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So there is a riot. This is not a normal riot; it is a uber-ultra-mega riot. The rioters are armed with the best of 21st century rifle tech and whatever they could make at home -- i.e. Molotov cocktails, flaming bricks and various clubs. The marines are under orders to peacefully dispel the riot using tasers, shields and tear gas. They are wearing 4A+ power armor which will protect them from: fire, almost all small arms fire, stabs, and beatings. It makes you stronger and faster. That said they are not invulnerable; continued fire will break armor. How to kill them with the rioters' weapons?

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  • $\begingroup$ Does the power armor protect from bullet impact shocks? What if it's hit with .50 BMG round? $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Commented Jan 11, 2021 at 18:45
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    $\begingroup$ This question seems in very poor taste considering recent events. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Commented Jan 11, 2021 at 18:47
  • $\begingroup$ You’ll live but that section of the amour will be pretty messed up. The marines are deployed without their normal countermeasures so if you get shot at no blocking it. Serious bruises in the morning. $\endgroup$
    – 11Bravo
    Commented Jan 11, 2021 at 18:47
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    $\begingroup$ Well @user535733 I can’t just rewrite a couple chapters just cause some idiots did some stupid stuff. $\endgroup$
    – 11Bravo
    Commented Jan 11, 2021 at 18:48
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    $\begingroup$ Just ask WWED.... "what would Ewoks do"? $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 6:28

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As a rioter, you have a few options.

Some of you might have similar experiences: you are driving your car, and suddenly you realize that it's basically a violent 1-ton battering ram propelled forwards by a continuous series of explosions, and caution is advised when handling one. On the other hand, if your police is currently power armored and in the way of progress (or what you hope is progress), you might consider using your car. If you want extra creativity points: a disgruntled employee once bolted a bunch of steel to his bulldozer and rampaged through cars, houses and other street features, a power armored policeman won't be a problem.

Speaking of battering, home-made explosives! For some reason you can still buy books online without repercussions on how to make explosives from household chemicals. Even if the explosion itself doesn't break the armor, its shockwave and potential spalling effect could break the servo's and policeman inside. The only 2 reasons I don't have a copy is because I don't have anything I want to blow up enough (and likely never will), and that creating explosives in your kitchen is likely to kill you with chemicals absorbed in the skin, spread through the air or currently exploding because you made a mistake in the quantities or handling them.

Hit their fuel supplies and exhaust them. These power armors likely need some fuel or rather special energy sources, likely swapping batteries so they can be charged. Either hit these instead or try to keep power armor engaged in maneuvering long enough that they run out of power or fuel. You can attempt to delay them by the time they return to fuel, then taking them down when they are helpless.

Hit the joints. While armored legs and joints are much more well protected than wheels or tracks ever can be, they'll likely still offer some opportunities for small-arms to hinder the system. The kneecap likely has its armor, but hitting the rear of the knee with an armor-piercing round should be able to get you results. If only the result of said policeman turning around with a limp and pacifying you, or his buddies doing it for you and not giving anyone else a chance to do the same. Remember, even if you get a shot actually hitting something as small as a kneecap from a range where power armor wont immediately be able to stop you isn't going to be easy.

Civil disobedience. Its easy to find a rioter, but what are you going to do when large parts of the civilian chain that keep the policemen happy stop serving them? No more repairs to their houses or vehicles, refused to be sold any food or drink, being socially shunned, electronic services like their email stops functioning etc. The only paths forwards are either increasing violence and authoritarianism (and current orders are specifically peacefully stopping the riots where they can), or the other path is negotiation to come to a solution and stop the riots.

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Lots of methods. Depends on how much prep, what the conditions are, how close you can get to them, and how many rioters dead you are willing to accept.

"You cannae break the laws of physics captain!" Otherwise known as "what happens when you drop a wrench on a submarine." If you smack him hard enough then his more dense internal body parts will squish up against the inside of the armor. His brain will smack the inside of his skull. And so on. Even in perfectly form-fitting armor, an impact equivalent to about a 10 story fall is extremely likely to kill him. That's not a particularly big bomb. If he can be pushed off a 10 story building (or equivalent) and can't fly, it's bad news.

Microwaves or other electromagnetic effects. One presumes there is a bunch of conducting metal in his armor if it really is powered somehow. Wrap him in copper wire and connect it the the main power supply, he's a solenoid. At the very least it is likely to melt his radio equipment and set his hair on fire.

Ultra-sound likely goes through the armor. The right kind of ultra-sound (maybe not available to the typical impromptu rioter, but the ring leaders might well have it) could fry his brains.

Various caustic chemicals can mess with the joints. It has to be flexible in some way. One presumes he has some kind of rubber or plastic or something making the joints. It might be as simple as drain cleaner.

If you can set him on fire he may cook in the can. Does he notice right away if you put fire on his backpack? That is probably where his power supply is. Maybe by the time he does notice (Do you smell something burning?) he has to panic remove the armor. How does his power supply react to being on fire?

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Do not kill them. Incapacitate them.

While the marine is distracted, a rioter loops a rope around its leg. Suddenly the marine is pulled backward with the rope by a team of persons. When off balance other ropes are looped around arms, legs and head. The power armor is tied against a building with nylon ropes and steel cable, which were brought for rappelling purposes but are plenty strong.

Once the marine is tied securely, a hat can be placed on his head and a mustache drawn on his face plate, and rioters can take selfies with him.

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This questions reminds me of that old sea shanty,

π…Ÿ What to do to kill a marine in combat armor, Oh what to do to kill a marine in combat armor, Oh what to do to kill a marine in combat armor, early in the morning? π…ž

π…Ÿ Oh pick him or her up and drop him or her off the tallest building, Oh pick him or her up and drop him or her off the tallest building, Oh pick him or her up and drop him or her off the tallest building, early in the morning. π…ž

π…Ÿ Oh hack his or her suit's environmental controls and turn off his or her oxygen, Oh hack into his or her suits computer and turn off his or her oxygen, early in the morning. π…ž

π…Ÿ Oh hoist him up in chains and hold him or her over a thermite fire, Oh hoist him or her up in chains and dangle him or her over a thermite fire, Oh hold them over a thermite fire, early in the morning. π…ž

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  • $\begingroup$ π…Ÿ Oh incapacitate them and remove the armor, incapacitate them and remove the armor, incapacitate them and remove the armor earlay in the morning! π…ž $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 21:33
  • $\begingroup$ Oh how do you do anything like these things? How do you do anything like these things? How do you do anything like these things if the armor fights baaaack? $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Commented Jan 14, 2021 at 9:30
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Orchestrated Evil:

Great ideas everyone. I love the idea of using a car (or bulldozer). Electricity is really good, especially if you entangle the suit in conductive mesh first. And fire resistant is not infinity capacity to absorb heat, so sustained application of masses of propellant is a wonderful idea (I imagine dragging an immobilized trooper to a gas station and cooking him slowly). I do have a couple of things to add, mostly centered on the idea that if you immobilize and blind, the most powered suit in the world is useless. They also all assume a riot much more carefully orchestrated than a mere angry mob is going to be able to manage.

  • Suits are likely heavy. Given enough prepping, a pit filled with (name your horror - gelled gasoline, crude oil or a thick industrial substance filled with grit?) could be used - lure an armored person into falling in, then they can't see, possibly can't move, may be on fire in a sustained way, and being mobbed by enemies.
  • Ultra-riots mean structural damage. Literally drop a house (or multi-story building) on them.
  • Glue guns: If there is mass-rioting, police weapons have likely been seized. Glue guns encase victims in a mass of sticky, tough material that makes everything stick to them, make them stick to everything, would blind, jam weapons, etc. An improvised glue bomb could even be made, splattering a whole team.
  • Monofilament wire: You likely have some high-tech materials lying around in your near future. A spool of monofilament could be just the trick. lay out a mass of the stuff and it would be hard to spot. Get a suit to run into it at high speed and entangle them so they can't move. Various other materials and meshes could be used to perform the same trick.
  • As an addendum to the car and bomb thing, did anyone mention a good old fashioned car bomb? Two nasty things that get nastier together.
  • If you are willing to move into an industrial setting, the fiendishness goes off the scale. Lasers, cutting torches, arc furnaces, molten metal, industrial presses - all can be used to make very lethal traps. Ultimate irony would be crushing a suit of powered armor in a press molding powered armor.
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  • $\begingroup$ I don’t know how I would move the press but yeah that would be ironic. But wait what if it is a full body press they would be fine. $\endgroup$
    – 11Bravo
    Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 19:47
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It's Going to Be Tough, For Story Reasons if Nothing Else

The field of riot control is based on a tacit understanding that lethal force will not be used by either side. The definition of "lethal force" in the context of someone in power armor can vary, but unless the Marine's chain of command values the lives of their troops less than the individuals in the crowd who have made specific, explicit preparations to kill them (a tough sell to the troops, as I'm sure you can imagine) the entire situation moves from "riot control" to "combat" in a hurry.

The tougher your marines are (and it sounds like they are very tough indeed), the more preparation will be required to injure/kill them, and the more that preparation is going to make the individual with lethal intent stand out in the crowd (Molotov cocktails are concealable and portable, welding equipment or impromptu Panzerfausts less so). Though with strong enough armor something as seemingly fatal as "parking a truck on them" could still fall in non-lethal territory.

Assuming the power armor lacks "point defense" equipment (reactive charges, "electric fencing", chemical dispensers etc.), it would be possible for the rioters to blind/swarm/immobilize/otherwise render combat ineffective the marines and trap them in their armor. The design of the armor itself can't be ignored in that case; armor intended for the battlefield would be designed to resist long range weapons fire, while armor intended for riot control would be designed to prevent immobilization, with extra paneling to prevent insertion of hands, crowbars etc. into vital areas (seen today in the difference between ballistic plate carriers and full-body riot control armor). The focus on incapacitation would prevent the conflict from moving into lethal territory, within which it seems the marines would easily win if only through liberal application of the "drop trooper's handshake"--grabbing an exposed body part of an unarmored individual and giving it a good squeeze (ouch!).

It's this answerer's opinion that any exploited weaknesses will need to be strategic ("there's too many of them") or zero-day in nature ("we never thought of this"). Something as simple as paint sprayed over a visor could do the trick. But in the arms race of technologically advanced government vs. mildly organized rioters, with both given equal opportunity to prepare and in a (generally) less-than-lethal context, it defies belief to think that the rioters will win.

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    $\begingroup$ It might be easier to explain if the conveniently available armor is optimized for all-out combat rather than for crowd control, so the armor might contain very high-power weaponry, but the marines would be barred from using it in this scenario. It will take a couple of days to re-configure the armor with less-lethal munitions or to acquire built-for-purpose crowd-control armor like police forces use. $\endgroup$
    – The Photon
    Commented Jan 13, 2021 at 17:47
  • $\begingroup$ ^Strong tack. And unless the armor is set up to be reconfigurable (which means cost + complexity) no number of days will help you. It's possible you could swap out your (ballistic) ceramite armor for (riot-control) fiber-reinforced hyper plastic panels. Armor panels are expected to be damaged and so must be at least armory-replaceable, but it presumes those panels exist in an accessible form. Shields and less-lethal melee weapons should be relatively accessible on any world with a police force, and support roles (CS gas, fire fighting, etc.) could be performed by officers in normal riot gear. $\endgroup$
    – clyf
    Commented Jan 14, 2021 at 3:36
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Use tactics!

The thing is I don't see this as a problem since a marine in power armor is not superman and his training and tactics would mostly be the same as without PA.

The biggest problem is this

Sure with PA you can be all parade like and stand in the middle of the street looking regal and shiny. But once bullets start flying that marine's training is taking over and he is diving towards cover and using tactics that is drilled into him to resolve the situation.

Marines would just do what they know to achieve their goals. The added protection of PA can of course work in certain situations but would mostly be balanced by the risks involved since any officer can quickly and accurately optimize a course of action.

Example: Rioters are attempting to break into a position you are ordered to defend. That place might be your base or the residence of the president or Dunkin' Donuts for all that matters. As a soldier you obey orders. Anyway the rioters are coming in with clubs and flag and knives...etc. That situation you are still in danger if you engage them in CQC but still your own PA offers enough protection that you can engage the closest and most daring offender. You have order to peacefully resolve the situation so your course of action is to relay on your PA and show enough controlled aggression to deter the rest of the crowd.

But if you are just protecting your thing and bullets start flying you dive behind the sandbags, shoulder your M16 and laying down a hail of fire at the source of incoming fire before you can even realize what happened. You are a soldier. That's what the army drills into them.

So. Even with the idea of "The marines are under orders to peacefully dispel the riot using tasers, shields and tear gas"

Only works as far as the rioters do not bring their own automatic rifles or at least use them. If the rioters start shooting you really can't stop any soldier in the world from returning fire.

So. What you have is a skirmish type of situation. Where the rioters attack the marine and both sides have their safety off. Of course marines won't just relay on small arms because the does not deal in anything but overkill. Citizens or your local variety terrorists once the bullets start flying the soldiers are hopping into their tanks, IFVs, and ordering a drone strike but I digress.

Anyway I'm not sure if that is a frame challenge or not but I just think this is the most logical course of action for soldiers anywhere every single time.

With that being said you can just use stuff like: Armor piercing rounds, grenades, sustained fire, higher caliber rounds...etc.

Again coordinating the attacks and trying to isolate small groups marines in a building then just shooting thousands upon thousand of rounds on them is pretty much the only thing you can do. You are not gonna send your agile PA armored melee units to counter them.

So. Take a page out of the army's book and just throw absurd amounts of bullets at them. If a bullet does 1% damage to them you just need to fire a thousand at them.

But without a command coordinating those attacks and officers on the ground adapting to the battle the marines would 9/10. But again I digress.

So. It all boils down to not what technology are you using but what tactics are you using. Sun Tzu would still be applicable here as he ever was

Lastly I'm not sure about the rest of your story or world so I'm not judging. But if this is the US then don't think the US army can be called upon to intervene in internal affairs even for peace keeping stuff. But I could be wrong.

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  • $\begingroup$ As far as I know military personell gets things like force cards. These have the instructions with how much force they are allowed to react and how they are allowed to escalate them. They might dive for cover but they won't just shoulder their M16 and lay into a crowd. They would still follow orders, and if the force cards say "don't just kill everyone", they'll be going to obey that and escalate violence in order of the cards. First X verbal and signal warnings, then smoke, then raised weapons, then shots into the ground, then debilitating gas etc etc all before opening fire on select targets $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Commented Jan 11, 2021 at 22:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Demigan, Maybe if you read it then it makes more sense. "Only works as far as the rioters do not bring their own automatic rifles or at least use them. If the rioters start shooting you really can't stop any soldier in the world from returning fire." Yes. I'm saying they follow orders. But I'm also saying that there is not a soldier in existence that can get shot at and do nothing. $\endgroup$
    – Seallussus
    Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 0:09
  • $\begingroup$ That is exactly my point: they will not all immediately return fire, but follow the force escalation they have been given in order to pacify the enemy. Especially in this situation that is more likely due to the amount of civilians without weapons that will also be around. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 7:22
  • $\begingroup$ @Demigan, I don't know where you found soldiers who stand in the open getting shot at from automatic rifles and don't return fire. The whole force escalation thing is meaningless once automatic rifles start shooting. Ask any soldier in existence. They just don't take kindly to been shot at from rifles. I think you have some romantic ideas about marines to think they will just stand still and take incoming fire that is capable of murdering them. Which is hilarious given how we saw certain police personal act recently in the US. Anyway, again, Once the firing starts all bets are off $\endgroup$
    – Seallussus
    Commented Jan 13, 2021 at 3:08
  • $\begingroup$ I think you have a far more violent idea of marines or soldiers. For one if they detect rifles they wont be standing out in the open depite their armor. Secondly the point of firing is to stop your opponent from firing, but there are far better ways to make these civilians stop. If you fire into the crowd you will have more death on your hands and galvanize the rioters to be more violent in return. If you pacify them with warnings and slowly escalate your force with shots in the air/ground to avoid escalation by direct lethal force you have a better chance of succeeding $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Commented Jan 13, 2021 at 8:02
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⚑ Electricity ⚑

Overload those tasers, metal conducts electricity right? And that wasn't explicitly mentioned in the prompt, though it isn't the rioter's weapons but the marines'.

Pikachu - thunderbolt!

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  • $\begingroup$ If the outer casing of the armor is conductive enough to let a taser work, wouldnt that outer casing also immediately ground the electricity into the ground harmlessly? There's no reason for the electricity to pass through the layers of armor, clothing and flesh when it can more easily travel through the metals. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Commented Jan 14, 2021 at 9:28

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