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Assume there is a resource that allows for rapid regeneration of body parts and termination (magical deletion) of foreign objects in the body upon usage. Let's say it is scarce enough that you can't give it to everyone, so it's still valuable. The resource doesn't stay in the system and is a one time thing where upon usage all current wounds and injuries are healed and foreign objects removed. If you take it with no wounds, it will just do nothing and break down into useless components.

You have to give it to your soldiers because it's a huge morale boost. If you give it to a more accountable group like the team medic, the injured might die before they can be administered the resource. Also, the team medic can still conspire with the soldiers.

What's stopping them from faking mortal injuries and reporting that it was used, then selling it later. You can't really keep them under close supervision, nor can you reasonably punish them for claiming to have used it even if it's suspicious because the injury is already gone. You can't even ask for proof because, if it really was a mortal injury, they wouldn't have time to record any.

I have considered testing for blood but even that can be faked. Would the military just have to look the other way? Or would they target the selling of these resources instead, setting up stings to catch embezzlement that way?

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    $\begingroup$ The thing stopping them from faking and embezzling would be the huge moral boost! $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Jan 19 at 3:09
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    $\begingroup$ @Thaspin that is, regrettably, often the reality. $\endgroup$ Jan 19 at 10:48
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    $\begingroup$ Note that in the real world, both weapons and ammunition are valuable and could be sold/stolen by soldiers. And some weapons, like hand grenades, are both consumable and valuable. So there's nothing about this problem that hasn't already been handled by real armies throughout history. $\endgroup$ Jan 19 at 14:39
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    $\begingroup$ Typically this is the kind of thing you aren't handed until you're going outside the wire, so to speak. Given the circumstances they likely wouldn't have these things laying around outside combat zones and they'd be under the control of quartermasters, whose attempts to smuggle out inventory could be much more easily controlled. $\endgroup$
    – Sean Boddy
    Jan 19 at 14:47
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    $\begingroup$ This isn't just "equipment" we're talking about here. This is going to be the most valuable substance in the world. Think Dune spice. It's not just about the military. Where does it come from? Who produces it? Who distributes it? Can someone manufacture/harvest/etc. this substance far away from the prying eyes? The whole world would revolve around it. $\endgroup$
    – void_ptr
    Jan 20 at 2:30

27 Answers 27

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Miliary Court and Spot Checks

This is the boring answer, but that's how it is handled in basically every army. Soldiers have to account for their equipment. If something is used or lost, they need to report it. Depending on the scarcity and importance of the missing item, you might drag them in front of a military court which judges about the proper use.

Discipline is upheld by appointing judges from outside the current company/regiment, and occasional spot checks help you find the criminals.

Current examples would include weapons and ammunition. If it is found that you are missing either, you will most likely get jail time for not reporting it, and even more trouble when you cannot explain where they went. (Your comrades will rat on you because they are rewarded for doing so, and because they will get jail time it they are found to be helping you.)

Military court of course does not prevent soldiers from trying to stash away your resource during battles. However, spot checks do. If anyone is found with much more resource than they are supposed to have, they will get high sentences.

By the way, this would make for an interesting plot device: A group of soldiers conspire to bury all their resources on the battlefield and retrieve it when the war is over. A farmer's boy finds it after the war and is now suddenly rich. Meanwhile, the remaining soldiers (most died during the war) battle each other in order to find it and get rich alone.

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    $\begingroup$ Boring but correct answer, this isn't significantly different from any other controlled store issued to military personnel. $\endgroup$ Jan 19 at 14:25
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    $\begingroup$ Good record-keeping and statistical analysis could also point you toward bad actors. If one particular company consistently uses significantly more consumable equipment than others of similar characteristics, they might deserve more scrutiny. $\endgroup$ Jan 19 at 19:08
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    $\begingroup$ also forget getting away with stashing it away, you still have to deal with selling it which is where lots of people in the real world get caught. Stealing it from the govt is the easier part because you only have to deal with an E-3 at supply who can be easily manipulated. Selling it, you have to deal with MPs (because youre selling military equipment), federal law enforcement (because you're committing a felony), and local law enforcement (in cooperation, and because you're in their district/territory). $\endgroup$ Jan 20 at 14:51
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    $\begingroup$ Also, if someone is hoarding and selling equipment or supplies from a combat unit, the Unit/Squad leaders (NCOs) will usually know. Historically, therefore, most military theft rings have been run by a quartermaster or someone who works for them who can fudge the books and inspections as needed. $\endgroup$ Jan 20 at 22:21
  • $\begingroup$ This is indeed how it works $\endgroup$ Jan 21 at 8:29
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Tattoo the soldiers.

That awful old "SPQR" thing, maybe... it doesn't really matter, except you might need to do two or more widely spaced areas. IF they give themselves a dose, all the tattoos disappear, and you give them another dose. If the dose disappears and the markings don't, then they will have some explaining to do.

Note this does not depend on the structure or intactness of the army. The effective meaning of the tattoo is "this soldier is custodian of a dose of super serum" and if any unit of the army picks him up, they can start asking where it is.

Of course, it's still war and vials do get shattered, so this is not a perfect barrier. Also, I'm assuming you allow the soldiers to take a goodbye dose when they're finished, as a variant on a VA hospital program to heal any chronic damage they suffered.

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    $\begingroup$ @Thaspin Tattos are foreign objects. $\endgroup$
    – Erdel
    Jan 19 at 5:30
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    $\begingroup$ "Sell it? Me? No sir! I was in a BATTLE and this guy got hit in front of me! I didnt have time to check dogtags I was given orders to move! Did you check both living and dead soldiers to see which one it was? Maybe its that MIA guy or maybe that one that got blown up, kinda hard to check now since it leaves no traces in the body, sorry sir". $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Jan 19 at 9:39
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    $\begingroup$ The goodbye-dose could be used as a powerful incentive to get more soldiers to join up. If a person has a handicapped/chronically sick/disfigured family member, they can leave their goodbye dose to those people. Such soldiers wear their dose tattoo with pride and add the name of the person it was used on underneath the tattoo, as it shows they used their goodbye dose for somebody else. It would be hard to stop them from getting inpatient and using it early on though. $\endgroup$
    – vinzzz001
    Jan 19 at 11:21
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think it's a very good system considering there is a high chance of this serum being legitimately used on others rather than yourself. That would be a normal use case systematically being a false positive. $\endgroup$ Jan 19 at 11:46
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    $\begingroup$ The biggest drawback is making wounded soldiers wait while they get a visible mark saying "we don't trust you". The second drawback is having to give the tattoo-medic a cut when you sell it. $\endgroup$ Jan 19 at 15:42
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Option 1: Make the healing unit a subdermal implant.

That way it is always available to the soldier.
It cannot be (easily) stolen or sold.
The very act of implantation leaves a small scar, which use of the unit will heal: positive proof of usage.
A soldier could even have more than one of these, if the mission justifies it. Handy if, for example, the left arm on which the implant is mounted gets blown off.

Option 2: Make possession and/or trading in the unit a capital offense.
This is simple lawmaking. Each unit has a serial number.
Anyone found in possession of a unit, other than the soldier it was issued to, is immediately sentences to death. After a nice torture session to make sure where they got the unit from. If a soldier sold their unit, they get arrested under the same charges. Both arrest and execution is publicly listed, of course, for the deterrent value.

You won't catch all the blackmarketed units, of course, but you should make the illicit trade in them such a scary topic that the volume of trade diminishes to near zero.

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    $\begingroup$ More than one implant at a time would be mostly useless, cause the first implant that goes off would remove all others. It would only be useful for the scenario you describe, but that would create the question whether the soldier would in effect multiply in case of exploding into too many bits (one soldier from the dose in the left arm, one from the dose in the right leg, one from the head, one from the torso...) $\endgroup$
    – orithena
    Jan 19 at 12:33
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    $\begingroup$ Having multiple would also make it very easy to sell the extras. If you have (for example) one in each arm, you cut out the one in your left arm, trigger the one in your right arm to heal the wound left by the removal, then sell the one you removed. When you're asked about it, just say you had to trigger one and the other one got destroyed because it's a foreign object in your body. If the healing devices are exempt from the destruction, say it got too damaged to be considered functional when you sustained the injury that meant you needed to use the other one. $\endgroup$ Jan 20 at 15:32
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The device has two effects: the short term one is what you describe, the healing of wounds and so on, while the long term one is a terrific death induced by uncontrolled cellular proliferation, something like a cancer but much more quick.

You have an antidote for the long term effect and, while you want the device to be readily usable for the cases of emergency, providing the antidote can be done with relative calm in authorized army hospitals under strict surveillance. The antidote, if taken alone, it's also lethal, because it dramatically slows down cellular replication.

You make sure that whoever gets the device is duly informed of the risks and consequences using the device without the antidote and the antidote without the device, and then show them the educational movie about Private Joe, who tried to cheat the system by selling the device and reporting its usage to heal his wounds: who bought the device died of the boosted cancer and Joe died after being given the antidote.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't want the original device to cause cancer but I can see people in charge spiking it with cancer. To what extant is this immoral(to the public and soldiers) if there is a known and available antidote? This reminds me of the American Prohibition where industrial alcohol was made more poisonous to prevent sale and consumption of alcohol. I think it might be overkill to punish with death for what is just selling medical equipment so I'm going to scale down the unintended effects of using the antidote without the device to minor necrosis so its impossible to hide but doesn't cause death. $\endgroup$
    – Thaspin
    Jan 19 at 5:32
  • $\begingroup$ @Thaspin, you can tune the effect as you prefer for your story. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Jan 19 at 5:57
  • $\begingroup$ It doesn't need to be spiked to be a problem. Old age is basically a defense against cancer, without it we would see an awful lot more tumors. To function this is pretty much going to have to turn off that defense, if it's not turned back on sooner or later the recipient gets cancer. Note that the counter-agent need not be hazardous, the lethality of the treatment without the counter-agent means there's basically zero black market anyway. $\endgroup$ Jan 20 at 22:24
  • $\begingroup$ @LorenPechtel "Old age is basically a defense against cancer" – do you mean "dying of old age is a defence against cancer"? $\endgroup$ Jan 21 at 1:30
  • $\begingroup$ @PaŭloEbermann No. I mean it just I like I said it--cells have a limited number of divisions before they die. Any out of control cell that doesn't circumvent this will not be able to be a deadly tumor--but it also limits lifespan. $\endgroup$ Jan 21 at 4:26
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This needs a tight supply chain with constant checks that do not have a chance to get discovered by the enemy.

A bad example: every vial is GPS tagged and records when it is used. Enemies can pick up on this.

A better example: each vial is tagged with a very very short-ranged RFID chip inside a small armored case (cant have a grenade destroy the contents just when you need it because you were just hit by a grenade). These cases are given to their users shortly before the soldier might enter battle, and the RFID chip is linked to a few receivers on the soldier's armor. The case is fastened to the armor, so it doesnt accidentally fall off (children's carseats have similar systems). Should the case be removed and the vial not used within a minute then the vial and the case will send a signal to the base about it not being used. The armor will log the incident just in case the vial and case cannot get the signal through. If all of these fail because the armor is "damaged" then an incident investigation will determine if there was foul play, which would be likely if the soldier is still alive but both the armored casing and armor are damaged so much that all backups are destroyed.

For extra security measures the wearer might as well have some electronics. A helmet camera, microphones and camera at the back to log potential thieves or other foul play would be relatively easy and probably worthwhile if you have a limited high-value resource like this.

This would ensure that its almost always clear where the vial is. Someone is responsible when you give them the case, you can log what happens to the case and if the case is gone while no logs remain the owner is held responsible (and their team-mates might be held accountable too, they might have to carry the case on their body should something happen to the carrier).

As for who should carry this: medics and squad leaders should be the primary recipients. If you are hit hard enough that you might die before the medic gets there you will likely be in shock or otherwise incapacitated and unable to administer the substance anyway. Additionally you want people with medical knowledge to apply the substance. They will know if a wound is life-threatening enough to require the vial or not. You dont want a panicked soldier with little background knowledge to apply it to himself or his buddy randomly. Additionally the medics and leaders are already people with a higher responsibility and better able to judge when and where its needed.

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Hearts and minds

Anywhere your soldiers are deployed you also set up clinics that give the stuff away for free to anyone who shows up in need. That kills off the black market and gives the soldiers no incentive to try selling the stuff.

You would of course be pumping anyone who comes into the clinic for intel, and checking for enemy combatants, but that's all secondary.

Economic differences

Pay your soldiers well enough that any money the local black market could provide is a drop in the ocean compared to the combat bonus they already get, and it's not worth the court martial for getting caught.

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The resource won't work on anyone who hasn't received a compatible "enabler".

The enabler could be another resource, artifically even more scarce, to be administered in highly-controlled conditions, e.g. when enlisting into the military. So, the stolen resource won't work on anyone who is not a (former) member. If practical, the enablers, and their corresponding resources, could be rotated on some overlapping basis so that a "green enabler" is administered years 1230 to 1240, "green resource" is produced over the years 1230 to 1235 and gradually phased out, "blue enabler" is administered years 1235 to 1245 etc.

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What counts as a foreign object?

I have a tooth filling, is that a foreign object? What about a hip replacement? Do you want to heal every soldier’s pimples every time they take the drug? Of course not. That is why every soldier is scanned and issued kits that only remove things that are foreign objects to their bodies.

Other people are foreign objects

You need to clean up your lungs and have a pacemaker? Well, unless the soldier who sold it to you also had a pace maker you can say good bye to the pace maker. Good news, excessive fat may also be considered a foreign object, just don’t let the vaporized sludge hit you on the way out. A female soldier gave a nice guy her medicine? Well, that female soldier didn’t have all of a man’s body parts. If you are lucky, the device will cauterize it and let you sing soprano for the rest of your life.

No one will buy or sell these kits if they realize they are about as lethal as whatever they are trying to cure.

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    $\begingroup$ Your filling is a foreign object, it's getting expelled. No problem, the tooth regrows, you don't need the filling anymore. However, it is a big problem for the large number of us who have had to have body parts removed--I'm thinking specifically of wisdom teeth. $\endgroup$ Jan 20 at 22:26
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First: resource needs to find who is soldier and who is not.

Second: resource needs to know how to rebuild lost parts of body.

Both can be done by DNA analysis. If you imprint soldier's DNA to resource then this resource can be used only on this soldier. You can have problem with twins and clones.

Resource can be programed or reprogramed in army med center or in research facility. Need big, couple ton of equipment to do that.

DNA imprinting removes probability of soldier selling resource. But do not bother with that. Bigger problem is the production line where brand new resource can be taken without you noticing.

If you want to prevent the selling resource you need to control all programming devices.

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    $\begingroup$ The problem with that is that if my buddy gets shot in front of me and he'd already used his dose last week and we haven't had time to resupply, my options are: Let him die, or use my life-saving medical-superdrug on him. Making the superdrug artificially limited to just its owner will come with a highly avoidable death-toll and a massive outcry from the fraternity of soldiery that get to watch their friends needlessly die. $\endgroup$
    – Ruadhan
    Jan 19 at 12:47
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    $\begingroup$ @Ruadhan, not a problem really, issue a dozen DNA locked doses to everyone. $\endgroup$
    – KalleMP
    Jan 19 at 17:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Ruadhan the DNA matching may be a necessary and unavoidable aspect of its design, given the technology level. $\endgroup$ Jan 20 at 21:00
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Package the drug in a reasonably air-tight vial. Adulterate it with a compound that spoils within a couple of minutes after exposure to air. So one can open the vial and drink the content, but one cannot open the vial and pour the content into another container.

Then require each soldier to return the empty vial if it is used. AFAIK soldiers are trained to hook morphine or atropine syringes to the pocket flap of the patient, to prevent multiple doses. This would be a similar principle.

You would still have the problem of lost and damaged kit, but that needs to be handled much like a lost weapon or pair of boots -- report to a superior, tell the story, and if it isn't credible there will be consequences ...

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Give the resource to a soldier only before war

Give the resource to a soldier when he is going for war because he could be wounded during war and he knows that this resource is the only thing that could save his life. So he will not sell it to jeopardize his life for some money.

Soldiers fight for a passion

A soldier is ready to sacrifice his life only for a passion or sentiment (nation, country, religion, king, land, ideology etc.). If his passion is strong, he will consider selling it as a sin or betrayal.

Biometric

Make the resource as soldier specific by using some biometric such as fingerprint, eye image, DNA etc.

Etch soldier info on the resource

If resource is found in the black market, it could be traced who sold it.

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I think you hit the nail on the head with the last part of your question:

“Or would they target the selling of these resources instead, setting up stings to catch embezzlement that way?”

That would probably be the best way of cracking down on embezzlement.

The only other idea I can think of is perhaps the medicine leaves a small discoloration of the skin around where the wound was (or some other distinctive mark or symptom) for a few weeks, or something like that. That way it proves the soldier actually used it.

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  • $\begingroup$ Cracking down on embezzlement sounds like a subpar solution. Thanks for the medicinal tagging idea, I think they can keep a record of what amount and kind of chemical they used for specific substance they gave to a specific soldier and cross check with the discoloration on the soldier to make sure they didn't just pour some chemicals on themselves. Sort of like taser confetti. $\endgroup$
    – Thaspin
    Jan 19 at 2:49
  • $\begingroup$ You’re welcome, I’m glad I was able to help. 👍🏻 $\endgroup$
    – Kal Madda
    Jan 19 at 3:00
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The simplest solution is that when being used, the device takes a tissue sample of the person on whom it is used, and must be retained by the patient or the person who used it. If it is small enough, it should simply remain attached to the patient.

You can also give each one an unique serial number (placed in such a way that to remove or deface the serial will destroy the utility of the item), and log the soldier to whom it was issued. That soldier is then responsible for that piece of gear, and if it is found... elsewhere where it shouldn't be, the serial number will allow it to be traced to the soldier who should have been in charge of it. The only excuse should be that the soldier was dead.

Make the soldiers aware that if they can't prove who the device was used upon, they have to pay for it, unless there is other evidence, such as body-cam video.

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  • $\begingroup$ The DNA sampling could work, assuming the vial isnt "lost" along the way (or since its valuable it might actually be stolen by others to be sold). But how do you build in a safe serial number that cant be removed/the material placed in a different vial? The people who receive these vials also want to protect their suppliers so they will do everything in their power to make sure it does not leave traces to them. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Jan 19 at 9:43
  • $\begingroup$ @Demigan, the serial number isn't the whole deal. Arranging so that the injector takes a tissue sample in the process and must be retained afterwards, and the soldier being financially responsible for it is the rest of it. The army can use the tissue sample to tell if the device was properly used (i.e. its use can be traced to someone in the combat zone) or not, and making the soldier liable for its misuse or loss provides incentive for the soldiers to use them properly. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Jan 19 at 9:57
  • $\begingroup$ As for how to make the vials tamperproof, arrange that decanting the substance from its vial is what activates it. Etch the serial number on the inside of the vial so it can be read from outside. Altering the laser-etched serial would also likely activate or degrade the contents. It probably isn't foolproof, but it would be difficult to crack. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Jan 19 at 10:02
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Your Money Ain't My Money

One relatively simple way to do this that has historical precedence is to set up a dual economy within your sphere of action. You pay your soldiers with short lived Military Money and you set up a parallel Civilian Money system for the locals. Civilians have no access to the Military money and soldiers can't use Civilian money.

MASH dealt with this pretty well in a couple of episodes. Every now and then there'd be an exchange day where soldiers and ordinary folk alike would have to turn in their old cash for new. Since civilians can't turn in military cash and soldiers can't turn in civilian cash, it all becomes useless. Likewise, all the old cash that doesn't get turned in becomes useless for everyone, so it can't even be saved or used later.

Impose a (reasonable) limit on the amount of cash that a soldier can exchange, taking into account her pay grade and some allowances for looting and gambling and you'll close the biggest gaps.

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    $\begingroup$ Won't this just make some other money "the" money? Like crypto or what not. $\endgroup$ Jan 19 at 11:53
  • $\begingroup$ How does that work in practice? So soldiers can't buy anything from civilians? E.g. soldier can't go to a bar and pay for drinks with military money, as bar owner (who is civilian) cannot use military money? $\endgroup$ Jan 21 at 3:29
  • $\begingroup$ @MatijaNalis That is exactly right. You really don't want solders sneaking off of base to go drink at the local bar. Military money keeps soldiers reliant on military supply lines, so if they want a drink, they will be doing it on base where you regulate how drunk they are allowed to get and keep them from causing an international incident. Also, if you give them civilian money, they can take that money and go AWOL with it at the first sign of trouble, but if they only have military money, they can't get very far if they decide to run off. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Jan 21 at 5:53
  • $\begingroup$ @MatijaNalis -- In theory, yes, a soldier couldn't go off base to a local bar with his military money; in practice, of course, it happened. Black markets, grey markets, currency shopping & profiteering. Those are all real problems. With the super high value of this resource, it's unlikely that any local but a high ranking official or a local syndicate boss could afford it. Even with a certain amount of illegal currency exchange going on, supply of the resource would likely outstrip demand: too many soldiers with extra resource to sell; too few rich locals to buy. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Jan 21 at 19:04
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Frame Challenge: Bureaucracy Prefers Embezzlement

Why would you want to stop soldiers from embezzling the drug? Or rather, why would the person in charge of inventory control want to stop it?

As a General or Logistics officer, it's not your money paying for the drug, but it is your responsibility to make sure you have enough of it. You are rationed a certain amount, and that is all you get. But here's the thing: The vials are a drug which means they expire. If in a single expiration period General Tightwade's battalion consumes 100/500 vials, and General Snuffy's battalion consumed all 500 that he was issued. Then next ration cycle the government will only issue General Tightwade 200 and General Snuffy gets 800 because the bean counters of the army will try to match supply with demand to waist as little as possible.

The problem is that both battalions only used 100 vials, but General Snuffy let his men embezzle all of the excess. Now General Snuffy receives extra rations so that he is prepaired for a major battle, and General Tightwade is screwed if he takes heavy casualties.

So whatever anti-embezzlement practices they put in place to make the bean counters happy will be intentionally easy to circumvent or just plain ignored by the people who are supposed to enforce them.

Example: A solider walks in with a scrapped knee and says he is mortally wounded. The doctor who does not want to be short on meds next quarter signs the "mortal injury" paperwork saying he was thrown from a moving vehicle or something, hands over the drug, and the solider can do with it what he wants.

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Have it contain a serialized bio-marker. Something harmless for the user and something it ignores in minute quantities, but something that is left behind and possibly breaks down eventually. Then just take a blood sample and check the right marker is present with right or explainable serial number.

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The resource is automatically administered by an implant.

Every soldier gets a one-shot life-saving implant that monitors the soldier's vital signs and administers the resource when needed. (You may add more methods to trigger it manually to make sure it could also be used for something that does not remove enough vital signs, like a missing arm.)

Extracting the implant would not only leave a scar, it would also trigger spraying the resource into thin air as soon as the vital signs are missing (where it would instantly degrade). Administering the resource as intended would remove the implant without trace. This also removes the scenario of using your own dose for someone else, as every soldier has their own "extra life" implant.

For easy implanting, you could design the implant to be swallowed, then it would attach itself inside the stomach.

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  • $\begingroup$ Other than an implant, I was thinking about an armband or sleeve. The sleeve itself could have other security measures like a GPS & Biometrics so that the dose can be found if lost and will only ever work for a specific set of people even if sold or stolen. Being external also means it is easily replaced if another one is needed. $\endgroup$
    – Toddleson
    Jan 19 at 18:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Toddleson Although.... If the GI tract counts as "outside" - which it should, so your lunch doesn't disappear if you get hit by a bomb - then swallowing multiple "extra life" implants would be a viable strategy. They don't even have to actually implant, merely hang around for a few days until they are used or get excreted for reuse! (I know it sounds disgusting, but it has precedent - penicillin, for example, was filtered from its recipients urine for reuse) $\endgroup$
    – No Name
    Jan 19 at 19:54
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The super-duper-medical resource is actually applied before combat.

Be it a pill or a shot, the soldiers are given this resource in base, before any fight o conflict. This is obviously under strict supervision and control. The resource can be in their system for a long time, but it is innactive and doesn't do anything on itself.

Once they're injured, they need to take a second pill or shot, which is the catalyst that activates the resource that immediatly heals them, and dissapears from their body. Once they're back in the base, they take this resource again and are given another catalyst to have ready for the next combat.

This way, two things are needed to activate the healing effect, and one doesn't work without the other. This also allows a soldier to apply his/her catalyst to a combat partner and save its life if needed.

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Have the soldiers buy the device, rather than be given it.

This is by no means unheard of; in feudal times, officers typically bought their own equipment. In the modern day, you could imagine this being a paycheck deduction!

If it's important to "give" them away, then perhaps the first pill/device is given free, but then any replacement pill/device has a cost. This is also not uncommon even in the modern day - most places I have worked at, if you lose your employee provided badge or gear, you pay for it through a payroll deduction.

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You collect uniquely-labeled empty containers and check the state of containers at regular intervals.

So, every morning, or whatever else the opportunity, everyone presents their containers. Every one of them is either with or without the resource. Those without the resource are recorded and sent for destruction. Those missing are investigated. This sort of prevents illegal handling of own containers.

You RFID the containers.

There are periodic scans for RFID, especially if noticiable number of containers are missing. Any found container which is not expected to be found is investigated. This sort of prevents illegal handling of others' containers.

Of course, the resource should not be readily field-removable from the container without either using it or destroying it, and the RFID label should not be removable without destroing both the container and the resource theresin, but probably this could be engineered.

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The resource in question has an extremely short shelf life.

Your military has a stockpile of the raw form of this miracle substance, which is not particularly useful. You processes/refine the substance on location and issue it to soldiers on their way out the door to the front lines. Within 36 hours there will be a noticeable loss in potency, and after a week all measurable effects are gone.

Soldiers won't try to stockpile it because it will become useless before they can sell it. There's still a small window of time in which it could still reasonably be sold, but there's no practical way to do that since it's only issued to soldiers en route to combat. You'd have to desert your post and find a fence, but in a time of war deserters can be executed.

In the event of an unexpectedly swift victory, soldiers are instructed to use any remaining supplies to treat any remaining wounded. Using your leftover substance would be substantially cheaper and more effective than traditional medical care. Selling or withholding your leftovers when a POW or civilian needs them is considered cruel treatment of a non-combatant and is a war crime under the Geneva convention. The only time a soldier could sell their leftovers without a real risk of life imprisonment (your enemy will take every opportunity to rat you out) is if there were no wounded to treat, and in that case there would be no customers for it.

The weak point is the refining equipment and process. You need to be able to keep that secret and tightly controlled. Militaries are already good at doing that, though. They regularly deal with classified intelligence and equipment and have extensive procedures for clearance and access control.

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Metal Neck Collar

Economically, you don't have to prevent all loss, just most loss.

Make the collar hard enough to remove that most people won't try.

The collar can be designed to ruin the drug in a failed attempt to remove it. Make the collar small enough that it is unlikely (it doesn't have to be 100%) to be significantly damaged by accident. The number of people willing to risk significant cuts or burns to their neck to remove the collar are small and the cuts and burns pretty much tell everyone what happened.

Bone Fusion

Build the drug into a metal injector that you then fuse to a bone (the skull is good since there is very little flesh in the way). You could put it on the forehead where everyone could see it and it wouldn't get in the way much. Since the bone fusion would be seen as a foreign object, the injector would be ejected upon use. Anyone with a hole in their forehead that wasn't healed would be very suspicious.

This has the added advantage that it explains anime forehead jewels.

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The same way you do with anything disposable.

You only put the material in specially made hard to fake syringes, on report of usage soldiers must return the used syringe or be charged the cost of the material.

You can also use proof of tampering devises, to make it even harder.

Then of course you have the penalty, the same one you use on supply staff if they sell material, theft of military materials generally carries a court martial and prison time. So it hard to sell and high risk, plus your putting your compatriots at risk, this minimizes incentives to even try.

Selling the resource would also be heavily punished since it is a limited resource stealing it is the same as putting soldiers at risk.

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As a more distopian version, your government also makes a fake drugs which looks exactly the same as the real miracle drug given to soldiers, and distributes them (preferably also by people in military uniforms) in the black market (preferably ones used by political dissidents, but whatever). The fake drugs has horrible / lethal side effects.

Then you make sure you give it enough media coverage how some people are buying counterfeit drugs on black market and suffer the consequences, but assure the military that of course they're being provided with real miracle drug.

Afterwards, very few people would be willing to pay to pay a lot to acquire a something which may as likely be horrible poison, as it is to be miracle cure. Thus, soldiers would be hard pressed to sell it to anyone.

So, basically, treat illegal consumers the way software drivers already treat possibly counterfeit hardware - by destroying it (yeah there is a difference between destroying property and destroying life, but remember that black market people are the enemy of the state by definition - so killing them is no different than killing enemy soldiers)


Alternatively, technological and economy progress. Humanity has abandoned such a silly archaic 20th-century ideas like pieces of paper for money -- as well as bank accounts, credit cards and similar obsolete ideas.

Your wallet is now cryptocurrency identified by your DNA signature. You pay with your fingertip (or retina scan or your chakra emissions or whatever biomarker which is unique to you only). All transactions you ever made are thus visible on government blockchain. And Government knows everything what you bought and what you sold (which comes in handy when they tax you too - no more tax evasions for regular people). And if blockchain shows you tried to sell that-which-should-not-be-sold, it's court-martial for you.

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Use implanted chips to stop the equipment working unless the soldier is present, or genetic markers as permanent indicators of ownership.

It might be only in Hollywood that ex-Soviet nukes are for sale on the black market but pretty-much everything up to that level is, yet surely that's only a problem on a backward world like ours; not where your built world has a resource that allows for rapid regeneration of body parts and termination of foreign objects in the body upon usage, why would it be difficult to

Then, if "magical deletion" is allowed, why not magical tracking of ownership?

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Why don't soldiers sell their ammunition?

This seems like a no-brainer. Soldiers in war don't sell their ammunition to strangers in the war zone because (a) they might need their ammunition and (b) the buyer might very well be buying it for the enemy. A contributing factor is that in the real world, there isn't necessarily an infinite supply of ammunition at the base, and anything you use up might not be replaced.

The same factors would be at work with your soldiers. They know that the super-medicine is in limited supply, might be necessary to save their own lives, and could be used against them by enemies. They will learn to take care of it or be punished for violations.

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Do you actually want it to be impossible for soldiers to sell them, or do you want interesting consequences for when it happens? If the latter, then how about: Give each dose a unique serial number, and record which serial number was given to each soldier. Then, set a bounty for contraband doses that is worth more than anyone would actually pay a soldier for their dose.

This can set up all sorts of interesting plot points. What if a soldier gives their dose to a civilian who appears to desperately need it, but then they turn around and rat the soldier out? If a civilian from an enemy state gets their hand on some contraband, would they try to turn it in to the issuing state, and would they still get the bounty? Would it turn into a bidding war between the soldiers and the bounty issuers until the civilians revolted? There are all sorts of fun possibilities!

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to the forum! Serialization is a great idea, thanks for the helpful point! Keep it up! $\endgroup$
    – Vogon Poet
    Feb 18 at 2:36

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