Category Urban Warfare

Density of Deployment in Ukraine

It appears that both sides have deployed between 300,000 to 617,000 troops in this war. Putin claimed 617,000 deployed in mid-December. To quote “The front line is over 2,000 kilometers long, there are 617,000 people in the conflict zone.” See: Putin Says Over 600K Russian Servicemen in Ukraine – The Moscow Times. Ukraine shortly afterwards stated it was 450,00. I tend to lean towards the lower figures. As Russian advances over the last six months have been fairly limited, I am guessing that Ukraniain deployment is at least 300,000. It is probably closer to 400,00. They have put out a few figures noticeably higher than this, but if this was the case (and they were deployed forward), then we probably would not be seeing many advances by the Russians. So most likely the deployed figures for both sides are between 300,000 to 450,000. Let’s just use the figure 450,000 for the sake of simplicity.

The effective front line of Ukraine is around 700 kilometers. See: The front is really not 1,200 kilometers long – rev. 1 – The Dupuy Institute. Ukraine obviously has to maintain troops in mobile positions from Chernihiv to Sumy, but there are probably forces still being stood up and trained, with their defense being supplemented by National Guard and Territorial Defense Forces, to be stood up as needed.  There is also the area opposite of the Khakhovka Reservoir, which is only light held by both sides. Then there is the area from the Dnipro River down to Kherson. This is an inactive front, because of the logistics issues caused by the river. While this does have to be held by forces on both sides, they basically have done no major operations since November 2022.  That will almost certainly be the case going forward. So, the active front is only around 700 kilometers (435 miles) 

S0, 450,000 divided by 700 km equals 643 troops per kilometer. This would be 429 per kilometer if there were only 300,000 troops. Obviously, they are not equally distributed across those 700 kilometers, but they really can’t leave large parts of the line seriously undermanned.

So, how does this compare to the last war in Ukraine (1941-1944)? 

During World War II, on the Western Front, the troops were often deployed to a density of 2,000 troops per kilometer of front line. On the Eastern Front in World War II, it was often over 1,000 troops per kilometer. Now we do have a division-level database of 752 cases. Of those, 267 are from the Eastern Front 1943-1945.  Let’s take a look at some examples from that:

For example, before the start of the Battle of Kursk the density of the front was (@ 1800, 4 July 1943):

  • 57th ID: 684 vs 683
  • 255th ID: 467 vs 495
  • 48th PzC (-): 2,458 vs 651
  • 11th PzD+: 1,976 vs 1,038
  • LSSAH GzGrD: 3,763 vs 1,261
  • DR SS PzGrD: 5,207 vs 899
  • T SS PzGrD: 2,416 vs 940
  • 6th PzD+: 2,282 vs 1,168
  • 19th PzD+: 6,086 vs 3,104
  • 7th PzD+: 2,766 vs 558
  • 106th ID: 2,419 vs 511
  • 320th ID: 2,572 vs 540

Just before the Battle of Prokhorovka we have the densities at (@1800, 11 July 1943):

  •  57th ID: 395 vs 483
  • 255th ID: 482 vs 399
  • 332nd ID+: 504 vs 463
  • 48th PZC (-): 1,694 vs 1,353
  • 11th PzD+: 1,669 vs 3,373
  • 167th ID: 725 vs 917
  • T SS PzGrD: 1,371 vs 782
  • LSSAH PzGrD: 2,904 vs 1,692
  • DR SS PrGrD: 1,851 vs 1,291
  • 168th ID: 1,430 vs 282
  • 19th PzD: 1,084 vs 195
  • 6th PzD: 2,077 vs 1,348
  • 7th PzD: 3,701 vs 1,743
  • 198th ID: 1,779 vs 669
  • 106th ID: 1,690 vs 1,658
  • 320th ID: 1,302 vs 1,032

Now, we do have engagements from the fighting around Kharkov in February, March and August of 1943. Some sample cases (again keying of the German unit:

15 February 1943:

  • GD ID: 888 vs 1,143
  • DR SS: 800 vs 1,794

12 March 1943:

  • LSSAH D: 753 vs 473
  • DR SS D: 2,205 vs 450
  • T SS D: 306 vs 2
  • 11th PzD: 914 vs 498

22 August 1943:

  • 106th ID: 1,341 vs 875
  • 320th ID: 1,007 vs 1,210


Now World War I was a lot more dense, especially on the western front. For example:

  • Br 8th Division, 1 July 1916: 8,071 vs 2000 (Battle of the Somme)
  • Dr. Fourth Army (-), 14 July 1916: 10,000 vs 3,333 (Somme)
  • U.S. 4th Bde (+), 6 June 1918: 2,145 vs 1,463 (Belleau Wood)
  • U.S. 3rd Bde, 1 July 1918: 7,118 vs 5,754
  • U.S. 2nd Bde (+), 12 September 1918: 11,007 vs 1,742.
  • U.S. 2nd Div (+), 3 October 1918: 4,063 vs 2,031
  • U.S. 36th Div, 8 October 1918: 4,500 vs 2,500

During the Arab-Israeli Wars we see a lower deployment density, for example, in the 16 engagements in our division-level database from the 1967 war, the densities (for offense) range from 813 to 3,567 men per kilometer (with four exceptions, Mitla Pass, Zaoura-Kala, Jerin and Kabtiya). In the 1973 war we have 32 division-level engagements.  The densities (for offense) range from 444 to 4,900. There are no outliers.

In the 1991 Gulf War, we also see a lower deployment density. In the 15 engagements in our division-level database we have the densities ranging from 89 to 1,200 men per kilometer.

Keep in mind this is a single dimension measurement of a two-dimensional construct. The units also deploy in depth. So, there is not one man standing there every two meters, any more than with a WWII density of 2,000 there are people standing shoulder-to-shoulder across the front line. The minority of troops deployed are shooters.

The main point is that the density is around a fourth of the typical density on the Western Front in WWII. And again, that is in one dimension.

I will leave this blog post without a conclusion, as I am not sure what it should be. For now, this is just an observation.

Presentations from HAAC – Urban Warfare

The sixth presentation of Day 2 in the Einstein Conference Room was supposed to be virtual presentation on Artillery Suppression. This was cancelled due the presenter’s workload. Maybe next HAAC. As we had gathered all the participants back into the main conference room, I choose to skip the seventh presentation on Urban Warfare that was planned for the Einstein Conference Room. It is discussed in some depth in two chapters of my book War by Numbers. But the presentation is here: Urban I & II & III.1

This ends all the presentations for Day 2 of the First Annual Historical Analysis Annual Conference. Next will be the day 3 presentations. We are tentatively planning the next conference for 17-19 October 2023). It will be at the same locale and similarly structured.

 

In the Pike and Gallows Conference Center, day 2:

The first presentation of the day was my monstrosity, Iraq, Data, Hypotheses and Afghanistan (which I later turned into the book America’s Modern Wars): NIC Compilation 3.1

The second presentation of the day was Lessons Learned from Haiti 1915-1934 by Dr. Christopher Davis of UNCG: History as an Enemy and Instructor

The third presentation of the day was Estimating War Deaths (in Iraq) by Dr. Michael Spagat of Royal Holloway University of London: Iraq Deaths

We then had a group discussion on whether we could have won the war in Afghanistan. I opened the discussion with a brief 12-slide presentation, built from my original presentation that morning. It is here: Could We Have Won

This was followed by presentation by Joe Follansbee (Col. USA, ret) on a proposed Close Combat Overmatch Weapon.

The sixth presentation of the second day was Contentious Issues in Syria: the Alawi Religion, their Political Struggles, Chemical Warfare in Syria and a Hypothesized Religicide of the Alawis by Jennifer Schlacht: Temporarily deleted.

The seventh presentation of the second day was The Silent Killers: A Quick Historical Review of Biological Threats by Dr. Douglas A. Samuelson: HAAC Bio Threats 09282.

 

In the Einstein Conference Room, day 2:

The first presentation was A Statistical Analysis of Historical Land Battles: What is Associated with Winning? by Dr. Tom Lucas of the Naval Post-Graduate School: Historical Battles what is associated with winning.

The second presentation was The Combat Assessment Technique by William Sayers: The Combat Assessment Technique.

The third presentation was Machine Learning the Lessons of History by Dr. Robert Helmbold: The Key To Victory-0017A. His supporting text is here: TEXT-0031.

The fourth presentation was Penetration Division: Theory, History, Concept by LtC. Nathan A. Jennings, PhD: HAAC Presentation_LTC Jennings.

The fifth presentation was Learning from History: The Army’s Future Study Program by LtC. Adam L. Taliaferro: HAAC_Presentation.

——

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 (Youtube.com). 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 (dupuyinstitute.org).

The nine presentations given on the first day are all here: Presentations from HAAC – Air Combat Analysis on the Eastern Front in 1944-45 | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org).

Economist Article on Urban Warfare

The Economist published an in-depth article this week on urban warfare. It is here: Armies are re-learning how to fight in cities | The Economist

You will not be able to read the entire article without a subscription, but I think I can quote the two most important paragraphs as fair use:

The biggest question is whether a lack of familiarity with city fighting has over-amplified its grim reputation. A study by Christopher Lawrence of the Dupuy Institute, which collects historical data on warfare, analysed urban operations towards the end of the second world war, including three battles over Kharkiv, a Ukrainian city which has been battered in the current conflict. It found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that cities slowed down armies: rates of advance were one-third to one-half what they were in non-urban combat.

But cities were not necessarily deadlier than other battlefields. The attacker’s casualties were no higher in urban operations than non-urban ones, and losses of vehicles were the same or lower. In more recent urban battles—those for Fallujah in Iraq in 2004 or Marawi in the Philippines in 2017—the attackers’ casualties were low, just over one death a day, and far lower than those of defenders. In fact the highest casualties in urban offensives have been borne by Soviet or Russian armies—a fact which says as much about Russian tactical prowess as it does about urban warfare.

Anyhow, thanks to the Economist for the shout-out. The three urban warfare studies that we did were done by both Richard C. Anderson and I. The first study (see: Microsoft Word – Urban Warfare Phase I _W2K_.doc (dupuyinstitute.org)) was a joint effort by the two of us. The sections on combat stress and logistical expenditures from pages 58 to 75 was Richard Anderson’s work based upon Richard Anderson’s idea.

The second study on the three battles of Kharkov was primarily my work. The third study, which covered Manila and Hue was mostly Richard Anderson’s study. The fourth study was cancelled by Hurricane Katrina: Urban Phase IV – Stalingrad | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org).

and then there is this following paragraph:

Nor does this sort of fighting seem to be uniquely traumatic (at least for those carrying guns). A report by the Rand Corporation, an American think-tank, concludes that rates of combat stress—what was once called shell shock—were no higher than usual in the battles for Brest in Brittany in 1944, Manila in the Philippines in 1945 or Hue in Vietnam in 1968 (though most civilians had, wisely, left before the fighting started). The report suggests that the intensity of urban combat paradoxically gave soldiers a greater sense of initiative, control and purpose than those fighting in open terrain. Anecdotally, Ukrainian forces facing distant and relentless shellfire in Donbas say that the inability to see the enemy is as demoralising and disempowering as anything else.

Now, this was really Richard Anderson’s work redone as a RAND study. In our first report, I put in a section called “Appendix VII: Recent MOUT Literature” (page 112-121). This was because I was appalled at what other people were claiming about urban warfare and their methodology for how they developed these ideas. While I usually try to refrain from addressing other people’s work, sometimes I can’t help myself. Anyhow, this resulted in RAND doing another study on urban warfare in 2005 called Steeling the Mind: Combat Stress Reactions and Their Implications for Urban Warfare (see: Steeling the Mind: Combat Stress Reactions and Their Implications for Urban Warfare | RAND) This effort included a section done by Dr. Todd C. Helmus (Chapter 4, pages 39-67) that was really the core of the RAND report. This effort repeated the research done by Richard Anderson. In fact, Dr. Helmus called us, and Richard ended up giving him a list of the exact NARA files we looked at. Our work is footnoted in Chapter Four the RAND study on pages 46 (along with the comment: “We would like to thank the authors of this report for their helpful comments”) and is listed in the bibliography on page 145. Otherwise, we are not mentioned, even though clearly the entire reason for their revised study was because of our study. 

Now, overall this is a good thing. We produced a report that contradicted previous RAND studies, they then conducted an independent effort to replicate our research and double-check our results. The end result is that they found our research was good and our finding were correct. This is kind of how part of the scientific process should work. 

Now, perhaps I am overly sensitive about this, but the RAND report that was published never stated up front that it was a revision of their previous work. In fact, it directly contradicted some of their previous work. Furthermore, they never stated that the basic idea for the research and the conclusions were The Dupuy Institute‘s or Richard Anderson’s. They kind of carefully avoided mentioning us other than one footnote in Chapter Four of the report. In my view, this kind of looks like they stole our ideas, claimed them as their own, and did not give us proper credit. Maybe I am truly overly sensitive about this, but this is not the first time that people at RAND have done that and this was not the last time it happened. So yea, still carrying a little bit of a grudge. Especially as before the end of 2005 I had to lay Richard Anderson off because of a lack of budget. In the end, it was our ideas, research and work, not RAND’s.

The Defensive Value of Urban Terrain According to the QJM

According to the Trevor Dupuy’s Quantified Judgment Model (QJM), as described in the book Numbers, Predictions and War (1985 edition), the value of defending is urban terrain is between 1.82 to 2.24. This is a multiplier to the combat value of the defender.

This consists of the value of a defense posture (Table 5, page 230)…

                         Force Strength

Attack:                        1.0

Defense (hasty)          1.3

Defense (prepared)    1.5

Defense (fortified)      1.6

Withdrawal                  1.15

Delay                            1.2

 

…Multiplied by the value of terrain (Table 1, page 228):

Terrain Characteristics

Rugged-Mixed          1.5

Rolling-Mixed           1.3

Urban                        1.4

 

Now, the entire terrain table is not included here, there are 14 terrain types in the table. I just included the three that were discussed in the previous post: The Defensive Value of Urban Terrain | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org). As can be seen, there is not a lot of difference between Rolling-mixed to Urban to Rugged-Mixed. Clearly there is an advantage to defending in urban terrain, but no more so than other good defensive non-urban terrain.

Keep in mind that with the QJM, it only requires superior combat value to move forward. So, if a force is doing a prepared defense (1.5) on urban terrain (1.4), which equals 2.1; then a force with more than 2.1 times more combat power will be able to advance against them. 

Now, this is a game construct, not a piece of analytical work. It really has no other validity than any other game construct. For example, in “classic” Avalon Hill (AH) games the urban terrain multiplies the defense by 2. But their Combat Result Tables (CRT) are still based upon a three-to-one rule, so attacking urban terrain with twice the force on the AH 1-to-1 combat results table was a truly risky proposition. The attack still has a 50% chance of losing. The AH CRT is here: Force Ratios and CRTs | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org). Whereas with the QJM, the attack is going to go forward and with roughly equal casualties.

Still, the QJM is a model that has been extensively validated three times, so there are some reasons to believe that some parts of it may be close to reality. But we have not validated the model to a large collection of urban engagements. This would be useful to do but it does take a little effort.

The Defensive Value of Urban Terrain

I probably should have blogged about this long ago, but you now, it is hard to stay on top of the blog and keep working on all various books that I keep signing contracts for.

Anyhow, we started getting hits on this blog from this article:  Urban Operations in Ukraine: Size, Ratios, and the Principles of War – Modern War Institute (usma.edu)

They specifically say:

“A military axiom is that an attacking force should outnumber defenders at the tactical level of war by a ratio of 3:1 to have a reasonable chance for success. Some analysts, including those responsible for US Army doctrine, believe a ratio as high as 6:1 is sometimes necessary to achieve success in urban operations because of the increased strength of the defense on urban terrain. Regardless of the actual requirements, force ratios are relevant for urban planners.”

This link to us is in reference to the 6:1 figure, and leads to blog post: U.S. Army Force Ratios | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)

Now, I do not know why they would use that link. I clearly am disputing the army doctrine figures with my charts from page 10 and 210 of War by Numbers:

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

 

Force Ratio…………Cases……Terrain…….Result

1.18 to 1.29 to 1        4             Nonurban   Defender penetrated

1.51 to 1.64               3             Nonurban   Defender penetrated

2.01 to 2.64               2             Nonurban   Defender penetrated

3.03 to 4.28               2             Nonurban   Defender penetrated

4.16 to 4.78               2             Urban         Defender penetrated

6.98 to 8.20               2             Nonurban   Defender penetrated

6.46 to 11.96 to 1      2             Urban         Defender penetrated

 

Now, my specific discussion on this is part of a three-page section on pages 209-211 called The Effect of Urban Terrain on Outcome. To quote from part of it:

The lack of any failed urban attacks is due to the favorable force ratios. The lowest force ratio of an urban attack is 1.72 to 1, and only four attacks are less than 2.00 to 1. Of the nine nonurban attacks between 1.71 and 2.00 to 1, only three failed. No attacks, urban or nonurban, executed with above 2.56 to 1 failed. There were a total of ten urban attacks made between 2.00 to 1 and 2.56 to 1 and nine nonurban attacks made in the same range. Two of the nonurban attacks in these cases failed.

This it appears that force ratios are a major factor in determining outcome. It does not appear that the difference between urban and nonurban terrain significantly influenced this result, nor can a difference be seen between rugged terrain and nonrugged terrain. Also the difference between rolling and mixed, rugged and mixed, or rugged and wooded terrain does not seem to have significantly influenced the outcomes. If a difference in the effect between rolling terrain and rugged terrain cannot be demonstrated, then the difference in effect between urban and nonurban terrain is also likely to be of the same order of effect, or less. However, the difference in terrain could affect combat power, and the difference caused by this effect could be 20 to 30 percent without it showing up in this analysis. Such small differences cannot be conclusively demonstrated given the small number of cases and the considerable variation found in this data.

Table 16.4. Summation of Force Ratios Compared to Outcomes, ETO

Force Ratio                                         Result

0.55 to 1.01 to 1.00                            Attack fails

1.15 to 2.56 to 1.00                            Attack may succeed

2.71 to 1.00 and higher                     Attack Advances

 

It is in the “attack may succeed” area where we may detect some differences caused by terrain effects. In the range of 1.15 to 2.56 to 1.00 we also found the statistics in table 16.5. For the urban versus nonurban cases, we found the statistics in table 16.6.

Table 16.5 Outcomes for attacks from 1.15 to 2.56 to 1.00

Cases            Attack Fails              Attack Advances             Defender Penetrated

55                   12 (21.82%)              35 (63.64%)                       8 (14.55%)

 

Table 16.6. Outcomes Based upon Terrain

                  Cases             Attack Fails         Attack Advances     Defender Penetrated

Urban        14                      0                         14                              0

Rolling        25                     6 (24.00%)         17                              2

Rugged       30                    6 (20.00%)          18                              6

 

Little can be concluded from this data, which appear to support a null hypothesis. That is, the terrain (be it urban vs. nonurban or rolling vs. rugged) has no significantly measurable included on the outcome of the battle.

Now, this is all kind of carefully worded to make sure I do not step beyond my data. Let me try to simplify this in three simple points:

  1. Urban terrain does not favor the defender more so than other terrain (rolling or rugged). In fact, it appears less. 
  2. Needless to say, the statement in the Modern War Institute article that “…ratio of 3:1 to have a reasonable chance of success” has little meaningful value. The attacker can be seen succeeding almost 80% of the time at ratios between 1.15 to 2.56 to 1. They reference the blog post that establishes this in their article.
  3. The statement that “ratio as high as 6:1 is sometimes necessary to achieve success in urban operations because of the increased strength of the defense on urban terrain” is simply out there. We did three studies on urban warfare, using more cases than anyone else has done. While we did not establish what was the defensive value of urban terrain, it clearly was not massive. 

Old posts reactivated

It does appear that number of our older posts are being tapped. We do have over 1,300 posts on this blog now going back to December 2015. Some of these older posts are getting a lot of attention recently. This includes this perennial favorite, that seems to have been recently quoted in a couple of news articles: 

The Russian Artillery Strike That Spooked The U.S. Army | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)

This one is also getting a lot of attention: 

Wounded-To-Killed Ratios | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)

This blog post was written from my draft book War by Numbers. It is more fully covered in Chapter 15 of that book. What is surprising is that no one has done any work on this subject since then. I thought I had a contract in late 2020 to further expand and expound on the subject, but apparently some of the “reviewers” of the proposed effort decided that were other things more important to examine. Therefore, my Chapter on casualties appear to be the “cutting edge” of this discussion, and as far as I know, will be the most extended discussion of the subject for some years to come. I would like to do more on this, but don’t think I will without outside funding.

The post below always regularly gets hits. I think that is because a number of people first found our blog when we did this post, and therefore, they still use this blog post to enter our blog. Still, it is relevant. 

Population over Time (US vs USSR) | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)

This old post is also relevant right now:

What would a reconstituted Soviet Union/Russian Empire look like? | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)

And then there are a number of old posts related to combat that seem to be getting hits. This includes:

U.S. Tank Losses and Crew Casualties in World War II | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)

Measuring The Effects Of Combat In Cities, Phase I | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)

Active Defense, Forward Defense, and A2/AD in Eastern Europe | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)

I do think our three Urban Warfare studies were overlooked by the urban warfare community, in part, because it really did not say what they wanted it to say. Below is another of our blog posts on the subject, as we have two chapters on the subject in my book War by Numbers:

Urban Combat in War by Numbers | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)

I gather CAA (Center for Army Analysis) was just fine with our reports, and had issued us a follow-on contract for fourth study, that never came to fruition:

Urban Phase IV – Stalingrad | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)

At this point, even though I think this is worth doing, and we have already independently collected a lot of the Russian unit records for the fighting, it is probably not ever going to be done without outside funding. I have got other solo projects that are of higher priority to me (more on them later).

 

The Russo-Ukrainian War of 2022 – Day 4 (ground actions)

The focus here remains on the ground actions. There is not much new here to report. What I am interested in is what ground that Russia is going to take and what ground are they going to hold. 

We are looking six major areas of operations right now.

1. Kiev

2. Odessa

3. Kharkov

4. The Donetsk and Lugansk provinces
5. Mariupol
6. Crimean border/Kherson

Here is what I have heard/seen from open sources:

1. Kiev (pop: 2,962,180): The Russian Army is in the northern outskirts of Kiev (the Obolon district). Have even seen an odd video of fighting there (? Russian War Ukraine – Ukrainian Armored Vehicle Totally Ignores Direct Machine Gun Fire – YouTube).  

They have also occupied the defunct nuclear power plant at Chernobyl and the large Antonov/Hostomel airport north of Kiev. They appear to be at the northern and eastern outskirts of the city, maybe four miles from the center of the city. The center of the city appears peaceful.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky remains defiantly in Kiev. They are intending to hold and fight for the city. Very different than what we saw in Afghanistan. The previous president, Petro Poroshenko, a billionaire, is also in Kiev brandishing a Kalashnikov. There is an example of national unity. The city is open to the west and the south. Reporters moving through those areas are reporting that Ukrainian militia is organizing and training.

It does not appear that Russia is aggressively, if at all, pushing into the city. 

See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14gVDF2b1vA

Afternoon (EST) update: 

Anyone care to make as estimate the size of this force? (Sky News: Massive Russian Convoy Seen Outside Kyiv): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gDmMVzjIVw

Interesting report from ITV Newshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32yVBH6n4Mo

2. Odessa (pop: 1,015,826): There were reports of a landing there on the first day. I still have no idea of the size or location of the landing. Was this a raid or a permanent landing? Are there Russian forces there now? I have not seen any reports and the camera shots from Odessa show peace and quiet for the third day in a row.

3. Kharkov (pop: 1,433,886): How serious are Russian ground operations? Are they trying to surround and isolate Kharkov? It appears the Ukraine army in this area are putting up a fight. It does appear that most of the videos of captured Russians and destroyed Russian vehicles are coming from there. For example (from today): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDxjBmxu1oo and: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0X_Pl0i6cso

Video of a car driving into a mortar bombardment: Car Barely Dodges Mortar Attack In Kharkiv – YouTube

No clear news from Kharkov from the last three days. The U.S. officials were saying yesterday that the heaviest fighting is “in and around Kharkiv.” Is the Russian army slowly encircling the city? Some maps seem to indicate that, but I have no clear evidence of such.

More Kharkov videos: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-E_rrqO3Ug

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VY_7sUvrNmY

Afternoon (EST) update:

It appears that Kharkov remains under Ukrainian control (does the scene starting at 0:30 look like a Call of Duty game?): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZsuteJN6AM

4. The Donetsk and Lugansk provinces: Of course, Russia has recognized these “people’s republics.” They only control half of their provinces. The rest of the provinces are under control of Ukraine and defended by the Ukrainian army. I gather their desire is to expand their control and take the rest of both provinces, but these are well defended. Not sure how serious will be their attempts here. So far, we have not heard much from this area.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaEyKO2xNYY

5. Mariupol (pop: 431,859): This city of part of the Donetsk Oblast (province/county) and is on the route to Crimea. Are Russian going to try to drive through there to create a land connection to Crimea? Two days ago there were reports of an amphibious landing of several thousand troops in or near Mariupol. They are reporting heavy fighting near Mariupol, but not in it.

Afternoon (EST) update: Vidoes show Russians are occupying Berdyansk (see @causcasuswar on twitter). Other reports are that 2,000 marines are advancing on Mariupol (U.S. official). The amphibious operations and Berdyansk are to the SW of Mariupol. It is debatable if this force is sufficient to take Mariupol. 

6. Crimea & Kherson (pop: 283,649): Two or three days ago Russian troops entered Kherson and raised the Russian flag over the administrative building in the middle of the city. By the end of Day 2, Ukraine had control of Kherson and some of the area between Crimea and Kherson. They appear to have retained control of Kherson and the bridge they have been fighting over. There were also reports yesterday of fighting in Mykolaiv (pop. 476,101), the city on the Southern Bug River just west of Kherson.

This is the second or third successful counterattack we have seen from the Ukranian army. This is tough to do when your opponent has air superiority. It does seem that Russia put out a couple of unsupported airmobile columns to places like Kherson and Antonov airport. This may work if your opponent is folding but does not seem to work as well against an opponent that is determined to fight and to counterattack.

Afternoon (EST) update: Lots of action around Melitipol (pop. 150,768). Not sure of current status:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIr0TJNKWLk

Soviet flag: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmYAEsZR_fM

Russian flag: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WDgE8QwqfY

 

I will update this post during the day as I find more information. 

 

The Home Front: There were certainly a lot of anti-war demonstrations in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Ekaterinburg, and other Russian cities the first night of the war. Do not know now how much they are continuing, but I do see a recent video of a long line of protesters marching in Novosibirsk. According to a Russian human rights media group OVD-Info the number of detained protesters is 2,692. At least 1,370 were detained in Moscow.

Casualties: The UN is reporting at least 64 civilians dead in the war. Ukraine reported two days ago 137 Ukrainians killed (mostly service members). The Ukraine health ministry is now reporting that 198 Ukrainians, including three children, have been killed. Russian casualties are guestimated, but it clearly includes several dozen killed and at least 6 captured that I have seen from videos. It is clear that at least 300 people have died in this conflict.

According to photos, at least 15 Russians have been captured, as have 40 Ukrainians (see @caucasuswar). 

There are people doing a better job of this on Twitter, including @RALee85 and @Oryxspioenkop and @caucasuswar, none of whom are known to me.

 

P.S. Ukrainian border guards may have survived reported last stand on Snake Island

P.P.S. https://www.youtube.com/shorts/qQDNY462scM. Berdyansk is a coastal city on the Sea of Azov between Mariupol and Crimea. 

P.P.P.S. Drone footnote (afternoon update): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdTGT1dLSKA

The Russo-Ukrainian War of 2022 – Day 2 (ground actions)

I changed the title of my previous post to “Day 1.” Again, my focus here is on the ground actions. What I am interested in is what ground are they going to take and what ground are they going to hold. Right now, this attack looks pretty unrestrained, but who knows what are Putin actual objectives or at what point he will decide he has done enough. I gather the degree of resistance by the Ukrainian Army may influence these decisions.

We are looking six major areas of operations right now.

1. Kiev

2. Odessa

3. Kharkov

4. The Donetsk and Lugansk provinces.
5. Mariupol.
6. Crimean border

Here is what I have heard/seen from open sources:

1. Kiev (pop: 2,962,180): The Russian Army is reported to have reached the northern outskirts of Kiev (the Obolon district). They have also occupied the defunct nuclear power plant at Chernobyl (I wouldn’t want to be those troops). Vladimir Zelensky vowed last night to stay in Kiev. So, it does look like they intend to hold and fight for the city (see picture above). Very different than what we saw in Afghanistan. 

The Antonov/Hostomel airport has become a real right. Apparently, Russia did an airmobile operation to put troops within 15 miles of the capitol. This is the group of Matthew Chance ran across, and they were so nice as to let him film them. Ukraine counterattacked against what would have been an isolated “forward detachment” (the head of our Kursk research team, Col. Sverdlov, wrote the influential book “Forward Detachments in Battle”). They have retaken it according to some accounts. By the end of today, I gather it was back under Russian control.

There are lots of twitter feeds on this fight. Recommend you check @RALee85 and @TrentTelenko.

This is a decent news report from AP: https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/sorting-fact-disinformation-russian-attack-ukraine-83106752

2. Odessa (pop: 1,015,826): There were reports of a landing there yesterday. I still have no idea of the size or location of the landing. I see not yet seen any clear reports on the subject for today. Was this a raid or a permanent landing?

3. Kharkov (pop: 1,433,886): How serious are Russian ground operations? Are they trying to surround and isolate Kharkov? It appears the Ukraine army in this area are putting up a fight. It does appear that most of the videos of captured Russians and destroyed Russian vehicles are coming from there.

4. The Donetsk and Lugansk provinces: Of course, Russia has recognized these “people’s republics.” They only control half of their provinces. The rest of the provinces under control of Ukraine and defended by the Ukrainian army. I gather their desire is to expand their control and take the rest of both provinces, but these are well defended. Not sure how serious will be their attempts here. So far, we have not heard much from this area.

5. Mariupol (pop: 431,859): This city of part of the Donetsk Oblast (province/county) and is on the route to Crimea. Are Russian going to try to drive through there to create a land connection to Crimea? Maybe, but it is well defended. Not sure this will be a high priority. The mayor is reporting fighting in the area, but I gather none at or near Mariupol.

Afternoon update: There are reports of an amphibious landing of several thousand troops in or near Mariupol.

6. Crimea & Kherson (pop: 283,649): It appears that they are fairly serious about their operations in the area north of Crimea. It looks like they entered Kherson yesterday and raised the Russian flag over the administrative building in the middle of the city. So it does appear that Russia controls the area from the Crimea to Kherson. Such an operation complicates the defense of Mariupol.

Afternoon Update: Twitter accounts report over 100 Ukranian vehicles in convoys in this area were destroyed, but that Ukraine has re-occupied the area between Crimea and Kherson. I assume this is because Russia does not have manpower deployed to hold all the areas they have moved through.

Later Update: It looks like Kherson is back under control of Ukraine. This video is worth watching in its entirety: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSCYjnwJtfk

In general, the news is lagging, as it is in the middle of the afternoon there. Will update this post as I find more information. 

The Home Front: There were a number of decent sized protests against the war in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Ekaterinburg that I saw videos off. According to reports, Russia arrested more than 1,700 protesters. There are videos on-line of protesters and protesters being arrested.

Casualties:

Russian Losses include:

4 soldiers captured in three separate incidences (video evidence)

1 Su-25 (attack jet) crashed (Russian claim)

1 An-26 (transport plane) crashed, crew killed (Russan claim)

1 Ka-52 (assault helicopter) destroyed (video evidence) 

1 T-80 (tank) destroyed (video evidence)

1 BMP destroyed (video evidence)

450+ casualties (UK estimate) – note probably 25% or less of casualties are killed, so maybe less than 113 killed.

 

Ukrainian Losses include:

137 soldiers killed, including 10 officers (Zelensky)

14 Soldiers surrendered (Russian claim)

25 Civilians killed (U.N. High Commisiooner)

Updates: Ukrainian Su-27 shot down over Kiev (video evidence)

 

Also, there is one video on youtube called “fight between Russian Sukhoi Su35 v Ukrainian Mig29 over Kyiv.” If true, it shows that at least some of Ukrainian air force has survived the initial attack. AhirTech has posted many other interesting videos.

There are people doing a better job of this on Twitter, including @RALee85 and @Oryxspioenkop, neither who are known to me. I have not taken the time to exhaustively search their material. I am still working on my first cup of coffee this morning. Maybe later.

 

The Russo-Ukrainian War of 2022 – day 1 (ground actions)

Well, I did not think that Russia would actually take a step this far, but they did. I may discuss all the implications of that later. Right now my focus is on what ground actions they are taking. Is this a limited and defined operation or are they looking for large scale occupation of Ukrainian territory? As I see it there are six major areas of operations right now.

1. Kiev

2. Odessa

3. Kharkov

4. The Donetsk and Lugansk provinces.
5. Mariupol.
6. Crimean border

 

Here Is what I have heard/seen from open sources:

1. Kiev (pop: 2,962,180) There is a column driving down the road from Belarus. Don’t know the size or whether it is Russian or mixed Russian-Belarussian. Needless to say, it is a big step from crossing a border to driving all the way down to the capital city. Taking Kiev is even a bigger challenge. I assume that Ukraine has some forces covering that route. I am guessing any column will get stopped or delayed. Not sure if this is anything more than a feint. I kind of doubt that they are looking at taking Kiev (especially as I gather they only have around 30,000 troops in Belarus).

2. Odessa (pop: 1,015,826) : I have heard reports that there is a landing there. Have no idea of the size or location of the landing., Again, I wonder if this is anything more than a distraction. Are they really looking at occupying Odessa? Cannot rule out that this is a special operations head-hunting expedition to try to capture/kill some of the people involved in the violence in Odessa in 2013, something that Putin has talked about.  

3. Kharkov (pop: 1,433,886): This may be the real objective/prize of this war. It is the second largest city in Ukraine and the largest Russian speaking city in Ukraine. It is part of the former Soviet rust-belt cities (which include Lugansk and Donetsk). It has had a declining population since 1989, although I gather this has now stabilized. I gather it has developed a big IT business though, and almost all of its business is with overseas customers. A Russian occupation would probably destroy a lot of that business. 

Geographically, it is a city in the middle of a large open plain. It changed hands three times in 1943. It was larger (population wise) than Stalingrad, which is why we examined the operations there for our urban warfare studies. I have never been there, but drove by it on the way to Belgorod. I do see lots of pictures of Russian forces near Belgorod and at the border between Belgorod and Kharkov. I have been to Belgorod a couple of times, which is part of the Kursk battlefield. 

So my question is, is Russia going to conduct serious ground operations for the sake of surrounding and isolating Kharkov?

4. The Donetsk and Lugansk provinces: Of course, Russia has recognized these “people’s republics.” They only control half of their provinces. The rest of the provinces under control of Ukraine and defended by the Ukrainian army. I gather their desire is to expand their control and take the rest of both provinces, but these are well defended. Not sure how serious will be their attempts here.

5. Mariupol (pop: 431,859): This city of part of the Donetsk Oblast (province/county) and is on the route to Crimea. Are Russian going to try to drive through there to create a land connection to Crimea? Maybe, but it is well defended. Not sure this will be a high priority. In the next reports I saw last night, while there was lots of stuff exploding around Kiev and Kharkov, there was not much happening around Mariupol.

6. Crimea: One of the problems with Crimea is that they get their water from Ukraine. Is Russia going to try to expand their control of the area north of Crimea so as to secure water resources? Maybe. Such an operation also complicates the defense of Mariupol. I have heard that they have crossed the borders there, but I do wonder how serious of an effort they will make.

It is hard to say what Russian final objectives are, but obviously they are going to bomb all major military facilities and airfields. As cities are where many reporters are located this is what is first reported on. But the question for me, it what do they intended to occupy? Are they going to conquer all of Ukraine (I doubt it, it is a very big piece to swallow)? Are they going to just occupy all of Lugansk and Donetsk oblasts? Maybe, but this is a hard fight over terrain of limited economic value? All they going to isolate and then try to take Kharkov? This I think is a distinct possibility and I am looking for any reports of ground operations there with great interest.

While I assume the Ukrainian Army has some defensive capabilities, their biggest problem is that Russia has complete air superiority. 

 

P.S.: Captured around Kharkov: First Prisoners of War as Ukraine Captures Russian Soldiers

P.P.S.: Useful map: Map shows locations of explosions and potential attacks in Ukraine

P.P.P.S: More fighting around Kharkov. This one includes a video of a destroyed Russian tank: Russian Tank Convoy Blown Up in Videos as Ukraine Fights Back Invasion

P.P.P.P.S: Matthew Chance from CNN is at Antonov airbase 15 miles north of Kiev. It looks like Russian airborne and airmobile troops have already taken it. See: Cnn reporter: This shows just how close Russian forces are to Ukraine capital

P.P.P.P.P.S. It does appear that Russia is making a play for Kherson: 

https://en.interfax.com.ua/news/general/801461.html

https://www.pravda.com.ua/eng/news/2022/02/24/7325476/

 

Analyzing the Effects of Urban Combat on Daily Casualty Rates

Back in 2001 we did our first report on urban warfare. It was followed by three two others. It was the report that forced RAND to completely reverse revise their position on urban war. Report is here: http://www.dupuyinstitute.org/pdf/urbanwar.pdf

Our three urban warfare reports are the basis for two chapters in my book War by Numbers. They are Chapter 16: Urban Legends and Chapter 17: The Use of Case Studies. I did brief it in several forums inside of DOD back in the early 2000s. I did consider at one point doing a separate book on urban warfare, but the interest in the subject appeared to be waning and we switched our work to examining insurgencies. I did brief part of Chapter 16 in my presentation at NYMAS (but the podcast has not been posted yet).

Urban warfare now seems to be a major topic once again. There are a number of sites and links that reference many reports, articles and studies on the subject. What is curious is that our original reports nor is my book listed on most of these sites. Our original urban warfare report was significant enough to help answer the Center for Army Analysis (CAA) questions about modeling urban fighting in their simulations and to cause RAND to issue out a revised urban warfare report based upon our report. Yet, it is not significant enough to be listed on these various reference sites. Is it because it does not provide the answer that some people want to see?

We did put the data we used for this analysis in our appendices to these reports. This resulted in one student at the Naval Postgraduate School putting out a report called “Analyzing the Effects of Urban Combat on Daily Casualty Rates.” Basically, he reworked our analysis using the data in the appendices. So he looked at 253 battles, of which 96 occurred in urban areas. The link to that report is here: https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a424898.pdf

It was work done by a graduate student named Hakan Yazilitas (First Lieutenant, Turkish Army). It was for his master of science in operations research. According to his abstract:

Hypothesis tests are used to find if the DCR [Daily Casualty Rate] is different in urban operations. A linear regression model is constructed to predict outcomes of similar engagements and to see the effect of each variable. It is conluded that the attacker’s daily casualty rate is, on average, lower in urban operations. Terrain and force ratio are the most effective drivers of the daily casualty rate.

I am thanked in the acknowledgments, although I don’t recall what I did to help.

A few things of note:

  1. The chart on page xvii is cool (track urban vs non-urban losses).
  2. The graph on page 7 is cool (shows daily casualty rates from attacking and defenders from 1600 to present).