Category Lessons of History

Top Ten Blog posts in 2023

Happy New Year to all. 2023 is over. Not the best year for many in the world. Wanted to take a moment to list out our top ten blog posts for 2023 (based upon number of hits). They are:

  1. Wounded-to-killed ratios in Ukraine in 2022 | Mystics & Statistics (
  2. U.S. Tank Losses and Crew Casualties in World War II | Mystics & Statistics ( – a blog post by Dr. Shawn Woodford from 2016.
  3. How many brigades did Ukraine start with war with? | Mystics & Statistics ( – this is actually clipped from my book The Battle for Kyiv.
  4. Population over Time (US vs USSR) | Mystics & Statistics ( – a blog post from 2018. I suspect this gets so many hits because this was the initial entry point for a number of people who periodically check on this blog and they continue to use this post to direct them to our blog.
  5. German versus Soviet Artillery at Kursk | Mystics & Statistics ( – another 2018 blog post.
  6. New WWII German Maps At The National Archives | Mystics & Statistics ( – a 2017 blog post by Dr. Shawn Woodford.
  7. How Does the U.S. Army Calculate Combat Power? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ | Mystics & Statistics ( – another 2017 blog post by Dr. Shawn Woodford.
  8. Tank Loss Rates in Combat: Then and Now | Mystics & Statistics ( – a 2016 blog post by Dr. Shawn Woodford.
  9. U.S. Army Force Ratios | Mystics & Statistics ( – a 2018 blog post.
  10. The Russian Artillery Strike That Spooked The U.S. Army | Mystics & Statistics ( – a 2017 blog post by Dr. Shawn Woodford. It was the second most popular blog post in 2022.

Honorable mentions:

13. Wounded-To-Killed Ratios | Mystics & Statistics ( – this 2016 blog post was our most popular blog post in 2022.

16. Where Did Japan Go? | Mystics & Statistics ( – this 2018 blog post was sort of the culmination of our series of demographic blog posts. May revisit this subject again this year.

18. The Russo-Ukrainian War – Day 560 | Mystics & Statistics ( – for a while we did post daily (then two-three times a week) about the war in Ukraine. This was our most popular one of those posts. We will probably restart these again sometime this winter, like when there is a danger of the front lines again moving.


Anyhow, the blog has been quieter for the last three months. This was in part because I was on travel and in part because I needed to finish up a book (The Siege of Mariupol). To date, I have not learned how to multi-task and complete a book, so the book has had the priority. Sorry to anyone I have not responded to as a result.

The Battle for Kyiv book will be available in the U.S. on come 18 January 2024.

The False Lessons of Modern War

Hard to ignore an article that name checks Trevor Dupuy and I. Attached is an article by William F. Owen in the British Army Review, Autumn 2023 Issue. I hope I am not breaking some copyright by posting it up: Owen, The False Lessons of Modern War-Why Ignorance is Not Insight (2023). It is available on-line here: The false lessons of modern war: Why ignorance is not insight – Issuu. The full title of the article is “The False Lessons of Modern War: Why Ignorance is not Insight.”

Trevor Dupuy is namechecked in the article: “Much was less than certain, yet paradoxically, a book written in 1978, Trevor N Dupuy’s Elusive Victory, had got far more right than later writers were to get wrong.” That is a pretty strong endorsement. 

He then footnotes the book in his third footnote, referencing losses in 1967.

In the following paragraph he states: “Simply put, no conflict today comes even close to these types of losses, yet the myth persists that war and warfare are becoming ‘more lethal.’ They are not, and a large body of literature proves it.” His footnote to this paragraph then states “See the collected work of Trevor N Dupuy and Christopher Lawrence, Understanding War, War by Numbers and Attrition.”

I like this guy, but I have never met him. He is certainly welcome to present at the third HAAC: The Third HAAC – October 2024? | Mystics & Statistics (

A few other quotes from the article worth mentioning:

  1. “Lessons should be a product of analysis, not observation.” (I put this sentence in bold for a reason).
  2. “Observations have often been wrong” (this is his following sentence)
  3. “Warfare in the Russo-Ukrainian War is two or three generations behind the standard competent, well-trained armies should aspire to operate.”
  4. “…fires lead manoeuvre in contrast to the opinions of the ‘manouverist approach.” (spell check is complaining about the British spellings).
  5. “Fast forward to today and the war in Ukraine; there is far less to be learned than in 1973.”
  6. “Why should the lessons from Ukraine be removed from the specific context of the participant’s differing training and equipment level and be relevant to the British Army?”
  7. “Is something that is a lesson for the Ukrainians a lesson for everyone else?”
  8. “In sharp contrast, the current war in Ukraine sees much-outdated equipment in ad-hoc combat formations, not seemingly underpinned by NATO equivalent training, doctrine and organisation levels.”

I will let you read the rest, but this is a definitely an article worth reading, even if you find yourself not in agreement with all parts of it. 

I do want to thank Dr. Shawn Woodford for bringing this to my attention.



Elusive Victory is available here: TDI Books For Sale (

Understanding War is here: TDI Books For Sale (

War by Numbers is here: War by Numbers : Nebraska Press ( or here: War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat: Lawrence, Christopher A.: 9781612348865: Books

Attrition is here: TDI Books For Sale ( Inventory is getting low for this one.

Our first virtual presentation – How Important are Superior Numbers? – by Dr. David Kirkpatrick

This was the first virtual presentation of the conference. It happened after lunch, so we had resolved some of our earlier issues. Not only was Dr. David Kirkpatrick (University College London) able to give a virtual presentation, but Dr. Robert Helmbold was able to attend virtually and discuss the briefing with him. This is kind of how these things are supposed to work.

Anyhow, the presentation was “How important are Superior Numbers?” and it is posted to our YouTube channel here: (8) How Important are Superior Numbers: Kirkpatrick (version 2) – YouTube

There is an earlier version on the channel that is 1:10 longer. That was uploaded first, but I decided to edit out a small section of the presentation.

The briefing ends at 40:20 and discussion continues for 12 minutes afterwards.

The slides for the briefing were previously posted here: Presentations from HAAC – How important are superior numbers? | Mystics & Statistics (

Three books to be published this year

I have been quiet about the books that I am working on and publishing because some of them have been slower to release than expected.

I have three books coming out this year. The UK hardcover release dates are:

Aces at Kursk: 30 July 2023
The Battle of Kyiv: 30 August 2023
The Hunting Falcon: 30 September 2023

The U.S. hardcover release dates according to are:

Aces at Kursk: 30 September 2023
The Battle of Kyiv: 30 October 2023
The Hunting Falcon: 31 October 2023

So for a brief moment in time I will be pumping out a book a month. I am currently working on two other books (they might be released in 2023) and I have one other listed on (UK) called “The Other Battle of Kursk” with a release date of 16 July 2024. This is the book “The Battle of Tolstoye Woods.” This has been discussed with the publisher and I may get it published in 2024.

Of course, the only way one gets a book done is to ignore everything else. If some people feel I should be responding in a timely manner to their emails or requests, there is a reason I have not been. Sorry. Three books coming out in one year is evidence that there is some validity to that.

Some relevant links related to Aces at Kursk:

Aces at Kursk – Chapter Listing | Mystics & Statistics (

Aces at Kursk | Mystics & Statistics (

Is this my last Kursk book? | Mystics & Statistics ( The answer is no. I will be working on (and maybe completing) The Battle of Tolstoye Woods in 2024.

145 or 10? | Mystics & Statistics (

So did Kozhedub shoot down 62, 64 or 66 planes? | Mystics & Statistics (

5th Guards Fighter Regiment, 7 July 1943 | Mystics & Statistics (

The 728th Fighter Regiment on 16 July 1943 | Mystics & Statistics (

Soviet versus German kill claims at Kursk | Mystics & Statistics (

So What Was Driving the Soviet Kill Claims? | Mystics & Statistics (

Aces at Kursk – Chapters | Mystics & Statistics (

And related to The Battle for Kyiv: most of this blog from December 2021 through April 2022:

December | 2021 | Mystics & Statistics (

January | 2022 | Mystics & Statistics (

February | 2022 | Mystics & Statistics (

March | 2022 | Mystics & Statistics (

April | 2022 | Mystics & Statistics (

And related to Hunting Falcon:

Award Dates for the Blue Max (1916) | Mystics & Statistics (


Unstructured Comments on “The Relationship of Battle Damage to Unit Combat Performance”

Thanks to Russell1200 (see comments to Count of Opposing Forces | Mystics & Statistics (, I now found out about a report “The Relationship of Battle Damage to Unit Combat Performance” by Leonard Wainstein of IDA prepared back in April 1986. Both the report and Wainstein are unknown to me.

The abstract of the report says

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 pre-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 battte 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.”


My notes made while reading it:

  1. Page v: Contents: section on earlier studies references ORO report of 1954 (known to me… the Dorothy Clark report on Breakpoints) and an RAC report of 1966 (not known to me).
  2. Page 1: “The battle cases cited run from army level to battalion level, from single day engagements to those lasting several months” – my bias is to collect and analysis data based upon the same level of combat, i.e. division-level, battalion-level, etc.
  3. Page 1: Only 54 actions were examined (this seems small) and “only 11 represent cases where a formation collapsed, surrendered, was repulsed, was stalemated, or had to be taken out of the line after suffering some degree of damage.” (this seems like a really small sample).
  4. Page 2: “Colonel Trevor N. Dupuy, in describing the 1973 Middle East War, has written ‘The human element has always been important in war, and despite the technology available to both sides, the human element was undoubtedly the most significant feature in this war.’ The same comment could obviously be made about all the actions described in this paper.”
  5. Page 3: “There is no agreement among national armies, combat commanders, military historians or defense analysts as to the point when battle damage renders a formation impotent.”
  6.  Pages 1-5, Summary: This is worth reading in its entirety.
  7. Page 6: “The modeling community have developed a set of formulae for use in this determination, but it is not clear to what extent these formulae reflect actual battle experience.” (stated in 1986… pretty certain the “modeling community” has not taken significant corrective action).
  8. Page 8: Paragraph on perceived resistance is interesting.
  9. Pages 1-10: No mention of artillery.
  10. Page 11: “Despite the interest in and significance of the subject, relatively little research has been done across the years on casualty-effectiveness relationships.”
  11. Pages 11-12: Description of the Dorothy Clark 1954 ORO report, measuring 44 battalions. To quote Clark “the statement that a unit can be considered no longer combat effective when it has suffered a specific casualty percentage is a gross oversimplification not supported by combat data.”
  12. Pages 12-13: Description of Robert Best 1966 RAC report.
  13.  Page 23: Trevor Dupuy quoted again.
  14. Page 24: “Oriental fanaticism.”
  15. Page 44: HERO report from 1967 is referenced (HERO became TDI).
  16. Page 69: Trevor Dupuy is referenced.
  17. Page DL-2: A copy of this report went to CAA (Concepts Analysis Agency, now Center for Army Analysis).
  18. Page DL-3:  A copy went to HERO. I was there in 1987, do not recall seeing this report.

The IDA report is here: TheRelationshipBetweenBattleDamageAndCombatPerformance.


A few related past posts:

Count of Opposing Forces | Mystics & Statistics (

Breakpoints | Mystics & Statistics (

Historians and the Early Era of U.S. Army Operations Research | Mystics & Statistics (

I like to claim that we are three-for-three in our predictions…

We have discussed on this blog before our analysis for the Gulf War, the casualty estimate for Bosnia peacekeeping mission, and the casualty and duration estimate for Iraq. In each case, we were either the closest public estimate or pretty much dead on. Just as a reminder:

Predictions | Mystics & Statistics (

Now, back in late 1990 Trevor Dupuy made his predictions on the Gulf War. They are discussed here:

Forecasting the 1990-1991 Gulf War | Mystics & Statistics (

Assessing the TNDA 1990-91 Gulf War Forecast | Mystics & Statistics (

Assessing the 1990-1991 Gulf War Forecasts | Mystics & Statistics (

In 1995 we provided the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) with our predictions for Bosnia. This was, as far as I know, the first formal attempt to make a prediction of casualties for an “operation other than war.” This prediction is in Appendix II of America’s Modern Wars and is discussed here:

Forecasting U.S. Casualties in Bosnia | Mystics & Statistics (

In 2004 we provided the Center for Army Analysis (CAA) and OSD Net Assessment our predictions of casualties and duration for the war in Iraq. Again, as far as I know, this was the first formal attempt to make an analytically based prediction on casualties and duration for a insurgency. This prediction is discussed in depth in Chapter 1 and Appendix I for America’s Modern Wars and is discussed here.

Forecasting the Iraqi Insurgency | Mystics & Statistics (

And then there are these posts:

President Obama’s Casualty Estimates | Mystics & Statistics (

Casualty Estimates for a War with North Korea | Mystics & Statistics (

The CRS Casualty Estimates | Mystics & Statistics (

Casualty Estimates for Conflict with Iran | Mystics & Statistics (

Casualty Estimates for Conflict with Iran – Killed and Wounded | Mystics & Statistics (

How Common are Casualty Estimates? | Mystics & Statistics (

Casualty Estimates for Conflict with Iran – Summation | Mystics & Statistics (

I always like to claim that we are three-for-three, in that we have published three predictions before conflicts occur that are fundamentally correct. As significant, in my mind, is that we were correct, based upon historical analysis and using combat models build upon history for not only a conventional war, but for an unconventional or guerilla war and for a peacekeeping mission. This is a wide range of scenarios. We are not aware of anyone else who has done this.


JSTOR, Trevor Dupuy, Combat Data and the 3:1 Rule

In moments of quiet I sometimes search the internet to see if people are referencing our work. Sometimes I run across articles and discussions I have forgotten about. This was one of them: Combat Data and the 3:1 Rule

We have blogged about this subject a few times before (and even referenced the JSTOR article):

The Source of the U.S. Army Three-to-One Rule | Mystics & Statistics (

The U.S. Army Three-to-One Rule versus the 752 Case Division-level Data Base 1904-1991 | Mystics & Statistics (

The U.S. Army Three-to-One Rule versus 49 U.S. Civil War battles | Mystics & Statistics (

The U.S. Army Three-to-One Rule versus 243 Battles 1600-1900 | Mystics & Statistics (

The U.S. Army Three-to-One Rule | Mystics & Statistics (

The Great 3-1 Rule Debate | Mystics & Statistics (

The 3-to-1 Rule in Recent History Books | Mystics & Statistics (

Questioning The Validity Of The 3-1 Rule Of Combat | Mystics & Statistics (

Comparing the RAND Version of the 3:1 Rule to Real-World Data | Mystics & Statistics (

TDI Friday Read: The Validity Of The 3-1 Rule Of Combat | Mystics & Statistics (

The 3-to-1 Rule in Histories | Mystics & Statistics (

Trevor Dupuy and the 3-1 Rule | Mystics & Statistics (

Dupuy Mentioned in Dispatches – 1

A friend just sent me a recent article from the Strategy Page that mentions Trevor Dupuy’s work: Leadership: Meaningful Measures of Military Might

Trevor Dupuy is mentioned four times in the eleventh paragraph of the article:

  1. “One notable practitioner of this was military historian and World War II artillery officer Trevor Dupuy.” 
  2. “For example, Trevor Dupuy undertook a closer examination of combat records and found, and documented, that German troops generally outfought their opponents.”
  3. “If it hadn’t been for the research of American historian Trevor Dupuy in the 1970s and 80s, these critical differences might still sit unnoticed in musty archives.”
  4. “Dupuy’s calculations brought forth the reasons why some allied, German, Russian and Japanese divisions were better than others:”

Anyhow, don’t know who the author is, but appreciate the mention. The Strategy Page is run by Jim Dunnigan, Austin Bay, Al Nofi, Dan Masterson and Stephen V. Cole and others.

Two other TMCI Reports

The Military Conflict Institute shut down early 2020. An associate of mine has been trying to chase down all of their work.

There are these three reports:

The Three TMCI Reports | Mystics & Statistics (

There was this brief 20-page paper written by the late Roger Mickelson: /tardir/tiffs/a396349.tiff (

One notes that Roger Mickelson titled this report “War on Terrorists” vice the “War on Terrorism.”

The fifth report or book is not known to me. Is it “The Classics of Military Thought: Appreciations and Agenda.” published in 1985 by John E. Tashjean under the name of the Military Conflict Institute. John Tashjean had written a number of articles on Clausewitz from 1979-1992.

The classics of military thought : apreciations and agenda (Book, 1985) []

There is a copy at University of Oxford, only some 3,600 miles from here. Apparently no one else on this planet has a copy. Could any of our UK readers by so kind as to scare up a hard or electronic copy of this?


P.S.: TMCI is officially closing this year | Mystics & Statistics (