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As you've probably heard, there's been a recent tongue-in-cheek event on Facebook to storm Area 51 on September 20th. Over 222,000 people have "confirmed" that they are going, with more than 251,000 saying they're "interested".

Imagine that this was real, and 222,000 athletic human males showed up to storm the base, unarmed. It's said that 29% of Americans own guns, so let's say 29% of the crowd (64,380 people) each have the most commonly owned rifle, an AR-15. Assume that the mob will stop at nothing to achieve their goal.

Is there any strategy or combination of tactics which could give the 222,000 men a fighting chance at at least some of them infiltrating Area 51? Note: it can be at any time of year, not necessarily September 20th, and the people somehow all have brilliant knowledge of military tactics.

EDIT: Another thing - the attackers will be bringing their personal vehicles, too (whether or not they're made for desert terrain). Chances are, a few of them will be rich enough to afford bulletproof cars.

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closed as off-topic by dot_Sp0T, Ash, Alex2006, Anketam, James Jul 12 at 13:49

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    $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Jul 11 at 14:50
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    $\begingroup$ Define "infiltrate". Is it actually getting into the base and seeing something top secret or is it merely getting past the rooty-tooty-point-n-shooties? $\endgroup$ – MonkeyZeus Jul 11 at 15:04
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    $\begingroup$ @MonkeyZeus Basically, getting inside the perimeter. If they did get that far, how much further do you think they could go before the last man is down? $\endgroup$ – SealBoi Jul 11 at 15:32
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    $\begingroup$ Remember Nellis air force base is not too far away... $\endgroup$ – Voltage Spike Jul 11 at 15:45
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    $\begingroup$ I first thought this question was for area 51 stackexchange. $\endgroup$ – William R. Ebenezer Jul 12 at 11:40

16 Answers 16

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I began to plan out various tactics and such, when I realized it was all for naught.

Let's suppose they breach the perimiter of the base. They will soon face an unsolvable problem. They don't have heavy weapons or explosives.

A base, supposedly high-tech, important and secretive will be built with nuclear bunker specifications in mind. The base personnel can easily give up the outer parts, where won't be anything important anyway. If there is, they can just move it deeper inside or destroy it.

All they have to do is go inside the actual base part, close the heavy metal gates and chill out until the attackers get bored of being unable to do anything and go home.

With modern day people, with bad reception in the area I guess it would take 10 to 30 minutes top.

Case solved, casualty zero (unless the overexcited attackers shot each other), secret kept.

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Jul 13 at 0:34
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32 attackers, 221,968 distractions

Coordinating a quarter of a million young men via Facebook event is a nightmare I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. Coordinating search and rescue for a quarter of a million men stranded in the desert and dying of thirst is even worse. I fully expect the national guard to be deployed simply to deal with the humanitarian disaster this scenario presents. This does, however, present a golden opportunity for my cult of radical reptilian-overlord-holographic-moon-truthers and/or Chinese spies to get inside the base.

Since we're talking about a small raiding element, their equipment need not be austere. AR10s are a bit more pricey than 15s, but the larger caliber offers much greater stopping power at range long - an important trait in open desert with minimal cover. Night vision devices are expensive, but not outside what personal credit or a business savvy cult could muster. Even home-brew breaching charges are on the table, as they are wildly illegal but by no means impossible for a sufficiently secretive individual or group to manufacture.

Normally the desert is empty, but now it's choked with tens of thousands of disabled vehicles, and hundreds of thousands of aimlessly wandering civilians. Tracking that many targets, no matter the technology, would be nigh-on impossible. The authorities couldn't possibly notice, say, two vehicles and a couple dozen men moving to the north face of Papoose Mountain to establish overwatch and reconnoiter the base could they? Nor would they notice a squad-sized element detaching from that unit to quietly ingress from the south, especially while a second 8-man element opens fire on buildings from the north, drawing the attention of the guards and forcing them to re-deploy forces to counter the first credible threat they've seen all night.

The objective of all this is simple: break into the base, recover any possible research data, and escape. On the retreat it'd be beneficial split elements and swap to seemingly abandoned vehicles, if not outright hijack civilian vehicles. Heading for large concentrations of civilians would also be a very good idea, as they'd have a good chance of getting lost in the crowd. Once free, they'd lay low until a contact collected the hard drives/notes/alien tech recovered.

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    $\begingroup$ Moving around within the "milling masses" who are outside of the controlled zone would go unnoticed. Anyone breaking out from the edges or crossing into controlled spaces would be noticed, and met with deadly force... [And guards in high-security posts aren't likely to be 'drawn away' for the reason of this very sort of plan...] $\endgroup$ – TheLuckless Jul 10 at 22:45
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    $\begingroup$ There is no need to track every individual target in a congested area. They simply need to contain all of the targets to one area and go after anybody who attempts to split off from that large group. The police/security tactics are just like ranchers moving a herd of cattle. Don't worry about individuals until it is time to process them. Until then just keep them all in one group and go after any that try to break away. $\endgroup$ – krb Jul 11 at 0:31
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    $\begingroup$ Re "notice a squad-sized element", you don't think the security teams have e.g. infrared detectors monitored by computers? $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jul 11 at 5:12
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah, this would not go well for the attackers. The military doesn't work like it does in the movies: if you started a firefight to the north QRF would respond (and likely within seconds, as they'd already be on high alert), not the guards from the south. And if they had a vault of alien goodies, you can bet they'd seal that long before the masses get to the base, let alone on it. Good luck getting through a blast door before backup arrives. $\endgroup$ – TemporalWolf Jul 11 at 21:49
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    $\begingroup$ Not quite 200k young men: 200k school drop-outs who believe anything they read on the internet, eat nothing but junk food and haven't done sport for 10 years. They will be miserably unprepared. If any turn up at all it will be a logistic fiasco. $\endgroup$ – RedSonja Jul 12 at 7:19
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Rule #1 of Storm Area 51 Club: Don’t talk about Storm Area 51 Club (SA51C)

  • Secrecy and Surprise are important strategies in any act of Civil Disobedience

Rule #2 of SA51C: Don’t carry weapons of any type.

  • 1 rifleman can shoot a thousand civilians running across the desert. And, Close Air Support from a Spectre Gunship will ruin your day. But it takes 2 soldiers to run down, tackle, and cuff 1 protester. Maximize the power of your numbers by making them as inefficient as possible

Rule #3 of SA51C: Jailers Dilemma

  • Anyone who is detained pledges to be as non-cooperative as possible. Poop and pee yourself. Be disgusting, but never violent. Make them carry you everywhere. Sing loudly and badly annoying songs. Feign illnesses and complain of snake bites and scorpion stings. Anything you can do to slow them down gives your clubs mates a greater chance of success.

Rule #4 of SA51C: The greased pig with Air Jordans wins the race

  • Wear great shoes, camo paints, lather your body in grease and run like hell.

Rule #5 of SA51C: Stay Hydrated but don't litter

  • This will both help you stay alive in the desert and let you urinate on yourself when the MPs tackle you. See Rule #3
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    $\begingroup$ You may want to look at the signage around such bases - Not carrying a [visible] weapon offers zero protection from having lethal force applied to you. If command does not feel confident in being able to maintain security with non-lethal force, then they will escalate to lethal force. A few dozen 'greased pigs' may offer distraction, a few hundred quickly become 'targets'... $\endgroup$ – TheLuckless Jul 10 at 17:15
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    $\begingroup$ The riflemen don't have to do anything. The desert will do it for them. Especially in September: maybe in January they might have a chance of making it from the nearest public road to the base, but even then it would be far from certain. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jul 10 at 17:55
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    $\begingroup$ "1 rifleman can shoot a thousand civilians running across the desert." The best rifleman can't take down more than about a person as second. So twenty minute. Even moderately fit attackers will cover a lot of ground in that time. $\endgroup$ – DJClayworth Jul 10 at 22:01
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    $\begingroup$ @DJClayworth, this is hard desert. In September. A moderately fit attacker can run for a few minutes, then drop of heat exhaustion. $\endgroup$ – Mark Jul 10 at 22:36
  • $\begingroup$ @DJClayworth They can if the people are very closely grouped together and the guards have machine guns (which they probably do, being Groom Lake.) And that's without considering the possibility of A-10s or similar getting involved. $\endgroup$ – reirab Jul 11 at 1:21
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They likely would be able to successfully storm the gates without meeting lethal force, unless they were shooting first. In no circumstance, (other than border security apparently) could the United States government kill hundreds of thousands of people on US soil and not cause a larger backlash. Not even secret technology is worth the state they would leave the country in, especially while it is being filmed and broadcast live. If they dispatched everyone, they would kill .068% of the population.

For reference, the deadliest day in US history was Sept 17, 1862. In the Battle of Antietam 23,000 soldiers died. 23,000/3,000 or 760% more people died on 9/17 as on 9/11. This battle almost crushed the US and this retaliation would result in roughly ten times (222,000/23,000) more deaths.

My advice would be keep guns concealed until they were fired upon, because the chance that they would overwhelm the (I assume maximum of) couple thousand people who work there, and most of that staff being academics with no military training.

My idea is based on this, the recent protests in Hong Kong. A few hundred people were enough to pressure the police to concede the parliament building. Lethal force was not used, but eventually chemical gases were put into use to clear people out. If US citizens were storming the congress building there would likely be deaths, but I do not see them justifying lethal force on hundreds of thousands of people for one of many "secret" military bases.

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    $\begingroup$ Don't forget that getting TO the gates is a non-trivial exercise. It's forty miles or so from the nearest highway across the desert before you actually GET to groom lake. It wouldn't take much advance warning for the base commander to cut the roads and leave ~90% of them stranded out in the middle of the desert nowhere NEAR the acutal base. $\endgroup$ – Morris The Cat Jul 10 at 14:14
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    $\begingroup$ Two hundred thousand young american men driving cars in the desert? HALF of them are going to crash with each other before they even get off the highway. Half of the rest will get stuck. Half of the REST will accidentally rip their axles off trying to get the stuck guys unstuck. $\endgroup$ – Morris The Cat Jul 10 at 14:38
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    $\begingroup$ @Alex What does the size of the Nevada National Guard matter? The guards on duty full time are probably regular army, air force etc. If the government has warning a couple months ahead of time and takes it seriously there will be plenty of time to fly in regular, reserve, and national guard troops from all over the country, plus firepower. The protesters will be warned to turn back over and over while still miles away. If any keep on coming the ones in front will be blasted with artillery, missiles, bombs, etc. which should be enough to turn back those following. $\endgroup$ – M. A. Golding Jul 10 at 16:16
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    $\begingroup$ @M.A.Golding I think it's safe to assume that the US military will not be doing that in real life, as it's almost certainly a joke and they know that. If people did show up, they'd only know a few hours beforehand, and they couldn't shoot 200,000 people dead without an apocalyptic media backlash. $\endgroup$ – SealBoi Jul 10 at 16:36
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    $\begingroup$ @Xavon_Wrentaile Off by a factor of 100. It would be 0.068%. There are over 327 million people in the U.S. 0.1% would be over 327,000. $\endgroup$ – reirab Jul 11 at 1:24
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Is there any strategy or combination of tactics which could give the 222,000 men a fighting chance at at least some of them infiltrating Area 51?

NO!!!

Why? Logistics.

220,000 men is four Field Armies and a Corps.

They've got to be:

  1. Transported.
  2. Sheltered.
  3. Fed.
  4. Washed.
  5. Have their bodily wastes disposed of.

Area 51 is way out in the desert, and there are only a handful of roads. The traffic jam would extend from A51 back to Las Vegas, and the terrain around it is, to say the least, inhospitable. https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?ie=UTF8&t=h&oe=UTF8&msa=0&mid=14TfSK3OCFZTvFXGNEyBWs56MWC4&ll=37.23671750860201%2C-115.8102156209793&z=10

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ Disagree on the traffic jam. With 60 people per bus, at 6 buses per minute, you can transport 360 people per minute or 21600 per hour, which means that in about 10 hours you can get 220k people there, provided you hire 3,000 buses, plan well, and ban private cars from the roads of Nevada for the day. I don't see the relevance of the image. $\endgroup$ – gerrit Jul 11 at 13:34
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    $\begingroup$ @gerrit #1 that's a lot of buses, #2 assumes the drivers are perfect, #3 assumes you can get 3000 buses, and THEY DON'T STOP TO LET THE PEOPLE OFF. Unless you just eject the riders at high speed... $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Jul 11 at 13:41
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    $\begingroup$ @gerrit interesting. You need to look at A51 on Google Maps, though, to see the impracticality of it. google.com/maps/d/… $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Jul 11 at 13:52
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    $\begingroup$ @gerrit: Now exactly how do you plan to have these demonstrators ban cars from Nevada public roads? Far more likely, if such a number of busses or cars started to show up, is that the Governor would order the NHP to set up road blocks. Also, the very few roads in that area are mostly 2-lane blacktop, especially if you plan to have your force enter from around Rachel, the closest you can get by public road. (They're also not exactly heavily travelled: it's quite possible to see maybe half a dozen cars per hour.) $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jul 11 at 17:09
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    $\begingroup$ @ jwenting: So how far off the road do you plan to push the cars? Also remember that this is rural Nevada we're talking about. There's a pretty good chance any (local) car you meet will contain an armed person, who is likely to object if some bus driver tries to push them off the road. Most of your busses will probably be chartered, with drivers who aren't part of the storming. What chance they'll keep pushing when the vehicle driver pulls hes gun off the rack? $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jul 15 at 21:23
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222,000 men with 64380 AR-15s will find themselves in charge of a few square miles of desert, a decrepit airbase with rusting Quonset huts, some empty helium cylinders, and the shredded remains of a weather balloon.

None of the neighbours know anything, and there was certainly no convoy of air transports leaving the area on September 19.

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  • $\begingroup$ 222000 men, minus the ones that got lost in the, well, desert $\endgroup$ – Martin Jul 12 at 11:55
  • $\begingroup$ @Martin : and even if there are much bigger facilities underground, they will run out of food and water, and get heat stroke a long time before they even find an entrance, even more so before they can manage to break through it. Well, it's a desert. The overwhelming majority won't last for an hour. $\endgroup$ – vsz Jul 12 at 19:24
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I think what's called for is something akin to "rubber hose cryptography" (i.e. if you can't break the cryptography, break the person holding the keys).

In this case, get the 222,000 people to all donate $100 dollars and offer the resulting funds as a reward to whoever smuggles something good out of the base.

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    $\begingroup$ your response isn't addressing the OPs question but is suggesting an alternative solution. It has been flagged for deletion. You can improve your answer and avoid having it deleted by 'the powers that be' by incorporating direct responses to the question. I like your idea, seems like a great way to create confederates or create suspicion inside the Area 51 security force that they have turncoats. $\endgroup$ – EDL Jul 11 at 23:17
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They'll need to follow in the footsteps of Marvin Heemeyer.

Having armor-plated his bulldozer - nothing more than a garage job, is a long one - he proceeded to demolish part of town, standing up to police fire with firearms and even explosives.

The military at Area 51, being an Air Force base, will have better tools to defeat such makeshift armored vehicles. But the bulk of Air Force's ground forces, as long as Area 51 doesn't have bog-standard ground planes, only has cars and small arms. Even garage-armored cars will stand up to small arms fire sufficiently to force the defenders to rely on their heavy weapons.

Since the question's protesters will stop at nothing, even dying, this presumably means they won't stop at mortgaging their homes either. Between 222,000 protesters, you're looking at a total net worth of $70 million. Not much for an army - but you're not equipping an army to run well-oiled for decades, just an ad-hoc guerilla force for one operation. And 70 million is a lot in the world of technicals, armored dozers, and Mad Max cars.

If you have military tactics, remember that a real military wouldn't send everyone to the last man to the front line. Most of the protesters would act as logistics and support, to create a supply line to the base. Less than 10% would probably need to be in the strike force.

With a few items of construction equipment, among lots of cars, and lots of portable construction equipment like thermal lances, any static defenses can be easily breached. Bank vaults are rated to stand up to robbers for 2 hours. With thermal lances, a meter of reinforced concrete takes less than an hour to make a hole large enough for a man to get through.

No bunker can resist attacks with construction equipment for even a day. This is before we consider explosives, which more than one of the 222,000 will have access to through their job, such as mining or heavy construction. Still, explosives being messy, it will likely take over an hour to get in.

So as long as Area 51 gets no reinforcements, its defenders will be defeated through attrition.

Unless, that is... unless they take that Roswell ship out of the hangar and go medieval on the crowd. But goading the military into revealing the truth is what the whole attack is about, isn't it?

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    $\begingroup$ So exactly how do you get those homemade armored cars across the desert mountains? $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jul 11 at 17:11
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    $\begingroup$ "...the bulk of Air Force's ground warfare capabilities is simple small arms" The bulk of the Army's ground warfare capabilities are small arms, since many of their ground forces are infantry. The Air Force's ground warfare role includes close air support and anti-tank missions, which is why they have attack aircraft, air to ground missiles, and laser-guided bombs. Armored bulldozers would be insufficient here. $\endgroup$ – Ray Jul 11 at 22:36
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    $\begingroup$ @Therac: Suggest you look at the terrain on e.g. Google Maps. While there is an access road to serve the base, it would be easily blocked. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jul 12 at 5:39
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    $\begingroup$ @Therac The composition of the base isn't really relevant, as you'd have to take on the might of the entire military, not just one base. Groom lake is in the middle of the Nevada Test and Training Range. Nellis AFB is 85mi SSE, and has B-1 Lancer bombers, who could cross that distance in less than 10m. USMC Air Station Miramar is 340mi SW. It would take a flight of F/A-18 Super Hornets about 40m to cross that cruising. And they would have hours of advance notice to fly in some support. $\endgroup$ – TemporalWolf Jul 12 at 21:00
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    $\begingroup$ @TemporalWolf Like I said in the answer, this only works if for whatever reason (say, being a rogue agency) Area 51 gets no reinforcements. If they do, you're fighting the entire US military, and the question makes no sense. The US military is 10x the size of the protester force. $\endgroup$ – Therac Jul 12 at 21:02
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I am thinking that to squash an assembly of that kind they would have to spread out the resistance. How are all those people going to get to A51? Car, Bus, Train, or Airplane they would set up checks and harassment zones to curtail the influx before it even assembles. If the conspiracy theorists are to be believed you could call this assembly as threatening to the US as an attack on the president. So violence is almost certainly assured. How much depends solely on escalation of tactics. If 65K of armed people stormed anything and held it there would be a military response. But it would likely be a seige with occasional small firefights until enough information was gathered for a surgical strike or they gave up. Think WACO texas stand off. Cut power & communications, only allow barest of necessities in for humainitarian reasons. Then simply wait...

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  • $\begingroup$ Train? There are two passenger trains per day through Nevada (one eastbound and one westbound) and they go across the north of the state, about 500km from Area 51. And what power do you think there is to cut in the middle of the desert? $\endgroup$ – David Richerby Jul 16 at 14:37
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220,000 people unarmed people can do significant damage. Iran deployed the Basij, a fanatic, martyrdom loving volunteer army with nothing more than the Koran. 70,000 of them stormed the Iraqi lines and combated them with their bare hands. this allowed for the armed revolutionary guard to move in and defeat their enemy.

So an overwhelming army can overpower a superiorly armed adversary. But the Basij were fanatical, wishing for death. How many of these arm chair Twitter following "warriors" are willing to die for this cause..... which I am not really sure what the cause is.

Once this army does breach the defenses and the make it to the highly fortified facilities, then what? If the base guards were not going to use deadly force for the parameter breach, due to political reasons, breaching the secured facilities would most definitely be faced with deadly force.

A real incursion from such a large force would most definitely be seen as a threat to national security and measures be taken prior to the planned attack. Are these people ready to wage a full insurrection level event to just take a peak at what's inside Area 51?

Over all, initially, the attack would be successful, but once faced with full retaliatory response, this army would soon be routed.

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You can't get 250k people to area51. The closest you can hope for is Groom Lake Road, but getting them to the nearest highways (US 95 and NV 375) would already be a major feat, barely possible with very good organisation. If you do, it'll be one for the history books.

In 1963, 250k people in the USA travelled to Washington DC for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. I don't know how many buses they used.

In 1983, 500k people in The Netherlands travelled in 3000 buses and other transport modes to protest nuclear missiles.

You can get 250k people close to area51, probably to the nearest highway such as US 95 or NV 375, which is impressive enough, but organising it in 2 months is going to be extremely challenging, and may only work if people feel as strongly about area51 today as they did about segregation in 1963, which I doubt.

You'll need to organise about 3000-3500 buses with 60 people per bus. Have them arrive at the dedicated area (see below) in the 8 hours prior to the event from around 200–500 cities around the country, unloading about 6 buses per minute on average. If each bus stops for at most 10 minutes you'll have about 60 buses stopped for unloading at any time. Buses who have dropped of their passengers need to leave to make place for others. Private cars are out of the question and should be banned from Nevada on that day. If that can't be achieved, at least the organisers should very strongly stress that nobody should drive a private car to the protest. You can load about 600-1200 litre of water in the bottom of each bus, so that you have 10-20 litre per person (Death Valley National Park recommends to budget 10 litre per person).

On the dedicated area: you can't get in close distance to actual Area51. The nearest highways US 95 and NV 375 are a long way away, too long to walk through the desert. Groom Lake Road is a little closer but I don't know if it's feasible for 3000 buses to drive to a dead end location and then turn around, and even from there you're still stuck.

In 1983, more than half a million people protested against nuclear-armed cruise missiles to be placed in The Netherlands. They hired all buses they could; after about 3,000 buses, there were no more buses available nationwide (they had hired all), so they also hired boats, extra trains, and many people came by bicycle. See those articles in andere tijden and dag van toen . Quite a few people missed the demonstration because their bus was stuck in traffic with other buses.

Once the protesters arrive around the base there isn't really anything anybody can do because nobody can organise for or against so many people, but for sure you'll reach the history books whatever happens. Have a party and enjoy the historical occasion. Maybe make it a recurring event for every 5 years or so?

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    $\begingroup$ Well, again: just how on Earth do you expect these "demonstrators" to get private cars banned from the area for a day? While I'm no great fan of Sisolak (the current Governor of Nevada), I have never seen any sign that he's a complete nutcase like these folks. IF such a movement should materialize, it'd be far more likely that he'd order the NHP to set up roadblocks to keep the busses out. If you look at a map, you'll see that itd only take 2, one at each end of 375, to cut off the easiest access. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jul 11 at 17:21
  • $\begingroup$ @jamesqf Of course protestors would need to get permission for a demonstration in advance. When there is a manifestation in a city centre police also close off streets for the duration of the manifestation. Perhaps banned is too strong a word but certainly the protestors should make sure nobody drives a private car to the event. $\endgroup$ – gerrit Jul 11 at 19:08
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    $\begingroup$ But this is not a planned peaceful demonstration, it is a criminal attempt to forcibly trespass on a US military facility. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jul 12 at 5:21
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    $\begingroup$ @jamesqf Well, you'd never get a permit for that. So you ask for a permit for a peaceful demonstration outside the base, and then take it from there. $\endgroup$ – gerrit Jul 12 at 17:41
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    $\begingroup$ @gerrit : you can ask for a permit for a peaceful demonstration only if they are held in a public place. This means you'll still be pretty far from the base proper, in a desert. How many of the demonstrators would be willing, and capable, of walking dozens of miles of desert to the base from there, while trespassing on restricted area while the only road will be blocked, so they have walk all the way from the permitted peaceful protest to the base? $\endgroup$ – vsz Jul 12 at 20:36
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Given the size of the controllable area and the military resources available to the defenders, there are no viable head-on-attack related options that hold much of any hope of achieving the target goals.

The more open the group is with a show of force, the more reliance on armour or attack posture machines, the more open and direct the military has to be with an armed response. Even if the group pools their resources into building a column of specialist armoured vehicles, they stand effectively no chance of making it across the vast space between the outer perimeter and anywhere near where something 'interesting' would be stored - That's why they built Area 51 where it is...


So lets go back to the Poster's original core question:

Is there any strategy or combination of tactics which could give the 222,000 men a fighting chance at at least some of them infiltrating Area 51?

Yes, there is a line of tactics that could result in at least some of them infiltrating Area 51 - Split everyone into three groups:

  • Politicians
  • Scientists and Engineers
  • Those who would excel in the armed forces

The only effective way in is through the front door with the proper credentials, and you only need one of them to eventually succeed...

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I would like to bring up a point that no one has brought up yet. While it would be incredibly difficult to bring 222000 people to Area 51, if they were able to get there and all bull rush like fanatical zombies at the same time they could have a chance. Referring to the point where they all made a 1 km perimeter around Area 51 and then proceeded to charge for the fences, they could form a human stairway above the fences, offering both protection and a way to scale the walls. Image World War Z but at Area 51. Any soldiers in Area 51 would have to reload their guns at some point, I doubt they have 222000 bullets loaded up at any moment, of course assuming they never miss. Once the fanatical mob gets close enough to the fence I doubt they would be willing to call in air support for fear of breaking down the fence into their own compound. Now this plan is totally implausible but, I believe that any mob that size if operated like fanatical zombies would be a threat.

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  • $\begingroup$ en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_Z_(film), One of the most famous scenes is a horde of zombies scaling a ~80? foot wall. $\endgroup$ – Kevin Jul 11 at 13:55
  • $\begingroup$ You can add the link by edit to your own answer. Btw that scene and the concept is highly implausible. Those at the bottom wpuld be crashed dead to a meat paste by the combined weight of those above them. $\endgroup$ – Lupus Jul 11 at 14:37
  • $\begingroup$ I image the fences at Area 51 would be significantly shorter. Probably closer to 10 feet high. $\endgroup$ – Kevin Jul 11 at 14:43
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    $\begingroup$ It's not the fences that would be the problem. It's the miles of desert mountains. Send tens of thouands of ill-prepared and unacclimated people "bull-rushing" across that, you would in short order have tens of thousands of people suffering from heat stroke - not to mention sprained & broken ankles, rattlesnake bites, &c. And no few corpses. The Nevada desert is not a playground, folks. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jul 11 at 17:26
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    $\begingroup$ There are several parameter fences. The first being a fairly short fence with warning signs and loads of motion sensors, so they know when you are coming (as if a quarter of a million people would be hard to miss.) the second, after miles of rugged desert as a fairly large fence, maybe 10 feet, with razor wire. Not a fun obstacle to overcome. will suck for the meat shields who go over first. $\endgroup$ – Sonvar Jul 11 at 21:54
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While all the answers and comments are quite comical and bring up excellent points, the good-faith answer to your actual question is: no tactics necessary.

That many people will completely capture the place. Think World War 2 when the allies stormed the beaches; many were mowed down by bunkered machine gun fire, but the allies won through strength of numbers.

Further: US citizens are better armed than you give them credit for. Most who own guns own more than 1, so they could bring extras and pass them around. Many know how to make explosives and even launchers for their explosives. With your quarter-million people, you'll also have a reasonable amount of UAVs, manned airplanes, helicopters, and cannons for this event.

If you assume your group magically manages to defeat all the logistical problems and arrive en masse, together with useful tools they owned or made, ready and able to storm the gates together and you end up with a massive pitched battle, all they need to do is rush in as a giant mob with no further tactics.

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    $\begingroup$ if even a small percentage of people do arrive with weapons and full intent to use them, that would be seen as an insurrection against the federal government. D-Day succeeded due to the fact the men were dropped on that beach right in front of those guns and told clear the beach or die. They had no choice. Once faced with the full response of the federal government, I'm sure this army of 220000 people would dwindle to at most 1000 fanatics willing to die to stick it to the man. $\endgroup$ – Sonvar Jul 11 at 22:00
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    $\begingroup$ @Sonvar But, as I stated initially, I tried to answer the question the OP is asking, which is quite hypothetical. In reality, 3% or less of those saying they will go will actually do so in the first place. But OP is asking "If all these conditions happen just so..." It's like in physics when the teacher says "Ignoring air resistance, what happens when..." $\endgroup$ – Loduwijk Jul 11 at 22:50
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    $\begingroup$ What gates will this army be storming? The base's "walls" are the 30-40 miles of rugged terrain that surrounds it on all sides. $\endgroup$ – krb Jul 12 at 1:56
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    $\begingroup$ @Loduwijk: And being ill-prepared for the desert, or even open country (most are probably urbanites), they will die in large numbers. You can see this idiocy even in the proposed date, late September, when it's barely cooler than high summer. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jul 12 at 17:39
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    $\begingroup$ @Loduwijk have you tried walking 30-40 miles, not even in a hot desert? Even just 20 miles of nice forest trail in nice weather is a good day's walk for experienced hikers. Those who are not experienced hikers, even ten miles of friendly terrain will be completely exhausting, they will be tired and have sore muscles when they arrive. In a hot desert and rugged terrain I doubt they will manage five miles. And even if the majority of the protesters had special forces level training and fitness, walking 30-40 miles will take most of the day. Plenty of time for the base to call in reinforcements. $\endgroup$ – vsz Jul 12 at 20:54
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"the people somehow all have brilliant knowledge of military tactics."

I think this definitely was ignored some way along, and everyone seems to be taking it a little too realistically. In storybooks there is room for more heroic bravery than reality. Lets clear the don'ts first.

1.A head on attack on foot would be military suicide for sure. 2.Facebook is already off the cards because you can't arrange an attack on America (which this most certainly would be seen as) using a system that the Police have unlimited access to. That's just silly. 3.All 220,000 cannot be direct attackers. 4.Infiltrating definitely has to make some of the plan but you waste resources if you make it all of the plan. 100 people cannot be sneaky in that small space let alone 1000.

When taken at face value then you have a much, much better chance at success. You have enough people to build and create solutions to the obstacles in an engineering and logistical capacity. Not everyone has to be a warrior and just one of those guys being an accomplished engineer can lead a team to make pretty much anything with enough time. However you swing it this is necessary anyway for transport so you may as well exploit it for more.

I personally, if writing a story, would need to send in at least 15000 active combatants as A51 is big and I expect at least 1000 superiorly equipped troops on standby. I would be looking at ground penetrating radar solutions - homemade radar is very feasible thanks to google and past wars - to image and detail what the force would be up against tactically and locate key substructures like power, communications, servers and power backup. Servers because they likely have UPS batteries to keep from damaging them in a brownout, and that may allow them to still communicate down network lines. The key is to know more than your foe and to slow down response.

Then, with knowledge of all the heavy blast doors and nuclear style defenses, my story would go something like this:

Have the engineering team design/steal a tunnel boring cart on wheels which could start drilling under the base during this. With a longer pointed nose it theoretically could be pretty invisible to the bases radar and being underground aircraft radars would not see it. We'd need a few (say four) coming from opposite directions to confuse the powerful advanced SIGINT that would be present on the base as it gets close. Even if not confused, the staff watching would be unlikely to believe that 4 were approaching simultaneously as it seems illogical. Being a long distance to cover from the nearest accessible underground sewer, this all can be planned and arranged on safe ground and can take as long as they like, but they would need to start the procession maybe 15 mins before it would be heard inside the base. The tunnel borers would need oxygen supplies and would close the tunnel at the entrance with sandbags to avoid the sound permeating the city via the sewers as soon as is possible. Due to being on wheels, simply angling it on a slope may allow it to be run somewhat unattended as gravity can do the pushing into bedrock. This presents a very time expensive problem if the drills are discovered earlier than planned. One cannot simply blow up the desert to uncover them and thus must find the entrance to each tunnel which will be off-base and out of the bases GPR range.

Create a civilian-style distraction outside the base to draw attention. This is a distraction that would have to force some people out for at least a few hours, either keeping the blast doors open or dividing personnel counts. It must be noisy so something like a politically/celebratory/protest motivated march of say, 10 thousand people complete with fireworks and horns. Think Gay Pride or a small music festival procession just over the edge of Military land but as far from the base as possible. Both have the advantage of being politically charged to deal with recklessly (shooting gay people embracing their rights and/or young people is generally thought of as worse than shooting random civilians). The best thing about this is with 220k people it's somewhat repeatable. If it's cleaned up too fast, start another one somewhere else on the land. No Army is going to butcher 10k people just because another group was hostile. They have jobs to keep and these are citizens on US land.

Have the marchers covertly armed and allow the ensuing hold-up that the military would use to devolve into a gunfight to maintain the image of a visible confrontation as a decoy. Be sure to give the image that it's an act of passion and unrelated to breaking into A51. Think Native American blockades of military convoys if you need a pointer.

It is very unlikely that there are over 10,000 people within A51 so after the capture or death of on site staff by a small portion of that march, there would be another non-A51-staff armed response, definitely of lethal intent and probably via armed helicopter or the like. The issue here that things would ride on is that, being civilians in a march/event they are all considered independent of each other. A military force still needs to differentiate between attacker and campaigner. A show of hands and white flag, or the presenting of said hostages at this point would force that helo to land, prolonging things further. Fireworks/Large speakers can retain noise cover.

When the Drills reach the bunker many meters below ground and start actually boring through the bunker, progress will become VERY noisy and slow, as reinforced concrete is tough to drill. Alarms would be raised and it would be of paramount importance that all drills bore the bunker simultaneously to randomise the noise source, with the one furthest from the power source breaking through the wall when there is only half an inch or so left for the second and third etc to drill. Allow capture of first group and subsequent disabling of alarms that would be raised over the noise and vibration, then have group two break that final inch by hand (quietly) and swarm the base (quietly) with superior numbers, closing the blast doors overground and disabling power, comms, and recordings to buy time for them to scalp over the base and allow them to escape. Due to the first tunnel, this should be easier as most within the base are going to be figuring out what to do with that first hole in the wall. Leave via tunnel and use explosives to cover exit tunnels, breaking the other 1 inch thick entrances to leave multiple directions of exit to any would-be pursuants.

Mostly inspired by movies and videogames. Increase complexity to cover anything I missed. Also realise that 220,000 people is more than most countries entire army, including support personnel, so saying it's infeasible is simply not true. With that first line, you basically have a poor but seasoned, massive, religiously committed Private Army, not 220,000 civilians.

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  • $\begingroup$ How do you use ground penetrating radar on a location that you have absolutely no access to? The entire area is restricted airspace. $\endgroup$ – krb Jul 12 at 1:41
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    $\begingroup$ What underground sewers are you talking about? Structures like that are generally not used in the American southwest. $\endgroup$ – krb Jul 12 at 1:43
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    $\begingroup$ The area that needs to be penetrated is 30 miles from the nearest perimeter fence, 40-50 miles in the other directions called for by your multi-pronged attack concept. 30 miles = 48km or 48000 meters and tunnel boring machines dig 10 meters day so it will take 4800 days, or 13 years, to dig the shortest of the 4 tunnels you describe. These distances also make your ideas of having protests on the outer edges of the base to cover the noise of the attack seem just a little unrealistic. $\endgroup$ – krb Jul 12 at 1:53
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    $\begingroup$ @krb concur - the base probably runs off multiple septic tanks for sewage disposal. $\endgroup$ – Criggie Jul 12 at 2:52
  • $\begingroup$ Where do you leave the soil that is being excavated as you are making the tunnel? Unlike mine craft, real life soil is like a puzzle, once excavated, it takes up a lot more room $\endgroup$ – Ferrybig Jul 12 at 14:48
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Off-road races

The attack would have to be less publicized. Let's say somehow each member got an app with encrypted communications and that network was not breached by law enforcement. They wouldn't be able to flip someone on the inside or get into the network another way.

Everyone would be a listener except a few "commanders" who coordinated with a separate encrypted app. The commanders would make the plans and then send them out for the masses to follow.

As plans firmed up, messages would go out every few days.

  • buy, borrow, or steal a weapon (or two).
  • Get your dirt bike or off-road vehicle (four wheeler, ATV, side by side, dune buggy, etc.) ready to go.
  • Get food and water in your vehicle or in your backpack.
  • Divide everyone into 50 groups. Send each member a number corresponding to their group.

Find 50 places for each group to stage - all around the base. Since they are in off-road vehicles they'll be able to spread out into the desert to avoid having choke-points on the roads.

  • Send everyone a map of the base and give each building a number.
  • Tell each group their building number (there might be some overlap if there aren't 50 buildings of interest)

  • Organize 50 or so off-road races near the base. Advertise them to disguise the true intent. Tell each group which event to go to.

  • Set up the race course to go near the perimeter of the base.
  • Start the races, er, the attack.

Prior to the attack, set up several portable high power cell tower repeaters as close to the base as possible but yet outside the perimeter so people can stream their phones during the attack.

With 100,000 to 150,000 dirtbikes and off-road vehicles racing across the desert, spread out over 200 to 300 square miles, thousands of folks are likely to make it through.

Have them stream video using the app (not commercial services which the government can quickly have shut down) to several server farms using various cloud service company and have those server farms stream to various social media services as well as any dedicated servers that were set up beforehand.

It should take less than 30 minutes to get from the perimeter to the center of the base. If the defenses weren't prepared they would easily make it. While jets and helicopters would definitely have a 'target rich environment, taking out that many people would take a long time and a reload of ammunition and/or bombs.

Though some have said these buildings are heavily fortified, like bunkers that can withstand a nuclear blast, I don't buy it. People go to and from work every day there and while there are certainly hardened doors to the office buildings and warehouses, I think they would be fairly easily breached using normal tools like plasma cutters, thermal lances, etc. I haven't been to this base but I've been to plenty of others.

Anything the folks find would be streamed to the server farm and saved and sent on to regular and social media outlets. Then we all would see what is actually out there...

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  • $\begingroup$ A permanently installed commercial cell phone tower on flat terrain is not good for more than 25-30 miles and the signals do not pass through mountains very well. The base is surrounded by mountains and if your repeaters are outside the base then they are at the edge of the 30 mile range so the signal is not going to get through. And all of that assumes that your repeaters can handle this many simultaneous users. Capacity is often more of a a limit than range when working with cell towers. $\endgroup$ – krb Jul 12 at 6:03
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    $\begingroup$ Remember, these possible attackers are not soldiers. They probably have very little training in anything, are not sporty, and have no discipline. $\endgroup$ – RedSonja Jul 12 at 7:27
  • $\begingroup$ You know they can block cellphone signals. $\endgroup$ – RedSonja Jul 12 at 7:28
  • $\begingroup$ Note: people go to work every day in Cheyenne Mountain too. $\endgroup$ – TMN Jul 12 at 13:18
  • $\begingroup$ I think using off-road vehicles stands a much better chance of people getting to the center of the base than a bunch of folks walking or running miles through the desert or trying to get that many vehicles in on two or three roads. They don't necessarily need the live streaming. Perhaps a few vehicles could be equipped with HF or VHF radios to transmit up to temporary receivers in the surrounding mountains. Transcode into low rate motion jpegs. Frequency hop to avoid jammers. Lots of available technology to solve problems, or just record it but those recordings could be criticized by skeptics. $\endgroup$ – Tracy Cramer Jul 12 at 17:55

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