Combat Effectiveness: Leadership & Troop Quality

Research Paper Title

Soldier Capability – Army Combat Effectiveness (SCACE): Volume III, Historical Combat Data and Analysis.


This study included:

  • A survey of historical literature related to troop quality and capability;
  • A survey of psychological literature dealing with the relationship of individual aptitude to group performance, with special attention to the group performance of low-aptitude individuals;
  • A statistical comparison of quantified ratings of the combat effectiveness of 17 national military forces since 1945 with demographic, educational, and other statistical characteristics of the nations involved; and
  • A survey of collections of combat data for the purpose of identifying units with unusually high combat effectiveness, and also of identifying detailed combat data on relatively small units (regiments and battalions) that would make possible quantitative analysis of unit combat effectiveness at those levels.

The study concluded that:

  • Superior leadership and training are required to compensate for low troop quality, with leadership of prime importance;
  • There is a strong statistical association between the combat effectiveness of armies during the past 40 years and national characteristics of male literacy, household size (negative), birth rate (negative), and temperature of the capital city in the hottest month (negative);
  • The high level of correlation found indicates the probability that a formula could be derived to estimate the effectiveness of any two forces in a war game; and
  • Detailed data on combat experience is available for units of exceptionally high combat effectiveness and for both sides in combat between battalions and regiments.

The study report includes recommendations for further research in the quantification of troop capability and its effect on combat.


Soldier Capability, Army Combat Effectiveness (SCACE, Volume 3, Historical Combat Data & Analysis (Dupuy & Hammerman, 1980)


Dupuy, D. & Hammerman, G.M. (1980) Soldier Capability – Army Combat Effectiveness (SCACE): Volume III, Historical Combat Data and Analysis. Virginia, USA: Prepared for the United States Army Soldier Support Centre (US Army Training and Doctrine Command) by the Historical Evaluation and Research Organisation, a Division of T.N. Dupuy Associates.


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