Some Background on Lethality

There have recently been some articles and talk about lethality. This is hardly a new subject, although apparently there is some renewed interest in the subject. More to the point, the word is now being used extensively in discussions, even though I do not fully understand what they mean by it. This article in late 2018 from The Strategy Bridge provides a little background on the subject:

As the article states (bolding is mine):

 Left undefined, lethality risks the fate of many insufficiently elucidated but well-meaning concepts. It is imperative the concept is properly understood, otherwise the word will saturate PowerPoint slides bereft of insight.

And then there is the sentence further on that catches my attention:

Trevor Dupuy’s 1964 “Final Report on Historical Trends Related to Weapon Lethality” codified the military appropriation of the concept. 

OK, so we are (were) at the cutting edge (in 1964). Nice to know. This was news to me. I had been ignoring all this discussion on lethality until more than one person brought it to my attention this last week. Trevor Dupuy later used this report for his book Evolution of Weapons and Warfare.

Anyhow, I guess we should start blogging about lethality a little more, even though I am not sure what all is encompassed by other people’s use of the word.

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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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