Count of Opposing Forces

In the classified Joint Staff briefing slides there is an accounting of the strength of both sides as of the end of February (status report as of 1 March). It shows:

Ukrainian:

34 Maneuver Brigades

13 Fire Units (9 brigades, 3 regiments, 1 battalion)

27 TDF Brigades (territorial defense forces)

 

Not sure which brigades are counted in the army maneuver brigades and which are TDF (Territorial Defense Forces) brigades. Not sure if the nine new brigades are counted in this list. See: How many brigades did Ukraine start with war with? | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org) and What Brigades has Ukraine added since the war started? | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org) and The nine new brigades for the spring offensive – organization | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org).

Russian battalion count (as reported in the briefing slides):

Potential Maximum Combat Power: 544 battalions

Committed to Conflict: 527 of 544 battalions (97%)

Regular MVR Bns: 218

Reserve Bs: 41

Artillery Bns: 268

Located Inside Ukraine: 474 of 527 (90% of committed)

Regular MVR Bns (combat effective): 94 (+1)

Deployed combat Ineffective: 72

Reserve Bns: 29

Deployed Combat Ineffective: 11

Artillery Bns: 241

Deployed Combat Ineffective: 27

 

This probably opens as many questions as it answers. For the Ukrainian army brigades, they usually have at least three infantry-type battalions and tank battalion per army brigade. Some have more (for example 82nd Air Assault Bde). So, Ukraine has 34 x 4 + 27 x 3 (do TDF Bdes have tank battalions?) =  217 + 1 + ??? = at least 218 maneuver bns.

Ukrainians bdes have one artillery bn, the 7 artillery bdes probably have 4, and the 3 regiments probably have 2, and 1 separate battalion or 34 + 27 + (7 x 4) + (3 x 2) + 1  = 96 artillery bns

So…

Maneuver Bns    Artillery Bns

Ukraine                                     218                          96     

Russia (total)                            206                         268

Russia (combat effective)        123                         241

 

Now, not sure what to make of this. A few other issues here:

  1. What is the size difference between a Ukrainian Bn and a Russian Bn?
  2. That is a lot of Russian artillery bns. Not sure what make of that.
  3. What does combat effective mean?

To briefly address the subject of combat effective:

  1. I have never seen a study defining what is combat effective versus combat ineffective.
  2. I have never seen a study that establishes if combat ineffective is actually a real condition and how it is measured.
  3. I have never seen a study that establishes the combat power of a combat effective unit vice a combat ineffective unit.
  4. While the term is commonly used… and apparently innately understood, I have never seen any studies on the subject or any analytically based definitions.
  5. By default, a lot of people say a unit becomes combat ineffective when it has taken 30% or 40% casualties. I gather this is related to having its infantry depleted.
  6. I have never seen anything that shows how quickly a combat ineffective unit can be returned to combat effectiveness.
    1. If it is fundamentally related to infantry losses, then does it become effective once it receives infantry replacements?
    2. Does this means that they can go from ineffective to effective in a matter of weeks (this report is dated 1 March)?
    3. Needless to say (and I do think it is important to repeat this point ad nauseum), I have never seen a study on this either.

 

Update 5/15/23: UK intelligence as of 5/14/23 is saying the Russian army in Ukraine “…is similarly organised to the invasion force of 446 days ago. It still likely consists of over 200,000 personnel organised into around 70 combat regiments and brigades divided into five Groups of Forces.”

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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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8 Comments

  1. I guess depends on whether the “combat effective” is a US or Ukranian intelligence estimate or if it comes from a Russian document, in the later case maybe they have a definition 🙂

    In any case it reminds me of this from Clausewitz: “Again, unfortunately, we are dealing with jargon, which, as usual, bears only a faint resemblance to well defined, specific concepts”

    • Thank you. Was not aware of this study, so will go through it. I do note in the abstract on page 3:

      The purpose of this study is to investigate the historical basis for the assumption that a military formation will cease to be effective after having lost a pro-ordained percentage of its strength. Battles from the First World War to the 1982 Falklands campaign are reviewed for insight into the validity of this assumption.

      The effect of heavy battle damage on units has been both variable and unpredictable. There is a relationship between losses and the continued willingness to fight, but it defies precise definition. So long as some men in the formation continue to fight as an organized entity, either in attack or defense, for whatever reason, the formation they represent cannot be termed ‘ineffective.”

  2. Just to clarify something that often seems to escape the notice of many ‘military historians’ who get published these days;
    Very roughly speaking, 30-40% casualties to a typical division-sized WW2 unit usually meant its sharp-end elements, i.e. the infantry companies were down to around 20-40 troops apiece, out of a full strength TOE figure of say 100-150. That’s close to combat ‘ineffective’, but not quite.
    Taking Kursk or rather ‘Rumyantsev’ as an example, the German 332nd Inf Div took comparable 30-40% losses during July, and when the Red Army Rumyantsev offensive began on Aug 3rd, the division managed to fight half-well for about 5 to 7 days before disintegrating. It tried to reorganize in the rear, but was only slightly successful and after recombining with other Inf Divs, the 332nd was taken off the OB soon thereafter (IIRC)

    • Specific data on 332nd ID from 4-18 July was that its July 4 starting strength was 13,829. Its lowest strength was 10,787 or 78.0% of its starting strength. Total losses were 3,207 or 22.9%. (Kursk: page 1295).

      It was not involved in any significant fighting between 18 July and 2 August. For example, its losses on 19 July were 4 killed and 31 wounded (page 1192). So it probably regained some of those loses through RTDs and maybe replacements (165 RTDs from 4-18 July).

      It did suffer the highest losses of any German division on the southern attack:

      332nd ID: 22.9%
      320th ID: 21.5
      106th ID: 20.8
      LSSAH PzGrD: 15.5
      168th ID: 15.3

      Page 1347.

      This is not to dispute the rest of your argument, but did want to get the numbers right.

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