One Last Reminder (Today is the last day !!!)

One last reminder, if you pre-order The Battle of Prokhorovka through it is selling for $28.43: Buy from Amazon. The list price on the hardcover is $44.95. I do not know what price it will be listed at on Saturday, 1 June 2019 (nor do I have any involvement or say in these matters).

The chapters for the book are listed in this post:

The Battle of Prokhorovka – 16 chapters

What else is in the book (besides words) is listed in this post:

The Battle of Prokhorovka — what does the book consist of

The reason why I wrote this book is discussed in this post:

The Battle of Prokhorovka book — why?

The book can obtained from Stackpole at: Stackpole Books

Or from at: Buy from Amazon

145 or 10?

A German Henschel Hs-126 (1940 or earlier)

As some are aware, I am working on a book on the air battles during the Battle of Kursk. On 2 June 1943, the Germans organized a mass raid on the Kursk railway station using aircraft from the 1st Air Division of the Sixth Air Fleet and from the VIII Air Corps of the Fourth Air Fleet. The Sixth Air Fleet sent in 95 bomber sorties and 64 “destroyer” sorties (Me-110s) during the day, with heavy fighter cover. That night, they hit the Kursk area again with another 52 bomber sorties. The VIII Air Corps sent in 138 bomber missions during the day and 150 more during the night.

The German Air Force (Luftwaffe) burned its records towards the end of WWII, so in most cases there are not detailed records of their activity. In this case, there was. In the files of the Second Army, west of Kursk, are the records of the air liaison officer. It is in the National Archives, in the Captured German Records collection, file T312, roll R1234. The sortie counts given above are from those records. They also report their losses as 13 aircraft. The VIII Air Corps lost 1 Hs-126, 1 Ju-87, 3 He-111s and 1 Me-109 during the day and a Ju-88 at night. The Sixth Air Fleet lost 4 Ju-88s, 1 Me-110 and 1 Fw-190 during the day and nothing at night. I state in my book that “German losses connected with these raids were about 10 aircraft (2 percent losses)” as I am guessing that some of those 13 planes may have been lost in other operations (for example, the lost Hs-126 was probably doing reconnaissance). See Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka, page 303. E. R. Hooton in the book War Over the Steppes, page 200, states that the Germans lost 17 bombers. He does not footnote his sources. Bergstrom in Kursk: The Air Battle: July 1943, page 21, states that “Seventeen of these aircraft were shot down and destroyed and another eight sustained severe battle damage.” His source is the Luftwaffe Quartermaster reports. These claims from the Luftwaffe Quartermaster reports probably include losses from other causes (like mechanical, accidents and returned planes that were later scavenged for parts) and other missions.

On the other hand, another book written by two U.S. based authors state that “Certain Soviet sources list 145 German aircraft down (104 by VVS fighters and 41 by antiaircraft fire), with a modest loss of 27 Soviet fighters.”  They footnote the source as a Soviet-era book from 1977. I had found the same claim of 145 kills in a Soviet-era Progress Press publication from 1974.

I am not breaking new ground by pointing out that Soviet-era publications often exaggerated enemy casualties. As discussed in my Kursk book, the units involved often made these outrageous claims and this it what was in their unit records. Therefore these claims ended up in the Soviet historical accounts.

Needless to say, one needs to cross-check all Soviet-era claims before they are used in a book. It is not enough just to say “Certain Soviet sources…” and ignor the German records. It certainly does give the wrong impressions of the operations, especially to the casual reader. Yet this is done repeatedly in this book, even though it was updated and published in 2012.

Current U.S. and Allied Forces in the Gulf (late May 2019)

USS Abraham Lincoln, May 19, 2019

Since 1990, the U.S. has always maintained a presence in and around the Persian/Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Oman. The UK also traditionally has a presence in the Gulf. Exactly what is there now?

In Iraq: 6,700+ U.S. and allied troops and supporting civilians

  1. Around 5,000 U.S. troops, primarily involved in training.
    1. As of 2017 the Pentagon has stopped providing the number of troops that are being deployed in Iraq citing security concerns.
    2. There are also probably U.S. civilians
  2. UK has 400 UK troops in non-combat roles and 1,000 civilians
    “supporting counter-daesh operations.”
  3. Germany has 160 soldiers
  4. Netherlands had 169 military and civilian staff
  5. Australia withdrew in 2018.


  1. 10,000 troops in Kuwait (under CENTCOM?)


  1. UK has a Type 23 frigate based there
  2. UK has four minesweepers based there.
  3. UK has a floating base.


  1. Some British troops
  2. In March 2019, they performed a joint exercise with the Omani armed forces that included 5,500 British troops.

The Fifth Fleet:

  1. According to the USNI Fleet Tracker , they currently have 21 ships.
    1. This includes the USS Abraham Lincoln and the Kearserge (see below).
  2. 10,000 troops in Qatar (command assumed to be Fifth Fleet)
  3. 1,000+ Marines aboard the Kearsarge
  4. There are probably a number of submarines in the area.

Sending to the Gulf as of new reports of 10 May and after:

  1. Carrier Strike Group 12
    1. USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72)
      1. 65-70 aircraft (Carrier Air Wing 7)
    2. USS Leyte Gulf (CG-55)
    3. Destroyer Squadron 2 with:
      1. USS Bainbridge (DDG-96)
      2. USS Mason (DDG-87)
      3. USS Nitze (DDG-94)
    4. sometimes submarines
    5. support vessels
    6. Passed through the Suez Canal on May 9.
      1. operating of the coast of Oman 16 May
  2. Amphibious Squadron 6
    1. USS Kearsarge (LHD-3)
    2. 22nd MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit)
      1. A battalion+ of Marines
    3. USS Arlington (LPD-24)
    4. USS Fort McHenry (LSD-43)
    5. Off the coast of UAE near entrance to Gulf on 16 May
  3.  One squadron of B-52s
    1. At Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar
      1. Pictures of them landing on May 9
    2. Others elsewhere in “southwest asia” (Al Dhafra Air Base in UAE?)
    3. Maybe 12-24 aircraft
    4. Aircraft from the 20th Bomb Squadron, Barksdale AFB, Louisiana
  4. One Patriot Missile Battalion
    1. Originally a Patriot battery in the reports of 10 May.
    2. Appears to include forces that were already in the Gulf who extended their deployment.
    3. Maybe 16 launchers of 4 missiles
  5. Two U.S. destroyers entered the Persian Gulf on May 16
    1. USS McFaul (DDG-74)
    2. USS Gonzalez (DDG-66)
  6. Added to the deployed on 24 May
    1. One fighter squadron
    2. Reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft
    3. around 900 troops while another 600 are retained in the Gulf.

This listing was quickly cobbled together from open sources. It should not be quoted without verification.

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:

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:

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).

One More Reminder

One more reminder, if you pre-order The Battle of Prokhorovka through it is selling for $28.43: Buy from Amazon. The list price on the hardcover is $44.95. I do not know what price it will be listed at on 1 June 2019 (nor do I have any involvement or say in these matters).

The chapters for the book are listed in this post:

The Battle of Prokhorovka – 16 chapters

What else is in the book (besides words) is listed in this post:

The Battle of Prokhorovka — what does the book consist of

The reason why I wrote this book is discussed in this post:

The Battle of Prokhorovka book — why?

The book can obtained from Stackpole at: Stackpole Books

Or from at: Buy from Amazon

U.S. Fertility Rates

Total Fertility Rate vs. GDP, 2016 estimate (bubble size indicating population size). Source: CIA World Fact Book

Spotted this article that reports that U.S. fertility is the lowest it has been in 32 years:

The article reports a rate of 1,728 children per 1,000 women, or 1.728 per woman. This is 3.79 million births in 2018. For obviously reasons, replacement rate needs to be more than 2 kids per woman, usually assumed to be 2.1 (which is the figure used in the article, but I don’t know what the actual replacement rate figure is).

So, this is a shortfall of 0.372 children per woman. Now, how significant is such a shortfall? Well, we need a rate of 2.1 and we are getting 1.728 so 2.1/1.728 = 1.215 times the 3.79 million births = 4.61 million births needed. So 4.61 – 3.79 = 820,000 new people needed each year (there is probably a more sophisticated and more correct calculation out there).

The alternative is this scenario:

Demographics of Japan

Where Did Japan Go?

Demographics of China

Demographics of Russia

Therefore, it looks like we have to accept at least 820,000 immigrants a year to maintain status quo. There are a lot of economic reasons why this is probably needed and I don’t know a whole lot of people who dispute this. This of course, assumes the birth rate remains constant and right now it is declining, Currently, the U.S. accepts 1.2 million legal immigrants a year (2016). It appears that the United States receives around 300,000 “permanent” illegal immigrants a year (see this blog post):

Demographics of the United States

With 1.3 to 1.5 million immigrants coming in each year, this means we do have a 500K – 700K surplus, which will cause the U.S. population to grow. There is also a certain number of people that migrate from the U.S. The U.S. population growth rate is currently around 0.8% a year.

On the other hand, I am sure some businesses and economists would argue that the United States needs a positive immigration flow to maintain and expand the labor force and to expand the economy. I am not sure of the specifics of this, but there certainly has been work published on this.

I am very much out of my lane here, in that I have not invested any significant time in examining these issues. I am sure there are more rigorous calculations efforts out there. But still, it does indicate that the U.S. does need to maintain over 800,000 migrants a year to sustain its population, and probably several hundreds of thousands above that to maintain its labor force and economic growth.

Population Now versus 2050

Max Boot Op-Ed on Iran

Max Boot, author of Savage Wars of Peace, among other books, wrote the following op-ed for the Washington Post:

One reason we are posting this is that he linked a line in his article to our blog post:

Force Ratios and Counterinsurgency

But this is a op-ed worth reading. There are few points of significance here:

  1. “Instead, what I see is the mother of all quagmires: a conflict that would make the Iraq War — which I now deeply regret supporting — seem like a “cakewalk” by comparison.”
  2. “Air attacks are usually decisive only when combines with ground attacks.:”
  3. “Unfortunately, the United States lacks a realistic ground option in Iran…”
  4. “Iran could employ a combination of antiship cruise missiles, drones, submarines, small boats and mines to “swarm” U.S. naval ships in the confined waters of the Persian Gulf.”
  5. “In response, the United States would do…what?

I do note that Iran could probably also shut down the flow of oil from the Persian/Arabian Gulf for a while. This will certainly affect oil markets worldwide. Still, there is no question that the Saudi Arabia (with the other Gulf States) and/or the United States could establish air superiority over the Gulf. In the long run, that will work to our advantage. There will be a cost to this.

Air Forces in the Persian/Arabian Gulf

Saudi Arabia has the third largest defense budget in the world. A lot of that has gone to aircraft. Their air force currently consists of 844 aircraft and 81,000 personnel. Combat aircraft include:

61 F-15Cs

87 F-15E

53 Typhoons

81 Tornado

Lots of support aircraft. See Royal Saudi Air Force

Everyone else’s air force is notably smaller, except for the UAE.

Country…..Personnel…..Aircraft…..F-16C…..F-16D….F-18C…Mirage 2000….Rafale…..F16 E/F






Oman……………………………………………….18…………………………………………………….9 Typhoon



……………..Su-25………AH-64……..Ground Attack








Between these seven nations, this is something like 595 air superiority and multi-role modern aircraft, plus another 100 or more ground attack aircraft. Certainly enough to patrol the Persian/Arabian Gulf, which is about the size of the state of Wyoming.

On the north side of the Gulf is Iran. It has an air force of 37,000 (2011 estimate) consisting of:


F-7………………….17 (a Chinese MiG-21)


F-4 Phantom II…….47


Mirage F1……………9




So, 142 air superiority and multi-role Iranian jets compared to 595 controlled by the seven Arab states lining the Gulf. In most cases, the Arab nations have better quality aircraft…and 33 Ground Attack aircraft vice 100+. No question who will be able to establish air superiority if there is a hot war.

Navies in the Persian/Arabian Gulf

Small boats of Iran during Tanker War (1980s)

A number of states in the Persian/Arabian Gulf have navies. These include frigates and other significant warships. It also includes submarines in the case of Iran.

Saudi Arabia has 7 frigates, 4 corvettes, 9 patrol boats and 3 minesweepers (needed for the Gulf). This is not an insignificant force (See: Royal Saudi Navy).

The United Arab Emirates have 9 corvettes and 9 fast attack craft and other larger patrol vessels (See:  United Arab Emirates Navy)

Little Bahrain (which is majority Shiite, even though the royal family is Sunni) has 1 frigate and 6 patrol craft of note (See: Royal Bahrain Naval Force).

Iraq has 2 corvettes and 6 patrol vessels of note (See: Iraqi Navy)

Oman has 5 corvettes and 12 patrol vessels (See:  Royal Navy of Oman).

Kuwait has 10 Fast Patrol Boats (See:  Kuwait Naval Force)

The outcast Qatar has 7 Fast attack craft (See:  Qatari Emiri Navy)

These seven nations have an interest in either keeping the Persian/Arabian Gulf open or at least remaining neutral in such a conflict. Still, it appears they could muster together 8 frigates, up to 20 corvettes and up to 59 larger patrol craft. There are also a lot of smaller patrol craft which I have not listed.

And then there is Iran, one of only three nations in the world with a Shiite majority (the other two being Iraq and Bahrain). It has the largest navy in the area with around 18,000 personnel (2011 estimate). They have 3 large submarines (2325 tons), 4 smaller submarines (350 to 1200 tons), 27 really small submarines (90 to 120 tons) and 5 mini-subs (10 tons) They have 1 destroyer planned (7,500 tons), 6 frigates (1,500 to 2,000 tons), 3 corvettes (580 to 1,135 tons), 32 fast attack craft (205 to 447 tons), 97 coastal patrol boats (up to 148 tons), 83 smaller patrol boats (14 to 82 tons), 14 hovercraft, 3 submersible boats, 74 fast attack craft, 200+ miscellaneous small craft, 3 mine layers, 2 mine countermeasure ships, 26 landing craft,  and 28 support ships. (See: Islamic Republic of Iran Navy). This is a lot of little ships and some significant big ships. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps also maintains a large number of small craft (See: Navy of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps). Some/most are counted above.

Anyhow, it is clear that the Iranian Navy is probably capable of shutting down traffic in the Gulf and this probably cannot be halted by the other Gulf navies. And then there are the air forces (subject of a post tomorrow).

Defense Spending in the Persian/Arabian Gulf

Source: SIPRI

A modern military costs money, especially if one is developing a capable air force and navy. This are big ticket items. Let of us for a moment look at what is being spent by states bordering the Persian/Arabian Gulf, as this seems to be the flashpoint “de jure.”

Saudi Arabia is the big spender there with 67.6 billion spend on defense in 2018 (source: SIPRI 2019 fact sheet). This actually makes it the third largest defense budget in the world, ahead of India, France, Russia, UK, Germany, etc. It spends 8.8% of its GDP on defense.

Some other Gulf states are also spending heavily. Oman spends 12.1% of its GDP on defense, although its GDP is small. Bahrain spends 4.1% of its GDP on defense. In comparison the U.S. spends 3.2% of its GDP on defense, China 1.9%, Russia 4.3%, Iraq 3.9%, Ukraine 3.4%, France 2.3%, UK 1.8% and Germany 1.2%.

In contrast, Iran spends 13.2 billion (or 19.6 billion in 2019 according to IISS). This is 3.1% to 4.6% of Iran’s GDP. This is around 20% to 30% of what Saudi Arabia spends and around 2% to 3% of what the U.S. spends.