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The USA government is at war with some wizards in a broken masquerade scenario.

The wizards live among the population, but use magic to make the dwellings invisible. The same magic alters memories of any people around so that they forget any thing supernatural they see.

How can the USA military fight against a foe when they can't hit them at home?

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    $\begingroup$ It looks like your world is already built and you are asking about how a scenario in this world will play out. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Jul 1 at 1:50
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    $\begingroup$ Much more detail required in order to provide tactics (if people forget supernatural stuff then how does the USA know that there is someone to be at war at and who they are?) or it's story-based. As it is, we don't even know what era this is set in. $\endgroup$ Jul 1 at 3:31
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    $\begingroup$ I'd say a good starting place is The Silence from Dr Who, which is almost exactly the kind of situation you described. Most/all of the solutions presented there would apply $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Jul 1 at 3:53
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    $\begingroup$ English has a rich vocabulary to describe many types of conflicts. "At war" is a term that suggests the wizards are using military force: Bombarding combat forces with artillery and air power, occupying ground with their infantry, directing refugee flows to clog enemy routes, and a set of goals that can be achieved by a political agreement instead of a genocide. It's not clear if you are using the correct term to describe your desired conflict, particularly since your second paragraph suggests something very different ("uprising?") The right term will avoid a lot of audience confusion. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Jul 1 at 5:04
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    $\begingroup$ For a bit of a dark take on this kind of effect and its possible consequences, I recommend checking out "There Is No Antimemetics Division". $\endgroup$
    – Dan Bryant
    Jul 1 at 12:51
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Hire wizards

/The usa government is at war with some wizard/

Wizard singular.

/The wizards live among the population but use magic to make the dwellings invisible./

Wizards plural.

These wizards in general must have some tricks so they can find the doors of their own houses, not fall down the stairs etc. Plus the ones who want to be left alone are probably pretty peeved at the one who is at war with the US, giving wizards a bad name.

Hire those other wizards. Give them extra pointy hats, moustache wax, whatever they need to make their wizardliness as extra wizardful as it can be. Your hired wizards will get that rogue wizard, shave his beard, take his staff, dress him in a prison jumpsuit and let him think things over in Guantanomo.

And I had better not read that it was a simple typo in the question because this is a sweet answer, especially the moustache wax part.

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    $\begingroup$ Can confirm: answer is too mega-sweet to be defeated by mere copy-editing. (And would still work even then, except in the one case where all wizards are united against the government. And even then, the government could apply pressure through its established legal authority over aforementioned wax industry.) $\endgroup$
    – Tom
    Jul 1 at 2:05
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    $\begingroup$ Even if "all the wizards" are at war with the US, you'll still likely have some individual defectors or double agents who - for whatever reason, be it personal, political, or pragmatic - want to work with the government. History gives plenty of examples from, e.g., the Cold War, on both sides. $\endgroup$
    – Cadence
    Jul 1 at 2:28
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In Doctor Who, there is an enemy with a similar ability. The Doctor comes up with a really great way to fight them. The trick is that the wizards alter memories, not perception.

When you see a wizard, that visual information is going from your eyes to your brain, where it is processed in the usual way. When you look away from the wizard, this information is moved into your memory through a separate process*. As long as you are currently looking at the wizard, the memory storage process of your brain is not involved. Therefore, the wizard's powers to interfere with this process are irrelevant.

The bottom line is that as long as you are actively looking at a wizard, you can take any action you wish. This includes actions that record information. For example, you could always carry around a microphone and only turn it on when you spot a wizard. This lets you send information to your future self, who can than store that information in your memory without any problems.

*There is some complicated neuroscience involved that I'm not going to get into, but you may want to read up on if you want to flesh things out more.

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  • $\begingroup$ I'd love a link to the complicated neuroscience, or just some terminology. What is that "separate process" called? This is also a pretty clever solution, but it seems like the main hurdle is to get it off the ground: if nobody can remember they're at war with memory-erasing wizards, they can't take precautions such as carrying recording devices, or follow a predefined procedure such as maintaining line-of-sight on a wizard until a record can be made. There may be some weird individuals with these habits, but the delay in spreading the word could decide the war by itself. $\endgroup$
    – Tom
    Jul 1 at 3:22
  • $\begingroup$ It would be very difficult to get off the ground 20 years ago, but in modern society the vast majority of people constantly carry around high quality audio-visual recording equipment (eg cell phones). I can't really link to an article on the neuroscience I described because what I described is false. Although that is how many people think memory works and it is good enough for a great story (those DW episodes are some of my favorite), the human mind simply does not process memory in this way. If you want to learn about memory, start here: pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/corkin-hm-memory $\endgroup$
    – E Tam
    Jul 1 at 3:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Tom in a very simplified way, when you take your eyes off something, the visual stimulation it provided is stored as short-term memory and then your brain consolidates your short-term memory into long-term memory. The Silence "block" the first step in the process from happening. In DW canon, their allies wore an Eye Drive to constantly remind them of the Silence, so they would be immune to the effect. tardis.fandom.com/wiki/Eye_Drive $\endgroup$ Jul 1 at 5:58
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    $\begingroup$ So, in the specific context of interacting with/thinking about wizards, people suffer from anterograde amnesia. You can look that up: read about Henry Molaison’s abilities and disabilities. Read about Oliver Sacks’s patient Jimmie G in The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat. Watch Memento to see how that disorder can be treated in fiction. Your world’s type of selective anterograde amnesia would be more subtle—and more fun to develop in fiction I think. $\endgroup$
    – jez
    Jul 1 at 21:52
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Recordings

Use surveillance cameras to identify the wizards. Follow them home with surveillance drones. Blow them up with a drone.

Cross References

Are the wizard's houses on the electrical grid? Are they at all connected to the outside world? If so, they can be tracked. Also, you can just track well-dressed people who doesn't seem to have an address.

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  • $\begingroup$ I only see now that our answers are very similar. I think you were first. I'll leave it up to you if you want to remove my answer. I'll delete it then. At least have my upvote. $\endgroup$
    – Trioxidane
    Jul 1 at 11:42
  • $\begingroup$ There is no need. Thank you for your offer. Your answer is more detailed as well. $\endgroup$ Jul 2 at 18:00
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Computers

Invisibility is impressive, but will leave traces that are visible. Water mains and electricity terminating at nothing, holes in the ground and the like. The areas are weird. Even if the Invisibility is foolproof, there's still people going in and out of the buildings. Each can be detected by electronics. Electronics cannot be altered by the mind altering magic.

With this simple fact, we can start following potential wizards with drones and sattelites, if not with normal cameras and the like. When the computers have calculated enough of the magic residents in an area, you send in destructive drones. These can be ground based or via the air and via electronics even people can see as much as possible. You can simply bomb the hell out of an area and the wizards wouldn't see it coming.

The difficulties are when the wizards are in urban areas. Although they'll be easier to track with cameras and such withing the cities, you can't always bomb in such areas. You might evacuate the area and bomb it, or use large ground based gatling guns to light up the area with more precision, but it'll be more difficult.

But your question is fight them when not at home. This is much easier. When you identified them, all you need is to kill/incapacitate/capture them like any regular person. You follow them and then ambush them. They might be potentially more dangerous, but they are at base value just humans.

Electronically identify, follow, ambush.

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Don't look for data, look for gaps in data.

The dwelling of the wizard is invisible. That means the maps of the area will show an empty plot where a house should be. Or an unexplained gap in house numbers. Or perhaps the address exists and the map shows that there is a house there (perhaps the house was built before the wizard claimed it or perhaps their power extends to falsifying maps), but the post office has no record of ever delivering any mail there, the land register lists no owner and not even the Jehovah's Witnesses have a record of visiting that building.

You send a field-agent there ordering them to record the inhabitants of all the 20 houses on that street, and they deliver a report for only 19 households. They don't remember visiting the conspicuous plot of land. Curious indeed.

Get the neighbors to some other place under some bureaucratic pretext. You won't notify the wizard, because they are not on the list assembled by the field-agent. Then make some unfortunate disaster happen which wipes out the whole neighborhood. The civilians are alive, but homeless, but you can give them new homes. The wizard is very likely dead.

...or are they?!?

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A darker approach. Wizards are counting on a intact human mind to do their memory erasing work. What if US government found a way to profoundly impair the brains of some volunteers so that they could see and report the wizards' activities and locations. When the wizards tried to alter the memories, they just found brain damage that horrified them. After their service, the volunteers need full time caretakers for the rest of their lives.

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