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.


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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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