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): https://www.moddb.com/groups/tanks/images/urban-warfare-in-berlin



Share this:
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.

Articles: 1516

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *