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Imagine you can build your soldiers in a lab somewhere. You can control everything, and you've found a the ideal humanoid form (ignoring potentially better forms here). You could build them in all sizes big and small, but this would also mean that production of weapons and equipment would need to account for various sizes and be more intensive, so using a single size for your super-soldiers would be more ideal.

You could have a few set sizes. Pilots of vehicles and aircraft would likely benefit from being small in size as it would mean they need less space inside the vehicle, but then you would simply have two set standard sizes: "normal" soldiers and "pilot" soldiers that are smaller but all still the same size within their category. For clarity let's say all normal soldiers are 1.8m in size and all pilots 1m in size without any further variation. You can possibly imagine a few more size variants like a heavy duty variant that is larger but that too would be set at a specific height without further variation.

What I want is to have these soldiers greatly differ in size, fir example from 1.5 to 2.5m, but I can't find a good reason. Especially for the kind of large-scale warfare I'm imagining the industrial advantage of building them all one size would be so immense it can hardly be ignored. It would likely need to be in part an evolutionary reason that allows a variable size army to succeed more than one with set sizes.

These soldiers rely for the most part on equipment, so building it into their bodies matching their size requirements is not going to be an option.

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  • $\begingroup$ Do you want, say, all "standard soldiers" to have different sizes? And also, how much variation do you expect - if a standard soldier is 1.8m, then can they go to 1m minimum or is it, say, 1.7m- 1.9m? $\endgroup$ – vlaz Jan 14 at 12:11
  • $\begingroup$ @vlaz I want all standard soldiers to have different sizes yes. From for example 1.5m to 2.5m and vary constantly. $\endgroup$ – Demigan Jan 14 at 13:55
  • $\begingroup$ OK, so that's a big variation. Initially I was thinking something smaller. It's useful to add this clarification to the question. $\endgroup$ – vlaz Jan 14 at 14:12
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    $\begingroup$ Do you have a good in-lore reason for why you need to produce the equipment like old school industry would in a single size fits all? furthermore modern armies already vary 1.5 meters to 2 meters. The more advanced your civilization, the less advantage there is from producing just single sized jackets and it's easier to produce to individual fit. $\endgroup$ – Lassi Kinnunen Jan 14 at 15:05
  • $\begingroup$ @Lassikinnunen the in-lore reason is the same as the real-life one: individual fit or adaptable fit production requires more costly factories and more resources to produce. Additionally it is a more complex supply line to maintain. Stockpiling replacement parts and equipment would become harder as you would need to stockpile per individual or needs to be requested and transported to the exact person each time rather than "We'll have this many soldiers who need a replacement part and they can grab it off the pile". $\endgroup$ – Demigan Jan 14 at 15:37
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Weapons come in different size, usually called calibers for fire weapons, specialized on different use cases. I.e. no sane soldier would use a naval cannon to shot an opposing soldier.

Weapons are already produced on industrial scale, yet there are different sizes.

Your soldiers are nothing more than a new type of weapon. Just find the optimal use case for each size.

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  • $\begingroup$ Similar to ammo production, they come in specific sizes. For army purposes you have a few common types for specific purposes with as much commonality as possible between weapons. This is also why many countries separately came to more or less the same bullet sizes for their armies. Yet when looking at the entire market theres many different ammo types and even within one caliber size the length can differ for different purposes. But you could be on to something: what if there are so many ideal sizes for specific tasks that you might as well have variable sizes? $\endgroup$ – Demigan Jan 14 at 13:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Demigan, if it's ideal it logically must be unique. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Jan 14 at 13:56
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    $\begingroup$ @Demigan: if that’s the case then it might simply look to an outside observer like the sizes are variable, when in actual fact you have thousands of different clones designed for very specific ‘ideal’ jobs assembled into units with enough overlap in utility to cover any shortfalls. To me it looks like a diverse unit, to you it looks like a Brute mk.B3, a Brute mk.Q5, a Scout mk.I1, a Sniper custom grown for this exact mission and a first-generation Officer model. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Jan 15 at 7:34
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The problem with identical clones is they lack diversity. One disease will wipe them all out, there won't be small people able to wriggle through cracks and large people able to apply huge brute strength or tall people able to see further.

If you standardize everything into conformity then you reduce the range of different tasks your teams can perform. Instead you want a mix of different physical types across the range and then let each take the role they are best suited for.

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  • $\begingroup$ I assume "disease" in this case could be replaced with "one situation designed against these highly specific soldiers". It would be a rather stupid organization that builds soldiers to specifications but gives them all the exact same genes (even though this is exactly what happens in geneticly modified food, but that is because of patents and economy being more efficiënt if you dont create genetic diversity). You can still have variable genes and the same height. $\endgroup$ – Demigan Jan 14 at 16:52
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    $\begingroup$ @Demigan: it would be a rather stupid society that risks elimination of most of the yield of an important crop that way, yet here we are. $\endgroup$ – mikołak Jan 14 at 17:37
  • $\begingroup$ @mikolak and that's the exact point I alluded to yes. But an answer based on "what if they are (still) stupid" only answers the question in the scenario that they are stupid. A reason that is useful even if they arent is far better an answer. $\endgroup$ – Demigan Jan 14 at 18:55
  • $\begingroup$ @Demigan : I was pointing out that a) these kinds of mistakes have happened before modern GMOs, b) they are being repeated again - therefore, it's not so incredible to believe they will be made in the future. And it doesn't have to originate from "stupidity", it could be necessity (a certain level of tweaking is lost technology), it could be greed ("cost optimization" for a megacorp-style entity). The point is all it takes is for one side of a conflict making this kind of mistake to have an in-universe object lesson. It's your story of course, I'm merely showing that this solution is viable. $\endgroup$ – mikołak Jan 14 at 19:38
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Your methods are helpless against mutation.
After the initial injection of DNA into the egg, one can no longer regulate their biological development outside of nourishment and hormone treatment. This allows possibilities of mutation during cell growth.

A particularly dominant mutation could spread throughout the fetus/embryo and result in a soldier with their own quirks. Every now and then one is born with different eye or hair colours, a slightly greater intellect or, coincidentally, an unusual height.

The mutations should not be too radical 'by default', but they could be amplified as a side-effect of the chemical cocktail used to accelerate growth.
Alternatively, mutation inhibitors may have been invented to reduce the frequency or severity of mutations. These chemicals may be too expensive for extensive use and are reserved for an elite force (an interesting concept).

It may simply not be worth ejecting all non-conforming soldiers due to the cost of fertilising an egg/monitoring it constantly/feeding it until it is born. Therefore the soldiers will have to adapt and be trained for their standard equipment.

I hope this provides some inspiration.

Edit:

Having soldiers of various heights could aid remaining unsuspicious when executing covert operations, since otherwise a soldier of exactly e.g. 1.836m in height would be suspicious and taken aside for inspection at border controls.

In large groups, having soldiers of various heights would aid visibility of a singular position, similar to stages.

Varying heights could aid in combat specialisation, with lower centers of gravity allowing for more athletic maneuvers while taller soldiers could perhaps have more strength or leverage.

Short soldiers would take less space, less food, less material for uniforms and less weight among other things, making them ideal for mechanical deployment, sieges or other forms of long-term semi-isolation.

Taller beings would be better suited as look-outs or for transport purposes, being able to march quicker, wade through deep marshes and step/climb over obstacles more efficiently, but having a high center of gravity would not necessarily be advantageous as far as I can tell.

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  • $\begingroup$ Although it could be an option, it goes against the "you can control everything" part of the question. I would like a solid enough reason to actively encourage variable sizes despite the higher cost in industrial capacity this causes. $\endgroup$ – Demigan Jan 14 at 14:18
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    $\begingroup$ @Demigan Your question did not exclude the possibility of your control over everything being imperfect, but I now understand your question better. I shall edit my answer to include more possibilities. $\endgroup$ – A Lambent Eye Jan 14 at 14:31
  • $\begingroup$ good addition, thanks. $\endgroup$ – Demigan Jan 14 at 15:28
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Different models for different jobs

The ideal infantryman looks nothing like the ideal pilot. The ideal pilot doesn’t necessarily look much like the ideal tank operator. The ideal tank operator certainly doesn’t look much like the ideal medic. An army is full of people who play different roles, and there’s no reason to make them all look the same.

Like father, like son

If you want a fun excuse for this, say that each job role has a ‘blueprint’, based on the most outstanding representative of that role at the time when this super soldier was begun. All the medics are the perfected ‘sons’ of a highly decorated combat medic, etc. This gives you diverse looking troops who are incredibly proud of their lineage.

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    $\begingroup$ Is that you, Boba Fett?? $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Jan 15 at 7:35
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Unification gives great economical bonus, thus specialization is about great efficiency.

Let take a look back: two centuries ago, grenadiers used to be tallest soldiers as they had longer arm and could do bigger swing movement while throwing a grenade (resulting a longer throw distance). Contrary, hussar cavalry was about light body weight to improve horse attack speed (naturally leading to low-stature dexterous recruits).

So, your war economy model is way more complex than checkers vs. chess dilemma and should include to-be-born cost + manufacture associated equipment as well as war field efficiency metrics.

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Something about the manufacturing process produces different results. Maybe the farther you are from the center of the incubator the taller you are. Or maybe there's some sort of layered, onion-like ingredient and the "strips" closer the center are more potent.

Anyway, there is this unavoidable consequence that each batch produces an array of sizes.

This has another advantage in that it enforces societal roles. Pilot's are more important because very few are produced per batch.


Chip Binning Anecdote

Interestingly enough, this type of manufacturing already exists! Have you ever wondered how Intel makes so many different models of processors? They actually only make a few (i3, i5, i7, etc.). All the variants, like i7 8700k, happen because the manufacturing process does not produce exact results. One wafer (batch) produces CPU's of all different specs. Here is an article that explains it (scroll down to step 10).

Just like chip binning, your manufacturing process could produce people in different sizes all in one go. These different sized people could then be "binned" into their proper positions.

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In the past, supersoldiers were produced that way but it turned out failure to conform with the strict requirements lead to many being abandoned part way through production. In contrast, the requirements were found to be far too strict and with advancements in supersoldier manufacturing processes many previously discarded soldiers were found to be perfectly capable of less demanding tasks. Most supersoldiers are now binned to maximize yield.

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The best supersoldier are the ones who win wars. Unfortunately, that doesn't tell us exactly which characteristics to give our supersoldiers.

A possible solution to this issue is to use a method similar to natural selection: To produce new supersoldiers, randomly select two existing supersoldiers, mix their DNA, apply a slight mutation and grow the new, and hopefully better supersoldier from the result. The random selection should be biaised toward the fittest soldiers according to some metric of your choice.

That way, the soldiers become gradually more efficient at war, which will ensure the dominance of that army for decades to come.

Using this method would mean that the army is made of genetically diverse soldiers, which implies varied sizes.

There are a few problems with this method (completely random DNA mutation produces a lot of waste, random DNA mixing may produce suboptimal results, etc...), but they can be fixed with sufficiently advanced knowledge and technology, but that should not be a problem for a supersoldier-producing civilisation.

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