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Combat power

Definition Combat power refers to the total capacity of a military force to engage in and sustain combat operations. It encompasses a combination of physical capabilities, such as the size of the force, weaponry, and equipment, as well as less tangible factors like leadership, tactics, morale, and the ability to adapt in the field. By […]


Combat power refers to the total capacity of a military force to engage in and sustain combat operations. It encompasses a combination of physical capabilities, such as the size of the force, weaponry, and equipment, as well as less tangible factors like leadership, tactics, morale, and the ability to adapt in the field. By evaluating combat power, military strategists can determine the strength and effectiveness of a force in achieving its mission objectives.

Key Takeaways

  1. Combat power refers to a military force’s ability to engage and defeat an adversary by combining all elements of force capability, which include maneuver, firepower, protection, and leadership.
  2. It is a crucial factor in determining the outcome of military operations, and therefore, military forces seek to enhance their combat power as well as efficiently utilize it to achieve military objectives.
  3. Combat power is not static and can change due to factors such as training, technological advancements, strategic planning, and morale, thus, military forces must continually evaluate and adapt their combat power in response to the evolving nature of warfare and threat environments.


Combat power is a crucial military operations term as it refers to the collective strength, capabilities, and efficiency of a military force in a combat scenario.

It encompasses various components such as the number and quality of personnel, weaponry, equipment, strategic planning, and morale of the troops.

This term enables military planners and commanders to assess, compare, and leverage their forces’ abilities and resources against potential adversaries effectively.

Ultimately, understanding and maximizing combat power is vital to achieve tactical and strategic objectives, ensure mission success, and maintain the security and sovereignty of nations.


Combat power serves as a critical metric in military operations, providing an assessment of the overall capability and effectiveness of a military force to accomplish assigned missions and objectives. Its purpose is to evaluate the strength of military forces by taking into consideration elements like personnel, equipment, skill level, and leadership.

In essence, combat power is an expression of the combined might and cohesion of a force on the battlefield. This evaluation enables military tacticians and strategists to formulate and revise battle plans, efficiently allocate resources, predict probable outcomes for different scenarios, and identify potential gaps or deficiencies within their forces.

The utility of combat power lies not only in its usefulness as a tool for analyzing existing capabilities, but also as a guide for decision-making with respect to force development and military preparedness. By understanding their own combat power and that of potential adversaries, military leaders can ensure that their forces maintain a position of strategic strength and adaptability.

Moreover, analysis of combat power can drive adjustments in training, equipment acquisition, and force posture to shape the potential outcomes of future conflicts. Ultimately, combat power serves as a cornerstone of effective military planning and execution, enabling nations to maintain their national security interests, deter potential threats, and prevail when faced with the challenges and uncertainties of armed conflict.

Examples of Combat power

Operation Desert Storm (1991): This military operation was led by the United States and a coalition of 34 nations against Iraq in response to its invasion of Kuwait. The coalition’s combat power was demonstrated through overwhelming air superiority, advanced weapon systems, and highly trained ground troops, which ultimately led to the rapid defeat of Iraqi forces and the successful liberation of Kuwait.

The Battle of Stalingrad (1942-1943): One of the most significant battles of World War II, the Battle of Stalingrad was a major confrontation between the Axis powers led by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. The combat power in this conflict was showcased in brutal urban warfare, massive artillery bombardments, and intense air support from both sides. Ultimately, the Soviets were able to use their combat power to exhaust and decisively defeat the German forces, turning the tide of the war in favor of the Allies.

The Battle of Midway (1942): A critical naval battle during World War II, the Battle of Midway was fought between the United States and Japan in the Pacific theater. The US Navy’s combat power was demonstrated through strategic intelligence gathering, effective carrier-based airpower, and skilled naval tactics, which allowed them to sink four Japanese aircraft carriers while only losing one of their own. This significant victory weakened Japan’s naval combat power and shifted the momentum of the war in favor of the United States and its allies.

FAQ: Combat Power

What is combat power?

Combat power refers to the total capacity of a military force to conduct successful military operations. It’s an overarching term that encompasses factors including the number of personnel, weapons systems, combat readiness, training, and force sustainability.

How is combat power measured?

There is no specific formula to measure combat power, as it is highly contextual and depends on various factors like the type of operation, capabilities of the force, and the environment. However, generally, combat power is evaluated based on elements such as personnel, equipment, training, operational readiness, and other available resources.

What factors contribute to combat power?

There are several factors that contribute to combat power, including:

  1. The number of motivated and well-trained personnel
  2. Highly capable and well-maintained equipment, including weapons systems and vehicles
  3. Effective command and control structure
  4. Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities
  5. Adequate logistical and support systems
  6. Efficient communications systems
  7. Training and operational readiness
  8. Doctrine and strategy to effectively employ these resources

How can a military force increase its combat power?

A military force can increase its combat power through various means, such as:

  1. Improving the quality and size of its personnel through recruitment, training, and retention
  2. Upgrading and modernizing equipment, weapons, and vehicles
  3. Enhancing command and control systems
  4. Investing in advanced intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities
  5. Improving logistics and support systems
  6. Developing and implementing effective doctrine and strategies
  7. Collaborating with allies for joint operations and information sharing

Why is combat power important in military operations?

Combat power is crucial as it enables a military force to engage in successful operations against adversaries. A higher combat power allows the military to assert dominance, deter potential threats, and respond to various challenges. Moreover, it provides an assessment of the capabilities and performance of a military force, serving as a vital input for strategic planning and decision-making processes.

Related Military Operation Terms

  • Military Readiness
  • Operational Capability
  • Force Projection
  • Strategic Mobility
  • Tactical Maneuverability

Sources for More Information

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