I am using the same androids featured in this question

Android Details

  • Roughly 10 times stronger than the average human

  • Possibility to reach maximum speeds of 64 kmph

  • A breakthrough (possibly some form of programmable matter) has allowed us to quickly and efficiently mass produce them.

  • My androids use advanced AI. They are capable of handling all basic battlefield tasks without human supervision, and the high command is comprised of cyborgs with increased mental capacities. Only human interference required is to give general orders (e.g. 5th Battalion should proceed to point xy of battlefield and hold position).

Other details

  • This is sometime in 23rd century. While we have colonies on Mars and bases on various bodies in our solar system, they are mainly self reliant and do not fall under the jurisdiction of Earth governments. The United Nations became inefficient in in late 21st century and ceased to exist during the mid 22nd century.

  • The richer nations, such as the (fictional) Black Sea Union, European Union, United States of North America, the New Japanese Empire, Russia, and the New Islamic Caliphate rely heavily on Androids. The Chinese use Cyborgs (humans with cybernetic implants) to take full advantage of their relatively massive populations. The poor third world (see present day third world) have primarily human militias augmented by cyborg mercenaries.

  • Conflicts regularly occur in border regions, although full scale war has only happened twice so far, about once per century.

It has crossed my mind that the goal of a war between the major powers where, for the most part, casualties would be very little, regular tactics would not work. The goal would go from being "kill and maim enemy soldiers to demoralize enemy civilian population" to something along the lines of "destroy more of the enemy droids than they can build."

How would the tactical and strategic goals of generals differ from what they are now?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The strategic goals of the generals will be entirely dependent on the political goals of their C-in-Cs. What are the political goals? Also what other battlefield technologies are available? Body armor? Smart missiles? Smart bullets? Micro-nukes? etc, etc. $\endgroup$
    – Steve Bird
    Sep 24, 2015 at 20:31
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ How cheap are the droids? If cheap enough, then whichever side can make more faster and get them in position will win. If expensive, then individual battles may be about who can get their droids into position to inflict maximum damage while avoiding equal engagements. $\endgroup$ Sep 24, 2015 at 20:45
  • $\begingroup$ If you had the ability to make machine intelligence on an industrial scale the world would change so completely that using them to trade bullets would be pretty low on the list. And it doesn't make sense to have your command staff be advanced android yet be unable to give any orders. $\endgroup$
    – Oldcat
    Sep 24, 2015 at 21:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Oldcat Advancd staff are Cyborgs (humans augmented with machinery to increase physical and mental capacity) and still have more creativity than the androids, who only handle localized strategy. Cyborgs can fill the role of any rank higher than what is considered an "enlisted man" in the US Army. $\endgroup$
    – Jax
    Sep 25, 2015 at 1:41

8 Answers 8


There are a few major issues here that will affect tactics.

  1. No more surrender.

The androids are not going to surrender if encircled or outnumbered — they will fight to the death. This is generally going to result in heavier “casualties” all around.

  1. Production plants become major targets.

If you’re fighting against android armies, you need to destroy or slow your enemy’s production capability ASAP. These will be major targets for airstrikes. More powerful countries may attempt to build these underground, but it seems very likely that the size of facilities required would be impractical to build in bomb-proof bunkers. Defenses around these facilities will be very impressive, particularly the anti-aircraft weapons. Attacking the supply lines providing resources to these facilities will be another strategic option if they become too heavily defended.

  1. Suicide missions.

The only things lost when an Android dies are resources. This is actually a rather extraordinary advantage, since it removes the moral cost of sending large numbers of soldiers into tactically questionable circumstances. Penetration of defenses to high priority targets can happen much more quickly if your soldiers don’t need to get out.

  1. Difficulty protecting civilians.

With that kind of strength and speed, these androids don’t even need to be armed to pose an unprecedented threat to human beings (even soldiers). They will be difficult to target, harder to kill, and very, very effective at killing people. Frankly, without androids present to defend them, it’s unlikely that any targeted humans would even survive. When coupled with the new suicide tactic, high-priority humans - such as leaders - would be very vulnerable. Without androids at their disposal for defense, they would need to surround themselves with structures that minimized the effectiveness of the androids’ maneuverability and strength.

Bear in mind, however, that direct combat between these powerful nations is unlikely. Weapons of mass destruction will continue to be a major deterrent, particularly with another 300 years of technological advancement. This means that these androids are most likely to be deployed against nations and militaries that do not have android armies. Needless to say, that won't be much of a fight.

  • $\begingroup$ Well, I did say that smaller countries did have cyborgs mercs, which are basically humans with android capabilities. They would still use the hit and run tactics employed by most of the third world when faced with a superior nation. $\endgroup$
    – Jax
    Sep 25, 2015 at 1:59
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    $\begingroup$ The most efficient method for attack would be to send your strength (androids) against your enemy's weakness (civilians). In reaction, this tactic should become anathema. All the nations would unite to universally condemn any nation that allows this tactic. Terrorists would become even more feared, so android/cyborg detection would become standard everywhere. Hackers could win wars by simply hijacking the enemy's troops. $\endgroup$ Sep 25, 2015 at 18:10
  • $\begingroup$ Factories don't have to be underground -- they can be elaborately camouflaged. $\endgroup$
    – Wingman4l7
    Dec 22, 2015 at 22:38

Deniable invasion: Currently when an invasion occurs is hard to hide which nation’s troops are involved. Russia tried to hide its invasion of Crimea but photos linked their troops to Russian military parades and captured troops can be interrogated. If you duplicate another nations Androids you can change their paint scheme and attack a neighbor and claim you had nothing to do with the invasion. This allows you to invade a nuclear nation without them being able to learn who to nuke to stop the invasion, similar to cyber-attacks today.

Speed of mobilization: normally to mobilize a large army a nation must spend many weeks and months to train troops before they can deploy, us army basic is 10 weeks, the time increases as complexity of tec increases. Androids are ready to fight instantly. The speed of a nations mobilization is only limited by industrial capacity, a nation could go from pacifist to largest army in a day. Nations must keep large amounts of spare production capacity for mobilization.

High accuracy: Robots are really accurate shooters. Most of human inaccuracy comes because our fine motor control is only accurate to within a few millimeters and against a moving target our reaction time is a few milliseconds. A robot can archive precision to a few micrometers and reaction times in microseconds or sometimes nanoseconds. A robot is terrific shot, what currently holds them back is the image recognition problem of identifying the target. As far back as the first gulf war a computer targeting system could hit an enemy tank moving at 60mph on bumpy terrain from a tank moving at 60 mph in bumpy terrain from several miles away.

Reduction in Civilian casualties: For the first time in history would be able to clearly delineate between civilians ( humans) and soldiers (androids). With automated factories producing androids killing enemy civilians would in no way cut down on the enemy war effort, and there would be no fear they would later become troops so there is no reason to kill them. As the robots with be accurate enough they are only likely to hit each other and other important targets.

Increase in war tempo: Human troops need to stop and sleep eat and so on. With caffeine and other stimulants troops can keep fighting for a few days in a row but robots can fight 24/7

Focus on cheap troops: War becomes economic. Androids are expendable. If two nations have similar resources if one can kill 2000 dollars of enemy androids with 1700 dollars of their own will win. You can win by just running the enemy out of money. It would be a normal and valid tactic for a cheep drone to sacrifice itself to kill a expensive drone. This is already happening the US is researching very cheap weapons to kill very cheap drones.

  • $\begingroup$ $2000 of enemy androids? That is the base cost of their visual processing software. Not to mention the millions of dollars of equipment poured into each android ;-) $\endgroup$
    – Jax
    Sep 12, 2016 at 15:59
  • $\begingroup$ @DJMethaneMan the point is the difference in price not the actual price, the same principal applies if the androids are a thousand or a billion times more expensive. Predicting the real price in impossible we don't know the design of the robots or the manufacturing techniques used to make them, or how much inflation or deflation will happen between now and then. $\endgroup$ Sep 12, 2016 at 16:55

They wouldn't change all that much compared to what they are now. Acquisition of territory, political power/concessions, food, resources, manpower, reproductive power have the been the aims of conquest and warfare for millennia. Why would it be any different 200 years in the future?

(This answer is different. There was another question related to weapon design and I answered in the wrong place. Sorry.)


My answer will only address the tactics around producing the androids.

I would think the specific battlefield tactics would stay much the same as they are now. A strategic military target will still be a strategic military target, as defined by the commanding officers and aims of the war.

On the other hand, you've got a programmable matter assembly line that allows you to easily produce complex robotics with incredible ease and in a short time. That's an incredible advancement, and probably the most important piece of information.

This means local battlefield skirmishes are going to be about form, essentially a type of arms race. I imagine the largest part of the military will actually be the designers and engineers constantly coming up with new forms and weapons for androids.

Here's a small possible example:

  1. Military powers start off using bipedal humanoid androids.
  2. One army starts producing arachnid-legged androids that can easily scale walls and in urban settings attack from virtually anywhere.
  3. Countering army develops android with 360 degree visual sensors and highly rotational limbs that allow easy attacking of a target at any position.
  4. Arachnid army discovers flaw in sensor-bots and it exploits it with a sensory-overload light device that freezes up sensor-bots in battle.

This could continue ad infinitum, until you've got a huge army of different types of androids with different purposes. Some will be there to specifically target a weakness in another bot, some will be highly efficient at a given task (stealth, sniping, brute force/tanking, specialized to environment, communications interception/disruption, distraction, different sizes, etc.).

So, not only would the designers and engineers be a huge part of the army, but they'd be one of the most valuable assets and thus targets. Rather than out-producing enemies in numbers, the race will be to out-produce enemies in designing the most effective forms. Armies will want to delay their enemies' production by destroying, infiltrating, or giving false data to research and development facilities.

Because of this, I see the nature of the R&D facilities needing to change. Instead of being centralized think-tanks, teams of developers would work in cell-like arrangements, working independently. That way if one was taken out, spied on, or given incorrect schematics on an enemy android, it would only affect a small part of the military's operations.

Now, even if you're set on only androids with the specs given in the original question, I believe this answer would be much the same. If the entire shape needs to stay generally the same, some small modifications should be able to take place that still make it a game of one-up-manship. One army creates thicker body plates, so the other makes penetration rounds. That gets countered by re-configuring internals to have less critical-failure points. That in turns gets countered by spray-tactics or explosive rounds. So on and so on.


In a word with mechanical soldiers, human-like androids would only be useful for cleaning up the urban area. In field combat, in desert or steppe automatic vehicles would be much more useful.

Moreover, even in urban areas I think, light-weight flying drones or microcopters would be much more useful.

So in general, androids well, would be the most useful for parades, and the majority of robots in the battlefield would be robotic vehicles and drones.

Obviously if the majority of warfare would be in "proxy-war" mode (given that nuclear weapons still exist), the tactic for the "government" army would be as it is currently - to inflict the most casualties on the "rebels" (who are still using human armies) and clean up the territory. The tactic of the rebels would be terrorism against civilians, disguise themselves for civilians, diversions, using cheaper drones of foreighn build.


Depending on the type of war/skirmish, things could get real nasty, real soon!

Open "Honorable" Warfare

We are talking about soldier versus soldier battles here. Of course the droids would have a lot of edge against human soldiers if it came down to gun battle (worse, if were a one to one fight body fight where droids would put whole battalions to extinction within minutes). But here we are forgetting the role of so many other things, specially light armored vehicles, tanks and helicopters.

One tactic against droids could be the use of water cannons. Since droids are primarily a combination of electronic circuits and motor parts, short circuiting them with powerful water cannons would be their certain death!

Another tactic useful here is the use of EMP bombs. Killing their circuits all in a flash, these devices would highly favor human soldiers in the battleground. Furthermore, device jammers can be effectively used to disrupt communication between a droid and it's command center, making it easy to bring it down.

Covert Operations

Droids would be extremely useful in assassination and sabotage. No doubt about that. How are you going to stop a medium sized, extremely intelligent robot, that can climb walls, shoot without missing and run at 60 km/h? The above mentioned tactics would be very useful in a battlefield, but less so in passive defense (protective measures to discourage an assault). The main anti-droid defenses installed in buildings compounds would be very high frequency machine guns, controlled by computer. That, and everybody would have to walk through metal detectors several times at security checkpoints.

Urban Warfare

Here the true power of droids would be unleashed. Fast, precise and able to dismember a human within seconds, these war machines would be unstoppable. The assaulting party would have a high advantage against defending party even if both are using equal number of droids at the same level of technology. The advantage being that every infrastructure damage caused by the offensive party would count against the defender. Furthermore, for the assaulter, everybody except their own men would be a target. A city block where 10 droids battle it out to death for 15 minutes (5 per side) with grenades, mini-missiles and SMGs would look like a pack of angry T-rexes had their way with the place.


Unfortunately the outcome in real life will be much more bleak than traditional thought on military strategy and planning. That's because ever since WWII for some reason most people have WWII tactics and strategies in mind.

The real war lessons are learnt in the past more recently since then, as just a couple of examples:

a) Falklands War

b) Cold War

In the Falklands surface ships were suddenly discovered to have no defence against both submarines and missiles - after catastrophic, non-defensible losses they were then (on both sides) parked. The lesson here is don't assume current methods to be useful, even if historically they were so. In the Cold War a hidden unknown threat that could be imminent (for instance 20 minutes from launch to detonation) rendered most 'war' obsolete because of complete potential destruction. The only 'wars' since then are more just battles in comparison, usually a large force against an ineffective non-nuclear armed one.

The use of drones is common now, and it will get worse. However, now we have computers that are faster, and methods of programming that are more organic and dynamic. Combined, AI and drones will be a lethal as there are no qualms about their use unlike nuclear weapons, and citizens in an attacking country would be virtually unaware an offensive would be happening. BAE Systems for instance is working on drone submarine aircraft carriers carrying drone aircraft - without human intervention or control. All you need to instruct is 'go to this place and keep launching attacks' - it would be devastating, yet impassionately carried out.

There is really no use for 'androids' - why would you restrict yourself to inefficient bipedal constructs that hug the ground, when you can simply send a swarm of millions of aerial or torpedo drones, each one armed with an explosive? Each is cheap to make, and in a dispersed cloud virtually unstoppable. There is no defence to this, except a nuclear deterrence.

In your scenario, androids would quickly become obsolete as they would be inclined to fly, lose their inefficient quadrapedal limbs, become simpler just so they could be more numerous. They in essence will become like drones of today, but with autonomous AI and armed.

As future production facilities could also be autonomous numbers can be produced for no real cost other than the small amount of resources needed to create one. Arsenals will be assembled similar to nuclear arsenals of today, in a new arms race.

Unfortunately, this bodes ill for human residents no matter if you're on the attacking side. We are slow, awkward and defenceless against a swarm of millions (if not billions) of drones. Even underground would be no defence as it is easy to send drones burrowing through the ground - imagine the planet riddled with trillions of them.

Let's all just hope that no reasonable human would embark on this path in the first place.


If the humans run the government and, through the government, the military, then the humans will be the targets of the weapons. Consider the American Civil War and Sherman's March to the Sea. Many people in the South supported the war, but didn't know any of the horrors because it was miles away and the news media was limited. Gen. Sherman brought the cost and some of the horrors of war directly to the civilian population and the industrial centers.

Two sets of android armies could fight for years on some battlefield and the civilian population wouldn't care, unless the civilians have to pay massive taxes to support the war. Thus winning the war would depend on forcing the human government to surrender. If the human government is a democracy like the CSA, then an army can use property damage to demoralize the voters, damage the industrial capacity and bankrupt the financial support of the war.

Suppose that the human government is a dictatorship with no regard for their fellow humans. In this case the head of the government is the biggest target. The android army would be used to attack the industrial centers and the dictator. Depending on how the dictator is killed, their successor will have to decide to continue the war and risk the same death as their predecessor.


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