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So, let’s imagine a force of about 500 people, armed with what we would consider modern weaponry (or, more so, 1960s weaponry), are facing up against a force that outnumbers them at a ratio of 34:1, but with weapons more akin to the 1890s-WW1 levels.

The other force is planning on an all-out siege against your base, and you cannot call in reinforcements of any kind. Your base is surrounded by a large metal wire fence, with a large underground area beneath it. How would you go about defending your base from these attackers?

To help, here is the basic layout of the baseenter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ So that's 500 soldiers against... 17,000 attackers? My immediate thought is "good luck with that". $\endgroup$ – F1Krazy Mar 2 at 15:54
  • $\begingroup$ F1Krazy: Their not supposed to win. I’m just asking what is the best thing they could do to stall the attackers until the reinforcements are able to come $\endgroup$ – DT Cooper Mar 2 at 16:00
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    $\begingroup$ They have machine guns, chemical weapons, artillery, air superiority and supply lines? Sorry, you can't win this one with just a bit more modern weapon. You sit like a duck on a shooting range and if you manage not to get shot, you suffocate or starve. They don't even have to be in your range — Paris Gun can shot your base from 120km. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Mar 2 at 16:25
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    $\begingroup$ I think you need to be more specific about technology levels. 1960's weaponry is a far cry from "modern" (rifles haven't changed too much, but aircraft, area denial weapons, and guided munitions have changed drastically). Also, 1890's weaponry would be vastly different from WW1 weaponry. Will there be artillery? How effective is it? Do the attackers have aircraft? Gas? Machine guns? Last nitpick: the title shouldn't really include "primitives" as the attackers are separated by only ~50 years from the defenders. The question has great potential, just needs tightening up. $\endgroup$ – ben Mar 2 at 17:34
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    $\begingroup$ "the enemies actually lean more to the 1890s " - Yeah, and the Maxim gun was invented in 1884, and the German army adopted indirect fire as their artillery standard in the 1890's, and the classic French 75 mm field gun was adopted by the French army in 1898. $\endgroup$ – WhatRoughBeast Mar 2 at 17:37
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World War I saw the advent of chemical gas used against soldiers. Since your attackers are not quite in that era, they would not have gas to use against the base or masks to protect themselves.

Send everyone in the base underground aside from the soldiers needed to carry out the counter attack. Put them in full protective gear, including masks. Seal off the underground bunker, leaving an "air lock" for the outdoor soldiers.

Launch canisters that open on impact and release thick poison gas. You want something that clings close to the ground (meaning about 8-10') and doesn't dissipate easily (you want it to spread out but not go more than a 100 yards or couple hundred yards/meters or so if possible). It should be absolutely lethal when fresh but it breaks down quickly over the next 24-48 hours. Second choice is a gas that renders the attackers unconscious for a few hours so well-protected base soldiers can go in and finish them off. Machine guns would be a good choice here if there are many from the attackers' side who are just far enough away from the center of the gas to be dazed but not down.

Timed and aimed properly, the first attack should at least halve their numbers. Hopefully it would kill off more like 75%. It will be harder to reach them for subsequent attacks, but should still be possible, given that they are unfamiliar with chemical warfare (if their knowledge level matches their tech level).

I also suggest electrifying the wire fence. If you can keep the attackers separated from the base for longer, that allows you more poison gas attempts. Put a few grenades into the mix as well. Make sure those attackers have no idea what is going to hit them.

If available to you, you can also send contagious diseases via the launchers. If you have a few weeks of time due to the fence, this could decimate them as well. If they break through to the base and get to your forces, you're all dead anyway, so your soldiers being exposed to the diseases isn't going to make a difference.

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  • $\begingroup$ Gas has the added benefit of sapping the enemies will to fight, You can add a few more layers of defense with mines and machine gun emplacements, rule 1 of defenses are layers. $\endgroup$ – John Mar 3 at 6:31
  • $\begingroup$ @John Good point about the layers. And heck, blast music at them too. It's torture after a day or two. It's unclear to me if there is enough warning before the attackers arrive to plant mines. I guessed there was time to do things to the fence and inside of it, but that might even be wrong. $\endgroup$ – Cyn says make Monica whole Mar 3 at 6:32
  • $\begingroup$ gas requires large quantities and dissipates with the wind. it is best used offensively and even then the effect was mostly psychological. Defensive use would require keeping a cloud of gas around the base through all wind conditions with a radius greater than the artillery range of the enemy for however long it will take for a relief force to arrive. Even if they had a huge stockpile of gas and held it to repel a particular attack it would require many artillery pieces to produce an effective volume quickly enough, which is unlikely after being bombarded for a while. $\endgroup$ – pluckedkiwi Mar 4 at 20:32
  • $\begingroup$ @pluckedkiwi What if the base launched a bunch of gas canisters (something fragile enough to break on impact) at night into the clearings where the enemy has pitched their tents? My goal was not to kill them all off but to reduce their numbers enough to create a more level playing field (or at least something in that direction). $\endgroup$ – Cyn says make Monica whole Mar 4 at 20:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Cyn First off, does that base even stock such chemical weapons? They would have to have plenty of it on hand. Secondly, the enemy encampment would need to be known and within range of whatever artillery pieces they have. Unless the purpose of that base is to be an artillery base, they are unlikely to have enough to even saturate the area or have a meaningful range. Even then you could kill dozens before they cleared out of where you were hitting or got upwind, but that is nothing to a force of 17,000. As soon as they figured out your artillery range, they are camping farther out. $\endgroup$ – pluckedkiwi Mar 4 at 21:47
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Well, the first thing I'd do is get the defenders outside the fence. Then...

Oh, wait. Let's back up a bit. Let's get a LOT more detail. How much advance warning do you have?

Those 500 - are they just researchers and random security people? Or are they 500 soldiers of your choosing, flown in with the necessary equipment needed for the defense? Let's go with soldiers.

You've stated that the OPFOR is "the enemies actually lean more to the 1890s", and as I've pointed out in comment to the OP, this in no way rules out an enormous mass of indirect-fire artillery (say, 1000 guns), along with hundreds of machine guns.

In which case you are (99%) screwed. They can saturate the base with artillery, send a few thousand assault troops right up to the wire, lift fires and overrun the place.

The other 1% possibility is entertaining: using a 1960's observation helicopter, keep a watch out for the oncoming army. Then engage with Davy Crockett nukes (produced in 1958). Since the Bad Guys are operating at 1890's level, they don't understand dispersion the way more modern armies do.

So, let's pull the historical references back about a generation. 1870's vs 1940's. This is a bloodbath and the defenders win.

The defenders take down the fence and import about 100 WWII 105 mm howitzers and a whole bunch of ammo. The guns are emplaced so as to be protected from direct fire and have 360 degree fields of fire. This is going to take up a good deal of area, which is why it will be outside the wire. 3 men per tube, and another 100 or so as ammo bearers. About 30 M2 .50 cal machine guns round out the defenses. And for a last-ditch reserve, you can have up to 10 M4A3R3 "Zippo" flame thrower tanks. They will be impervious to anything the other side can throw at them, and the psychological effect will be devastating.

All of this presumes that you can clear the terrain out to several kilometers from the base. If you have a base which is nestled in a charming little valley surrounded by dense forest, you're back to being screwed. And if your personnel are just boffins and rent-a-cops, you're also hosed.

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    $\begingroup$ "Since the Bad Guys are operating at 1890's level, they don't understand dispersion the way more modern armies do." The Prussians won the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 in part by using skirmish tactics to avoid French artillery (ie, dispersed troops). The concept of light infantry fighting as dispersed units was well understood in the 18th century, it just took until the latter half of the 19th for it to be realized all infantry should be light infantry, not just part of the infantry force. So they understand the concept of dispersion well enough, if they aren't already doing it. $\endgroup$ – Keith Morrison Mar 2 at 20:17

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