0n 16 October, 2011 the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) rolled their tanks into Jubaland, the Southern Region of Somalia to purge Harakat Al-Shabaab Al-Mujahideen militants out of the area. With two battalions of each 800 men, they faced an estimated 14,426 militants on the other side of the border. If the two sides were engaged in a battle with no reinforcements in a conventional-guerrilla mode, what would have been the outcome? – Enters F.W Lanchester.
In 1916, during the heat of World War 1, English automotive engineer Frederick William Lanchester devised a series of mathematical equations for predicting the outcome of military engagement between two armies. They are collectively referred to as Lanchester Combat Model. More specifically, they are a system of homogeneous first-order ordinary differential equations for modelling War of Attrition.
At the core of the model is the Combat Effectiveness Coefficient – a variable dependent on equipment superiority, well-training of soldiers, terrain familiarity, and morale. Using the combat effectiveness coefficients from the Battle of Iwo Jima (Kenya = 0.0544, Al Shabaab = 0.0106) , the battle should end in day one. However, the battle took 7 months, 2 weeks and 1 day with 700 casualties on the Al Shabaab side and 72 on KDF & TFG side. Here’s a collection of how the event unfolded.