Category World War II

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.

Aces at Kursk should be out in early July

According to Pen & Sword, the printers should be delivering Aces at Kursk next Friday (the 5th of July) to their warehouse, and so the stock should be booked in the week commencing 8th July, all being well.

Right now, Amazon UK is showing its release date as 30 Jan. 2024.  Amazon US is showing the release date as 25 July 2024. Waiting for this to be updated but I gather the UK release date is on or shortly after 8 July 2024. U.S. release date will be later (don’t know how much later). 

Hunting Falcon is also in process and will be released this summer.

Sorry for the delays, these are things not under my control.

Also see:

Aces at Kursk – Chapter Listing – The Dupuy Institute

Aces at Kursk – Summation – The Dupuy Institute

 

 

The 3-to-1 rule and the War in Ukraine

There is a 3-to-1 rule that some people quote from somewhere. We have discussed this before: Trevor Dupuy and the 3-1 Rule | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org) and The 3-to-1 Rule in Histories | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org) and The 3-to-1 Rule in Recent History Books | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org).

Trevor Dupuy’s argument was always that it took a combat power advantage to advance (attack successfully). This combat power calculations considers weapons, terrain, posture, air support, human factors, etc. Because of the current artillery shell shortages for the Ukrainian Army, logistics may also be a factor.

This combat power advantage often happens at 1.5-to-1 or 2-to-1. Usually is happens by around 2-to-1 (my conclusions – see War by Numbers). For example, here is my chart of force ratios for division-level combat in the European Theater of Operation (ETO) in 1944 from page 10 of War by Numbers:

FORCE RATIO…………………..RESULT……………..PERCENTAGE OF 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….ATTACK ADVANCES……………………..0…………………………………..42

 

Notice that the attacker succeeds at force ratios between 1.15-to-1 to 1.88-to-1 in 79% of the 48 cases of division-level combat. It gets better from there. The book also has force ratios from other theaters and campaigns. Some of this has been discussed here before: More Combat Results Tables from War by Numbers | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org) and Force Ratios at Kharkov and Kursk, 1943 | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org) and Force Ratios in the Arab-Israeli Wars (1956-1973) | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org).

A rigidly defined 3-to-1 rule tends to create an officer corps of McLellan’s. This rule-of-thumb is doing more damage than good as constructed.

What got my attention is that some people are trying to apply some 3-to-1 rule in Ukraine, and then come to the conclusion that one or the other side cannot advance because they don’t have a 3-to-1 force ratio. Yet, people have been advancing. In fall of 2022 Ukraine re-took Kherson and surrounding areas (see: 2022 Kherson counteroffensive – Wikipedia) and achieved a breakthrough at Balakliya that took back a significant portion of Donetsk province (see: Battle of Balakliia – Wikipedia) and conducted a successful offensive around Kharkiv (see: 2022 Kharkiv counteroffensive – Wikipedia). In 2023 Russia did advance on Bakhmut and took it (see: Battle of Bakhmut – Wikipedia) and in 2023/2024 Russia did advance on Avdiivka and took it (see: Battle of Avdiivka (2023–2024) – Wikipedia). I think in three for those five cases the attacker did not have anything approaching a 3-to-1 advantage. Of course, I have no reliable manpower statistics for either side in any of these five battles, so this is sort of a guess, as is most of the analysis and expert opinions on this war. 

I do not know how many troops Ukraine currently has. I am guessing at least 300,000 deployed. Some people throw out figures in the 600-700,000 range. I have no idea if that are total mobilized estimates or total deployed estimates. The same with Russia, where figures of 600-700,000 are also thrown out, but not sure that is what is actually deployed in Ukraine. I am guessing some number closer to 300,000. Don’t really know, and don’t know who does for certain (see the “Force Involved’ section of this post: The Russo-Ukrainian War – Day 699 | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)).

Anyhow, I gather the two sides are somewhere near parity in force size. They can certainly concentrate forces to get a local advantage. With current modern intelligence gathering capabilities, concentrating forces is often seen while it is happening and opposing side can respond promptly. So not sure where anyone can get their 3-to-1 advantage.

I did do a test recently, comparing the force ratios in a database over 700 division-level combat engagements to the force-ratios in over 100 Army-level operations. The question was whether force ratios and the success from those force ratios was different at division-level vice army-level. My tentative conclusions were that force ratios for army level campaigns had the “Same patterns as for division-level combat.”

Now, I have not written this effort up. I did brief it last year at the Second HAAC and did brief it in Norway. I will be briefing it again on Thursday, July 11 at HADSS in York (see:  Historical Analysis for Defence and Security Symposiums (HADSS), 8 – 11 July in York, England | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)) and for one last time at the Third HAAC (see: Revised Schedule for the Third Historical Analysis Annual Conference (HAAC), 8-10 October 2024 | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)). After that, I may write it up, either as a blog post or as a chapter in a book called More War By Numbers, which will probably be delayed until 2026 (see: Current book release schedule | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org), which I probably need to update).

Anyhow, the point is, anyone doing analysis for the situation in Ukraine based upon some 3-to-1 rule probably needs to reconsider their analysis.

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 (youtube.com)

Day 2, 3rd AD and Kauffman (youtube.com)

Day 2, Chateau Froid Cour and December 1944 Museum (youtube.com)

Day 2, Dom Bütgenbach (youtube.com)

Day 3, Peiper’s Route, Scheid to Stavelot (youtube.com)

Current book release schedule

I have four books in process or about to be released. They are:

The Battle for Kyiv:
– UK release date: 28 November
– U.S. release date: 18 January 2024

Aces at Kursk:
– UK release date: 30 January 2024
– U.S. release date: posted as 18 January 2024, but suspect release date will be in March 2024.

Hunting Falcon:
– UK release date: 28 February 2024
– U.S. release date: posted as 29 February 2024, but suspect released date will be in April 2024.

The Siege of Mariupol:
– UK release date: sometime in 2024
– U.S. release date: sometime in 2024

Books under consideration for 2024/2025:
The Battle for the Donbas
The Battle of Tolstoye Woods (from the Battle of Kursk)
More War by Numbers

Air Combat Analysis on the Eastern Front in 1944-45 – Daniel Horvath

We did separate the conference in the afternoon and had two presentations given in another conference room. The first one was on Midway and the Aleutians. We did not record that. The second one was a virtual presentation, so we recorded that. It is here: (10) Air Combat Analysis on the Eastern Front in 1944 45: Horvath – YouTube

The link to the 21 slides for that presentation are here: Presentations from HAAC – Air Combat Analysis on the Eastern Front in 1944-45 | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)

The link to the 64 slides for the previous unrecorded presentation is here: Presentations from HAAC – Midway and the Aleutians | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)

Shebekino

Shebekino is a town in Belgorod province 19 miles (30 km) southeast of Belgorod. It population in the 2021 census was 39,680, down from 44,552 in 1989.

It was founded in 1713 and on 1 June 2023 came under fire from Ukrainian territory. The Ukrainian-allied Freedom of Russia Legion is conducting operations in this area, and Russia does not seem to be able to easily suppress them. There may be a 100 or so anti-Putin Russians operating there.

Shebekino is on the Nezhegol River just south of Maslova Pristan. During the Battle of Kursk, which started 4 July 1943, the town was at the southern end of the Seventh Guards Army area of deployment, and they were faced by the German 42nd Army Corps. The 42nd Army Corps conducted feint attacks on the first couple of days of the offensive, and no other significant actions occurred there during July or August 1943.

On the other hand, just to the Northwest, Maslova Pristan was at the center of a bloody German attack of 5 July 1943, where the 320th Infantry Division tried to cross the Donets River in the face of considerable Russian opposition. Even though this produced the bloodiest day of action in July by any German division during the offensive in south, these operations are often left entirely out of some books on the Battle of Kursk.

Anyhow, in my big book on Kursk, I do reference Shebekino some 13 times. The references are on pages 414 (twice), 415 (3 times), 417 (2 times), 494 (3), 495, 548, and 657.

I have never been to Shebekino, but I was at Maslov Pristan in the 1990s. I left one picture in my book of the railroad embankment at Maslova Pristan (page 224 and above) and the road from Maslova Pristan (page 225). 

Some reports:

Attacks on Shebekino triggers criticism of Russian authorities – ISW report (yahoo.com)

Freedom of Russia Legion Destroys Russian Tanks Near Shebekino Checkpoint In Belgorod Region | Ukrainian news (ukranews.com)

 

Soviet Propaganda Leaflet, July 1943

Daniel Horvath, the author, has passed to me a copy of a Soviet propaganda leaflet from July 1943. He said it came from a crashed plane in Orel province.


It is the same thing on both sides of the two-sided printed leaflet. Translation: Russian Propaganda Leaflet (2)

Translation:

A New
Adventure by Hitler

German soldiers!

On the morning of July 5, Hitler again threw you into a senseless offensive. In two days, this adventure in the Kursk-Belgorod-Orel region cost the German troops 314 aircraft, 1019 tanks and several tens of thousands of soldiers, and

brought no success to the Germans.

Soldiers! With the example of your dead comrades you should be convinced:

The offensive means inevitable death!

Yesterday your comrades fell, tomorrow will be your turn for a reckoning. In the two years of war in the East, Hitler has already destroyed 6,400,000 soldiers and officers in this way.

Soldiers! Think of your families! Refuse to attack!

Go into Russian captivity!

The offensive means death!

Captivity is your salvation!

This leaflet is valid as a pass for German soldiers and officers who surrender to the Red Army.

,<The same in Russian>