The Pendulum of War: Lanchester Models of Combat

Sandwiches served at 12.40

This session examines the use of Lanchester’s equations for combat modelling. Originally conceived by the aeronautical and automotive engineer Dr Frederick W. Lanchester in 1914, prior to the outbreak of the First World War, to predict the outcome of arial combat, the power laws Lanchester derived from his equations have been widely used to understand the dynamics of many different types of combat. The session reviews Lanchester’s equations and how they became fundamental to the development of military operational research by both the UK and the US during the Second World War. The continued relevance of Lanchester models to understand combat on the modern battlefield is shown through some insights into current research using Lanchester’s approach, which suggest that metaphors of the pendulum of war may actually rest on a mathematical foundation.   

Stephen has been a Research Fellow at CCW since 2016. Originally a Visiting Fellow, sponsored by the Land Intelligence Fusion Centre (LIFC) studying the value of intelligence to decision makers, his research has broadened to include combat modelling, wargaming and high-level tactical warfare. Previously a diplomat with the Foreign Office and the Operations Research Director for a UK defence company, Stephen has applied mathematical modelling to numerous real-world problems.