U.S. Army Record Keeping

The Dupuy Institute was involved in three record keeping contracts done for the U.S. Army from 1998-2000. This effort generated six reports. They are:

R-1: U.S. Army Records Survey (March 1999)

R-2: Records Management Survey Meeting (Oct. 20 1998)

R-3: War Records Workshop (March 23, 1999)

R-4: U.S. Army Force XXI Records Analysis (March 2000)

R-5: Analysis of U.S. Army Force XXI Record Keeping (May 2000)

R-6: Final Report of the Test Record Redesign Matrix (June 15, 2000)

The list of TDI publications is here: http://www.dupuyinstitute.org/tdipub3.htm

This work came about because I was working in the Vietnam records in 1968-1970 for the I Corps area and saw how poorly they were kept. They were the worst U.S. Army records I had ever seen. The U.S. Army World War II combat records were much better kept, and they were at least as busy at the time. In fact, U.S. Army records during Red Cloud’s War (1866-1868) were much better. Hundred year later, the U.S. Army records were incomplete, majors potions of the records had been thrown away, there were significant gaps in the daily operational reports, basic statistical data was missing, etc.

We ended up flagging this issue up to senior leadership in the Army, and were pleasantly surprised when they gave us a contract to look further into it. We ended up doing a survey of U.S. Army record keeping at that time (the peacekeeping effort in Bosnia was the major operation going on).

Several years later, well after we had completed our work, we did go back to the Army to recommend that we do a second survey. This time “the suits” showed up at the meeting (senior SES government managers) and assured the command that everything was fine, they had it under control and another survey was not needed. I am not sure the general we were talking to believed them, but this was the end of the discussion. We went back to analyzing warfare instead of record keeping.

Spotted this article today in the Military Times. It is worth reading in its entirety: http://www.militarytimes.com/articles/airstrikes-unreported-syria-iraq-afghanistan-islamic-state-al-qaeda-taliban

The problem may be as simple as the Army was not sharing its record keeping of helicopter sorties and drone strikes with the Air Force. If that is the problem, then it can be simply corrected. I kind of doubt it is that simple.

Anyhow, record keeping is not as exciting as tanks, but it is part of the nuts-and-bolts issues of running an army.

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Christopher A. Lawrence
Christopher A. Lawrence

Christopher A. Lawrence is a professional historian and military analyst. He is the Executive Director and President of The Dupuy Institute, an organization dedicated to scholarly research and objective analysis of historical data related to armed conflict and the resolution of armed conflict. The Dupuy Institute provides independent, historically-based analyses of lessons learned from modern military experience.
Mr. Lawrence was the program manager for the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base, the Kursk Data Base, the Modern Insurgency Spread Sheets and for a number of other smaller combat data bases. He has participated in casualty estimation studies (including estimates for Bosnia and Iraq) and studies of air campaign modeling, enemy prisoner of war capture rates, medium weight armor, urban warfare, situational awareness, counterinsurgency and other subjects for the U.S. Army, the Defense Department, the Joint Staff and the U.S. Air Force. He has also directed a number of studies related to the military impact of banning antipersonnel mines for the Joint Staff, Los Alamos National Laboratories and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation.
His published works include papers and monographs for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation, in addition to over 40 articles written for limited-distribution newsletters and over 60 analytical reports prepared for the Defense Department. He is the author of Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka (Aberdeen Books, Sheridan, CO., 2015), America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam (Casemate Publishers, Philadelphia & Oxford, 2015), War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat (Potomac Books, Lincoln, NE., 2017) , The Battle of Prokhorovka (Stackpole Books, Guilford, CT., 2019), The Battle for Kyiv (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2023), Aces at Kursk (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024), Hunting Falcon: The Story of WWI German Ace Hans-Joachim Buddecke (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024) and The Siege of Mariupol (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2024).
Mr. Lawrence lives in northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife and son.

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