Let’s talk about artillery shells

Now, when we first did the validation database the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base, one of the fields we had to fill in for each division, and corps, and army was on the tons of ammunition used each day by four types.

This was because the combat models that were supposed to be validated using this database were used in part to determine the number of shells needed for a predicted upcoming war. Back in 1987, when we started this database, it was a war in Europe versus the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact.

Now, my history with the Concepts Analysis Agency (CAA), later renamed the Center for Army Analysis (still CAA), goes back to 1973, when it was founded in Bethesda, MD. I was in my junior year in high school, my mother had just been promoted to a school principal and my father had just finished his three-year assignment in the Pentagon. My mother did not want to move again, so, my father found another assignment in the DC area. This was with the newly forming CAA in 1973. He had just happened to have finished a master degree in Systems Analysis from USC, so was nominally qualified.

My father was working over at manpower in the Pentagon, under Col. John Brinkerhoff. They all reported to General Donn Starry (who I did have the pleasure of meeting). Those two transferred together over the CAA, with Col. (Dr.) John Brinkerhoff taking over a division with my father as his assistant. I therefore started hearing stories about CAA combat models in 1973 based upon my father’s hands-on experience. One of the stories he told was that the model tended to fire the longest-range weapons first as units were closing. This made the 8″ Howitzer very valuable. In fact, so valuable, that the best wargaming strategy was build an army of 8″ Howitzers and destroy the Warsaw Pact before they could ever get into engagement range. Obviously, there were a couple of flaws in that wargame.

But, the suite of models, some of which are still in use today, was used to determine the ammunition requirements for the U.S. Army. Therefore, a validation database needed to address these issues. The same fields also existed the Kursk Data Base (1993-1996), which ended up never being used to validate a combat model. It was used to create a big-ass book.

Anyhow, CAA combat models did determine our ammunition requirements until the end of the cold war (22 or 25 or 26 December 1991 when the Soviet Union fell). They were also used to determine the requirements for the 1991 Gulf War. According to the story I heard in a meeting, CAA provided the Army general staff with the requirements for the Gulf War. The general staff doubled the figures CAA gave and then we stacked every dock in the Gulf with ammunition. Luckily none of Hussian’s missiles hit those docks. At the end of the war, it turns out we shipped at least ten times the ammunition we needed. As this was old dumb munitions dating back to World War II, it was cheaper to destroy them there then ship them back, which is what we did. Don’t have a count of what was destroyed in the Gulf, but guessing it was millions of rounds. 

After that, I do not know what OSD PA&E or CAA or the U.S. Army did to determine ammunition requirements. We no longer had a neatly canned scenario like the Fulda Gap. We no longer had a clear enemy. How much ammunition is needed is driven by both the combat model used (which tends to “run hot”) and more significantly, the scenarios used. If all the scenarios used a four-day combat scenario (like the Gulf War) then one will end up with very different needs then if one is planning for a 90-day or 180-day war (or three-year war in the case of Ukraine). I have no idea what scenarios were used, and it is probably classified. But, the end result, is that our production of ammunition over the decades since 1991 has dropped considerably while a lot of our reserves were destroyed in the Gulf.

This, of course, harkens back to a complaint I have made over the years, which is that we tend to focus on the missions and wars we think are most likely now, and not the entire spectrum of wars and conflicts that we can see are possible if one looks wider and deeper into history. Clearly, we were not ready for extended war in Ukraine, and this is not the first time in recent times we have not been properly prepared for certain conflicts. I do discuss this issue in America’s Modern Wars. 

P.S. The West is underestimating Ukraine’s artillery needs – Defense One

So, has Ukraine only lost 31,000 since the start of the war?

Well, Zelenskyy got my attention with his claim on Sunday that Ukraine has lost 31,000 killed in action since the start of the war. He also claimed that the Russians have lost 180,000. See: Zelenskyy says 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers killed since Russia invaded 2 years ago | CBC News).

Several issues here:

First, who makes up those 31,000 killed? If Zelenskyy has thrown out a figure for the first time since the summer of 2022, I am guessing it is based upon something. These figures probably do not include missing. Now we do not have a count of the missing. We do know that as of 30 June 2022 Russia claimed that there were at least 6,000 Ukrainians captured (see Battle for Kyiv, Chapter 20). In early July 2022, the Ukrainian missing person commissioner stated on TV that more than 7,000 people are missing, including soldiers, national guardsmen, border guards and intelligence officers. When on the defense and retreating, the missing can add up, sometimes exceeding the number reported as killed. This is shown by the Russian First Guards Tank Army reports for 24 February to 15 March 2022 (even though they were on the offiense), the missing outnumbered the killed (See: Tank Losses and Crew Casualties in the Russo-Ukrainian War | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org) and The Russian First Tank Army Report from 24 February – 15 March 2022 | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)). 

But, I am not sure that is all that is missing. Are Ukrainian National Guard included? The Ukrainian National Guard includes units such as the Azov Battalion. They are not organizationally part of the Ukrainian Army. Then there is the Territorial Defense Forces. These often ad hoc organizations are officially part of the Ukrainian Army, but not sure that their losses are being counted among the army losses. So, actually Ukrainian losses are clearly higher than 31,000.

The last time Zelenskyy gave an estimate was on 21 August of 2022. He said at the time that their losses were around 9,000. Two months earlier (11 June), there were reports that Ukraine was saying that their losses were 10,000. So they have a 1,000 less losses two months later? A presidential aide put Ukrainian losses as of 1 December 2022 at 10,000 – 13,000. So, we have 13,000 losses in the first 9 months of the war, and another 18,000 losses in the last 15 months? 

Now, in my last estimate of Ukrainian losses, I put Ukrainian losses at least at 60,000 killed. I am not sure I am ready to back away from that: See: The Russo-Ukrainian War – Day 699 | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org).

Part of the reason for my higher totals is that I don’t think there is a wide disparency between Ukrainian and Russian losses. Yet, Zelenskyy is saying there is an exchange rate of almost 6-to-1. How does that happen? Supposedly Russian has an artillery advantage, Ukraine has a shell shortage (which is part of the reason they are claiming for the loss of Avdiivka), and Russia is firing like three times to ten times the rounds per day as Ukraine is. Now, in a modern conventional war (modern in this case is defined as 1904 and later), the majority of casualties are taken by artillery and other high explosive weapons. If Russia has a significant artillery advantage, then how in the hell are they taking six times the losses of the Ukrainians? This simply defies logic. 

So, either the Ukrainian claims of losses is too low (which is probably the case) or the Ukrainian claims of Russian losses are simply too high (which is also probably the case). I will stick with my previous estimates (repeated liink): The Russo-Ukrainian War – Day 699 | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org).

Now, the last report from the Ukrainian defense ministry was that Russian losses were over 400,000 killed (409,820 as of 25 February 2024). This number had been batted around without comment by a lot of people on twitter (now known as X – which sucks as an App name). Clearly, Zelenskyy is now repudiating his defense ministry’s own claims by providing a figure that is less than half of that. Are all those people on twitter who have accepted these previous Ukrainian claims lock, stock and barrel going to scale back to the lower figures? I am tempted to call them out by name, but I prefer to find the truth, not get into arguments with people. There has been a lot of really light-weight bullshit casualty figures put out there by people who should know better.

So let us say that Russia does have an artillery advantage and has been firing more shells (see: The West is underestimating Ukraine’s artillery needs – Defense One). That would argue for higher Ukrainian losses than Russian losses. Now, I gather the nature of their artillery shells are not the same. Russia is firing lots of “dumb” munitions. That is certainly the case with the stuff they are getting from North Korea. I gather the percent of rounds that are smart munitions is higher (much higher?) for the Ukrainians than for Russia. So, less firepower but more accuracy. Does that generate a more favorable exchange ratio for Ukraine? Could be. Does in generate a 6-to-1 exchange ratio? Probably not.

Now, for all practical purposes, Ukraine has really not been on the offensive since November 2022. The little attack that they did in early June 2023 was “offensive light” and called off before the casualties got too high. They really have not done anything since then. On the other hand, Russia has had two extended furious offensives, at Bakhmut in early 2023, where they clearly took losses (and threw people away in penal units) and now Avdiivka. Do these two offensives add up to another 150,000 killed above and beyond what Ukraine has lost? I seriously doubt it. I do not rule out that it did run up Russian losses to be higher than Ukrainian losses, which is part of the reason I potentially put Ukrainian losses at only 75% of Russian losses. This a very different than a 6-to-1 exchange ratio.

So, for now I am sticking with my estimates as outlines in the post (repeated link): The Russo-Ukrainian War – Day 699 | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org). The count of Russian losses by Mediazona is now 44,654 (as of 15 February 2024). If I double that, then we are looking at potentially 89,308 killed. This is about half of what Zelenskyy is saying. Now, the Ukrainian Book of Remembrance for the Fallen for Ukraine had 22,224 names listed of the end of August 2023, while Mediazone has 30,698 Russian names listed as of 24 August 2023 (this is 72%). If we take 75% of Russia’s casualties, then we end up with 66,981. Is this a valid Ukrainian casualty estimate? If so, that puts Ukrainian losses at over twice what Zelenskyy is saying.

Is it possible in the middle of a war that a politician running one side could claim their losses are half of what they actually suffered while doubling their enemy’s losses? Distinctly possible.

Encyclopedia of Military History

Long before the internet, people used to write (and read) encyclopedias. I still have a few in my house, including a Funk & Wagnalls (as in “look that up in your Funk & Wagnalls”). Just saw a twitter post yesterday that referenced Dupuy & Dupuy’s Encyclopedia of Military History: Paul Poast on X: “To identify war outcomes, Stam’s study drew on military histories, notably the encyclopedic volume by Dupuy & Dupuy (cc @dupuyinstitute). https://t.co/oGJR4ZZuNQ” / X (twitter.com)

This was apparently part of a thread Dr. Paul Poast had on coding victories. As he notes, in a “pioneering work on war outcomes by Alan Stam” (Paul Poast on X: “This can be seen by considering the pioneering work on war outcomes by Alan Stam. https://t.co/8R6IY1JQOd” / X (twitter.com)), he drew heavily on Dupuy & Dupuy’s Encyclopedia of Military History. Now, that is gratifying. I am not familiar with Allan C. Stam and his work. In fact, this is the first I have heard of it (I do not get out much). It was first published in 1996. But, as they are referencing Trevor Dupuy’s work, I figured I should at least mention it in a blog post.

Schedule for the Third Historical Analysis Annual Conference (HAAC), 8-10 October 2024

This is the first provisional schedule for the third Historical Analysis Annual Conference (HAAC). We currently have 25 presentations scheduled by 17 speakers and two group discussions planned. We are looking for more presentations. Each slot is an hour long, so plan for a 45-minute presentation and 15 minutes of discussion.

The conference is at 1934 Old Gallows Road, Suite 350, Vienna, VA 22182. This is basically across the street by Tysons Corner Shopping mall and the Marriot Hotel on Route 7. It is right off the Route 7 exit from 495 (the Beltway). It is at the corner of Route 7 (Leesburg Pike) and Old Gallows Road. It is in the building above the restaurant called Rangos. Parking is in the parking garage next door to it.

Conference description is here: The Second Historical Analysis Annual Conference (HAAC), 17-19 October 2023 in Tysons Corner, VA | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)

Costs, Hotels and Call for Presentations: Cost of the Second Historical Analysis Annual Conference (HAAC), 17 -19 October 2023 | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org) and Hotels for the Second Historical Analysis Annual Conference (HAAC), 17-19 October 2023 | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org) and Call for Presentations for the Second Historical Analysis Annual Conference (HAAC), 17-19 October 2023 | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org).

The cost of the conference is $150 for entire conference or $60 a day. This the same as the last two years. Please pay through PayPal (www.paypal.com) to SRichTDI@aol.com. The conference is priced to cover the costs of the conference facility. We are also set up to take credit card payments by phone. Call The Dupuy Institute during working hours at (703) 289-0007.

We are set up for virtual presentations and virtual attendees. We do record the presentations but most have not been published yet.


Schedule: Pike and Gallows Conference Center

Updated: revised 16 February 2024


Day 1: Analysis of Conventional Combat

0900 – 0930    Introductory remarks – Christopher A. Lawrence (TDI)

0930 – 1030    Studying Combat: The “Base of Sand” Problem – Dr. Shawn R. Woodford

1030 – 1130    open

1130 – 1230    Redux: Quantifying Warfare – Alexandru Filip (Canadian Center for Strategic Studies)

1230 – 1400    Lunch

1400 – 1500    Temporal and Geographic Patterns of Fatal Casualty Rates in WWI and WWII – Sasho Todorov, esquire  

1500 – 1600    reserved (wargaming) – Doug Samuelson (InfoLogix)

1600 – 1700    open

1700 – 1800    Grinch in Ukraine – Carl Larson


Evening (1900):    Group Dinner – Rangos


Day 2: Analysis of Unconventional Warfare

0900 – 1000    Iraq, Data, Hypotheses and Afghanistan (old) – Christopher A. Lawrence (TDI)

1000 – 1100    Native American Wars and Conflicts, 1500-1900 – Dr. David Cuberes

1100 – 1200    The Gaza Death Numbers – Dr. Michael Spagat (Royal Holloway University)

1200 – 1300    Lunch

1300 – 1400   Close Combat Overmatch Weapons (SLAMMER) – Joe Follansbee (Col., USA, ret.)

1400 – 1500    open  

1500 – 1600    Reserved (Jennifer Schlacht, M.A.)

1600 – 1700    Group Discussion: The Next Middle East Wars


Evening (1900):    Group Dinner – BJs


Day 3: Other Analysis of Warfare

0900 – 1000   open 

1000 – 1100    Reserved (Dr. James Slaughter)

1100 – 1200   The Future of TDI and work of the conference – Christopher A. Lawrence (TDI)

1200 – 1300    Lunch

1300 – 1400   The Red Army’s Offensive Operations in Ukraine, 1943-44 – Dr. Richard Harrison

1400 – 1500    Critique of Western Wargames of NATO-WP Conflict – Walker Gargagliano

1500 – 1600    open

1600 – 1700    Group Discussion: Russo-Ukrainian War


Evening:    Happy hour – Rangos 



Schedule: Einstein Conference Room


Day 1: Poster and Book Room

Opened at 0800


Afternoon Day 1: Air Warfare Analysis

1400 – 1500    open

1500 – 1600    Temporal and Geographic Patterns of Fatal Casualty Rates in WWI and WWII (part 2 or overflow presentation) – Sasho Todorov, esquire 

1600 – 1700    open


Day 2: Analysis of Conventional Combat – mostly virtual

0900 – 1000    Designing Computer Based AI Wargaming Systems for Simulating and Investigating Historical Battles – Clinton Reilly (Computer Strategies, Australia) – virtual

1000 – 1100    Beaches by the Numbers – Dr. Julian Spencer-Churchill (Concordia University, Quebec) – virtual

1100 – 1200   Surveying and Quantifying Naval Warfare – Alexandru Filip

1200 – 1300    Lunch

1300 – 1400    Urban Warfare: Myths and Reality – Dr. James Storr (UK) – virtual

1400 – 1500    Urban Warfare (old) – Christopher A. Lawrence (TDI)

1500 – 1600    open

1600 – 1700    open


Day 3: Other Analysis of Warfare

0900 – 1000    Winfield Scott: Architect of American Joint Warfare (LtC. Nathan A. Jennings) – virtual ?

1000 – 1100    The Red Army’s Plans for a Preemptive Attack in 1941 – Dr. Richard Harrison

1100 – 1200    The Impact of Horses on Native Americans – Dr. David Cuberes

1200 – 1300    Lunch    

1300 – 1400   Mass Egress after an IED Explosion: Lessons Learned about Validation – Doug Samuelson (InfoLogix)

1400 – 1500    Political Science Pedagogy in Strategic Studies (A Contrast in Quantified History) – Dr. Julian Spencer-Churchill – virtual

1500 – 1600    open

1600 – 1700    open


The presentations from all three days of the first HAAC are here: Presentations from the first HAAC – all three days | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org).

Friday, October 11: Tour of a Civil War Battlefield – Antietam: bloodiest day of the U.S. Civil War (and in the Western Hemisphere?). –  we will arrange transport there and back ($20 charge for tour).

The Russian First Tank Army Report from 24 February – 15 March 2022

Referenced this report in this blog post: Tank Losses and Crew Casualties in the Russo-Ukrainian War | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)

The actual six pages of the report here, for those who can work in Russian (this is mostly a list of names and then equipment losses):

Last opposed amphibious operation

I have written a paragraph in a book I am working on that states:

It is probably also worth bearing in mind that the last opposed U.S. amphibious operation conducted by the U.S. Marine Corps was the landing at Tang Island in 1975, and since then, no nation has conducted a major amphibious operation against a defended beachhead. There have been no major opposed amphibious operations in the last 48 years.

Now, is there anything I am missing? Has anyone in the world conducted a significant opposed amphibious operation since 1975?

Interesting review of The Battle for Kyiv

Just stumbled last night across this review of The Battle for Kyiv. It is an interesting take on the subject. The reviewer is someone I know.

Draft history in The Battle of Kyiv: The Fight for Ukraine’s Capital by Christopher A. Lawrence – Armchair Dragoons

Now, my nagging suspicion is that it will be a while (decades) before anything other than a “draft” history can be written. Might be more than a few decades to get access to Russian archives. We were not able to get access to Soviet archives on Kursk (1943) until 1993, and that was only by using some round about means and a project budget not available to most historians. We have still not gotten access to Chinese records from the Korea War (1950–1953). So, one is certainly looking at least at 50 to 75 years in these cases.

Tank Losses and Crew Casualties in the Russo-Ukrainian War

One of our more popular blog posts is this one:
U.S. Tank Losses and Crew Casualties in World War II | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org).

Now we were able to do a similar comparison of the personnel losses to tank losses for the Russian First Guards Tank Army from 24 February to 15 March 2022. This came from a captured document released by Ukrainian intelligence. The two pages from that report included below.

What I say in my book, The Battle for Kyiv, page 129-131, is:

The Russian 1st Guards Tank Army was deployed across a wide area of the front from around Sumy to north of Kharkiv. They seemed to achieve rather limited results considering this was largest army and the premier army in Russia. The 2nd Guards Motorized Rifle Division was involved in the movements past Sumy and Konotop, before being stopped east of Pryluky, 75 miles (121km) east of Kyiv.15 Its losses as of 15 March were reported to be16 killed, 43 wounded, 2 missing and 54 captured for a total of 115 casualties. Its tank losses were considerably higher, with 45 T72B3Ms lost. It lost 85 other vehicles. This division ended up with a wounded-to-killed ratio of 2.69-to-1.

The 4th Guards Tank Division was involved in the attack on Okhtyrka and operations north of Kharkiv. Its losses as of 15 March were reported to be 25 killed, 92 wounded, 18 missing, 21 captured for a total of 156 casualties. The tanks losses between its 2 tank regiments were 62 T-80Us and T-80UEs. It lost 58 other vehicles. This division ended up with a wounded-to-killed ratio of 3.68-to-1. It was stopped at Okhtyrka, but this obviously was not with high personnel losses, although the tank and vehicle losses were notable.

The 47th Guards Tank Division was involved in operations north of Kharkiv. The 26th Tank Regiment losses as of 15 March were 4 killed and 13 wounded. Its tank losses were only 8 T-72B3Ms and T-72 B3M2s. The division lost 9 other vehicles. The 7th Reconnaissance Battalion lost 5 killed, 13 wounded, 2 missing and 1 captured. These are not high losses. The division ended up with a wounded-to-killed ratio of 2.88-to-1. These appear to be the only two combat units that made up 47th Guards Tank Division.

The 27th Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade, which appears to have operated around Sumy, had 7 killed, 28 wounded, 14 missing and 14 captured. The brigade lost 9 T-90s and 21 other vehicles. It had a wounded to killed ratio of 4.00-to-1.

Other army troop losses were 4 killed, 18 wounded, 8 missing and 6 captured along with 15 vehicles lost. Overall losses of the 1st Guards Tank Army, drawn from a captured Russian report released by Ukraine, were only 408 in 3 weeks of fighting. This included 61 killed, 207 wounded, 44 missing and 96 surrendered. This is a wounded-to-killed ratio of 3.39-to-1. There were also two sanitary losses from 2nd Guards Motorized Rifle Division due to illness. Their total equipment losses were 115 tanks and 197 other vehicles lost for a total of 312. This is 0.86 people killed or wounded for every vehicle lost. There is no strong reason to the doubt this report.

One cannot help but make a few observations about this report. First, personnel losses are lower than one would expect, considering their actions, the Ukrainian claims and their heavy armor losses. It would appear that they did not make much active use of their infantry in combat. Second, the armor losses are significant. Of the 115 tanks lost, it is not known how many were broken down, abandoned or captured. In the Oryx count of tanks lost, around one-third were abandoned or captured. Probably some of these were broken down. One does note that there is less than one person killed or wounded per vehicle lost. Third, the number of people missing and captured is high for the overall casualties. They make up 34% of their casualties. These are not the figures that one would expect to see from a force on the offense. At the Battle of Kursk in 1943, units with that high of losses of missing and captured tended to be defenders who were dislodged and partly overrun. These high missing and captured figures from 1st Guards Tank Army indicates poor morale and mishandling of the units. One wonders if the fearsome 1st Guards Tank Army was still somewhat lacking in capability. It was probably made up of a mix of contract soldiers and conscripts, with perhaps the third battalion in each regiment or brigade being conscripts. As such, most of them would not have been sent into Ukraine because of Russian policies. In the end, the 1st Guards Tank Army ended up taking no significant cities, not even Sumy, only 25 miles (40km) from the border, and never got within 100km of Kyiv.

Their opposition appeared to include the Ukrainian 58th Motorized Brigade in addition to National Guard forces and perhaps other Ukrainian regular forces.

Now. I was intending to include parts of this report in my picture section, was limited as to how many photos I could provide (photo 63):

and (photo 64):

Call for Presentations for the Third HAAC

We are scheduling the Third HAAC in Tysons Corner, VA (just outside of DC) for 8-10 October 2024. Making a call for presentations at this time. Conference will be similar in structure to the previous conference: The Second Historical Analysis Annual Conference (HAAC), 17-19 October 2023 in Tysons Corner, VA | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org) and The Schedule for the Second Historical Analysis Annual Conference (HAAC), 17 – 19 October 2023 | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org).

To offer to make a presentation, just email me at LawrenceTDI@aol.com. The process is informal and we will not be asking for abstracts or papers. We just want you there presenting, so try to make it as easy as possible. 

I will be posting up an initial schedule soon.

Also of interest is the HADSS (Historical Analysis for Defence and Security Symposium) in York, UK on 8-11 July: Weighing the Fog of War (wordpress.com). I will be there.