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I asked this over on travel.SE, but they weren't pleased and I was directed here.

For those out of the loop, this (hopefully) satirical facebook event has garnered quite a lot of attention, with one million people confirming they'll attend, and a further ~900,000 saying they're interested.

I don't for a second imagine they'll all turn up, but if they did, what would transpire? Would the US military actually kill a million people naruto running towards Area 51? What if it was only 10,000 people?

This question is reasonably similar to If a million heavily armed children stormed Area 51 what would they do?, except in this case, the stormers aren't children, nor are they heavily armed - they're just a bunch of likeminded adults taking a joke a little too far.

This question is also very similar to Storming Area 51, as pointed out in the comments - though I would disagree. There are however many thousand tactics and strategies to defeat this "invading" "force" of jokesters, but I'm more interested in what is actually likely to happen. Sure, it's entirely possible for the US military to bomb the crowd, but I don't think for one second that they would.

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  • $\begingroup$ I am not sure that I understand the question. The army would not even be involved, not in a civilized country. This is a case for the riot police to execute their crowd control plans. It's not as if one million people can show up without being noticed and without a large number being informers for the police. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jul 15 at 17:33
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    $\begingroup$ I'm sure most would turn around after running out of water while in the massive traffic jam in the middle of a desert on the way to Area 51. $\endgroup$ – Giter Jul 15 at 18:06
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think it's a duplicate of those questions - even though they're asking about the same event, they're asking about tactics to defeat such a force, whereas I'm asking about the likely military/political response. $\endgroup$ – Adam Barnes Jul 15 at 18:08
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    $\begingroup$ We deal with worldbuilding, this sounds more like a story based, real world question. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Jul 15 at 19:05
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    $\begingroup$ As was pointed out repeatedly in the other question: 1) They can't all get to the nearest public roads; and 2) Even if they could, those roads are dozens of miles away from the base, across harsh desert terrain that they're trying to cross in the height of summer. They'd either turn back quickly, or die in the desert. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jul 15 at 20:33
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One Million People:

If the army was aware that this was going to happen, they would probably just relocated everything of value to another base. That way the million people running around could just exhaust themselves in the desert with no danger of coming across weapons or sensitive intel.

Instead of having to take direct action, nature can do the dirty work of tiring out the adults. If the adults get to the base and see nothing of value, they will just disperse. If they even make it that far.

Ten Thousand People:

Ten thousand people is probably few enough that just blockading roads, and conducting mass arrests, should keep this quantity of people away from anything of value in Area 51.

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  • $\begingroup$ Very sensible, you're right. What do you reckon the breakpoint between those two numbers is? Do you think there wouldn't ever be military force brought against the jokesters? $\endgroup$ – Adam Barnes Jul 15 at 18:11
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    $\begingroup$ @Adam Barnes, I reckon that military force would not be used against intruders in a case like this where all trespassers are civilians. The military has very strict rules of engagements, much stricter than the police, and would not easily permit a bloodbath. It would take mixing this group with lots of armed insurgents to even get a chance of violence. The breaking point for a blockade is probably around 100,000 people. Up until this point the military will just start their blockade even farther upstream, and increase patrols. At some point though, it will be simpler to look at other options. $\endgroup$ – Tyler S. Loeper Jul 16 at 12:56
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I dont really see what the problem is here.

1: tear gas, water canons and other riot gear. Even just lots of smoke grenades can confuse the crowd enough to cause chaos. Good luck trying to storm forwards while the people up front are trying to get back because of the water, tear gas and disorientation.

2: for those who dont want to listen to the other options: rubber bullets! Now you cant willy-nilly shoot these into the crowd as people will get trampled. But with a screen of tear gas and watercanons you can filter out the people who are there for the show and those who are really trying you can fire at the few who dont turn back.

3: I dont know the exact situation around Area 51, but I assume that chain link fences and razor wire are still a thing? So the runners will need something to break the chain link fence. Bolt cutters and the like are going to be tough to run with and they have plenty of time to walk up and teargas the place, and a water canon again makes it hard to cut the fence. Also a single guy with rubber bullets, tasers and pepperspray 2 feet away saying "I'd recommend leaving RIGHT NOW sirs" is going to help secure this fence. If you bring a car then I suspect a sniper will shoot the engine or tires, making sure the angle is down from a tower so accidents are reduced.

4: bring lots of ambulances. Marathons in hot area's require a lot of medical support to keep everyone in shape and from dying to heart attacks. One million people gatherin in the desert waiting for some signal to simultaneously run towards one destination? I would be surprised if 10% wouldnt run in the wrong direction and they could even organize the rest enough to make it one single run. Those watercanons might actually be used to save some lives.

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  • $\begingroup$ Where are you even going to find a million people capable of running a marathon. Per Google, 507,600 Americans ran marathons in 2016. Most of those are presumably in more temperate climates, on well-prepared courses rather than through desert mountains. And the distance is about twice a marathon, even in a straight line. And of the number who might be capable of making the distance, what percentage are UFO nutcases who'd actually want to try? $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jul 16 at 6:59
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    $\begingroup$ @jamesqf I don't think the answer is proposing a million marathon runners; I think it's saying that even marathon runners require ambulance support, with the implication that non-marathon-runners would be even less successful. $\endgroup$ – David Richerby Jul 16 at 14:19
  • $\begingroup$ @David Richerby: Yes, that was my point, that there just aren't anywhere near a million people in the US who'd be capable of running that distance, even in favorable terrain & weather, and with race-level support. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jul 16 at 19:56

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