Response To “CEV Calculations in Italy, 1943”

German infantry defending against the allied landing at Anzio pass a damaged “Elefant” tank destroyer, March 1944. [Wikimedia/Bundesarchiv]

[The article below is reprinted from August 1997 edition of The International TNDM Newsletter. It was written in response to an article by Mr. Zetterling originally published in the June 1997 edition of The International TNDM Newsletter]

Response to Niklas Zetterling’s Article
by Christopher A. Lawrence

Mr. Zetterling is currently a professor at the Swedish War College and previously worked at the Swedish National Defense Research Establishment. As I have been having an ongoing dialogue with Prof. Zetterling on the Battle of Kursk, I have had the opportunity to witness his approach to researching historical data and the depth of research. I would recommend that all of our readers take a look at his recent article in the Journal of Slavic Military Studies entitled “Loss Rates on the Eastern Front during World War II.” Mr. Zetterling does his German research directly from the Captured German Military Records by purchasing the rolls of microfilm from the US National Archives. He is using the same German data sources that we are. Let me attempt to address his comments section by section:

The Database on Italy 1943-44:

Unfortunately, the Italian combat data was one of the early HERO research projects, with the results first published in 1971. I do not know who worked on it nor the specifics of how it was done. There are references to the Captured German Records, but significantly, they only reference division files for these battles. While I have not had the time to review Prof. Zetterling‘s review of the original research. I do know that some of our researchers have complained about parts of the Italian data. From what I’ve seen, it looks like the original HERO researchers didn’t look into the Corps and Army files, and assumed what the attached Corps artillery strengths were. Sloppy research is embarrassing, although it does occur, especially when working under severe financial constraints (for example, our Battalion-level Operations Database). If the research is sloppy or hurried, or done from secondary sources, then hopefully the errors are random, and will effectively counterbalance each other, and not change the results of the analysis. If the errors are all in one direction, then this will produce a biased result.

I have no basis to believe that Prof. Zetterling’s criticism is wrong, and do have many reasons to believe that it is correct. Until l can take the time to go through the Corps and Army files, I intend to operate under the assumption that Prof. Zetterling’s corrections are good. At some point I will need to go back through the Italian Campaign data and correct it and update the Land Warfare Database. I did compare Prof. Zetterling‘s list of battles with what was declared to be the forces involved in the battle (according to the Combat Data Subscription Service) and they show the following attached artillery:

It is clear that the battles were based on the assumption that here was Corps-level German artillery. A strength comparison between the two sides is displayed in the chart on the next page.

The Result Formula:

CEV is calculated from three factors. Therefore a consistent 20% error in casualties will result in something less than a 20% error in CEV. The mission effectiveness factor is indeed very “fuzzy,” and these is simply no systematic method or guidance in its application. Sometimes, it is not based upon the assigned mission of the unit, but its perceived mission based upon the analyst’s interpretation. But, while l have the same problems with the mission accomplishment scores as Mr. Zetterling, I do not have a good replacement. Considering the nature of warfare, I would hate to create CEVs without it. Of course, Trevor Dupuy was experimenting with creating CEVs just from casualty effectiveness, and by averaging his two CEV scores (CEVt and CEVI) he heavily weighted the CEV calculation for the TNDM towards measuring primarily casualty effectiveness (see the article in issue 5 of the Newsletter, “Numerical Adjustment of CEV Results: Averages and Means“). At this point, I would like to produce a new, single formula for CEV to replace the current two and its averaging methodology. I am open to suggestions for this.

Supply Situation:

The different ammunition usage rate of the German and US Armies is one of the reasons why adding a logistics module is high on my list of model corrections. This was discussed in Issue 2 of the Newsletter, “Developing a Logistics Model for the TNDM.” As Mr. Zetterling points out, “It is unlikely that an increase in artillery ammunition expenditure will result in a proportional increase in combat power. Rather it is more likely that there is some kind of diminished return with increased expenditure.” This parallels what l expressed in point 12 of that article: “It is suspected that this increase [in OLIs] will not be linear.”

The CEV does include “logistics.” So in effect, if one had a good logistics module, the difference in logistics would be accounted for, and the Germans (after logistics is taken into account) may indeed have a higher CEV.

General Problems with Non-Divisional Units Tooth-to-Tail Ratio

Point taken. The engagements used to test the TNDM have been gathered over a period of over 25 years, by different researchers and controlled by different management. What is counted when and where does change from one group of engagements to the next. While l do think this has not had a significant result on the model outcomes, it is “sloppy” and needs to be addressed.

The Effects of Defensive Posture

This is a very good point. If the budget was available, my first step in “redesigning” the TNDM would be to try to measure the effects of terrain on combat through the use of a large LWDB-type database and regression analysis. I have always felt that with enough engagements, one could produce reliable values for these figures based upon something other than judgement. Prof. Zetterling’s proposed methodology is also a good approach, easier to do, and more likely to get a conclusive result. I intend to add this to my list of model improvements.


There is one other problem with the Italian data that Prof. Zetterling did not address. This was that the Germans and the Allies had different reporting systems for casualties. Quite simply, the Germans did not report as casualties those people who were lightly wounded and treated and returned to duty from the divisional aid station. The United States and England did. This shows up when one compares the wounded to killed ratios of the various armies, with the Germans usually having in the range of 3 to 4 wounded for every one killed, while the allies tend to have 4 to 5 wounded for every one killed. Basically, when comparing the two reports, the Germans “undercount” their casualties by around 17 to 20%. Therefore, one probably needs to use a multiplier of 20 to 25% to match the two casualty systems. This was not taken into account in any the work HERO did.

Because Trevor Dupuy used three factors for measuring his CEV, this error certainly resulted in a slightly higher CEV for the Germans than should have been the case, but not a 20% increase. As Prof. Zetterling points out, the correction of the count of artillery pieces should result in a higher CEV than Col. Dupuy calculated. Finally, if Col. Dupuy overrated the value of defensive terrain, then this may result in the German CEV being slightly lower.

As you may have noted in my list of improvements (Issue 2, “Planned Improvements to the TNDM”), I did list “revalidating” to the QJM Database. [NOTE: a summary of the QJM/TNDM validation efforts can be found here.] As part of that revalidation process, we would need to review the data used in the validation data base first, account for the casualty differences in the reporting systems, and determine if the model indeed overrates the effect of terrain on defense.

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About Christopher A. Lawrence

Christopher A. Lawrence is a professional historian and military analyst. He is the Executive Director and President of The Dupuy Institute, an organization dedicated to scholarly research and objective analysis of historical data related to armed conflict and the resolution of armed conflict. The Dupuy Institute provides independent, historically-based analyses of lessons learned from modern military experience. ... Mr. Lawrence was the program manager for the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base, the Kursk Data Base, the Modern Insurgency Spread Sheets and for a number of other smaller combat data bases. He has participated in casualty estimation studies (including estimates for Bosnia and Iraq) and studies of air campaign modeling, enemy prisoner of war capture rates, medium weight armor, urban warfare, situational awareness, counterinsurgency and other subjects for the U.S. Army, the Defense Department, the Joint Staff and the U.S. Air Force. He has also directed a number of studies related to the military impact of banning antipersonnel mines for the Joint Staff, Los Alamos National Laboratories and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation. ... His published works include papers and monographs for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation, in addition to over 40 articles written for limited-distribution newsletters and over 60 analytical reports prepared for the Defense Department. He is the author of Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka (Aberdeen Books, Sheridan, CO., 2015), America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam (Casemate Publishers, Philadelphia & Oxford, 2015), War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat (Potomac Books, Lincoln, NE., 2017) , The Battle of Prokhorovka (Stackpole Books, Guilford, CT., 2019), The Battle for Kyiv (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2023), Aces at Kursk (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024), Hunting Falcon: The Story of WWI German Ace Hans-Joachim Buddecke (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024) and The Siege of Mariupol (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2024). ... Mr. Lawrence lives in northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife and son.

One thought on “Response To “CEV Calculations in Italy, 1943”

  1. Hi,

    Three questions:

    1. What would the relative CEVs look like if the German casualties were normalized to US/UK casualty reporting norms?

    2. Did the extended database of Italian campaign divisional engagements include different divisions from those in Dupuy’s original study, or was it more engagements featuring the same divisions? And either way, is there an updated list of average CEVs for those formations (if it is in War and Numbers, I have missed it).

    3. Prof Zetterling’s post assumes an absolutely huge divisional slice for US divisions compared to German divisions. Have any other researchers looked at this to determine that like is being closely compared to like in this regard? One would assume that the logistic demands of being ten times further away over land and sea versus a straight railway and road route might make a big difference.

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