Battalion and Company Level Data Bases

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the need and desire to model combat at the division-level has declined. The focus has shifted to lower levels of combat. As such, we have created the Battalion-Level Operations Data Base (BLODB) and the Company-Level Actions Data Base (CLADB).

The challenge for both of these databases is to find actions that have good data for both sides. It is the nature of military organizations that divisions have the staff and record keeping that allows one to model them. These records are often (but not always !!!) preserved. So, it is possible to assemble the data for both sides for an engagement at division level. This is true through at least World War II (up through 1945). After that, getting unit records from both sides is difficult. Usually one or both of the opponents are still keeping their records classified or close hold. This is why we ended up posting on this subject:

The Sad Story Of The Captured Iraqi DESERT STORM Documents

And:

So Why Are Iraqi Records Important?

 

Just to give an example of the difficulty of creating battalion-level engagements, for the southern offensive around Belgorod (Battle of Kursk) from 4-18 July 1943 I was able to created 192 engagements using the unit records for both sides. I have yet to create a single battalion-level engagement from those records. The only detailed description of a battalion-level action offered in the German records are of a mop-up operation done by the 74th Engineer Battalion. We have no idea of who they were facing or what their strength was. We do have strengths at times of various German battalions and we sometimes have strength and losses for some of the Soviet infantry and tank regiments, so it might be possible to work something up with a little estimation, but it certainly can not be done systematically like we have for division-level engagements. As U.S. and British armies (and USMC) tend to have better battalion-level record keeping than most other armies, it is possible to work something up from their records, if you can put together anything on their opponents. So far, our work on battalion-level and company-level combat has been more of a grab-bag and catch-and-catch-can effort that we had done over time.

Our battalion-level data base consists of 127 cases. They cover from 1918 to 1991. It is described here: http://www.dupuyinstitute.org/data/blodb.htm The blurry photo at the start of this blog if from that database.

Our company-level data base is more recent. It has not been set up yet as an Access data base. It consists of 98 cases from 1914 to 2000.

The BLODB was used for the battalion-level validation of the TNDM. This is discussed briefly in Chapter 19 of War by Numbers. These engagements are discussed in depth in four issues of  our International TNDM Newsletter (see Vol. 1, Numbers 2, 4, 5, 6 here: http://www.dupuyinstitute.org/tdipub4.htm )

The CLADB was used for a study done for Boeing on casualty rates compared to unit sizes in combat. This is discussed in depth in Chapter 12: The Nature of Lower Levels of Combat in War by Numbers.

Both databases are in need to expansion. To date, we have not found anyone willing to fund such an effort.

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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.
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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.
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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).
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Mr. Lawrence lives in northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife and son.

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5 Comments

  1. Chris,

    What’s the estimated cost to fund the database expansions you mention?

    “To date, we have not found anyone willing to fund such an effort.”

    • Chris,

      Well, how about a different approach? I believe the market demand is strong enough to get this crowdfunded. I think it’s worth the time spent in developing a more refined cost estimate. Come down on the price by targeting what gets updated and how it will be applied. Market the effort through social media, and it can be funded via crowdfunding.

      Below is an excerpt from C.S. Forester’s “The General” that speaks to a mindset in the military 100 years ago, yet is just as true today.

      “In some ways it was like a debate of a group of savages as to how to extract a screw from a piece of wood. Accustomed only to nails, they had made one effort to pull out the screw by main force, and now that it had failed they were devising methods of applying more force still, of obtaining more efficient pincers, of using levers and fulcrums so that more men could bring their strength to bear. They could hardly be blamed for not guessing that by rotating the screw it would come out after the exertion of far less effort; it would be a notion so different from anything they had ever encountered that they would laugh at the man who suggested it.”

      • This is an interesting idea, although I do have some doubts whether there is a $100,000 in donations available for us to update and expand the battalion-level operations data base. I gather if it was done as a crowd funding effort, we should make the database public domain.

  2. If this is true, how then can we assess the true fighting power of the IDF? Do accurate figures exist? I have seen various studies, also from Dupuy et al.

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