There's an ongoing war with modern-day weapons (mainly guns). We're trying to develop a bio-weapon to just make soldiers unable to fight with guns while minimizing suffering, such that they're able to go back to their normal daily lives after the war.

My first idea is to make it so that the soldiers would tremble similar to Alzheimer's patients, making them unable to aim or even wield a gun properly, and the effects would wear off after a few weeks or so. The victims would have a hard time with daily activities, but at least the effects aren't long-lasting and the victims are alive and well after the war.

What bio-weapons would have similarly deathless and low-suffering effects while incapacitating enemy soldiers?

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    $\begingroup$ One consequence seems obvious: "My People, the heroes of our intelligence services have discovered that our plague was unleashed by our despicable, subhuman enemy. Your suffering was caused by them. It was obviously intended to kill us all, but we have proven stronger and smarter than those cowardly barbarians, and we will prevail! One hour ago, I launched full nuclear retaliation for their foolish attempt to exterminate our Great People. We will finally end this war. The atomic pyres that are blossoming in their cities are monuments to our greatness! We prevail!" $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Jun 1, 2021 at 13:17

6 Answers 6


LSD has been tested by the British and USA military for that exact purpose




It is effective in extremely small doses while having tolerable LD50. Not sure why they rejected it but does it even matter?

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    $\begingroup$ From what I see in the videos they get some form of discipline back after 3 hours of administration of the drug, though they might not be directly effective as soldiers. The next day they are able to carry on normally. Does that mean you would drug these people before each engagement during the war, or even every day/multiple times a day to keep them docile? $\endgroup$
    – Trioxidane
    Jun 1, 2021 at 13:45
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    $\begingroup$ @Trioxidane I imagine it as daily artillery/aircraft deployment. We want no long-term incapacitation, right? There are plenty of papers on the substance because it has been considered for medical use as well. Of which I have read zero. $\endgroup$
    – Vorac
    Jun 1, 2021 at 14:03
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think this would work too well in the long term because people would build up tolerance to being dosed daily. Also, from what I've heard, I think it would still be possible to have combat-effective soldiers provided that they've trained while under the influence and are familiar with the effects. With experience and mental discipline, it's still possible to complete activities that require a moderate degree of coordination and focus like cooking or riding a bike. $\endgroup$
    – Dragongeek
    Jun 1, 2021 at 15:29
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    $\begingroup$ @Dragongeek all the more plot hooks! $\endgroup$
    – Vorac
    Jun 1, 2021 at 15:32
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    $\begingroup$ They may have rejected it simply because biological and chemical weapons are more-or-less blanket forbidden by the Geneva Conventions. Even "less lethal" ones, such as pepper spray, that are used by civilian law enforcement in a number of countries. $\endgroup$
    – James_pic
    Jun 1, 2021 at 18:49

There are multiple flawed options chemical gas, diseases (viruses, bacteria, etc.) and chemicals.

The problem with gas in military warfare is that gasmasks are easily available, as result you only hit civilians. Great for morale back home no matter the effects.

Diseases sound great at first thought: Infect the enemies and they are out cold for a few weeks and there are countless options in development in military labs around the world.

The problem is that in war you have lots of refugees that spread your potential diseases to the surrounding countries infecting new hosts ensuring that your diseases do not die out and at worst mutating.

It only gets worse from here, assuming you are fighting against guerilla warfare tactics hiding behind civilians.

Israel, for example, could add something to the water supply in Gaza to make sure their enemies can't concentrate, sleep or lose hand-eye coordination, before launching an assault.

As result, the enemies would just lay down their weapons pretending to be civilians and wait for the effects to die down. Meanwhile, everyone condemns their behaviour.


Suppression or modulation of the Amygdala via gut flora or fauna


The Amygdala is a relatively tiny part of the brain with two hemisphere parts, but like the Hypofyse it has great influences on the humans. It's in the limbic system, which is considered to control the emotions. It is very important in fight or flight responses, like fear and anger.

Damage to the Amygdala can have wildly different results. Some afflicted can be docile, while others can have unprovoked fits of rage. From research into the Amygdala with trauma patients, where memory and certain stimuli can give them huge fear responses (although anger is also possible), we can see that there are ways to suppress the Amygdala. The way this happens is poorly understood. The most logical is suppression by brain impulses, much like the brain hemispheres can suppress each other in some areas. The other is hormones. Most likely both are involved in suppression of the Amygdala.

The biological attack will implant gut flora or fauna (bacteria/microscopic animals or plants). These can be very stable in growth and are much less affected by the immune system, as they're technically not inside the body proper. We're learning gut flora and fauna have huge impact on the welfare and eating habbits of the people in general. This is already used to change these habbits by placing flora and fauna from a healthy person into a sick/obese person. If enough can fight for a place in the gut, they can self sustain by changing the person's habbits in food and such. Only by a lot of effort or other grafts these gut flora/fauna can be removed again.

When the flora or fauna you spread among the soldiers settles, it'll secrete hormones that facilitate suppression of the Amygdala directly or indirectly. Much like real gut flora and fauna can.

With the Amygdala suppressed it is hard to engage in aggressive actions.


Of course it isn't just that easy. Although the largest part of an army is affected, professional highly trained soldiers might actually become more effective without a strong fear or anger response. Their actions don't come from agression anymore, but training. The gut flora and fauna can still change this though. Much disease influence specific behaviour. Rabies makes you fear water. A cat parasite can induce a sort if love for cats in mice and humans. It is sometimes strangely specific, but the gut flora and fauna can do the same.

Instead of suppression, you use the Amygdala. A fear, disgust or aversion to violence can be influenced in the whole limbic system, with the Amygdala assisting for some of the negative responses to violence. In addition you can still suppress the Amygdala, as the negative emotions can still come through.


The trick is to get the gut flora/fauna to be able to accept most kinds of foods, so it'll grow easily and supplant sone of the existing flora/fauna. To prevent your own soldiers from getting it, you can have the flora/fauna be weak against a certain food enzyme or the like. This can either be added to the food, or be already present in certain food that aren't given or irregularity given to soldiers.

The advantage is that the cause is unlikely to be discovered quickly, nor the 'antidote' found easily. If it is, you can alter the flora/fauna to lose the weakness and adding a different one.


Insertion of genetically modified gut bacteria can influence people long term, in a stable method that is hard to expel from the body. These people can live perfectly normal lives, though with less fear and anger, or with an aversion to violence. Although not incapable of fightbor flight responses, they'll not be useful as soldiers. If nothing is done it can be permanent, though most people change eating habbits at some point that can (largely) remove the implanted gut flora or fauna.

The soldiers aversion can also turn into a larger scale aversion of the war, wanting to concede. They'll more readily accept defeat and giving up something than to fight.

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    $\begingroup$ If your targeting the gut, how about the even simpler option of just causing intestinal issues? Strong antibiotics already have issues with nausea and diarrhea, which would significantly impact a fighting force. $\endgroup$ Jun 2, 2021 at 0:36


was the weapon formerly developed by the US military with this intention. See this page at Johns Hopkins Hypothetically, with good treatment, the death rate might be limited to 2%. Note, however, that the death rate can be much worse under less-than-ideal conditions... which are probably to be expected in a war.


I'm thinking alcohol that has been packaged in particulate form where the shell dissolves when breathed in. Drunk soldiers can't fight right? You might need to breathe in a lot of it though...

And gas masks would deal with it. But maybe that's the point. It's not so dangerous or effective that you would bother to put on a gas mask.

Or weaponized laughing gas. Dosage is an issue though as it would be with pretty much every other similar weapon.


Medical Nanobots

You don't need them drugged for weeks, just at the right time in the upcoming weeks when you need them out of commission.

To clarify, nanobots are a term used in the medical industry to refer to any variety of artificial, mass-producible, virus like things that can be use in all sorts of therapies. While some have more capabilities than others, preliminary research shows that they can be both programmed and remote-controlled for delivering highly targeted and on-demand therapies. Unlike most science-fiction nanobots, these are not tiny metallic robots, but rather organic devices that have been designed with all of the intentionality of a robot.

Given current technology, it would be possible to design a nanobot drug delivery system that could allow you to use aerosolized drugs that can be remotely triggered at any time in the future. Instead of leaving everyone drugged up for weeks (which is bad for your health) you can drug the whole enemy army with nanobots designed to store the drug in enemy soldiers' systems until needed. So, you could begin your offensive by dosing the whole enemy army with air raids. Then over the next few weeks as your ground forces roll in, you just transmit the activation signal as you move in, then any enemy soldiers or civilians who were exposed get a sudden dose of Azaperone painlessly knocking them out. The enemy troops will recover with a few hours, but by the time they do, they are already zip-tied in the backs of a trucks being sent off to the nearest POW camp.

... or if air deployed aerosols are too obvious or complicated, just contaminate the water supply or sell the enemy army tainted supplies, etc. Normally these attack vectors are obvious acts of aggression, but in this case, you can do it weeks or even months in advance without any obvious symptoms emerging. So you can take your time making sure the whole enemy army is drugged before anyone knows that you are attacking them.

  • $\begingroup$ "Given current technogy?" We don't have the technology to do any of what you're suggesting. $\endgroup$
    – NomadMaker
    Jun 1, 2021 at 20:04
  • $\begingroup$ @NomadMaker Sure we do, it is still in in infancy, but scientists have already figured out how to mass produce them, remote control them, and use them for targeted drug therapies. They are not widely used in medicine yet because each design needs years of clinical testing to prove that there are no harmful side-effects, but expect to see a lot of them hitting the market within the next few years. nanowerk.com/what-are-nanobots.php sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/07/160722104129.htm $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Jun 2, 2021 at 13:50
  • $\begingroup$ Also, in case I was unclear, I said: "Given current technology, it would be possible to design a nanobot drug delivery system..." I did not say that this particular design of nanobot already exists, just that the technology required to develop it already exists. It would probably take several years of RnD for this weapon come into play unless you assume there are already world governments secretly designing such a weapon. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Jun 2, 2021 at 13:54

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