Decision in Battle
Breakpoint Hypotheses and Engagement Termination Data
The validity of breakpoint hypotheses is of interest to the Air Force because such hypotheses are imbedded in several models presently used to evaluate weapon systems in terms of the effect of air-delivered munitions on the course of a land combat engagement. This report investigates a popular assumption regarding the relationship of casualties to the decision to terminate a battle — the assumption that a military force gives up the battle when its personnel casualty fraction reaches a certain level, which may be either a fixed quantity or one determined on a probabilistic basis. Theoretical implications of a basic breakpoint hypothesis are developed, and these are quantitatively compared with casualty-fraction distribution data from various investigations of land combat. Tentative observations are offered regarding future attempts to resolve the problem of decision in battle.