Attrition: Where Did It Hurt The Most?


October3, 2008:  U.S. Navy researchers are using a statistical analysis of x-rays of American military personnel killed by roadside bombs, and the details of the explosions, to determine what conditions were most likely to cause fatalities. Using this knowledge, it is easier to design more effective vehicle and personal armor, and protective measures in general. This is a technique pioneered over 60 years ago, in World War II. Back then, the new technique of Operations Research was used to figure out how to better protect American bombers from German anti-aircraft fire. This would appear to have been a serious problem, because researchers were unable to examine most of the aircraft that had not come back (aircraft that had been shot down over the English Channel or German occupied Europe). It was noted, however that all the damaged aircraft that had come back had been damaged in places that had not done so much damage that the aircraft were brought down. Thus the areas that were not hit were noted. Given that hundreds of aircraft were examined, by combining all this information, certain key areas appeared that received little or no damage in the aircraft that had returned. These must be the crucial areas that should be better protected. And so it proved to be. Certain control (cables and electrical wiring) and engine (hydraulic and fuel lines) components were rarely harmed in returning (but damaged) aircraft. Doing a little more math, and organizing information from aircrew on what types of damage caused them the most problems, it was possible to provide substantially increased protection to aircraft with a minimum amount of armor. When the newly equipped aircraft went into action, a higher percentage of aircraft returned. And many of these had dents in the armor protecting the key areas.

The navy researchers are using a similar approach, to find out where the fatal vulnerabilities are, and then try and figure out how to add more protection.



Article Archive

Attrition: Current 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close