Losses in the Hamas-Israel War – Day 111

I have not blogged much about the Hamas-Israeli War since the first couple of days of the war (for example, see: Hamas-Israeli War – Day 3 | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)). On Monday, 22 January, 24 Israeli soldiers were killed in one day. Twenty-one were killed in a single blast that collapsed two buildings. Previously, on October 31, 16 Israeli soldiers were killed, 11 in a single incident when an armored personnel carrier was hit. 

Total losses for the Israeli armed forces during the offensive into Gaza is 219 (as of 22 January). See: 24 soldiers killed on deadliest day for Israeli forces in Gaza combat | CNN. Wikipedia is reporting a total of 627 service members killed, 556 soldiers, 61 police and 10 “Shin Bet” personnel. Many of those were among the 1,200 killed on 7 October. See: Authorities name 556 soldiers, 60 police officers killed in Gaza war | The Times of Israel.

Just for comparison, Israeli losses in the 1956 War were 172 killed, their losses in the 1967 war were 776-983 killed, their losses in the 1973 War were 2,521 to 2,800 killed, their losses in the 1982-85 intervention in Lebanon were 654 killed, their losses were 559 killed (256 in combat) in the 1985-2000 Southern Lebanese Conflict (vs Hezbollah) and they lost 121 killed in the 2006 Lebanon War (also vs Hezbollah). The Gaza War (2008-2009) lasted 23 days and resulted in 10 Israeli soldiers killed (and 3 civilians). The 2014 Gaza War lasted 50 days and resulted in 67 Israeli soldiers killed (and 6 civilians).

Hamas’ actual losses are harder to gauge. Israel is claiming that they have killed about 9,000 Hamas fighters in Gaza along with more than 1,000 killed during the attacks on 7 October. The U.S. is recently saying they have been attritted by 20-30%. Just to complicate such calculations, it is uncertain what Hamas’ strength originally was. U.S. intelligence estimates Hamas strength at between 25,000 to 30,000 before the war, plus thousands of police and other forces. Israel estimates Hamas at 30,000 or more.

Israel is estimating that as many at 16,000 Hamas have been wounded. The U.S. estimates between 10,500 to 11,700 wounded. This produces some unusually low wounded-to-killed ratios. Israel as reported three days ago to have 190 killed and around 1,200 wounded in their offensive operations, producing a 6.32-to-1 wounded-to-killed ratio. See: Hamas Toll Thus Far Falls Short of Israel’s War Aims, U.S. Says (msn.com).

The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry has said that the total number of Palestinians killed since October 7 is 25,295 (as of 22 January). It is hard to know how accurate these figures are, but MSNBC has made the argument that in the past the Gaza Health Ministry has provided accurate estimates: Casualties in the Hamas-Israeli War | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org). Regardless, it does seem that a significant percent of the losses are civilians and that civilian killed number in the thousands. With over 40% of the population being under 14 or younger, then over half of those civilians were not of voting age when Hamas was first elected to lead Gaza in 2006 (and it was their last election: see 2006 Palestinian legislative election – Wikipedia). This is just noted in case someone wants to make an argument that these civilians deserve what they are getting. There has also been hundreds of thousands of civilians forced to relocate, and there are not a lot of good places to relocated to in Gaza.

Israel lost over 1,200 killed on 7 October. This included around 799 civilians and a large number of military, reservists, police, etc. Total Israeli civilians killed since the start of this war is 809 (according to Wikipedia). Over 250 civilians have been taken hostage (253 according to Wikipedia), of which 110 have been rescued or released and 38 are confirmed to now be dead (at least three killed by Israel). This leaves over 100 who may be still in captivity. Some of them have probably died (according to Wikipedia there are 107 living captives and 29 dead bodies while CNN reports 104 living and 28 dead bodies).

The U.S., in operations against the Houthis in Yemen, have lost two special forces soldiers. Houthi losses are fairly limited (10 according to Wikipedia).

There is no good solution here. I was of the opinion that the most rational result would have been for Israel to invade Gaza for two weeks, negotiate a hostage release, declare victory and pull out. For lots of reasons, this did not happen. So, the war continues past day 111, with the 800 Israeli civilians killed on 7 October being overshadowed by the thousands of civilian deaths in Gaza. Hamas is slowly winning the propaganda war.

Note the opinion of U.S. 18-24 years olds or “under 35” in various recent polls: Quinnipiac poll shows Israel-Palestine divide across generations, parties – POLITICO and Vast majority of voters back Israel over Hamas: Poll (msn.com).

Casualties in the Hamas-Israeli War

There is an MSNBC news clip about casualties in the Hamas-Israeli War that is worth noting: Counting the casualties in an active warzone – YouTube

I may comment on it at some point, but just wanted to bring it to people’s attention for now.

What is does say:

  1. More than 20,000 people have died in Gaza according to Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.
  2. 1,200 people have died in Israel.
  3. Israel says that 470 soldiers have been killed.
  4. Hamas took about 250 hostages. Around 129 remain in Gaza.
  5. Israel says 22 hostages have been killed.

Deaths in past Gaza conflicts:

               Israeli      Gaza Health

               Military    Ministry

2009       1,116       1,440

2014       2,125       2,310

 

It has been suggested that two Palestinian civilians are being killed for every one Hamas fighter killed. If true, this would mean:

  1. 6,667 Hama fighters killed.
  2. 13,333 civilians killed.

I do have some doubts about these estimates.

Of Rockets and Hospitals

Below is a new blog post from our friend William (Chip) Sayers. As it about the current fighting between Hamas and Israel, I am almost afraid to post it, as anything you say is going to offend someone somewhere. But… we push forward, in the spirit of open discussion, putting the usual disclaimer that this is Chip Sayers’ personal evaluation and does not represent the position of The Dupuy Institute, and so on and so forth.

His posting:

Of Rockets and Hospitals

Recently, a Gaza City hospital was reportedly destroyed with great loss of life. At first, the Israeli Air Force was blamed — with all the footage of buildings collapsing after IAF strikes, it seemed the logical explanation. However, a second narrative sprang up when an audio file of what was purported to a Hamas guerilla reporting to his leadership that the strike was actually by a malfunctioning Hamas rocket inadvertently falling on the hospital. If one blindly believes one side or the other, this is a simple problem: the bad guys did it and are trying to shift the blame to the good guys. For the rest of us with more critical minds, we want to know if this is something that can be teased apart to reveal the truth.

First off, we need to explore motive: why would either side deliberately do this? The Hamas audio file clearly portrays the incident as an accident, so motive is not a factor on their side — they didn’t mean to do it. 

Israel’s position in more complex. Two weeks into this war, Tel Aviv has more worldwide support than they have enjoyed in decades, primarily it seems, due to the savage nature of Hamas’ surprise attack and a clear attempt to intimidate Israel through deliberately repulsive inhumane actions. This support may not last long and any misstep by Tel Aviv could cause it to vanish altogether. Certainly, the deliberate bombing of a Palestinian hospital would qualify as a massive misstep. Therefore, it seems highly unlikely that Israel would risk so much for so little advantage. Indeed, what advantage could be derived from such a strike? Even if Netanyahu was hell-bent on genocide, this would be a bad move at this stage of the war.

If Israel did this, it is far more likely that it was a mistake — similar to the U.S. bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade twenty-four years ago. In that particular case, we had paid little attention to Yugoslavia for the previous decade and our files were in pitiful shape [Chip would probably know this due to his background]. Meanwhile, the Chinese Embassy had moved without our notice. I’m sure the Dept. of State knew exactly where it was, but Dept. of Defense, not so much. Could this have been the result of a similar mistake? Possibly, but Gaza isn’t a backwater that Israeli intelligence has ignored for the previous decade. Further, hospitals — particularly in wartime — have distinct signatures: lots of traffic, including multiple ambulances at any given time, 24-hour service, plus they are usually distinctively marked. So, it seems unlikely that it could have been a case of misidentification.

If this was not an intentional act, could it have been some kind of mistake? The strategic bombing campaign against Germany in WWII is replete with examples of bombers — even lead bombers — being hit at the moment of bomb release which cause the deadly payloads to go astray. In December, 1972, a USAF B-52 infamously damaged the Bac Mai hospital in Hanoi in a similar occurrence. Further, the bombs themselves can be damaged such that fins are bent or fail to deploy, causing the missile to go astray. Even GPS-guided bombs can malfunction or fall to human error with unintended consequences. On 5 December 2001, Hamid Karzai, future President of Afghanistan was almost killed when an attack controller changed the batteries on his GPS kit just before a strike and inadvertently ordered the bomb onto his own coordinates. Could this have been a malfunction or mistake on the part of the IAF? Yes, absolutely.

Could this have been caused by a Hamas rocket? Yes. In fact, it’s inevitable. While some of Hamas’ rockets are factory-made in Iran, it appears that the vast majority are “homemade” in small sheet-metal shops on-site. While the designs have been largely standardized, the potential for malfunctions is fairly high. When tens of thousands of rockets are launched, a certain percentage of them are inevitably going to go astray. In point of fact, Hamas and Hezbollah actually depend on the fact that these things land indiscriminately among the general population of Israel. While a portion of Hezbollah’s rockets are guided to one degree or another, the vast majority of both group’s are not, so many of the attacking rockets may be malfunctioning without anyone being the wiser. It’s actually surprising that more “short rounds” of Hamas rockets haven’t been reported falling on Gaza.

So, what can the actual damage to the hospital tell us? Well, for one thing, it tells us someone is lying. It is almost inconceivable that 500 people died in that strike given the damage reported. Had the hospital collapsed entirely, that would be a high figure. But there is no significant structural damage to the building to be seen and a very small crater in the pavement (2-3 feet deep by about as wide), consistent with the detonation of a relatively small rocket warhead detonation. A dozen, two dozen, maybe a handful more deaths could have resulted, but 500 is patently ludicrous. In a perfect storm of circumstances, a 2,000lb bomb might have done that kind of damage, but it would have had to be an airburst detonation roughly 30-50 feet above the ground. That would almost certainly have been a preplanned act with deliberate fuzeing to kill the maximum number of people. We have seen no evidence whatsoever that the IAF has made other attacks in a similar fashion. A malfunction or mistake with a 2,000lb bomb would have involved a bomb fuzed to detonate after penetrating deep into the ground — which matches what we have seen thus far as they have brought down building after building with such attacks. Had one of these attacks gone astray for whatever reason, there would be a crater in evidence — on the order of 30 or 40 feet wide by 20 feet or more deep, nothing like what we’ve seen.

The evidence is leaning towards a Hamas rocket, but an IAF bomb cannot be ruled out. The question remains, who benefits? Clearly, it’s Hamas. U.S. support has weakened already, with Congressmen and college students protesting Israeli “war crimes.” The narrative that Israel did this serves to give the sides a moral equivalence in some minds. On the other hand, Israel has everything to lose and nothing to gain by such butchery.

And this, my friends, is a good example of intelligence analysis. You take disparate fragments of information, paste them into a framework that tells a plausible story, and you make a judgement call. Hopefully, the analyst has his or her judgment backed by plenty of relevant experience. There are no crystal balls and only on the rarest occasions does the enemy reveal his evil plans within earshot of some collector. And even then, you always have to be suspicious that he’s feeding you the information for his own nefarious reasons.

My own call? Hamas did it. They may have even done it deliberately — we saw that happen often enough 25 years ago in the Balkans. However, we won’t get that paranoid. The likeliest explanation is a malfunction, and I’m sticking with my story.

Hamas-Israeli War – Day 3

Israel formally declared war against the Palestinian militant group Hamas on 8 October (although not against Gaza). It was done by the Israeli security cabinet. I have not seen a declaration. The last time they declared war was in 1973. The last time anyone in the world formally declared war was when?

Israel as ordered a complete siege of the Gaza Strip. The defense minister said: “There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed. We are fighting human animals and we are acting accordingly.” The Gaza Strip does have a 6.8 mile (11 kilometer) border with Egypt. Speaking of Egypt, there is a report that an Egyptian intelligence official told AP that the Israeli government was warned by Egypt 10 days before the Hamas attack that “something big” was being planned by Hamas. The office of Israeli Prime Minister has called the claim “absolutely false’. 

Israel has regained most of the areas that Hamas penetrated. Gun battles continued through the night of 7/8 October. Israel claimed on 8 October that it took back 29 areas from Hamas (up from 22 that they said Hamas took on 7 October). Israel retook the Sderot police station on 8 October, implying that Hamas had taken it the previous day. They are now trying to secure the border areas. As of 9 October (today) there are still some Hamas fighters in Israel and fighting is going on near the Gaza strip but on the Israeli side (maps below are from Wikipedia).

Israel is saying that up to 1,000 Hamas fighters “infiltrated” into Israel. How in the world did that happen? The Israeli army has 126,000 active personnel, while the Gaza Strip has a border with Israel of 32 miles (51 kilometers). They could not protect that border? In contrast, the U.S. border with Mexico is 1,954 miles long (3,145 kilometers).

The Hamas attack on 7 October looks well planned, greatly assisted by a lack of Israeli defensive forces in the area. Hamas took the border crossings in the east of Gaza (Erez Crossing) and were able to advance into Sderot from there; and they took the border crossing in the south-west corner of Gaza (Kerem Shalon), advancing out of there to attack an Israeli music festival. They breached the walls in other areas of the strip. The fact that these two border crossings were not well defended is mystifying.

From there I gather they overran one or two Israeli army bases and the main police station in Sderot (pop. 30,553 in 2021). They then ranged far and wide across the civilian areas, roaming uncontested for up to ten hours. This is a major league failure by the IDF. The lack of a quick and immediate response is also mystifying.

Israel has reported that 85 soldiers, 37 police officers and 5 ISA (Shin Bet – Israel Security Agency) members have been killed. IDF published the names of the soldiers. Photographic evidence is showing one Israeli Merkava tank destroyed and at least five captured. Clearly the bases were not well defended.

A significant number of Israelis were captured. The Israeli Government Press Office stated on the evening of 8 October that the number of hostages in Gaza is over 100. The Israeli ambassador to the U.S. said on 7 October that dozens of Americans are among the hostages. 

On Monday, 9 October, the Israeli government confirmed that more than 900 Israeli civilians had been killed and another 2,150 wounded. Reports are that several Americans (4?) have been killed. The rescue service Zaka said it removed around 260 bodies from the Supernova music festival in the desert near Gaza. Israeli officials say more than 250 people have been killed there.

The U.S. said today (9 October) that nine Americans have been killed in Israel and others are missing. UK is reporting that more than 10 British citizens are killed or missing. Nepal has reported that ten of their citizens have been killed. The French are reporting one woman killed and several others are missing. Cambodia (1) and Ukraine (2) have confirmed that some of their citizens have been killed. Thailand is now reporting that 12 of its citizens have been killed and 11 captured. Others that may have been killed include 4 Argentines, 1 Chilean, 1 German (captured a music festival), 2 Paraguayans and one Canadian killed and two others missing. Thailand says 11 of its citizens have been abducted while Mexico says 2 have been abducted. One Chinese citizen appears to have been abducted from the Supernova festival. Brazil is reporting three missing from that music festival. One Irish woman is missing as are two Tanzania students. 

Israel did strike back, with some 400 targets struck in Gaza during the night of 7/8 October and it is said that more than 800 targets have been hit in Gaza by the evening of 8 October. Gaza Strip has an area of 141 sq. miles (365 sq. kilometers) and a population of 2,375,259. Population density is 16,853 per sq. mile (6,507 per sq. kilometer). This is more than the population density of Washington DC (11,281 per sq. mile) and the size of Gaza Strip is twice the size of Washington DC (68.35 sq miles). Going to be pretty hard to strike 800 targets and not injure at least 800 civilians. The Palestinian Health Ministry was reporting for 7 October) that 232 people in Gaza Strip had been killed and at least 1,700 had been wounded. Have no idea how accurate their reporting is. The Hamas-run health ministry is saying as of 8 October that 413 Palestinians have been killed and 2,300 have been wounded. I assume that is cumulative. It is reported that 7 Palestinians were also killed in the West Bank. On 9 October, the enclave’s Health Ministry has said that 687 people have been killed and 3,700 other wounded from Israel’s retaliatory airstrikes. There has also been 17 people reported killed in the West Bank and 6 in Lebanon. Again, I have no idea how accurate these figures are.

Don’t know how many missiles hit Israel, but some done. Israel said more than 3,500 were fired by Hamas on 7 October. Their latest reports appear to be saying over 2,200 missiles were fired. Don’t know what percent of those were intercepted by the Iron Dome system. Rockets were still being fired on 8 October.

Israeli artillery did fire into southern Lebanon with artillery on 8 October, probably in response to something. Hezbollah responded with some rocket attacks. So far the fighting has been limited to firing in the area of the Shebaa farms. Several people were reported as wounded. The danger is that Hezbollah could join the war. 

The U.S. carrier Gerald R. Ford is moving to the Eastern Mediterranean.

Hamas-Israeli War – Day 2

Well, it is kind of a war now, with the Israeli cabinet saying they are in a state of war. They then formally declared war. When was the last time someone actually formally declared war?

Israel has regained most of the areas that Hamas penetrated. Gun battles continued through the night. Israel took back 29 areas from Hamas (up from 22 that they said Hamas took yesterday). Israel retook the Sderot police station, implying that Hamas had taken it the previous day. They are now securing the border fence. There are still some Hamas infiltrators in Israel, with it being reported that 5 had been picked up today, including one in Sderot.

Israel is saying that up to 1,000 Hamas fighters “infiltrated” into Israel. How in the world did that happen? The Israeli army has 126,000 active personnel, while the Gaza Strip has a border with Israel of 32 miles (51 kilometers). They could not protect that border? 

A significant number of Israelis were captured. It appears to be dozens. The Israeli ambassador to the U.S. is saying dozens of Americans are among the hostages. The Israeli Government Press Office is now (evening 8 October) saying that the number of hostages in Gaza is over 100.

Reports are that several Americans (4?) have been killed. As of 8 October, Israel is reporting at least 300 Israelis killed by Hamas. Israeli media outlets are saying at least 700 Israelis killed. The rescue service Zaka said it removed around 260 bodies from a music festival in the desert near Gaza. By the evening of 8 October, the Israeli government confirmed that more than 700 Israelis had been killed.

Among the reported dead is 10 Nepalese citizens, and France, Cambodia, Thailand (2), Ukraine (2) and the UK have confirmed that some of their citizens have been killed. It is also reported that 4 Americans may have been killed along with 2 Argentines, 1 Chilean and 1 German. Thailand says 11 of its citizens have been abducted while Mexico says 2 have been abducted. Israel has reported that 57 soldiers, 34 police officers and 5 ISA (Shin Bet – Israel Security Agency) members have been killed. IDF p[ublished the names of the soldiers.

Israel did strike back, with some 400 targets struck in Gaza during the night of 7/8 October and it is said that more than 800 targets have been hit in Gaza so far. Gaza Strip has an area of 141 sq. miles (365 sq. kilometers) and a population of 2,375,259. Population density is 16,853 per sq. mile (6,507 per sq. kilometer). This is more than the population density of Washington DC (11,281 per sq. mile) and the size of Gaza Strip is twice the size of Washington DC (68.35 sq miles). Going to be pretty hard to strike 400 targets and not injure at least 400 civilians. The Palestinian Health Ministry was reporting yesterday (7 October) that 232 people in Gaza Strip had been killed and at least 1,700 had been wounded. Have no idea how accurate their reporting is. The Hamas-run health ministry is saying today (8 October) that 413 Palestinians have been killed and 2,300 have been wounded. I assume that is cumulative. It is reported that 7 Palestinians were also killed in the West Bank.

Don’t know how many missiles hit Israel, but some done. Israel said more than 3,500 were fired by Hamas yesterday (7 October). Don’t know what percent of those were intercepted by the Iron Dome system. Rockets were still being fired on 8 October.

Israeli artillery did fire into southern Lebanon with artillery today (8 October), probably in response to something. Hezbollah responded with some rocket attacks. So far the fighting has been limited to firing in the area of the Shebaa farms. Several people were reported as wounded. The danger is that Hezbollah could join the war. 

Photographic evidence is showing one Israeli Merkava tank destroyed and at least five captured.

The U.S. carrier Gerald R. Ford is moving to the Eastern Mediterranean.

Gaza Strip barriers torn open

One of the sad things about being a military historian and defense analyst is that not only are you never suffering from a lack of cases to examine, but the world keeps just adding new wars, conflicts, political violence and terrorist incidents. I fear I will never become obsolete.

Hamas tore through the Gaza Strip barriers today, proving once again that 1) barriers are useless if not properly defended, 2) stubbornly refusing to resolve an issue means it keeps coming back up, and 3) intelligence services are far from foolproof.

Anyhow, on Saturday morning (7 October), the Jewish sabbath, Hamas attacked the Gaza Strip barrier. Hamas unleashed a massive barrage of rockets. More than 3,500 according to the Israeli military. Hamas fighters then broke though the barriers along the Gaza Strip in multiple locations. They used explosives to break through the border fence, fighters to assault select points, and even bulldozers to take down fences. They then crossed with motorcycles, pickup trucks, paragliders and speed boats along the coast. 

According to AP News Service, Hamas fighters “rolled into” as many as 22 locations inside of Israel, going as far as 15 miles (24 kilometers) inside Israel. In some places the Hamas fighters roamed the streets of the towns, gunning down civilians and soldiers. The Israel rescue service Saka said at least 200 people were killed and 1,1000 wounded. This makes this the bloodiest fight for Israel since the 1982-85 Israeli Intervention in the Lebanese Civil War. 

Meanwhile, the Israeli air force launched airstrikes at Gaza. At least one 14-story building went down. The Palestinian Health Ministry said that at least 232 people in Gaza Strip have been killed and at least 1,700 have been wounded. I gather in both cases the majority of casualties were civilians. 

Added to that Hamas has taken two dozen or more hostages, both civilians and soldiers, based upon the videos I have seen. There are pictures of at least nine people gunned down at a bus shelter in the town of Sderot and roomful of Israeli’s executed in a kibbutz.

Among the hostages, an elderly Israeli woman was seen brought back to Gaza on a golf cart and another woman on a motorcycle. Hamas was parading captured Israeli military vehicles through the streets of Gaza. Hamas is claiming to be holding dozens of Israeli soldiers captive. There appears to be some truth to that. AP journalists saw four civilians, including two women, taken from kibbutz of Kfar Azza. Other videos show a half-dozen or more Israeli civilians rounded up by Hamas on the street and loaded into trucks. I assume they are now in Gaza.

Israel is claiming that Haas will pay an “unprecedented price” and is moving four divisions of troops to the Gaza border. There are supposedly 31 Israeli battalions already in the area.

We shall see how this plays out. Does Hezbollah join in (distinctly possible)? Does the PLO join in (maybe)? Do Arab-Israeli citizens protest? This conflict is probably going to be bloody, with the majority of losses on both sides being civilians.

Internationally, most likely the reproachment between Israel and Saudi Arabia will be tabled.

The U.S. Army’s revised Field Manual FM 3-0: Operations

The new revision of the U.S. Army’s Field Manual FM 3-0: Operations is out. It is dated October 2022 and is here: FM 3-0_WEB_Working.pdf (army.mil)

I have not read it yet and certainly will not do so this year. I did take a moment to word search its 280 pages. Found one reference to Trevor Dupuy’s work. It is a footnote for page 6-26 (page 154) discussing the 1973 Arab-Israeli War. They reference on page 242 and in the bibliography on page 264: Historical Evaluation and Research Organization, Analysis of Factors that have Influenced Outcomes of Battles and Wars: A Data Base of Battles and Engagements, Vol. VI (report prepared for the U.S. Army Concepts and Analysis Agency, June 1983), 203–221. Available at https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/b087722.pdf.

The Historical Evaluation and Research Organization (HERO) was one of Trevor Dupuy’s companies and a division is his later companies. Their reports are listed here: TDI – The Dupuy Institute Publications and here TDI – The Dupuy Institute Publications and here: TDI – The Dupuy Institute Publications (report no. 95 is the one listed above). 

Anyhow, not sure why they did not reference his book Elusive Victory, which was built from those reports. See: TDI Books For Sale (dupuyinstitute.org)

Presentations from HAAC – Contentious Issues in Syria

The sixth presentation of the second day was Contentious Issues in Syria: the Alawi Religion, their Political Struggles, Chemical Warfare in Syria and a Hypothesized Religicide of the Alawis by Jennifer Schlacht. It is here: Temporarily deleted.

The first presentation of the day was my monstrosity, Iraq, Data, Hypotheses and Afghanistan (which I later turned into the book America’s Modern Wars): NIC Compilation 3.1

The second presentation of the day was Lessons Learned from Haiti 1915-1934 by Dr. Christopher Davis of UNCG: History as an Enemy and Instructor

The third presentation of the day was Estimating War Deaths (in Iraq) by Dr. Michael Spagat of Royal Holloway University of London: Iraq Deaths

We then had a group discussion on whether we could have won the war in Afghanistan. I opened the discussion with a brief 12-slide presentation, built from my original presentation that morning. It is here: Could We Have Won

This was followed by presentation by Joe Follansbee (Col. USA, ret) on a proposed Close Combat Overmatch Weapon.

——

We had a total of 30 presentations given at the first Historical Analysis Annual Conference (HAAC). We have the briefing slides from most of these presentations. Over the next few weeks, we are going to present the briefing slides on this blog, maybe twice a week (Tuesdays and Thursday). In all cases, this is done with the permission of the briefer. We may later also post the videos of the presentations, but these are clearly going to have to go to another medium (Youtube.com). We will announce when and if these are posted.

The briefings will be posted in the order given at the conference. The conference schedule is here: Schedule for the Historical Analysis Annual Conference (HAAC), 27-29 September 2022 – update 16 | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org).

The nine presentations given on the first day are all here: Presentations from HAAC – Air Combat Analysis on the Eastern Front in 1944-45 | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org).

A story about planning for Desert Storm (1991)

In an email exchange with retired DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) analyst, William (Chip) Sayers, he sent me this account. I asked him if we could publish it, as I think it is a wonderfully unfiltered account. He agreed, although pointed out that he would also be covering some of this in his presentation this fall. It is on Day 2 of HAAC and is on “The Combat Assessment Technique.” See: Schedule for the Historical Analysis Annual Conference (HAAC), 27-29 September 2022 – update 4 | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org).

In early 1989, I went to work at an office at DIA that specialized at looking at the world through the eyes of the Soviet General Staff. In particular, we used the Soviet’s Correlation of Forces Methodology. However, we only partially understood it and needed some data to close gaps for us. I cast around for something that would plug these holes and settled on the QJM as the best candidate. It was my belief that both models had approached the subject from the same standpoint and therefore the one could help inform the other.

This paid off — to an extent — in the run up to the ground campaign of Operation DESERT STORM. Gen. Schwarzkopf desperately wanted to know at what point he should let loose his ground forces and so had his staff casting about for a methodology that would give him a way to measure the success of the air campaign in softening up the Iraqis. You would think that after the years we put into WEI/WUVs and all the various models that J-8 and others used, we would have had a good basis for solving his problem. Well, you’d be wrong. Very wrong. As an illustration, Schwarzkopf claimed after the war that, in the summer of 1990, CENTCOM had gamed out the exact scenario that actually occurred and got the exact same results. Schwarzkopf was channeling his inner Nimitz, but I guarantee you that was impossible. I spent several years in the bowels of the Pentagon gaming the Soviet problem with J-8 using the same model and I can truly say that the model itself was geared toward making it absolutely impossible for the attacker to win. I promise you, there was no possible way that Schwarzkopf’s troops got the results he claimed unless he disregarded the output and simply directed the outcomes, himself.

In any event, in the weeks running up to the ground campaign, he didn’t have anything — much less a full-scale model — that could answer his question. I saw a bunch of Majors and LTCOLs running around like chickens with their heads cut off, without coming to any useful conclusions. We ran through exceptionally complex pseudo-science formulae and we saw some so simplistic, my third-grader grandson could have done better. None of it, however, satisfied Schwarzkopf because no one could agree on an approach. In the end, Schwarzkopf threw up his hands and directed that we simply let him know when the air forces had attritted the Iraqis by 50%, and then he’d send in the ground troops. My job at that moment, was to pretty much figure this out for DIA, and given my possession of the QJM and my hybrid methodology, I felt I could be very confident in making the call that CINCCENT needed. Unfortunately, we were on opposite sides of the impenetrable G2/G3 no-go zone, so they weren’t interested in listening to my opinions.

I knew from my historical studies that 50% attrition was massive overkill and that we could go long before we reached that lofty — and probably unobtainable — goal. What Schwarzkopf didn’t know, and I did, was that the agreements set out to decide who did what to whom did not allow DIA access to the data collected by our tactical recce jets. In other words, DIA was going to have to do all its BDA analysis using less useful means. There was simply no way our guys could see a small hole punched through the top armor of a tank from the means we had at hand. Thus began the great BDA war between CENTCOM and Washington. We knew that we didn’t have the proper resources to do the job right, but were told to get on with it, anyway. On the other hand, CENTCOM had a formula of how many “kills” to award according to the in-flight pilot reports given the type of airframe flown. F-16s were heavily discounted, while A-10s were believed as though their claims were coming down from Mt. Sinai on stone tablets. I’m a former USAF pilot and I know that the last guy to ask is the one who just came through the gauntlet.

I vividly remember running my final calculations on Friday night before the attack kicked off the next day (Washington time) and being very satisfied that Schwarzkopf could go at any time he wanted. Interestingly enough, none of this had any input into his decision to go. Few people remember it, but Gorbachev was negotiating with Saddam and had successfully convinced him to pull out of Kuwait. The agreement they came up with would give the Iraqis three weeks to pull out. At this point, it had become a major goal to eliminate the Republican Guard and we didn’t want them to pull their head out of the noose, so President Bush turned down the compromise and ordered the ground forces in.

Ok, so here’s the point: Despite all the big talk and incredible claims, when push came to shove, the Army had nothing/NOTHING to use as a basis for planning. Lord knows we threw enough time and money at the problem, but in the end, Schwarzkopf just had to pray that we had enough combat power when our troops rolled across the line. He would have given anything up to half his kingdom for the QJM at that moment. He had a lot of opinions to choose from, but nothing solidly based on history. And frankly, I don’t think the situation has changed in the intervening 30 years. Now that the chips are down, people aren’t likely to care WEI/WUVs were developed by the opinions of various branch influence groups. But a model with an historical basis would be worth its weight in gold.

Glossary:

QJM = Quantified Judgment Model, Trevor Dupuy’s earlier combat model. The TNDM (Tactical Numerical Deterministic Model) is Trevor Dupuy’s update of the QJM.

WEI/WUVs = a weapon scoring system developed by CAA and used by RAND.

This email exchange was part of a discussion of what TDI could be doing, if properly budgeted. 

Variable 4: Is there a problem with internal turmoil and unrest in China?

Depressions begat revolutions. Now it ain’t so simple as that, but there is a big enough correlation here that every time there is a economic downturn, a nation’s leaders should be looking over their shoulder in concern. If they are a democratic government, it probably means they will now have time to write their memoirs. If they are a dictatorship, they could end up dangling from a meat-hook.

The seminal quantitative work on this subject was two separate studies done in the 1960s by Ted Gurr and the couple Ivo and Rosilind Feierabend. Ted Gurr’s work was summarized in his book Why Men Revolt, while the Feierhabend’s never issued out a book (which is a shame as their work was as significant). There has not been much of significance done since then (which I think is fairly bizarre actually… it is not like revolutions are a dead subject).  We have blogged about this before.

So Variable 3 is “How is the economy of China doing?.” As long as the China economy is growing and thriving over the next 20 years, then this only increases the danger to Taiwan. On the other hand, there are lots of reasons to doubt that their economy will continue to thrive over the next 20 years. If the economy is not growing, then this fourth variable comes into play: Is there a problem with internal turmoil and unrest in China?  This affects the odds that China will decide the invade Taiwan in five ways:

  1. The reduced economic growth probably reduces their “defense” budget.
  2. If there is unrest or political turmoil, it probably distracts the government to worry about internal issues, vice invading their neighbors (although it some cases, it can actually do the reverse).
  3. It may result in a leadership change:
    1. This leadership could be even more internally absorbed.
    2. This leadership could be even more nationalistic.
    3. This government could be unstable.
  4. It may result in a change of the form of government:
    1. Communism collapses.
      1. It becomes a democracy
      2. It becomes a dictatorship.
      3. The new government could be unstable
      4. Central government may collapse entirely.
    2. Communism is reinforced (sort of another cultural revolution)
    3. Communism is de-stabilized, but returns back in control.
  5. It may result in no government at all (more on this later).

So, what are the odds that China will have a economic slow-down in the next 20 years? Is it 25%, is it 50%, is there no chance at all? 

If there is an economic slowdown, what is the chance of political turmoil, and then what is the extent, nature and virulence of this political turmoil? Is it a bunch children of “princelings” that can be run over with tanks, or is something more broadly based.

The problem with revolutions, is that once they start, they gets pretty hard to predict where they are going to go. For example, when the Shah of Iran abdicated in 1979, much his vocal opposition came from the left, often college students. The country ended up being taken over by Ayatollahs. The Russian revolution started in 1917 with the moderately liberal Cadet Party and Alexander Kerensky running the country in a somewhat democratic manner and ended up with Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin in charge. The Russian revolution of 1991 ended up with Boris Yeltsin in charge of a developing democracy and ended up with Vladimir Putin in charge. The Arab Spring of 2010-2012 resulted in demonstrations and revolts in 17 or so different countries. In four of those countries the governments were overthrown (Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Yemen). Only one ended up with a democratic government in its aftermath. 

And then there is always the possibility that China could end up with no central controlling government at all. This is not all that far-fetched. China has spent almost of much of its history broken up into smaller states as it has spend unified as a single state. There is no strong reason to assume that over the next decades that China will remain unified. There is no history that suggests such a pattern.  

Modern countries do break up. Yugoslavia comes to mind. There are significant independence movements in Catalonia (Barcelona) and Scotland. So the image of China as a dominating unified state may not be the image moving forward.

Anyhow, I suspect we are looking at maybe a 50% chance of a major economic slowdown in the next 20 years (this is just a wild guess, I have no idea what the odds of such an event are). If there is an economic slowdown, then I am guessing maybe a 50% change of unrest and turmoil. So….there is no guarantee that China will be in a position or place to even consider invading Taiwan in the next 20 years. Maybe a 50% chance that this is the case.

 

Related blog posts:

Why Men Rebel? | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)

Why Are We Still Wondering Why Men (And Women) Rebel? | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)

Quote from America’s Modern Wars | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)

Ted Gurr Has Passed Away | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)