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The premise of my story is that we have discovered a parallel Earth (let's call it E2) lying next to ours (let's call this E1). Something has gone wrong on E2 - at some point in its past, it went through some sort of apocalyptic event that decimated most of the people living in it. The remaining survivors have broken up into roughly two factions - normal humans, and people that were impacted by the event, turning into some sort of demonic entity (they continue to maintain sentience/intelligence).

The second aspect of this story is that, in both worlds, there are certain individuals known as Wanderers. These Wanderers have the ability to traverse between E1 and E2. What's more - Wanderers from E2 (I'll call them Dark Wanderers) have been coming to E1 for many years, with the purpose of kidnapping humans to use for their own purposes - slave labor, breeding stock, fodder for their war against each other and the regular survivors on E2.

There is a clandestine government agency on E1, headed by a group of Wanderers whose mandate it is to travel into E2, and essentially wage a secret war against the Dark Wanderers. Their job is to conduct rescue missions on kidnapped humans from E1, and assist the regular survivors on E2 in their wars against the Dark Wanderers, destabilizing their settlements and operations, and if necessary, killing them when required.

Now, these Wanderers from E1 could be anyone - the ability shows up randomly in people, so the recruiting pool for potential candidates is very, very small to begin with. It could be an 80-year old grandma or a 5-year old kid in kindergarten. And on top of that, very few people would even want to take on a task this dangerous and terrifying.

So let's assume that, for the most part, any Wanderer trainee that decided to join the agency is completely new to any kind of military/special forces style operations. Let's also assume that the agency typically targets able-bodied adults ranging in age from their early 20s to 30s to ensure they're in their physical prime.

What kind of training would the agency need to provide these individuals to get them ready for their missions on E2? Off the top of my head, they would likely require firearms training, significant strength and cardio training, a fair bit of hand-to-hand combat, basic first-aid, navigation/wayfinding (electronics don't work too well on E2) and basic bushcraft. I would also have them do some guided practical missions with a mentor on the field so that they can get an idea of what they're up against. Maybe even the usage of a simulation of some kind?

What else could the agency teach these guys/girls? Also, what would the right duration of training be? Seems like for something like this, a minimum of a year is almost a must? Probably even more?

Any thoughts/ideas?

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    $\begingroup$ Have you done any research on the length and content of basic military training and subsequent special forces selection / training courses? Some details are classified - mostly regarding how to operate particular systems - but most of it is freely available. There are even "reality" TV shows about it! $\endgroup$ Feb 21, 2023 at 21:45
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    $\begingroup$ I'm thinking a solution like this. What couldn't be taught to them? I'm afraid I need to VTC:Needs Details. This is completely open-ended, has too many questions (you get one) and very broad - especially when some training will be mission-specific. What research have you done viz-a-viz U.S. Special Forces training programs? Have you looked into the James Bond franchise canon? How about CIA training programs? Did you see any of the Jason Bourne movies? You need to narrow this down a lot.... $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Feb 21, 2023 at 22:05
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    $\begingroup$ If you have not done so already, I highly recommend reading Charles Stross' Merchant Princes series. Lots of parallel Earths with a hereditary ability to "world walk". $\endgroup$ Feb 22, 2023 at 15:31

5 Answers 5

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  1. History and lore of E2. Not a exhaustive list but what you would expect from anyone native to E2.

  2. Language: The would need extensive language training to appear native.

  3. Culture and poltical trends of Earth 2. Same reason as the ones above.

  4. Military training: All their missions are military objectives so they should receive at least the standard military training.

  5. Survivalist and wilderness training. They won't have access to mordern resources once they cross over so this just makes sense.

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Here's my answer:

Everyone on the planet has to be a member of the Boy Scouts/Girl Guides type organization from the ages of 5-18

I said 'type organization' - the main focus would be that this gives all the members of society the basics in:

Land-Nav, Outdoorsmanship, Survival, First Aid, Bushcraft, Marlinspiking etc. etc. These aren't particularly hard skills to teach (easy to learn, hard to master) - and camping/the outdoors is fun - make it cultural thing.

This gives all the potential candidates a firm grasp on the basics of survival.

Then all a potential recruit needs is the equivalent of a Basic Training course for the Military (3-6 months), possibly some additional specialist schools type training (call it a year) - so from walking through the door - you could have a competent Operative in about a year and a half.

In real life - SF guys (SEALs, Rangers, SAS etc.) IIRC normally have their selection course (3 months), their qualifications courses (6 months) and then some specialist schools - like SERE (which is 3 weeks) - so that should give you a good idea.

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  • $\begingroup$ Hmm that's a nice idea in theory. I was thinking more along the lines of this being a secret conflict that very few people know about. Only the people in the agency and some high ranking government officials essentially. $\endgroup$
    – Faz
    Feb 22, 2023 at 1:16
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    $\begingroup$ @Faz - that's the beauty of it - everyone else thinks that the whole requirement to join the scouts/guides is just a program to give a sense of national unity and to make sure everyone has some baseline survival skills. Only a select few know that it's ensuring that the special people who have those magical traits already have most of their training done. $\endgroup$ Feb 22, 2023 at 3:33
  • $\begingroup$ Another benefit: You could explicitly scout for "talents" during larger-scale events, like regional/statewide scout meetings $\endgroup$
    – arne
    Feb 22, 2023 at 9:52
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Split into three categories

Required: For a mission to succeed or have a higher chance of success, this is a must.

Optional With a Question Mark: Unclear, somewhere between Required and Optional

Optional: This is a so-so, not required but important enough to mention

1. Don't stand out (Required)

  • Learn the language of E2

  • Learn the clothing styles and trends of E2, along with some cultural aspects

This could be a very basic training that could take a few days to a few weeks for the clothing, but several months to years for the language depending on how old the children are (younger children understand languages much faster, sometimes learning new languages in a matter of days).

2. Physical Fighting (Required)

  • Self-defense is needed, just in case . . . martial arts and boxing would both be great, or anything along those lines

  • The ability to assess situations fast is an extra + for this, as people who physically fight and train themselves have higher reflexes and react faster

This will take several weeks to several years, depending on how intensive the training is and how good the trainers are.

3. Military Training (Optional)

  • May be too difficult for younger children

  • You can use physical fighting in the place of a lot of this

  • But . . . will add survival skills and give them an elite status amongst children who don't do this

I would recommend learning basic firearms training. And training some resilience, in case of getting captured during missions.

4. Trust Building Skills (Optional)

  • This is purely physiological . . . trauma and fear

  • The kids captured will most likely be suffering. When seeing a new kid who is skilled, they will have doubts as to whether or not to trust them.

Trust and bonding. Besides this, the kids who have learned this can assist the kids who have suffered along a path of healing.

5. Sports! (Optional)

No military training required, just sports! You can increase stamina and cardio while the kids have fun. (This might be manipulation.)

6. Video Games (Optional?)

  • Allow for "real-life" situations

  • Prepare them for what their mission will be like, and for a lot that might happen

Using something like the VHR headsets with the phone to create a 3-d place would be simple. Building a complex to mirror the enemy quarters will be suspicious though. This will either require something like computer games, with a giant flat screen a not-real sense, or an improved version of today's technology that does not require walking around.

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  • $\begingroup$ Children need several years to learn their own mother tongue, let alone a foreign language. Yes, they can learn two or three languages more or less at the same time, but still need years. Have you ever spoken to a four year old? $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Feb 22, 2023 at 23:41
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP Good point . . . I'll make some edits $\endgroup$ Feb 23, 2023 at 0:31
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If it's random, the population of effective soldiers will be low.

10% of the population is adult males between the age of 15 and 30. Of that, around 25% are fit for service. 10-15% of those drop out per year. As such, assuming no deaths when sent without electronics to a death world, under 2.5% of your wanderers will be fit for military service, with an average term of five years. That's a high estimate.

If you want people to survive fights in a foreign world, you want fairly fit men who can carry a lot of weight thanks to testosterone and aren't mentally ill and aren't criminals who will join the enemy, and who lack serious issues. That's not gonna be a huge population. If you want someone to fly a helicopter and shoot people, or fire a big gun at the enemy? You don't need quite as much fitness for that. If you want people to carry stuff, you just need good lifting strength.

Train them to carry stuff.

A lot of potential agents just aren't gonna be very good at what you want. Most people aren't great soldiers or great outdoors, and while you can teach them a bit most of them are gonna be pretty mediocre. They're also likely to be vastly outnumbered by the natives, since the demons can recruit a militia among the natives.

So while a small proportion will be well suited to working in an active military situation, most are gonna be pretty crap, and not really motivated to train for a year to fight in a war on another world.

As such, train most of them to carry stuff. Teach them to carry supplies to settlements in the other world. They don't really need to navigate or shoot things that well, they can just cart supplies to settlements. Natives can then use artillery, vehicles, air support, sniper rifles, and heavy weaponry that will give them a major edge. A nation with an effective military industrial complex can produce much better weaponry than a post apocalyptic wasteland.

Train them to use artillery, vehicles, sniper rifles, and modern tech and train natives.

Factories can produce mechanized things that don't rely on electricity. These mechanized machines give you a massive advantage in war. As such, they should be exploiting this as much as possible.

Use native support for navigation and bulk firepower. You can train a bunch of survivors to use rifles. The wanderers should be avoiding combat as much as possible, since each of them is a way to send in fresh supplies, and if they do it use artillery and air support and extremely long ranged rifles and rocket launchers and such.

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  • $\begingroup$ By restricting it to adult males you've just cut your recruiting pool in half, and made it easier for the enemy to identify your agents; all they have to do is look for fit males in their 20s or 30s. What's being described is assistance to fight a guerilla war, and much of that involves collecting intelligence. And you don't need Rambo for that when that quiet, unassuming, small woman hanging the laundry that happens to overlook an enemy stronghold can do it just as well. The most dangerous person isn't a shooter; it's the person who knows who has to be shot and when it can be done. $\endgroup$ Feb 23, 2023 at 1:05
  • $\begingroup$ Sending someone who can't carry as much equipment and who is probably pretty crappy at wilderness survival and sneaking and spying into the wild is a pretty high risk move. The elite of women who are really good at sneaking and spying is much smaller than 2.5%, because that's just the people who are basically physically fit and lack severe issues and who probably have no training. $\endgroup$
    – Nepene Nep
    Feb 23, 2023 at 8:27
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Here is some assumptions that I take from your questions

Goals

  • as goverment agency of E1 nation:
  • rescue E1 human taken to E2
  • assist E2 human survivors (in their struggle against E2 demon or against dark wanderer or against unfriendly nature)
  • stay secret (because it's a clandestine government agency on E1, also I can imagine that publicizing existence of harsh and hostile parallel world would sow social unrest and is a bad thing to political stability of E1)

Conditions

  • E1 is similar to ours (in tech, industry, population, etc)
  • E2 has gone through apocalyptic event that decimated most population, so I conclude that their tech and industry would be far lower than E1 (tech is lost when specialists die and/or knowledge didn't get preversed, industry would go down if the population is reduced as there is lower amount of workforce, specialists, and consumer, and therefore also declining E2 economy too)
  • E1 and E2 have wanderers (people who can travel between worlds), but extermely rare and the ability manifest randomly amongst the population
  • some E2 wanderers are your enemy since they kidnap E1 human
  • not all E2 humans are your enemy (since one of your goal is to assist E2 human survivor)

Conclusion

With those goals and conditions, this is the conclusion that I can think of:

  • in direct and open fight, E1 army would win by landslide (they have better tech and industry), but the problem is that we don't have that many E1 human that can go to E2
    • so any direct and open fight on E1 would mean instant win for E1 humans
    • while direct and open fight on E2 would a battle between few who have better equipment vs many who have bad equipment but also know the terrain better (sounds like guerilla yet?)
  • dark wanderer (E2's wanderer) is taking discreet/stealth modus of operation because they know that open confrontation would not end well for them
  • goverment agency (E1's wanderer) is not going for open confrontation because they want to stay secret
  • E1 wanderers are very rare, they should not be treated as disposables (and therefore exposed to combat and dangers), but they should be treated as VIP (or high-value personnel)

Then, the best option is not to use E1's wanderers as combatants/agents, but instead to use them as cargo personnel/military instructors

  • stage 1: a few E1 wanderers should establish contact with E2 humans and make friendly relationship
    • offer material aid, e.g.: food, basic survival tools (e.g.: match/lighter, knife, portable shelter like tent), hygene/health supplies (e.g.: soap, antibiotics), convinient items (e.g.: papers, utensils)
    • offer knowledge, cultural products (e.g.: art, literature)
    • they DO NOT NEED very high physical combat skills (but it's a plus anyway): they just need basic firearms training for self defense, bring some (or a lot of) trained military dogs, or just bring a lot of E1 wanderer agents so they can help/protect each others (once again, only for self defense). the self-defense goal is only to survive the road/journey and then reach a potential settlements
  • stage 2: after establishing E2 native that support E1's wanderer government agency, start to prepare for open conflict (e.g.: war) against E2's demon / dark wanderers
    • in this preparation stage, NO CONFLICT SHOULD ARISE, the goal of this stage is to raise E2 native that support you (lets call it 'native ally') to be war capable against E2's demon / dark wanderers (lets call it 'hostiles')
    • your E1 wanderers should train your 'native ally' to be able to operate your E1 military hardware, train them in your tactics/strategy/doctrine, etc, train officers and field commanders (not just soldiers)
    • your E1 wanderers also would have to carry HUGE AMOUNT OF supplies, hardwares, assets, etc from E1 to E2
  • stage 3: after establishing good military presence in E2 in form of militarized 'native ally', switch to open conflict against 'hostiles'
    • in this conflict, 'hostiles' would almost certainly employ guerilla tactics against your 'native ally' and also against your homeworld (E1) since they can travel worlds
    • your 'native allies' have to be trained in counter-guerilla tactics
    • your homeworld have to be defended by better surveillance (e.g.: cctv, police, civilian militia) that does not require E1 wanderer

So, what is the trainings to be given to E1's wanderer?

  • stage 1 E1 wanderer agents have to be trained for diplomacy, basic wilderness survival skills (where to find drinking water and foods, how to find shelter, reading maps, finding settlements), skills to operate the basic goods they carry to E2 native humans, and skill to judge if a settlement they found is good enough to be their potential 'native allies' or not
  • stage 2 E1 wanderer agents have to be trained for being a combat instructors, for being a teacher in officer academy, for cargo/transport duty between worlds (e.g.: training their carrying capacity between worlds)
  • stage 3 E1 wanderer agents have to be trained for being a strategist (planner who sits from the safety of their headquarter), for being a CIC operator/officer (support role in combat information center), for being a drone operator (if you don't have enough 'native allies' able to do it, or if electricity can work in E2)

This trainings can be done in stage, and can reuse same E1 wanderer agents.

Why using your E1 wanderer as combatant/survivalist/counterintelligence agent is a bad idea:

  • they are costly to replace: not only the recruiting pool is very small, training take very long,
  • they stuck like sore thumb/easily identifiable ('hostiles' can easily identify them and then take them out), e.g: by their equipment, their speaking habits/accents that differentiate them with E2 native humans, their healthy-and-not-malnourished body compared to malnourished E2 natives, their facial/racial characteristics, etc.
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