# What are the tactical advantages of having an attack animal that attacks in response to laser sighting?

In a world not too dissimilar from ours, a nefarious organisation fields various bioengineered attack animals (think B.O.Ws from Resident Evil) to support its foot soldiers in multiple situations. One such is the Wani, an amphibious bioweaponised creature created from saltwater crocodiles that resemble a crocodilian Carnotaurus sastrei with Australovenator wintonensis' clawed arms. Wani excel at attacking light armoured vehicles and infantry with bullet-resistant osteodermed hides, fast sturdy legs, robust jaws, taloned claws and horned ramming heads.

Wani get conditioned to attack soliders or vehicles that their handlers pulse laser-sighted weapons onto and then, an audio signal triggers the attack. If a Wani gets close enough to a painted target, wouldn't conventional weaponry be more productive?

• i heard laser and water doesnt interact well – Li Jun Apr 6 '20 at 12:45
• Big governments would be best at deploying these, but would have the least motivation to - they already have missiles, could build killer drones, etc. A less advanced (asymmetric warfare) force might be willing to put in the training time to institute such a force as once they get them they can breed more without industry. I imagine soviet geneticists supplying revolutionaries. I fear weapon evolution would quickly make defensive super-dog packs that would foil these. Also, you can't park a giant crocodile in a warehouse and ignore it for 6 months. – DWKraus Apr 6 '20 at 13:01
• Cats and laser pointers come to mind – DKNguyen Jun 24 '20 at 0:43

## 5 Answers

Useful? Not really. Less powerful than a light armored amphibious vehicle in all aspects: speed over many terrain types, endurance, damage power. Even more, vulnerable to diseases.

Less expensive? I doubt it - you have the cost and logistic nightmare to deploy them on the front line, keep them fed, healthy and quiet until needed. Compare it with a light armored vehicle.

Speed of scaling up your attack force? At least one year to raise and train each one and the training part doesn't scale as well as a production line. Compare with at most few weeks to build a light armored amphibious vehicle over a well setup production line.

Using animals instead of soldiers makes sense when:

• It reduces the risk of losing soldier's life
• It allows performing missions impossible to a human soldier

For example I have read about past experiences with training dogs and dolphins into suicidal missions, where the animal was instructed to touch base with a tank or a boat, and was then equipped with explosives while on mission. The animal would touch base and cause the detonation of the explosive, acting like an actively and autonomously chasing mine.

However this is reasonable since both dogs and dolphins are harder to be reliably spotted on a battle field than soldiers. In other words, if a boat has to react at any dolphin approaching it, it will waste time and resources, since there are also non threatening dolphins who can do the same. While a dog on a battle field is more hardly detectable than a soldier.

If the beast is large and/or peculiar, well, the surprise factor goes down the drain.

• It reduces the risk of losing soldier's life I'd argue the lowest risk for a soldier to lose life is not to start a war in the first place :p – Adrian Colomitchi Apr 6 '20 at 11:01
• heh..... i remember how the dog end up blowing their own tank rather than the enemy because they train it using their own tank. – Li Jun Apr 6 '20 at 12:42

Just like the indoraptor's military use, the answer would be: not impossible, impractical

Your system might sound really neat, have a giant monster attack what you want by using light and sound, but it has a few problems: mostly 1- if you already have a gun pointed at a light armored target, taking the shot with a higher caliber weapon might be less messy, and In the case of vehicles you could simply use something like an anti-tank gun to do it; And 2-until you trigger the signal, you'll have a big, hulking, bullet resistant beast, which is presumably capable to ripping humans apart, standing right next to you. Yeah that sounds like a problem. Animals in general aren't as predictable or controllable as a weaponized vehicle, that's why we switched from elephants to tanks.

So summing up: is your creature good for the use you presented? No, it's not, In the best scenario your soldiers would be under more stress than they'd already be, and in the worst the enemy could figure out how you control the beast and use it against you.

So is your beautiful bioweapon worthless then? Absolutely not. I'll assume from here on that your amphibious creature that resembles a crocodilian could stay partially submerged and acting like a log if given enough space. In this scenario, you could condition more responses than just "attack the laser". I'd use mostly 3 cues: 1-"stand down", 2-"stay alert" and 3-"rip and tear", with signal 2 being dominant over 1 and 3 over 2.that way, your beasts could be deadly traps to any soldier having to go through a swampy or inundated area, as all it'd require would be a movable camera with a laser pointer and a sound box hidden in a tree or another location. I'd also suggest you to use an infrared laser that the creatures could perceive, along with audio triggers being either ultrasound or infrasound, making it harder for humans to figure how they work. In addition, I'd recommend including a laser to signal 3 as an indicator of "attack this first" instead of "attack only this". That way, even if your enemies figure out and trigger signal 3,your soldiers would only need a laser pointer to distract the creature and go to a safer location.

In other words: could it be used? Yeah, it could be great to guard places close to large bodies of water or places it can ambush prey, provided you can install a device that signals them what to do. Can they be used for the purpose you described? It's not that they can't, it's just that you'd be wasting their potential as a predator while terrifying your men in the process.

• yeah its good for intimidation or military mascot at least, i think it can increase soldier morale because they have cool dino. if they have many of this then im more worried about supply. – Li Jun Apr 6 '20 at 12:54
• @Li Jun, yeah, thankfully if we leave them as traps in swampy zones close to enemy bases we might not need to worry about feeding them – ProjectApex Apr 6 '20 at 13:19

The best use of your genetically engineered creature would be considerably less exciting than supersoldier but entirely more practical: area denial

Let's review the pros and cons of any genetically engineered attack animal:

Pros

• Can kill people without input from a human handler (guns usually require someone to pull the trigger)
• Can self-replicate on their own (guns, the last time I checked, do not reproduce)
• Do not require a modern tech base to repair. Severe injuries or disease might require hospitalization, but minor damage they can potentially heal on their own
• Does not require ammunition
• Are able to sense things humans cannot
• Can more more swiftly and silently than any human, especially a soldier loaded up with equipment
• Can survive in environments that humans cannot
• Can maintain itself in fighting condition if left alone in an environment with sufficient resources (i.e., it can hunt and feed itself if let loose in a forest, a gun would rapidly rust or become unusable)

Cons

• Have to be fed and cared for, and will die if you do not (a gun only has to be cleaned)
• Take a significant amount of time to grow to a useable size. Even the dinosaurs, who grew freakishly fast by most modern standards due to having a warm-blooded metabolism yet hatching from eggs, still took about 5-6 years to grow to a size where they could be threatening to humans (and a side effect the more you increase growth rate the expensive and resource-intensive they are to feed, Tyrannosaurus rex is thought to have gained at least 4.5 lbs of mass per day during its periods of highest growth. Mammals are kind of the same way, though their max size isn't as big. Cold-blooded animals like crocodilians actually grow slower than warm-blooded ones. By contrast, a gun can be assembled in a factory in a fraction of that time.
• Both the animal and the human handler have to be trained in order for them to work (by contrast, a soldier just has to be trained to shoot)
• Can easily turn on and kill the handler (much harder for a gun to do this). Will eat you if not properly fed.
• Can only fight in melee (if you try to have them fight alongside soldiers they are liable to shoot their attack animals)
• Can easily be shot and killed (this isn't to say that human soldier's can't, but...). Modern military weaponry is crazy OP compared to most natural weapons, and even if your engineered dinosaur is nothing but a morale booster your solder's morale is going to go through the floor the minute your super-dino is hit with an RPG.

The problem with any genetically engineered attack animal is that you run into the criticism made by this video with regards to Jurassic World's Indoraptor: if you have an attack animal that responds to a laser sight like those on the end of a gun, it's almost always easier and less complicated to shoot them with the gun than sic the attack animal on them.

Given all of these factors, what would be the best use of a genetically-engineered superpredator? Simple, area denial. Release a bunch of your Wani into whatever environment you don't want people walking through and let nature handle the rest. The Wani can hunt and fend for themselves, and all you have to do is make sure they have enough food to survive and are successfully reproducing. Beyond that they require little to no maintenance. They will continue to kill people on their own, and will do so more effectively because they don't have humans slowing them down or revealing their position. Because they can reproduce on their own you essentially have a permanently regenerating minefield that you can walk through without harm.

You can engineer the Wani to respond to certain scents or stimuli so that they don't attack your own soldiers. You can put out feeding stations that give them free food, which not only protects them from starvation but can be used to train them to do what you want, and creates a way for you to easily check on them.

Few people would want to go into an area infested with a bunch of faux-Indoraptors. Modern military units aren't very troubled by apex predators, but that's because apex predators are optimized for efficiently killing prey and surviving rather than straight up combat (and humans with guns are so new they are still an out-of-context problem in evolutionary terms). You could easily design an animal that is a threat to modern military units through genetic engineering. Now all of a sudden any military unit that wants to go through an area stocked with Wani has to worry about being guerilla attacked by enemies that do not require supply lines and have them surrounded on all sides. Such a thing would be made worse if your own troops in the area, you have the direct threat of the military unit coming to engage yours but you also have the Wani which can easily attack from your flanks and back while you are occupied with the human troops.

One potential flaw in this is with the increasing military reliance on drones and less use of "boots on the ground" human troops the Wani might prove less of a threat. The Wani might find it hard to hunt machines over humans and unlike many drones the Wani can't fly.

The idea of intentionally establishing invasive populations of military-grade genetically engineered species for the purposes of warfare is a rather horrifying idea, as could potentially lead to things like genetically engineered superpredators designed for combat outcompeting the local predators and destroying the local prey base, or entire regions of the planet being rendered uninhabitable to humans by cross-bred hybrids between kudzu and poison ivy that unleash a lethal neurotoxin on contact designed for area denial, but it's not much different from how humans have already abused prior scientific discoveries (not to mention already existing fears of biological warfare).

One massive downside to unleashing military grade attack animals to establish a breeding population is that all of a sudden it is no longer safe for civilians to go into the woods (or swamp, or desert, or wherever this is). Any creature that can pose a credible threat to an armed military unit would shred hunters, hikers, and other people who try to go out in the wilderness (not to mention what would happen if these creatures tried to establish themselves in urban areas). Modern apex predators like bears aren't much of a threat because you can kill them with rifles, but if you need military-grade hardware to take them down it's a bigger problem.

A modern analogue might be Pablo Escobar's former hippo herd in Colombia. Pablo Escobar had built a zoo with his vast drug money, and when the authorities arrested him and confiscated his things the hippos were left behind and got out. Now there are about 80 hippopotamuses swimming around the Magdalena River in Colombia, and people are a bit leery about what is going to happen because hippos are known to be extremely dangerous.

As a bonus for the story side of your equation, you have a ready-made "pit of man-eating whatevers" to dispose of witnesses or evidence or for your villains to lower protagonists into menacingly.

There are several ways to defeat the beast relatively easily:

1. On board laser detector automatically launches countermeasures. Dense smoke which absorbs or obscures the beam is the most reasonable and easily deployed version

2. Hard kill countermeasure. The turret or RWS responds to being painted by a laser by turning into the beam and firing. This could be either a large caliber cannon (from a 25mm chain gun to the 120mm cannon of a tank), or some sort of mortar round, fire and forget missile or even grenades (tanks and some AFV's have multi bank grenade launchers fitted to the turret, the smoke grenades can be replaced by fragmentation weapons).

3. Distraction. Once my side is aware of the threat, we retune the laser designators to the same frequency and "sparkle" enemy targets. Now you get to figure out how to deal with a large armoured beast with sharp teeth and claws.

4. Biological countermeasure. As a living system, it will be vulnerable to various chemicals, perhaps distracted by pheromones or other scents. For long term relief the vehicles are coated with spores of an infectious disease or fungus, which will be carried back to the enemy and spread among the creatures in their pens or kennels.

4a. Extreme biological countermeasures. Who says you're the only one with the ability to genetically engineer creatures? Murder Hornets really are a thing around here.

5. Training and equipment. If assault rifles are not doing the job, we will move up to battle rifles. More soldiers will be equipped with things like anti tank rockets and underbarrel grenade launchers, and since these things are supposed to move fast, we'll see how well they do against thermobaric flame weapons. Given the postulated technology needed to create these monsters, I could probably easily assume "smart" weapons technology, meaning these rockets and grenades are "fire and forget".

Dr Evil always goes for the most slow and complicated method of dispatching enemies. Emulate Scot Evil, who just wants to go to his room, grab the 9mm and shoot the good guy on the spot....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gb428ySuFjA