Vietnam and other operations (16 or more Russians killed). During the Korean War, Russians pilots, posing as North Koreans, engaged in aerial combat with the U.S. aircraft, along with providing AA (around 300 Russians killed total). But I suspect you have to go back to Russian Civil War (1917-1921) to find a major ground action between U.S. and Russian forces. Not sure any of them were of this size.

Related articles: These 5 Proxy Battles Are Making Syria’s Civil War Increasingly Complicated

Russian Body Counts

Russian Body Counts

Russian Body Counts

I found this article from Reuters to be particularly interesting: Russian toll in Syria battle was 300 killed and wounded

A few key points:

1. The clash was on 7 February near Khusham in Deir al-Zor province in Syria.

2. Last week 300 Russian contractors may have been killed or wounded in Syria.

   a. That would be 100 killed and 200 wounded according to one rumor.

   b. Or at least 80 killed

   c. Or 5 killed according to Russian officials.

3. It is probably more than 5.

   a. The wounded men have been sent to 4 Russian military hospitals.

   b. There were more than 50 patients at one hospital.

   c. There were three planeloads of injured fighters flown to Moscow.

   d. One ward contained 8 patients.

4. The unit was 550 men and there are only about 200 who were not casualties according to one source.

5. They were “contractors” employed by the “Wagner Group.” These guys:


Related article: Russia: 5 citizens probably killed by U.S. strike

FY2018-FY2019 Defense Budget

FY2018-FY2019 Defense Budget

I gather we finally have a defense budget in place and it runs through September 2019 (there is no requirement to pass a budget for only one year). It is an $80 billion boost above spending caps for this year and $85 billion above spending caps for FY2019. This is a total of $165 billion above spending caps. The U.S. defense budget was already at least $35 billion over the spending cap. The budget request for FY2107 was initially $583 billion. I gather the budget for FY2018 is the BCA Budget Cap figure of $549 + $80  = $629 billion. Don’t quote me on this.



I did note that Senator Rand Paul in his brief filibuster speech last night said that we were involved in seven wars. Of the top of my head, I only count six:

  1. Afghanistan
  2. Iraq
  3. Syria
  4. Libya
  5. Somalia
  6. “Trans-Sahara” (Mali and Niger)

Makes me wonder which war I am missing (perhaps he is counting Yemen).

Also of note was that we ended up halting a battalion-sized attack in Syria by the Syrian government. See:

A few highlights:

  1. More than 100 Syrian soldiers are claimed to have been killed.
    1. Syrians claim they lost 7 killed and 27 injured.
    2. One SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) member was injured.
  2. The Syrian attack included 122mm Howitzers, multiple launch rocket systems, T-55 and T-72 tanks.
  3. U.S. responded with Air Force AC-130 gunships, F-15s, F-22s, Army Apache gunships, Marine Corps artillery, HIMARS (our Katusha) and MQ-9 drones.
FY2018 Defense Budget

FY2018 Defense Budget

In case you were not watching closely, we still don’t have a defense budget for FY2018…which started four months ago. Right now, it is looking like we may have something agreed to by February 8, and according to some rumors, it will be an increase of $80 billion.

  1. The initial requested budget (which is different than what is actually spent) for FY2017 was $582 Billion.
  2. The president requested a $30 billion increase for FY2017.
  3. The president requested a $52 or $54 billion increase for FY2018 to $639 billion for FY2018 (source: Wikipedia, May 2017 DOD News article), or to $603 (source AP). I have never been able to sort out the difference here. I still don’t understand why there seems to be two different figures regularly batted about, nor do I understand how this claimed 10% increase adds up to a 10% increase. (read this for an answer:
  4. Congress is looking at a deal that will increase the budget by $80 billion, or I gather to some figure around $662 billion or $629 billion.
  5. Not sure how that budget increase is assigned or implemented as we are already 1/3rd the way through the fiscal year.
  6. I gather this increase is for the next two years.
  7. I gather there will not be a government shut-down on the 8th and that we may have a defense budget by then.

Anyhow, maybe we will know something more by the end of the week.



1. Wikipedia:

2. AP Article:

3. DOD article:





Nuclear Buttons (continued)

Nuclear Buttons (continued)

Right now, I gather the President of the United States has the authority to unilaterally fire off the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal on a whim. Whether this would actually happen if he tried to order this is hard to say. But I gather there is no real legal impediment to him waking up one morning and deciding to nuke some city and that there is no formal process in place that actually stops him from doing this.

This is a set of conditions that came into being during the Cold War for the sake of making our nuclear deterrent and strike and counterstrike capability more credible. The U.S. and Russian no longer have their nukes targeted at each other. This is more a matter of good manners and is something that could be changed in a moments notice.

Is it time for the United States to consider placing the authority to launch nuclear weapons under control of more than one person? Perhaps the authority of three people, the president, a senior military leader, and a representative of congress?


There is a little technical difficulty here, for in the case of an emergency, the President, Vice-President and Speaker of the House would be shuttled off to separate locations. Still, there could be a designated representative for the military (commanding general or his representative at United States Strategic Command) and one of our 535 congressmen or senators appointed as a representative for congress. There are any number of ways to make sure that three people would be required to authorized a launch of a nuclear weapon, as opposed to leaving a decision that could exterminate millions in seconds in the hands of one man. With the Cold War now in the distant past, and nuclear strike forces a fraction of their original size, maybe it is time to consider changing this.


Golden Knights

Golden Knights

Trademark fight between the U.S. Army and the new National Hockey League (NHL) team the Las Vegas Golden Knights: Army challenges Golden Knights trademark; Vegas responds

Best line from the article: “…we are not aware of a single complaint from anyone attending our games that they were expecting to see the parachute team and not a professional hockey game.”

Arctic Territories

Arctic Territories

The Arctic is an ocean, so claims there should be resolvable by existing rules concerning 12-mile territorial limits and 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zones. But, the law of the sea allows countries to claim beyond the 200 nautical mile limit if they can prove that their continental shelf extends beyond those zones. This has led to more issues.

There are only five nations with claims in the Arctic: The United States, Russian, Canada, Norway and Denmark (Greenland). There are some claims that are fairly typical, like the sea border area between the Alaska and Canadian territory being in dispute, Hans lsland near Greenland being in dispute between Denmark and Canada, and the question as to whether the Northwest Passage is Canadian territory or international waters. These are all disputes that will probably be solved through diplomacy.

But, confusing the situation is that three nations claim the North Pole. The North Pole is 430 miles (700 kilometers) from the nearest land. The sea depth there is 13,980 feet (4,261 meters).

Canada’s claims go all the way to the North Pole and 200 miles beyond it, based upon where they have claimed that their continental shelf is: Canada Claims North Pole


Russia has made similar claims. They are saying the Lomonosov and Mendeleyev ridges are part of its continental shelf and therefore part of its territory. A topographic map of the area is worth looking at:

Denmark also claims the north pole. Apparently the Lomonosov Ridge is also an extension of Greenland.

This map nicely summarizes the confusing and competing claims:

The Russians have gone so far as to dive down to the Lomosonov Ridge and plant a flag there in 2007. It is a flag planed 14,000 feet below sea level.

The Arctic

The Arctic

Brief article from Micheal Peck on Russia’s Arctic ambitions: Russia has plans to dominate the Arctic

In case you missed it, the Arctic has been warming up for the last few decades. As Peck points out: “Once a lure for hardy explorers–and a hiding places for ballistic missile submarines–the North Pole is now seen as a new frontier with abundant energy and mineral resources. With polar ice melting, new shipping lanes are opening up that offer the prospect of more direct routes for cargo vessels sailing between North America, Europe and Asia.”

Anyhow, while the U.S. Navy has only one heavy ice breaker, fellow NATO member Canada is working the problem. They are building a facility at Baffin Island and are developing arctic capable patrol vessels, frigates, etc.  There are also planning on building 6-8 Harry DeWolf class artic patrol vessel:

based upon:

There are also the efforts of NATO members Norway and Denmark, so it is not like the United States and Russia are the only participants here.

Still the Northwest Passage has only been opened seasonally since 2000, with a cruise liner going through it in 2006. It is now being transited with increasing regularity. Of course, there is also the Northeast Passage and Russia has the Northern Sea Passage, which they are developing. Still, these passages are seeing limited use right now. In 2016, 18 ships (7 Russian) traversed the Northern Sea Passage.

A few related links:

Canada at War. The Arctic. Northwest Passage, 1944

Amazing Voyage Through Perilous Arctic Ocean (2000)

Warming ‘opens Northwest Passage’ (2007)

Plain sailing on the Northwest Passage (2007)

That pricey Arctic luxury cruise was just the beginning. Up next: Arctic shipping. (2016)


The picture at the top of this post is from 2016.

Two Kursk books listed on

Two Kursk books listed on

We have a link to my Kursk book on our website: Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka

This link leads to the best source for purchasing the book (the publisher Aberdeen Books), although probably best just to purchase it directly from him (click on image of Kursk book in the sidebar to get to the Aberdeen Bookstore). It does not show any used books in that link. Apparently all the used books are listed here: Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka by Christopher A. Lawrence (2015-12-14)

In that link they are listing new books from $302.55 and used books from $321.07. There is a used book listed for $1,710.00. Now if anyone out there is ready to depart with $1700 for a Kursk book, please just contact me. I have an author’s copy or two I would sacrifice at that price.


Future Conventional Warfare Scenarios

Future Conventional Warfare Scenarios

What are the U.S. Armed Forces’ potential conventional warfare missions?  Is conventional warfare gone, leaving the U.S. Army conducting special ops, training, coordinating air and drone strikes, providing counterinsurgency support, and generally just kicking down doors?

Well, there are still a few potential conventional warfare scenarios out there, even if they have a low probability of occurring:

  1. Korea: We still have the majority of the 2nd Infantry Division deployed in Korea as a reserve force for the Republic of Korea (ROK) Army. If a war blows up in Korea, then we are immediately right in the middle of a conventional war. It is 1950 all over again. Amid all the “fire and fury” type comments, I do consider this to be a low odds of occurring. Still, it is one conventional warfare mission that has existed since 1950 and does not appear to be going away.
  2. Taiwan: I don’t think China is going to invade Taiwan (their third largest trading partner), but stranger things have happened. I believe we are informally committed to defend Taiwan if this happens. We have no ground troops there.
  3. Ukraine: We have no commitment to defend Ukraine. On the other hand, if Russia rolls across the border with tanks and is heading towards Kiev, then we may decide we need to intervene. Exactly with what forces we would use is a question, but this is potentially a mission in the future. I don’t think it is likely. If Russia was going to conduct a conventional invasion of  Ukraine, it would have done so in 2014.
  4. Baltic States: On the other hand, we do have a commitment to defend the three Baltic States (Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia). They are members of NATO. Right now, with the forces currently in place, a Russian conventional invasion would sweep over these three countries in a matter of days. Then what? The U.S. would be challenged to be able to quickly move a single armored or mechanized division there, let alone the several divisions it would probably take to re-claim them. We currently are not defending them and do not have the ability to quickly re-take them. That said, the odds of Russia doing this is very, very close to zero, because they do end up in a war with 29 nations. This is probably not the best use of their time.
  5. Belarus: On the other hand, I don’t rule out tanks rolling into Belarus at some point in the future. Lukashenko, the Belarus dictator, is 63 years old, and these guys don’t live forever. Once he is gone, will Belorus undergo a calm transition of power to a new president (for life)….or does Russia take this opportunity to reclaim Belarus? Unlike Ukraine, there is not a strong nationalist group that is clearly ready to fight off any Russian invaders. If Russia did decide to take Belarus (probably making sure they were invited, like they were in Afghanistan in 1979), is there anything we could do about it? How concerned would we be about it?
  6. Georgia: Russian already had a five day war with Georgia in 2008. Russia probably could have overrun Georgia if they wanted to. They probably can now. It is a very small country and geographically isolated from NATO. I don’t rule out it becoming a battlefield in the future. Not sure what the United States could do about it.
  7. Iran: While I don’t think that the U.S. will ever invade Iran, I would have said the same thing about Iraq in 2000. Of course, Iran is a country with a population more more than twice that of Iraq. Invading Iraq in 2003 led to lots of long-term complications. Invading Iran might get even more difficult.
  8. The mission not yet named: The last 30 years are notable in that the United States has been dragged into three major wars rather suddenly. At the beginning of 1990, I don’t recall any defense analyst saying the United States was about to enter into a war with Iraq for the sake of saving Kuwait (who we had no alliance with). Yet, less than a year later, this is exactly what we did, and it was done with a large conventional force of nine deployed U.S. divisions. In 2000, I don’t recall too many defense analysts saying that we would soon be invading Afghanistan and Iraq. These missions came rather suddenly. So, one must always assume that there is a possible conventional mission at any time in any place. It has happened twice in the last 30 years. These are hard to plan for and to structure forces for, yet there is clearly a need for a mobile conventional force just in case.

Anyhow, that list appears to cover the possible conventional warfare missions for the United States right now. The one with the highest probability of occurring is “the mission not yet named.” There are many other flash points in the world, but most of them are not ones that would attract American conventional ground forces. Still, as shown by Kuwait in 1990 and Iraq in 2003, we can end up involved in a conventional conflict with very little notice. This is a far cry from the days of the Cold War when the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact were lined up along the border of Germany. The future ain’t what it used to be, to borrow a quote.

We are now popular!

We are now popular!

We have been linked in an article in Popular Mechanics: The U.S. Is Sending Deadly Javelin Missiles to Ukraine

The article is definitely worth reading. Have no idea who Kyle Mizokami is.

This is the link they connected to:

The Russian Artillery Strike That Spooked The U.S. Army

Anyhow, appreciate the link.


It ain’t over till it’s over

It ain’t over till it’s over

Article on ISIL: Fight against ISIL not over yet


  1. ISIL fighters are able to move through parts of Syria that they (the international coalition) is unable to target (meaning Syrian government controlled areas).
  2. There is an estimated 1,000 – 2,000 ISIL fighters are left fighting around the desert between the Iraqi and Syrian border.
  3. Maj. Gen. Gedney warned that as ISIL lost control of the territory it held in Syria and Iraq, it will try to “vanish” in the population, before transforming itself into a more traditional insurgency (just to state the obvious).

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