For many reasons, the size of modern armies are relatively smaller compared to even 20th century armies. In my setting there is a more infantry centric style of warfare, but one that's set in near future.

Now the problem is that modern militaries are highly optimized to kill effectively from range. This also means that militaries don't need to field large armies. Tanks are a major force multiplier, even IFV/AFVs are. However, in my setting there is not only power armor, but also shielding for said power armor (its frontal, top, and side only). The shielding is incredibly strong, but its expense in shield matter and power requirements scales exponentially for larger machines. So, the same technology isn't applied to vehicles on any scale (there are some other quirks that make less useable for vehicles in general, movement speed being one of them). There is also the mass proliferation of drone technology and far more reliable anti-tank systems. A weapon the size of older tripod recoilless rifles is capable of firing armor defeating rounds, top attack weapons, loitering munitions/drones, far deadlier anti-tank launchers exist (think Javelin/NLAW size) than our current time period. Tanks, and IFV/AFVs are essentially relying on active protection systems, experimental armor alloys, reactive armor etc to stay alive on the battlefield. Infantry units on the other hand have gotten much more survivable with the existence of troop sized active protection systems, counter suicide drones the size of a water bottle, plus their shielding and more.

As such vehicles are used more as they once were in say WW2 or Vietnam. Direct fire infantry support. But they are very vulnerable. Think of it like the early interwar years between WW1 and WW2 where countries were fielding reasonable anti-tank rifles before tougher armored tanks appeared. Maneuver warfare isn't as strong as it was say in Operation Desert Storm or Operation Iraqi Freedom. With a higher degree of importance placed on infantry, would one expect to see army sized increase in size, decrease or stay the same?

Power armor in this case is simply more about hauling the power source and shield "generator", as well as allowing infantry to carry larger weapons. The armor itself, outside of the shield, isn't anything more than structural metal and what is essentially a flak jacket. So, it's no iron man or 40K Space Marine. While it can't shrug off a direct round from a tank or cannon armed IFV. A tank round that misses and digs up dirt isn't going to kill the soldier outright. They'll be knocked around and their particle shield might run out of particles trying to keep them alive, but the soldier will live. And if they're in good condition, they can get another container to fill up their "shields" again relatively soon.

  • $\begingroup$ Seems like you're asking us to tell you about the decisions of organizations within your world. Such questions aren't a good fit for this site since they are based on a very large number of situational variables. If you want personal shields that somehow can't be scaled up to larger and more valuable tanks to impact the size of an army then it will. However asking us to speculate what will happen in your world based on incomplete information isn't an appropriate question for this stie. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Oct 11, 2022 at 2:17

1 Answer 1


In theory, yes, but in practice, probably not. What we are looking at here are a series of influences on the infrastructure of infantry, but no major influences on their tactics. The infantry armored as you’ve put forth are not massively better than their previous iterations. Infantry without this armor faced very similar problems that the armor still presents: carrying enough consumable supplies, resupply logistics, and mobility.


The infantry are able to carry larger weapons, but in order to deal with their similarly-armored soldier counterparts and the vehicles present on the enemy ranks, they will need the bigger weapons to begin with. There is no inherent advantage in carrying the larger weapons, they merely even the score between these competing units, thus there isn’t much of an overall tactics change to make having more infantry more useful than before. If anything, the cost and training bar to be an active combatant for infantry has increased, which will mean fewer infantry can be deployed with the same resources that were used previously.


These suits consume resources with their shielding and drones as well as their shields. These resources need resupply support. This support will come in the form of a vehicle no doubt, which is now a squishier target on the battlefield. If the logistical support can’t keep up with the infantry for whatever reason, commands will not be able to deploy them, or they will eventually fail to small-arms, regular infantry when their supplies run out anyway and the larger numbers can overwhelm them. Mobility: As described, these suits do not add any increased mobility to the infantry, which might the largest beneficial factor to deploying these units on a battlefield. If, being smaller targets that can survive near-misses, they could rapidly close the gap on their vehicular counterparts, that would be one thing. As they appear to stand, what I would do as a commander of a force being assaulted by these units is having vehicles fall back repeatedly and pick off the suited humans as I can with the larger weapons that the vehicles can bring to bear. Also, with modern targeting tech, hitting the human-sized targets directly should be pretty straightforward.


Given this, the applications for which such a unit would be best-suited (pun intended) are probably raid situations, clandestine missions, and really any scenario in which they will encounter small-arms fire only and can achieve their goal and retreat before running out of consumables and being targeted by larger guns.


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