Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Interesting military history fact

The World War II Soviet operation to seize Romania in September 1944 ended up costing the Red Army 46,783 dead and 171,426 wounded, along with 2,200 tanks and 528 aircraft destroyed. As such it was the least costly of all the strategic operations launched by the Kremlin that year. In comparison, the forces of the British Commonwealth engaged in northwest Europe didn't sustain that number of casualties during the entire period from D-Day to V-E Day.
This fact, from a Strategy and Tactics magazine email (board wargames were one of my youthful hobbies) does a nice job of illustrating both cross-national differences in military effectiveness during WW2 but also, how successful the US has been at using capital goods to reduce casualties. For example, a site called casualties.org lists US military fatalities for the entire Iraq war as 4794. While one would obviously prefer zero (and arguably, one might also prefer that the Iraq war had been skipped altogether in favor of just taking out Saddam and his sons with missiles or drones) casualties, the orders-of-magnitude change is worthy of note and, I think, insufficiently remarked upon.

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