Imagine something like a 'Stargate scenario'. The modern military has a means to send small squads to other worlds populated by people. The majority of these people will be at medieval or lower technological level, though more advanced societies will be found. They want to arm these small squads to handle most situations when making first contact, including hostile ones.

These squads will have modern weaponry, which will obviously be a significant threat to any potential hostile medieval people; however, they don't want first contact to involve the military massacring a primitive people who showed potential hostility, so resorting to superior firepower is a means of last resort. Still a bow and arrow can be just as fatal to a modern man, and if the primitives don't know what an assault rifle can do, and thus are not afraid of it, there is little to discourage potentially hostile people from attacking a seemingly undefended and outnumbered squad.

Having recognized the potential threat our military is looking to better equip their squads to deal with potential hostile primitives without resorting to lethal force. I'm looking for how the military will best equip their squads for handling this situation.

Keep in mind that they are limited in how much they can send in one trip, both in size (has to fit through the portal) and total mass they can send at one time; so large armored convoys or large number of units are not really viable. They also may run into more advanced people who are considered the greater threat, and so they don't want to weigh down their squads with too much anti-arrow technology if it proves cumbersome to carry around when dealing with more advanced hostiles.

They don't have any kind of prime directive. Having said that they have an explicit policy against trying to play god, or otherwise using technology to convince the natives they have some sort of magical powers. They must attempt to explain any ability they have are simply advanced technology whenever possible, and generally try not to screw up the primitive's too much.

Communication/language issues may or may not be a problem, many of the primitives share one of a few common languages that they will have people trained to communicate in all of the standard languages in each reconnaissance group, but some of the people may have their own language that can not be translated.

There are two potential situations I'm looking at how they military would equip themselves.

1) how do they equip the original reconnaissance forces, the ones that know little about the location they are traveling to. This group won't know how advanced any natives may be, and need to stay flexible and not present an overly aggressive appearance. This group may also want to include equipment to allow for discouraging primitives from starting hostile encounters (short of shooting them), such as flash-bang grenades or other instruments to prove they are better equipped for a fight without having to kill anyone.

2) How would they equip a team when traveling to a land they know contains primitives, particularly potential hostile ones, when it would make sense to commit to fully armored anti-infantry setup. Can they be so well armored as to be nearly invincible to swords and arrows? Enough that they will feel comfortable using less-lethal weaponry to subdue instead of kill a hostile tribe if they need to?

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    $\begingroup$ I'd split into two questions, one for each scenario and also set out some constraints on how big the portal is or this will probably be closed as too broad. $\endgroup$ – Bellerophon Jan 23 at 17:16
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    $\begingroup$ Given you explicitly called out the Stargate reference, I'm not sure what you're looking for from the community on this question. The series addresses all of these concerns. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Jan 23 at 17:19
  • $\begingroup$ this is way too broad - there are 21 classifications of weapons used by USMC (wikipedia only lists 18 but I looked and its missing a lot) and that is just weapons - all of these are available to Recon. Loadouts will be based on the information sent back by those "black ops" or "dark op" forces - i.e. Spies - then a whole list of other things. Your basically asking "what is the military strategy and tactics when entering into potential combat". Also we are always limited in size - planes and boats are only so big $\endgroup$ – LinkBerest Jan 23 at 17:23
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    $\begingroup$ You might be over-analyzing this. The medieval military would equip itself with what it had - it was all they knew (unless you think they might use older tech.). The modern military would equip itself with what it has and subsequently would destroy all incoming forces. Despite the statistical absurdity of Sid Meier's Civilization III, spears do not hold up well to tanks. $\endgroup$ – JBH Jan 23 at 17:46
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    $\begingroup$ Historically, most explorers were not military. Some explorers had military backgrounds, others were sponsored by states, but most exploration was not done by actual military forces (yes, there were exceptions). There were (and are) risks to sending armed forces with your flag on their shoulder into unknown situations. It was (and is) a great way to stumble into an unexpected war. Recall that soldiers symbolize the power and interests of your state. Civilian explorers don't. $\endgroup$ – user535733 Jan 24 at 3:43

The Lewis and Clark expedition did a good job of handling this. They always approached new tribes with gifts, and invited them to eat with them. Then they would put on a performance which would include a demonstration of a repeating air-rifle being used to quickly break wooden targets. This way they could show natives goodwill AND how dangerous their small group was in a single action. Most of the time this worked as long as they could identify how close they could safely approach the tribe before being seen as trespassers.

Medeville societies are actually much safer to approach because they wall off places they don't want trespassers; they are less likely to feel apprehensive of a small group of outsiders because they feel more safe in their walls and less possessive of their unfarmed land outside of the walls.

If your modern squad were to put on similar shows by leveling entire treelines with a Mk-19, then they could establish their ability to defend themselves without shooting anyone in most cases.

On the rare event they attack you before you get the chance to play nice, teargas is a good way to disperse a larger, less well armed force.


it seems to me that in a Stargate like situation the people sent to other worlds could vary from 100 percent military to zero percent military depending on political decisions.

And if the people sent to other worlds are all members of armed services, would they be be all members of one service or a mixture of army, navy, marine corps, and air force?

Even if, for example, scientists in a military research lab develop the method and their military sponsors decide to send teams to other worlds and investigate first before informing their civilian superiors, they might decide to send teams of civilians instead of members of their services for various reasons.

Thus the teams sent to other planets might consist of civilians even if they are armed, just as various exploring expeditions in history sometimes consisted solely of unarmed or armed civilians.

And it seems to me that sending in various spy devices such as drones first would be a very good idea in real life, even if sometimes eliminating various exciting plots. Those spy devices might be remotely controlled from Earth or else programmed to investigate and then return with their information, depending on technology.

I can imagine if technology is advanced enough, when the humans do go to the world they might remotely control robots built to look like Earth humans to see how the natives react to contact with beings who look like Earth humans. Perhaps each member of the team will remotely control a robot that looks and sounds like them specifically.

And perhaps the personnel selected for contacting the natives will be chosen for skills likely to avoid conflict with the natives as much as possible. As far as I remember, many conflicts between early explorers and natives were caused by various mistakes or wrong doing of the explorers.


if you can send through a tank or APC do that, there's no medieval weaponry that would be able to cause significant damage to that. Equip it with multiple tear gas launchers as a non-lethal deterrent and that should be more than enough to push back any aggressive natives.

Alternatively send in the equivalent of anti riot squads, riot shields would be effective at stopping most bows and crossbows from penetrating. Again tear gas would be effective against infantry and likely even more effective against cavalry. Other non lethal tactics such as rubber bullets and bean bag rounds would still be fairly effective against most medieval armor, though possibly not so much against great helms and full plate armor. Against such armored enemies and insisting on non-lethal tactics you may be better served by more experimental sonic weapons.

  • $\begingroup$ A side note to this is that while most riot gear may be perceived as just strange attire, riot shields will be seen as shields identifying your group as armed soldiers. This could make you more likely to be attacked than if you appear unarmed or superiorly armed. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki - Reinstate Monica Jan 23 at 19:24
  • $\begingroup$ APCs are vulnerable to Molotov cocktails and other incendiaries. Medieval societies knew how to launch burning pitch from a trebuchet, or spouse something in oil and set it on fire, and an APC is a reasonably large target. $\endgroup$ – pojo-guy Jan 24 at 4:15

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