Category Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base

Let’s talk about artillery shells

Now, when we first did the validation database the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base, one of the fields we had to fill in for each division, and corps, and army was on the tons of ammunition used each day by four types.

This was because the combat models that were supposed to be validated using this database were used in part to determine the number of shells needed for a predicted upcoming war. Back in 1987, when we started this database, it was a war in Europe versus the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact.

Now, my history with the Concepts Analysis Agency (CAA), later renamed the Center for Army Analysis (still CAA), goes back to 1973, when it was founded in Bethesda, MD. I was in my junior year in high school, my mother had just been promoted to a school principal and my father had just finished his three-year assignment in the Pentagon. My mother did not want to move again, so, my father found another assignment in the DC area. This was with the newly forming CAA in 1973. He had just happened to have finished a master degree in Systems Analysis from USC, so was nominally qualified.

My father was working over at manpower in the Pentagon, under Col. John Brinkerhoff. They all reported to General Donn Starry (who I did have the pleasure of meeting). Those two transferred together over the CAA, with Col. (Dr.) John Brinkerhoff taking over a division with my father as his assistant. I therefore started hearing stories about CAA combat models in 1973 based upon my father’s hands-on experience. One of the stories he told was that the model tended to fire the longest-range weapons first as units were closing. This made the 8″ Howitzer very valuable. In fact, so valuable, that the best wargaming strategy was build an army of 8″ Howitzers and destroy the Warsaw Pact before they could ever get into engagement range. Obviously, there were a couple of flaws in that wargame.

But, the suite of models, some of which are still in use today, was used to determine the ammunition requirements for the U.S. Army. Therefore, a validation database needed to address these issues. The same fields also existed the Kursk Data Base (1993-1996), which ended up never being used to validate a combat model. It was used to create a big-ass book.

Anyhow, CAA combat models did determine our ammunition requirements until the end of the cold war (22 or 25 or 26 December 1991 when the Soviet Union fell). They were also used to determine the requirements for the 1991 Gulf War. According to the story I heard in a meeting, CAA provided the Army general staff with the requirements for the Gulf War. The general staff doubled the figures CAA gave and then we stacked every dock in the Gulf with ammunition. Luckily none of Hussian’s missiles hit those docks. At the end of the war, it turns out we shipped at least ten times the ammunition we needed. As this was old dumb munitions dating back to World War II, it was cheaper to destroy them there then ship them back, which is what we did. Don’t have a count of what was destroyed in the Gulf, but guessing it was millions of rounds. 

After that, I do not know what OSD PA&E or CAA or the U.S. Army did to determine ammunition requirements. We no longer had a neatly canned scenario like the Fulda Gap. We no longer had a clear enemy. How much ammunition is needed is driven by both the combat model used (which tends to “run hot”) and more significantly, the scenarios used. If all the scenarios used a four-day combat scenario (like the Gulf War) then one will end up with very different needs then if one is planning for a 90-day or 180-day war (or three-year war in the case of Ukraine). I have no idea what scenarios were used, and it is probably classified. But, the end result, is that our production of ammunition over the decades since 1991 has dropped considerably while a lot of our reserves were destroyed in the Gulf.

This, of course, harkens back to a complaint I have made over the years, which is that we tend to focus on the missions and wars we think are most likely now, and not the entire spectrum of wars and conflicts that we can see are possible if one looks wider and deeper into history. Clearly, we were not ready for extended war in Ukraine, and this is not the first time in recent times we have not been properly prepared for certain conflicts. I do discuss this issue in America’s Modern Wars. 

P.S. The West is underestimating Ukraine’s artillery needs – Defense One

Battlefield Tour of the Ardennes

Jay Karamales, the co-author of Against the Panzers and of the soon-to-be released Hunting Falcon, did record a video of his tour of the Ardennes in 1993. They are posted to YouTube. I just found out about it. So, the links to his YouTube videos are here:

Day 1, England to La Gleize (

Day 2, 3rd AD and Kauffman (

Day 2, Chateau Froid Cour and December 1944 Museum (

Day 2, Dom Bütgenbach (

Day 3, Peiper’s Route, Scheid to Stavelot (

Presentations from HAAC – Fitting Lanchester Equations

The third presentation of the first day was given by Dr. Tom Lucas of the Naval Post-Graduate School (49 slides):  Fitting Lanchester equations to time-phased battle data

The two of the databases used for this work were the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base (ACSDB) and the Kursk Data Base (KDB). I was the program manager for both of these efforts.


We had a total of 30 presentations given at the first Historical Analysis Annual Conference (HAAC). We have the briefing slides from most of these presentations. Over the next few weeks, we are going to present the briefing slides on this blog, maybe twice a week (Tuesdays and Thursday). In all cases, this is done with the permission of the briefer. We may later also post the videos of the presentations, but these are clearly going to have to go to another medium ( We will announce when and if these are posted.

The briefings will be posted in the order given at the conference. The conference schedule is here: Schedule for the Historical Analysis Annual Conference (HAAC), 27-29 September 2022 – update 16 | Mystics & Statistics (

The conference opened with a brief set of introductory remarks by me. The seven supporting slides are here: Opening Presentation

It was then followed by a briefing by Dr. Shawn Woodford on Studying Combat; The “Base of Sand” Problem: 20220927 HAAC-Studying Combat

The second presentation of the first day was given by me. It is here (45 slides): Data for Wargames (Summary) – 2

Vincent B. Hawkins has passed away

I just heard that Vincent Hawkins, former HERO and DMSI employee, passed away yesterday. Born in August 1955 he was 66 years old.

He came to work for Trevor Dupuy’s HERO/DMSI around 1986 and was there when I arrived. Always outgoing and welcoming, he had a master’s degree in history, was fluent in German and led the German research team for the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base (ACSDB). He was the co-author of one chapter in Trevor Dupuy’s Understanding Defeat.

He continued at DMSI until around 1991, when it closed down. He was the editor for weekly defense newsletter they were doing, which I thought was a worthwhile effort. He then did some historical research for George Kuhn’s casualty estimation efforts at LMI.

Always outgoing and humorous, Vince was a good friend at DMSI. His office was always one of my stops when I took a break for coffee.

Some Background on TDI Data Bases

The Dupuy Institute (TDI) are sitting on a number of large combat databases that are unique to us and are company proprietary. For obvious reasons they will stay that way for the foreseeable future.

The original database of battles came to be called the Land Warfare Data Base (LWDB). It was also called the CHASE database by CAA. It consisted of 601 or 605 engagements from 1600-1973. It covered a lot of periods and lot of different engagement sizes, ranging from very large battles of hundreds of thousand a side to small company-sized actions. The length of battles range from a day to several months (some of the World War I battles like the Somme).

From that database, which is publicly available, we created a whole series of databases totaling some 1200 engagements. There are discussed in some depth in past posts.

Our largest and most developed data is our division-level database covering combat from 1904-1991 of 752 cases: It is discussed here: The Division Level Engagement Data Base (DLEDB) | Mystics & Statistics (

There are a number of other databases we have. They are discussed here: Other TDI Data Bases | Mystics & Statistics (

The cost of independently developing such a database is given here: Cost of Creating a Data Base | Mystics & Statistics (

Part of the reason for this post is that I am in a discussion with someone who is doing analysis based upon the much older 601 case database. Considering the degree of expansion and improvement, including corrections to some of the engagements, this does not seem a good use of their time., especially as we have so greatly expanded the number engagements from 1943 and on.

Now, I did use some of these databases for my book War by Numbers. I am also using them for my follow-up book, currently titled More War by Numbers. So the analysis I have done based upon them is available. I have also posted parts of the 192 Kursk engagements in my first Kursk book and 76 of them in my Prokhorovka book. None of these engagements were in the original LWDB. 

If people want to use the TDI databases for their own independent analysis, they will need to find the proper funding so as to purchase or get access to these databases. 

My articles on other blogs

Col. General Wolfram Baron von Richthofen, 1942 (Bundesarchive Bild 101I-452-0985-36)

While there are 783 blog posts that I have made to the Mystics and Statistics blog, I do have seven other articles written on other sites, all in 2015 and 2016.

History News Network

  1. How Military Historians Are Using Quantitative Analysis — And You Can Too
  2. Did the Pentagon Learn from Vietnam?
  3. Did I Just Write the Largest History Book Ever?
  4. Are Russians Really Long-Suffering?
  5. What Are Historians Supposed to Make of Quotes Reported by the Discredited Historian and Holocaust Denier David Irving?

While I was writing this blog post a week ago, I noticed a message from nine months ago on the History New Network to this last article. It was from Dr. Andrew Arthy of Australia. Turns out he has a copy of the Wolfram von Richthofen’s notes from a discussion he had with Generaloberst Jeschonnek on 25 May 1943. So finally got confirmation that this was indeed a valid quote from David Iriving.

Small Wars Journal

  1. Airpower: Just Part of the Counterinsurgency Equation

Aberdeen Book Store

  1. Did I Just Write the Largest History Book Ever?

This is the complete article. The article with the History News Network was abbreviated.

The U.S. Army Three-to-One Rule

Various Three-to-one rules of thumbs have existed in the U.S. Army and in writings possibly as early as the American Civil War (1861-1865). These are fine as “rules of thumb” as long as one does not take them seriously and understands what they really mean. But, unfortunately, we have now seen something that is a loose rule of thumb turned into a codified and quantified rule. This is annoyingly overstating its importance and as given in U.S. Army manuals, is patently false.

The U.S. Army has apparently codified the “three-to-one rule” in its documentation and has given it a value. In the 2014 edition of FM 6-0, paragraph 9-103, it states that “For example, historically, defenders have over a 50 percent probability of defeating an attacking force approximately three times their equivalent strength.” This statement, on the surface, simply is incorrect. For example, the following table from my book War by Numbers is drawn from a series of 116 division-level engagements in France in 1944 against the Germans (see War by Numbers, page 10) They show the following relationship between force ratio and outcome:

European Theater of Operations (ETO) Data, 1944


Force Ratio………………..Result…………………Percent Failure…Number of cases

0.55 to 1.01-to-1.00………Attack Fails…………………..100%……………….5

1.15 to 1.88-to-1.00………Attack usually succeeds……21%………………..48

1.95 to 2.56-to-1.00………Attack usually succeeds……10%………………..21

2.71-to-1.00 and higher…Attacker Advances…………….0%……………….. 42


Now these engagements are from fighting between the U.S., UK and Germany in France and Germany in 1944. These are engagements between forces of roughly equal competence. As can be seen, based upon 42 division-level engagements, in all cases of attacks at three-to-one (more specifically 2.71-to-1 and greater), the attacker advanced. Meaning in all cases of attacks at three-to-one, the attacker won. This directly contradicts the statement in FM 6-0, and contradicts it based upon historical data.

This is supplemented by the following two tables on the next page of War by Numbers. The first table shows the German performance when attacking Soviet units in 1943.

Germans attacking Soviets (Battles of Kharkov and Kursk), 1943


Force Ratio………………..Result………………….Percent Failure…Number of cases

0.63 to 1.06-to-1.00………Attack usually succeeds……..20%……………………..5

1.18 to 1.87-to-1.00………Attack usually succeeds……….6%……………………17

1.91-to-1.00 and higher…Attacker Advances……………….0%……………………21


The next table shows the Soviet performance when attacking German units in 1943:

Soviets attacking Germans (Battles of Kharkov and Kursk), 1943


Force Ratio………………Result…………………..Percent Failure…Number of cases

0.40 to 1.05-to-1…………Attack usually fails…………70%……………………10

1.20 to 1.65-to-1.00…….Attack often fails…………….50%……………………11

1.91 to 2.89-to-1.00…….Attack sometimes fails…….44%……………………..9


These charts are from the fighting around Kharkov in February, March and August of 1943 and the fighting during the Battle of Kursk in July 1943. It is 73 engagements between the German and Soviet armies.

Now, there is a clear performance difference between the German and the Soviet armies at this time. This is discussed in considerable depth in War by Numbers and will not be addressed here. But, what it amounts to is that the German Army has an advantage in the casualty exchange and that advantage also shows up in the outcomes of the battles, as show above. If they attacked at two-to-one odds are greater, they would win. The Soviets attacking at the same odds would win only 56 percent of the time. Clearly, at the division-level, in a unit to unit comparison, the Germans were two or three times better than their Soviet opponents.

Still, even in the worse case, which is the Soviets attacking the Germans, we do not get to the claim made in FM 6-0, which is the defender won 50% of the time when attacked at three-to-one. In fact, the Soviets managed to win 50% of the time when attacking at 1.20 to 1.65-to-1. Something is clearly wrong with the statement in FM 6-0.

Now, at the time I wrote War by Numbers, I was not aware of this sentence planted in FM 6-0 and so therefore did not feel a need to respond to the “three-to-one rule.” It is a rule of thumb, not completely without value, that had been discussed before (see Dupuy, Understanding War, pages 31-37). I thought this issue was properly understood in the U.S. analytical and defense community, therefore I did not feel a need to address it further. It turns out that I do. So, I will take a moment to tap into our databases and properly address this using all the resources at my disposal. This will be in subsequent blog posts.

U.S. Senate and Model Validation – Comments

This is a follow-up to our blog post:

Have They Been Reading Our Blog?

This rather significant effort came out of the blue for us, and I gather a whole lot of others in the industry. The actual proposed law is here:

U.S. Senate on Model Validation

Some people, we gather, are a little nervous about this effort. On the other hand, Clinton Reilly, an occasional commenter on this blog and the Managing Director of Computer Strategies Pty Ltd, Sydney Australia, nicely responds to these concerns with the following post:

I would not be too concerned by the prospect of more rigorous validation. I am sure it represents a major opportunity to improve modelling practices and obtain the increased funding that will be required to support the effort.

One of the first steps will be the development of a set of methodologies that will be tailored to testing the types of models required. I am sure that there will be no straight jacketing or enforced uniformity as it is obvious the needs served by the models are many and varied and cannot be met by a “one size fits all” approach.

Provided modellers prepare themselves by developing an approach to validation that is required by their user community they will be in a good position to work with the investigating committee and secure the support and funding needed.

In the end, validation is not a “pass-fail” test to be feared, it is a methodology to improve the model and improve confidence in the model results, and to fully understand the strengths and weaknesses of a model. This is essential if you are going to be using the model for analytical uses, and practically essential even if you are using it for training.

So this is an opportunity not a threat. It is a much needed leap forward.

Let us begin work on developing an approach to validation that suits our individual modelling requirements so that we can present them to the review committee when it asks for input.

Now, my experience on this subject, which dates back to managing the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base (ACSDB) in 1987, is that many of the U.S. Military Operations Research community will not see it as “…an opportunity, not a threat.” We shall see.

Million Dollar Books

Most of our work at The Dupuy Institute involved contracts from the U.S. Government. These were often six digit efforts. So for example, the Kursk Data Base was funded for three years (1993-1996) and involved a dozen people. The Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base (ACSDB) was actually a larger effort (1987-1990). Our various combat databases like DLEDB, BODB and BaDB were created by us independent of any contractual effort. They were originally based upon the LWDB (that became CHASE), the work we did on Kursk and Ardennes, the engagements we added because of our Urban Warfare studies, our Enemy Prisoner of War Capture Rates studies, our Situational Awareness study, our internal validation efforts, several modeling  related contracts from Boeing, etc. All of these were expanded and modified bit-by-bit as a result of a series of contracts from different sources. So, certainly over time, hundreds of thousands have been spent on each of these efforts, and involved the work of a half-dozen or more people.

So, when I sit down to write a book like Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka (based off of the Kursk Data Base) or America’s Modern Wars (based on our insurgency studies) or War by Numbers (which used our combat databases and significant parts of our various studies), these are books developed from an extensive collection of existing work. Certainly hundreds of thousands of dollars and the work of at least 6 to 12 people were involved in the studies and analysis that preceded these books. In some cases, like our insurgency studies, it was clearly more than a million dollars.

This is a unique situation, for me to be able to write a book based upon a million dollars of research and analysis. It is something that I could never have done as a single scholar or a professor or a teacher somewhere. It is not work I could of done working for the U.S. government. These are not books that I could have written based upon only my own work and research.

In many respects, this is what needs to be norm in the industry. Research and analysis efforts need to be properly funded and conducted by teams of people. There is a limit to what a single scholar, working in isolation, can do. Being with The Dupuy Institute allowed me to conduct research and analysis above and beyond anything I could have done on my own.

Summation of our Validation Posts

This extended series of posts about validation of combat models was originally started by Shawn Woodford’s post on future modeling efforts and the “Base of Sand” problem.

Wargaming Multi-Domain Battle: The Base Of Sand Problem

This post apparently irked some people at TRADOC and they wrote an article in the December issue of the Phalanx referencing his post and criticizing it. This resulted in the following seven responses from me:

Engaging the Phalanx


Validating Attrition

Physics-based Aspects of Combat

Historical Demonstrations?


Engaging the Phalanx (part 7 of 7)

This was probably overkill…..but guys who write 1,662 page books sometimes tend to be a little wordy.

While it is very important to identify a problem, it is also helpful to show the way forward. Therefore, I decided to discuss what data bases were available for validation. After all, I would like to see the modeling and simulation efforts to move forward (and right now, they seem to be moving backward). This led to the following nine posts:

Validation Data Bases Available (Ardennes)

Validation Data Bases Available (Kursk)

The Use of the Two Campaign Data Bases

The Battle of Britain Data Base

Battles versus Campaigns (for Validation)

The Division Level Engagement Data Base (DLEDB)

Battalion and Company Level Data Bases

Other TDI Data Bases

Other Validation Data Bases

There were also a few other validation issues that had come to mind while I was writing these blog posts, so this led to the following series of three posts:

Face Validation

Validation by Use

Do Training Models Need Validation?

Finally, there were a few other related posts that were scattered through this rather extended diatribe. It includes the following six posts:

Paul Davis (RAND) on Bugaboos


TDI Friday Read: Engaging The Phalanx

Combat Adjudication

China and Russia Defeats the USA

Building a Wargamer

That kind of ends this discussion on validation. It kept me busy for while. Not sure if you were entertained or informed by it. It is time for me to move onto another subject, not that I have figured out yet what that will be.