What Makes Up Combat Power?

Trevor Dupuy used in his models and theoretical work the concept of the Combat Effectiveness Value. The combat multiplier consisted of:

  1. Morale,
  2. training,
  3. experience,
  4. leadership,
  5. motivation,
  6. cohesion,
  7. intelligence (including interpretation),
  8. momentum,
  9. initiative,
  10. doctrine,
  11. the effects of surprise,
  12. logistical systems,
  13. organizational habits,
  14. and even cultural differences.
  15. (generalship)

See War by Numbers, page 17 and Numbers, Predictions and War, page 33. To this list, I have added a fifteenth item: “generalship,” which I consider something different than leadership. As I stated in my footnote on pages 17 & 348 of War by Numbers:

“Leadership” is this sense represents the training and capabilities of the non-commission and commissioned officers throughout the unit, which is going to be fairly consistent in an army from unit to unit. This can be a fairly consistent positive or negative influence on a unit. On the other hand, “generalship” represents the guy at the top of the unit, making the decisions. This is widely variable; with the history of warfare populated with brilliant generals, a large number of perfectly competent ones, and a surprisingly large number of less than competent ones. Within in army, no matter the degree and competence of the officer corps, or the rigor of their training, poor generals show up, and sometimes, brilliant generals show up with no military training (like the politician turned general Julius Caesar).


Anyhow, looking at the previous blog post by Shawn, the U.S. Army states that “combat power” consists of eight elements:

  1. Leadership,
  2. information,
  3. mission command,
  4. movement and maneuver
  5. intelligence
  6. fires,
  7. sustainment,
  8. and protection.

I am not going to debate strengths and weaknesses of these two lists, but I do note that there are only two items on both lists (leadership and intelligence). I prefer the 15 point list.

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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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    • Amusing, but a flawed methodology to assess performance. It ignores many quantitative factors, stochastic elements and is based on faulty/incomplete data. Proficiency can be independent of the fact that a force wins or loses. A simple modification on mission accomplishment via time would have done the trick. Furthermore, War is not a game based on a few individual players skill (skill and efficiency are also two different things) but rather the sum, based on the effort of the group.

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