Soviet Tank Repairs at Kursk (part 2 of 2)

This first blog post on this subject strongly made the point that the Russian armor repair effort was not at the same level as the German efforts, which is what I observed when assembling the Kursk Data Base (KDB). But, Zamulin, Demolishing the Myth, continued on pages 448-449, touting what a great job the repair people did. I figured for completeness, I needed to post this.

To continue P. A. Rotmistrov’s (Fifth Guards Tank Army commander) quote from the previous posting:

The mechanics’ profile was diverse. The 83rd Army-level Repair-Recovery Battalion and the corps’ mobile repair depots were staffed with qualified workers from the tank industry (the Stalingrad and Khar’kov factories), but who lacked work experience in field conditions. The tank brigade equipment companies, on the other hand, were staffed primarily with specialists on the repair of armored vehicles under combat conditions. Such a combination of cadres on the whole produced satisfactory results.

Major overhauls, like engine, gun, and turret replacements, were performed at the mobile repair depots of the tank corps. Each tank corps had two of these repair depots, each staffed with 70 to 80 men. For urgent repairs just 8-10 kilometers from the front lines, two army-level, three corps-level and nine brigade collection points for disabled vehicles were set up, which shared all the repair-recovery resources.

On the night of 12 July, as the 5th Guard Tank Army commander later remembered:

The repair workers faced the task of restoring and repairing parts and components, stripped from irreparably damaged tanks from those tanks that needed major overhauls. We had to get hold of 45 engines, 20 gear boxes and several engine and steering clutches. All of the recover and repair units and teams of the separate regiments, brigades, and corps and the army were mobilized to accomplish this task.

To what Rotmistrov said I will add that in order to hasten the repair of the 5th Guard Tank Army’s damaged armored vehicles, the Front’s Armored and Mechanized Forces commander transferred 167 field repair depots from the 38th Army to the 5th Guards Tank Army on 14 July. The truly heroic effort produced results. Of the 420 damaged tanks in its brigades and regiments after the fighting of 12 July, 112 requiring minor or moderate repairs were restored to operation in the very first days after the battle. In addition, the Front command took other steps to assist the army. Already by 15 July, just three days after the engagement, the 5th Guards Tank Army began to receive new tanks. The 29th Tank Corps was the first to begin to received the new vehicles. The 31st Tank Brigade’s war diary notes, “15 July….An order arrived to pick up 16 T-34 tanks at Solntesevo Station. A procurement team had been sent.”

Soviet Tank Repairs at Kursk (part 1 of 2)

Below is text taken directly from Valeriy Zamulin’s book Demolishing the Myth, pages 447-448.

To quote:

The units of the [German] II SS Panzer Corps also left behind only a scorched field and demolished equipment when they eventually withdrew. The headquarters of the 2nd Tank Corps report on 16 July 1943 “…The enemy, organizing a retreat during the night, withdrew all his forces, evacuated all the damaged equipment, and torched the remaining knocked-out tanks and vehicles on the battlefield.”

In the Red Army, the main burden for recovering tanks and self-propelled guns and for transporting them to collection points for disabled vehicles lay on the brigades’ equipment companies and the personnel of the tank battalions. Usually, the crew themselves actively participated in the recovery of their damaged tanks or self-propelled guns and then performed any routine or moderately difficult repair jobs. Kommunar tractors, and Komintern and Stalinets-2 artillery prime movers were used for this work. Mainly, however, a single T-34 or a pair of them made the recover, because the tracotrs had bulky profiles, insufficient power, and no armor protection.

In contrast, the recovery and repair work in the units of [German] Army Group South was well-organized. Each panzer regiment had a well-equipped separate tank maintenance company, while a separate Tiger battalion had its own tank maintenance platoon. These elements managed to do 95% of all the repair work on the armored vehicles, which was performed in frontline conditions.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to say the same thing about the repair work in the corps formations of the [Soviet] 5th Guards Tank Army. At 2400 12.07.43, the headquarters of the 29th Tank Corps reported the following information in a combat dispatch:

The brigade and battalion of the corps are engaged in recovering the wounded and equipment. In the course of the night 3 T-34 tanks and 1 Su-122 self-propelled gun will be repaired.

The recovery of damaged vehciles is being implemented by three turret-less T-34 tanks and one M-3 tank. Five teams are performing the repair work; two teams from the 32nd Tank Brigade and one from the 31st Tank Brigade, in addition to the corps repair teams. One of the corps teams is doing the repair work on self-propelled guns.

Thus, of the 55 knocked-out tanks and self-propelled guns, the 29th Tank Corps was only able to repair four over the night. Naturally, at such a pace it was not easy to restore the combat capability of the corps quickly.

P.A. Rotmistrov [Fifth Guards Tank Army commander] later wrote:

The presence in the army of only mechanical tools could not guarentee the quick restoration and repair of parts, necessary for tank repairs. The lack of welding equipment and repair workshops delayed the fabrication and rehabilitation of spare parts, and thus also the repair of tanks and self-propelled guns within set periods. Army and Front depots of inventory of armored vehicles were located far way (150-300 kilometers), and the insufficient amount of transportation in the army’s corps and brigades complicated the timely supply of components and spare parts.

There were no special break-down teams in the repair units, so it was necessary to pull qualified mechanics from repair work in order to break down the tanks, which reduced labor productivity.

Population Now versus 2050

As you may have noted in my previous demographics posts, I was tracking the population of the various nations I was looking at, both in 1950, currently and the estimated for 2050. Let me summarize briefly what we are looking at (measured in millions of people):

                                       1950                    2017                    2050

China                               583 (1953)         1,411                   1,360

India                                 361 (1951)         1,324                   1,700

United States                   151                       309  (2018)          402

Soviet Union/Russia        182  (1951)           143  (2018)          132

Japan                                83                        127                       109

Germany                           69                          83                        79


Now, a lot of numbers there. Let us set the U.S. at a value of 1 and everyone else at a value relative to it. So:

                                       1950                     2017                    2050

China                               3.86                     4.57                      3.38

India                                 2.39                     4.28                      4.23

United States                  1.00                     1.00                      1.00

Soviet Union/Russia         1.21                       .46                        .33

Japan                                 .55                        .41                        .27

Germany                            .46                        .27                        .20


So, during the height of the bad old days (1950s), the Soviet Union had more population that the U.S.; and China, part of the communist bloc and actually in a hot war with us, had four times the population. Now….well the Soviet Union is gone. In 2050,  China will only have three times the U.S. population while a number of major powers (like Japan, Germany and Russia) will be a smaller fraction of the U.S. population.

Again, I note that some people like to talk about America in decline on the world stage. I really don’t see it economically or demographically.

U.S. versus The World (GDP)

Of course, the real challenge would be predict GDPs in 2050. Probably can with the U.S. On the other hand, it is pretty hard to say where the Chinese economy will be in 2050. I would be hesitant to do a straight line estimate.

U.S. versus China (GDP)

Trevor Dupuy and Technological Determinism in Digital Age Warfare

Is this the only innovation in weapons technology in history with the ability in itself to change warfare and alter the balance of power? Trevor Dupuy thought it might be. Shot IVY-MIKE, Eniwetok Atoll, 1 November 1952. [Wikimedia]

Trevor Dupuy was skeptical about the role of technology in determining outcomes in warfare. While he did believe technological innovation was crucial, he did not think that technology itself has decided success or failure on the battlefield. As he wrote posthumously in 1997,

I am a humanist, who is also convinced that technology is as important today in war as it ever was (and it has always been important), and that any national or military leader who neglects military technology does so to his peril and that of his country. But, paradoxically, perhaps to an extent even greater than ever before, the quality of military men is what wins wars and preserves nations. (emphasis added)

His conclusion was largely based upon his quantitative approach to studying military history, particularly the way humans have historically responded to the relentless trend of increasingly lethal military technology.

The Historical Relationship Between Weapon Lethality and Battle Casualty Rates

Based on a 1964 study for the U.S. Army, Dupuy identified a long-term historical relationship between increasing weapon lethality and decreasing average daily casualty rates in battle. (He summarized these findings in his book, The Evolution of Weapons and Warfare (1980). The quotes below are taken from it.)

Since antiquity, military technological development has produced weapons of ever increasing lethality. The rate of increase in lethality has grown particularly dramatically since the mid-19th century.

However, in contrast, the average daily casualty rate in combat has been in decline since 1600. With notable exceptions during the 19th century, casualty rates have continued to fall through the late 20th century. If technological innovation has produced vastly more lethal weapons, why have there been fewer average daily casualties in battle?

The primary cause, Dupuy concluded, was that humans have adapted to increasing weapon lethality by changing the way they fight. He identified three key tactical trends in the modern era that have influenced the relationship between lethality and casualties:

Technological Innovation and Organizational Assimilation

Dupuy noted that the historical correlation between weapons development and their use in combat has not been linear because the pace of integration has been largely determined by military leaders, not the rate of technological innovation. “The process of doctrinal assimilation of new weapons into compatible tactical and organizational systems has proved to be much more significant than invention of a weapon or adoption of a prototype, regardless of the dimensions of the advance in lethality.” [p. 337]

As a result, the history of warfare has been exemplified more often by a discontinuity between weapons and tactical systems than effective continuity.

During most of military history there have been marked and observable imbalances between military efforts and military results, an imbalance particularly manifested by inconclusive battles and high combat casualties. More often than not this imbalance seems to be the result of incompatibility, or incongruence, between the weapons of warfare available and the means and/or tactics employing the weapons. [p. 341]

In short, military organizations typically have not been fully effective at exploiting new weapons technology to advantage on the battlefield. Truly decisive alignment between weapons and systems for their employment has been exceptionally rare. Dupuy asserted that

There have been six important tactical systems in military history in which weapons and tactics were in obvious congruence, and which were able to achieve decisive results at small casualty costs while inflicting disproportionate numbers of casualties. These systems were:

  • the Macedonian system of Alexander the Great, ca. 340 B.C.
  • the Roman system of Scipio and Flaminius, ca. 200 B.C.
  • the Mongol system of Ghengis Khan, ca. A.D. 1200
  • the English system of Edward I, Edward III, and Henry V, ca. A.D. 1350
  • the French system of Napoleon, ca. A.D. 1800
  • the German blitzkrieg system, ca. A.D. 1940 [p. 341]

With one caveat, Dupuy could not identify any single weapon that had decisively changed warfare in of itself without a corresponding human adaptation in its use on the battlefield.

Save for the recent significant exception of strategic nuclear weapons, there have been no historical instances in which new and lethal weapons have, of themselves, altered the conduct of war or the balance of power until they have been incorporated into a new tactical system exploiting their lethality and permitting their coordination with other weapons; the full significance of this one exception is not yet clear, since the changes it has caused in warfare and the influence it has exerted on international relations have yet to be tested in war.

Until the present time, the application of sound, imaginative thinking to the problem of warfare (on either an individual or an institutional basis) has been more significant than any new weapon; such thinking is necessary to real assimilation of weaponry; it can also alter the course of human affairs without new weapons. [p. 340]

Technological Superiority and Offset Strategies

Will new technologies like robotics and artificial intelligence provide the basis for a seventh tactical system where weapons and their use align with decisive battlefield results? Maybe. If Dupuy’s analysis is accurate, however, it is more likely that future increases in weapon lethality will continue to be counterbalanced by human ingenuity in how those weapons are used, yielding indeterminate—perhaps costly and indecisive—battlefield outcomes.

Genuinely effective congruence between weapons and force employment continues to be difficult to achieve. Dupuy believed the preconditions necessary for successful technological assimilation since the mid-19th century have been a combination of conducive military leadership; effective coordination of national economic, technological-scientific, and military resources; and the opportunity to evaluate and analyze battlefield experience.

Can the U.S. meet these preconditions? That certainly seemed to be the goal of the so-called Third Offset Strategy, articulated in 2014 by the Obama administration. It called for maintaining “U.S. military superiority over capable adversaries through the development of novel capabilities and concepts.” Although the Trump administration has stopped using the term, it has made “maximizing lethality” the cornerstone of the 2018 National Defense Strategy, with increased funding for the Defense Department’s modernization priorities in FY2019 (though perhaps not in FY2020).

Dupuy’s original work on weapon lethality in the 1960s coincided with development in the U.S. of what advocates of a “revolution in military affairs” (RMA) have termed the “First Offset Strategy,” which involved the potential use of nuclear weapons to balance Soviet superiority in manpower and material. RMA proponents pointed to the lopsided victory of the U.S. and its allies over Iraq in the 1991 Gulf War as proof of the success of a “Second Offset Strategy,” which exploited U.S. precision-guided munitions, stealth, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems developed to counter the Soviet Army in Germany in the 1980s. Dupuy was one of the few to attribute the decisiveness of the Gulf War both to airpower and to the superior effectiveness of U.S. combat forces.

Trevor Dupuy certainly was not an anti-technology Luddite. He recognized the importance of military technological advances and the need to invest in them. But he believed that the human element has always been more important on the battlefield. Most wars in history have been fought without a clear-cut technological advantage for one side; some have been bloody and pointless, while others have been decisive for reasons other than technology. While the future is certainly unknown and past performance is not a guarantor of future results, it would be a gamble to rely on technological superiority alone to provide the margin of success in future warfare.

The Great 3-1 Rule Debate

coldwarmap3[This piece was originally posted on 13 July 2016.]

Trevor Dupuy’s article cited in my previous post, “Combat Data and the 3:1 Rule,” was the final salvo in a roaring, multi-year debate between two highly regarded members of the U.S. strategic and security studies academic communities, political scientist John Mearsheimer and military analyst/polymath Joshua Epstein. Carried out primarily in the pages of the academic journal International Security, Epstein and Mearsheimer argued the validity of the 3-1 rule and other analytical models with respect the NATO/Warsaw Pact military balance in Europe in the 1980s. Epstein cited Dupuy’s empirical research in support of his criticism of Mearsheimer’s reliance on the 3-1 rule. In turn, Mearsheimer questioned Dupuy’s data and conclusions to refute Epstein. Dupuy’s article defended his research and pointed out the errors in Mearsheimer’s assertions. With the publication of Dupuy’s rebuttal, the International Security editors called a time out on the debate thread.

The Epstein/Mearsheimer debate was itself part of a larger political debate over U.S. policy toward the Soviet Union during the administration of Ronald Reagan. This interdisciplinary argument, which has since become legendary in security and strategic studies circles, drew in some of the biggest names in these fields, including Eliot Cohen, Barry Posen, the late Samuel Huntington, and Stephen Biddle. As Jeffery Friedman observed,

These debates played a prominent role in the “renaissance of security studies” because they brought together scholars with different theoretical, methodological, and professional backgrounds to push forward a cohesive line of research that had clear implications for the conduct of contemporary defense policy. Just as importantly, the debate forced scholars to engage broader, fundamental issues. Is “military power” something that can be studied using static measures like force ratios, or does it require a more dynamic analysis? How should analysts evaluate the role of doctrine, or politics, or military strategy in determining the appropriate “balance”? What role should formal modeling play in formulating defense policy? What is the place for empirical analysis, and what are the strengths and limitations of existing data?[1]

It is well worth the time to revisit the contributions to the 1980s debate. I have included a bibliography below that is not exhaustive, but is a place to start. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War diminished the intensity of the debates, which simmered through the 1990s and then were obscured during the counterterrorism/ counterinsurgency conflicts of the post-9/11 era. It is possible that the challenges posed by China and Russia amidst the ongoing “hybrid” conflict in Syria and Iraq may revive interest in interrogating the bases of military analyses in the U.S and the West. It is a discussion that is long overdue and potentially quite illuminating.


[1] Jeffery A. Friedman, “Manpower and Counterinsurgency: Empirical Foundations for Theory and Doctrine,” Security Studies 20 (2011)


(Note: Some of these are behind paywalls, but some are available in PDF format. Mearsheimer has made many of his publications freely available here.)

John J. Mearsheimer, “Why the Soviets Can’t Win Quickly in Central Europe,” International Security, Vol. 7, No. 1 (Summer 1982)

Samuel P. Huntington, “Conventional Deterrence and Conventional Retaliation in Europe,” International Security 8, no. 3 (Winter 1983/84)

Joshua Epstein, Strategy and Force Planning (Washington, DC: Brookings, 1987)

Joshua M. Epstein, “Dynamic Analysis and the Conventional Balance in Europe,” International Security 12, no. 4 (Spring 1988)

John J. Mearsheimer, “Numbers, Strategy, and the European Balance,” International Security 12, no. 4 (Spring 1988)

Stephen Biddle, “The European Conventional Balance,” Survival 30, no. 2 (March/April 1988)

Eliot A. Cohen, “Toward Better Net Assessment: Rethinking the European Conventional Balance,International Security Vol. 13, No. 1 (Summer 1988)

Joshua M. Epstein, “The 3:1 Rule, the Adaptive Dynamic Model, and the Future of Security Studies,” International Security 13, no. 4 (Spring 1989)

John J. Mearsheimer, “Assessing the Conventional Balance,” International Security 13, no. 4 (Spring 1989)

John J. Mearsheimer, Barry R. Posen, Eliot A. Cohen, “Correspondence: Reassessing Net Assessment,” International Security 13, No. 4 (Spring 1989)

Trevor N. Dupuy, “Combat Data and the 3:1 Rule,” International Security 14, no. 1 (Summer 1989)

Stephen Biddle et al., Defense at Low Force Levels (Alexandria, VA: Institute for Defense Analyses, 1991)

Force Ratios in Conventional Combat

American soldiers of the 117th Infantry Regiment, Tennessee National Guard, part of the 30th Infantry Division, move past a destroyed American M5A1 “Stuart” tank on their march to recapture the town of St. Vith during the Battle of the Bulge, January 1945. [Wikipedia]

[This piece was originally posted on 16 May 2017.]

This post is a partial response to questions from one of our readers (Stilzkin). On the subject of force ratios in conventional combat….I know of no detailed discussion on the phenomenon published to date. It was clearly addressed by Clausewitz. For example:

At Leuthen Frederick the Great, with about 30,000 men, defeated 80,000 Austrians; at Rossbach he defeated 50,000 allies with 25,000 men. These however are the only examples of victories over an opponent two or even nearly three times as strong. Charles XII at the battle of Narva is not in the same category. The Russian at that time could hardly be considered as Europeans; moreover, we know too little about the main features of that battle. Bonaparte commanded 120,000 men at Dresden against 220,000—not quite half. At Kolin, Frederick the Great’s 30,000 men could not defeat 50,000 Austrians; similarly, victory eluded Bonaparte at the desperate battle of Leipzig, though with his 160,000 men against 280,000, his opponent was far from being twice as strong.

These examples may show that in modern Europe even the most talented general will find it very difficult to defeat an opponent twice his strength. When we observe that the skill of the greatest commanders may be counterbalanced by a two-to-one ratio in the fighting forces, we cannot doubt that superiority in numbers (it does not have to more than double) will suffice to assure victory, however adverse the other circumstances.


If we thus strip the engagement of all the variables arising from its purpose and circumstance, and disregard the fighting value of the troops involved (which is a given quantity), we are left with the bare concept of the engagement, a shapeless battle in which the only distinguishing factors is the number of troops on either side.

These numbers, therefore, will determine victory. It is, of course, evident from the mass of abstractions I have made to reach this point that superiority of numbers in a given engagement is only one of the factors that determines victory. Superior numbers, far from contributing everything, or even a substantial part, to victory, may actually be contributing very little, depending on the circumstances.

But superiority varies in degree. It can be two to one, or three or four to one, and so on; it can obviously reach the point where it is overwhelming.

In this sense superiority of numbers admittedly is the most important factor in the outcome of an engagement, as long as it is great enough to counterbalance all other contributing circumstance. It thus follows that as many troops as possible should be brought into the engagement at the decisive point.

And, in relation to making a combat model:

Numerical superiority was a material factor. It was chosen from all elements that make up victory because, by using combinations of time and space, it could be fitted into a mathematical system of laws. It was thought that all other factors could be ignored if they were assumed to be equal on both sides and thus cancelled one another out. That might have been acceptable as a temporary device for the study of the characteristics of this single factor; but to make the device permanent, to accept superiority of numbers as the one and only rule, and to reduce the whole secret of the art of war to a formula of numerical superiority at a certain time and a certain place was an oversimplification that would not have stood up for a moment against the realities of life.

Force ratios were discussed in various versions of FM 105-5 Maneuver Control, but as far as I can tell, this was not material analytically developed. It was a set of rules, pulled together by a group of anonymous writers for the sake of being able to adjudicate wargames.

The only detailed quantification of force ratios was provided in Numbers, Predictions and War by Trevor Dupuy. Again, these were modeling constructs, not something that was analytically developed (although there was significant background research done and the model was validated multiple times). He then discusses the subject in his book Understanding War, which I consider the most significant book of the 90+ that he wrote or co-authored.

The only analytically based discussion of force ratios that I am aware of (or at least can think of at this moment) is my discussion in my upcoming book War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat. It is the second chapter of the book:

In this book, I assembled the force ratios required to win a battle based upon a large number of cases from World War II division-level combat. For example (page 18 of the manuscript):

I did this for the ETO, for the battles of Kharkov and Kursk (Eastern Front 1943, divided by when the Germans are attacking and when the Soviets are attacking) and for PTO (Manila and Okinawa 1945).

There is more than can be done on this, and we do have the data assembled to do this, but as always, I have not gotten around to it. This is why I am already considering a War by Numbers II, as I am already thinking about all the subjects I did not cover in sufficient depth in my first book.

U.S. versus The World (GDP)

There has been a lot of statements lately coming out of Russia (Putin in particular), China and other places about how the U.S. is in decline. Not sure what is the basis of these statements. Right now the United States GDP is $19.391 Trillion. The entire world’s GDP, according to the World Bank, is $80.684 Trillion. This means that the U.S.’s GPD makes up only 24% of the world’s GDP. This hardly puts us out in the dumpster.

Now, it has changed over time. In 1960 the U.S. GDP was $543.3 billion while the World’s was $1.366 Trillion. This is 40%. So we have declined from having 40% of all the goods and services of the world to only having 24% of all the goods and services in the world. I would argue that in fact this is not a decline, but a growth on the part of the rest of the world, and in many cases a well-deserved growth. In fact, it was the intention of the Marshall Plan to restore the European economy for the purpose of making stable democratic economically viable counties. This is a plan that succeeded in spades. The data from 1960 is only 15 years after the devastating World War II, so it is really no surprise that the U.S. economy, living in “splendid isolationism” or at least conveniently isolated by two very large bodies of water, was in much better shape than those people who had panzers running back and forth across their front lawns.

As of 1980 the United States GDP was 26% of the world GDP. Much of this change was a result of the growth of the western European and Japanese economies. It was before the later boom of the Chinese economy. But this is close to the same percentage as it is now. Just to compare over time:

Year…………Percent GDP

1960             40%

1970             39%

1980             26%

1990             26%

2000             31%

2010             23%

2017             24%


There is definitely a trend here, but it is a trend caused by the rest of the world growing, not by the United States declining. You can definitely see the world economy growing significantly after 2000. But most significant relative shift occurred between 1970, when the U.S. economy made up 39% of the world’s economy, to 1980, when it was down to 26%. It is now 24%, so really not a hugely significant shift in the last 40 or so years from the 26% it was in 1980. Not sure how you then conclude the United States is now in decline.

In the 57 years on this graph, the U.S. GPD actually only declined in one year (2009). That is a pretty good run.

Japan’s Grand Strategy and Military Forces (I)

[Source: Consulate-General of Japan, Sydney]

This is the first in a series of Orders of Battle (OOB) posts, which will cover Japan, the neighboring and regional powers in East Asia, as well as the major global players, with a specific viewpoint on their military forces in East Asia and the Greater Indo-Pacific. The idea is to provide a catalog of forces and capabilities, but also to provide some analysis of how those forces are linked to the nation’s strategy.

The geographic term “Indo-Pacific” is a relatively new one, and referred to by name in the grand strategy as detailed by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in April 2017. It also aligns with the strategy and terminology used by US Defense Secretary James Mattis at the Shangri-La conference in June 2018. Dr. Michael J. Green has a good primer on the evolution of Japan’s grand strategy, along with a workable definition of the term:

What is “grand strategy”? It is the integration of all instruments of national power to shape a more favorable external environment for peace and prosperity. These comprehensive instruments of power are diplomatic, informational, military and economic. Successful grand strategies are most important in peacetime, since war may be considered the failure of strategy.

Nonetheless, the seminal speech by Vice President Pence regarding China policy on 4 October 2018, had an articulation of Chinese grand strategy: “Beijing is employing a whole-of-government approach, using political, economic, and military tools, as well as propaganda, to advance its influence and benefit its interests in the United States.” The concept of grand strategy is not new; Thucydides is often credited with the first discussion of this concept in History of the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BCE). It is fundamentally about the projection of power in all its forms.

With the Focus on the Indo-Pacific Strategy, What About the Home Islands? 

[Source: Japanese Ministry of Defense (MOD) ]

The East Asian region has some long simmering conflicts, legacies from past wars, such as World War II (or Great Pacific War) (1937-1945), the Korean War (1950-1953), and the Chinese Civil War (1921-1947). These conflicts led to static and stable borders, across which a “military balance” is often referred to, and publications from think tanks often refer to this, for example the Institute for International and Strategic Studies (IISS) offers a publication with this title. The points emphasized by IISS in the 2018 edition are “new arms orders and deliveries graphics and essays on Chinese and Russian air-launched weapons, artificial intelligence and defence, and Russian strategic-force modernisation.”

So, the Japanese military has two challenges, maintain the balance of power at home, that is playing defense, with neighbors who are changing and deploying new capabilities that have a material effect on this balance. And, as seen above Japan is working to build an offense as part of the new grand strategy, and military forces play a role.

Given the size and capability of the Japanese military forces, it is possible to project power  at great distances from the Japanese home waters. Yet, as a legacy from the Great Pacific War, the Japanese do not technically have armed forces. The constitution, imposed by Americans, officially renounces war as a sovereign right of the nation.

In July 2014, the constitution was officially ”re-interpreted” to allow collective self-defense. The meaning was that if the American military was under attack, for example in Guam, nearby Japanese military units could not legally engage with the forces attacking the Americans, even though they are allied nations, and conduct numerous training exercises together, that is, they train to fight together. This caused significant policy debate in Japan.

More recently, as was an item of debate in the national election in September 2018, the legal status of the SDF is viewed as requiring clarification, with some saying they are altogether illegal. “It’s time to tackle a constitutional revision,” Abe said in a victory speech.

The original defense plan was for the American military to defend Japan. The practical realities of the Cold War and the Soviet threat to Japan ended up creating what are technically “self-defense forces” (SDF) in three branches:

  • Japan Ground Self-Defense Forces (JGSDF)
  • Japan Maritime Self-Defense Forces (JGSDF)
  • Japan Air Self-Defense Forces (JASDF)

In the next post, these forces will be cataloged, with specific capabilities linked to Japanese strategy. As a quick preview, the map below illustrates the early warning radar sites, airborne early warning aircraft, and fighter-interceptor aircraft, charged with the mission to maintain a balance of power in the air, as Russian and Chinese air forces challenge the sovereignty of Japanese airspace. With the Russians, this is an old dance from the Cold War, but recently the Chinese have gotten into this game as well.

[Source: J-Wings magazine, December 2018]

36th Panzer Regiment Tank Losses, January 1944

The 36th Panzer Regiment was the tank component of the 14th Panzer Division, which had been destroyed at Stalingrad. When recreated, the division was supposed to have a three-battalion panzer regiment. However, it only received the I. and III. battalions before transferring to the eastern front in the autumn 1943. As losses accumulated, its remaining tanks and assault guns were concentrated in the III. battalion and the I. battalion was sent out of the theatre to replenish.

On 1 January 1944, the regiment had the following vehicles operational: 10 StuG, 11 Pz III, 11 Pz IV. In short term repair were: 7 StuG, 1 Pz III and 8 Pz IV. However, there is some uncertainty regarding the Pz III tanks, as they are not to be found in the organization chart, except for 6 command tanks in the battalion and the regiment. This is according to the monthly report to the Inspector-General of Panzer Troops (BA-MA RH 10/152).

The battalion war diary can be found in file BA-MA RH39/380. It is not as detailed as the war diary I have used for previous posts on I./Pz.Rgt. 26 Panther battalion. It just contains a narrative and I don’t have the kind of detailed annexes included in the file on I./Pz.Rgt. 26.

From the war diary, I conclude the following losses during January 1944:

StuG: 10 complete losses. One of them was only damaged by enemy fire, but could not be recovered due to nearby enemy units and was fired upon by other German StuG until it caught fire. Another 10 StuG were damaged, either by enemy fire or suffered from technical breakdowns.

Pz IV: 3 complete losses, 6 damaged. As there has been some posts on the effectiveness of artillery versus armour on the blog, it can be worth mentioning that one of the damaged Pz IV was hit by artillery fire.

Pz III tanks are not mentioned at all in the battalion war diary.

There are two comments on repairs in the war diary. On 14 January, it is said that one repaired tank returns and on 27 January, it is reported that 3 Pz IV and 1 StuG returns from workshops. However, this can not be all repairs. On 1 February, the battalion had 5 operational Stug and 2 in short term repair. As it started out with 10+7 StuG, had 5+2 on 1 February, while reporting 10 destroyed and 10 damaged during January, there must have been more repairs. The figures would suggest that 15 StuG were repaired, as there were no shipments of new StuG from the factories, according to the records in BA-MA RH 10/349 (list of deliveries of new AFV). Neither is any transfer of AFV from other units mentioned in the war diary.

It seems that the number of repaired Pz IV is 5, given the number on hand on 1 February.

All in all, this would mean that the battalion started out with 10 StuG and 11 Pz IV on 1 January, lost irretrievably 10 StuG and 3 Pz IV, 10 StuG damaged and 6 Pz IV damaged, while 15 StuG and 5 Pz IV were repaired. It should be noted that these figures are less certain than those given for the I./Pz.Rgt. 26 in previous posts, as the war diary of the III./Pz.Rgt 36 is not as detailed.

Admittedly, it is problematic to compare loss rates between units fighting different enemy formations, but it is still tempting to compare the III./Pz.Rgt. 36 with the I./Pz.Rgt. 26. After all, they fought in the same general area (Ukraine south of Kiev) in similar conditions against similar Soviet units. Clearly, the StuG and Pz IV were far more often directly destroyed by hits from enemy units. On the other hand, there seems to have been significantly fewer cases of mechanical breakdown among StuG and Pz IV. Ten such cases are explicitly mentioned, but in many cases the war diary just says that a tank was out of action, without giving a cause. Most likely, in those cases the cause was enemy action.

Clearly the proportions between destroyed by enemy fire, damaged by enemy fire and lost due to other causes differ considerably between the III./Pz.Rgt 36 and I./Pz.Rgt. 26.

This Picture is TAKEN FROM The SS Panzer corps in July 1943.


Peacekeeping Institute?

It appears that the Army is looking at shuttering the rather small Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute:

Now, I have never had any intersection with this organization, so I have no idea of how effective, productive or useful it is. I gather they are looking at renaming it (because peacekeeping is a bad word?) and cutting it more than 2/3rds. This is minimal savings.

Now, my experience is that DOD, being command driven and mission oriented, tends to forget about missions that are not currently getting “command attention.” I discussed this problem in some depth in my book America’s Modern Wars. We have seen parts of DOD go from ignoring the study of insurgencies before 2001 to recently not being able to properly model conventional combat for training exercises. As outrageous as this last sentence sounds, I can back it up with real world examples, except I really don’t want to embarrass anyone. But let us say, that we have seen multiple examples over the years of DOD being overly focused on the mission de jure at the expense of its other missions. DOD missions range from conventional wars, to counterinsurgencies, to irregular operations, to peacekeeping, nation building, and even border protection. These missions come and go, but they always show back up. It has been the case for over 200 years. The DOD always needs to be ready to conduct all missions. The failures in Iraq, which cost American lives, drives home that point in blood.