You have a trillion dollar/year military budget. You can buy all the toys (that are physically and financially possible to build with current technology). You can hire the manpower, command the airpower, harness the firepower, fire up the research labs. You've had years to prepare and train.

Before you stands the mighty city of Oppela, population (pre-war) about 4 million. Densely built, many high-rises, a metro system, a few wide roads with lots of back roads. It's been taken over by the evil bad guys (at least according to the massive PR-campaign by the media that you mostly control). There's very few civilians left (at least according ... well you get the idea). There's also tens of thousands (maybe 100,000) dug-in, well-supplied and well-motivated enemy fighters, many of whom have vowed to fight your forces to the death.

It should be pretty straightforward. Just go in and crush them. The only problem is that for all your military might, your home front is ridiculously sensitive to own-team casualties, and you're about to engage in the largest urban assault operations since Berlin (victory, but 350k casualties for attackers) and Stalingrad (defeat, 850k casualties for attackers).

Is it possible (using any and all available tech and the best tactics) to win this siege with near zero (own side) casualties? You can safely assume that you won't be able to talk your foes into submission (also, playing Justin Bieber songs really loud probably won't work either).

PS: No nuclear weapons. I have a severe allergy to nuclear detonations. They give me these rashes, makes it almost painful to shower in the morning.

PPS: Edited in from comments:

Q: Are there international or other laws you care to stick to?
A: I fired my legal team when I was elected to my high office. Nobody told me about any international treaties. If I don't know about them, they don't apply, right?

Q: Do you want the city itself to remain physically intact(ish), so that it can easily be repopulated by your guys, or are you happy for it to be flattened if need be?
A: City? What city? There was a city there? I don't know of any city. But if we're talking cities, we'll build a great, huge city. We build the best cities. It will be glorious.

  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 1:37
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    $\begingroup$ Offer $10,000,000/year to each enemy combatant to become a peaceful civilian? $\endgroup$
    – Michael
    Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 21:01
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    $\begingroup$ unless superman is there, metropolis should not be capitalized in the question $\endgroup$
    – Steve Cox
    Commented Aug 5, 2016 at 16:38
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    $\begingroup$ Was just thinking that you could probably reduce your problem immediately by introducing the mother liquor of trithioacetone into the city. You'd likely end up with a half-million stinking refugees. $\endgroup$
    – PCARR
    Commented Aug 6, 2016 at 20:27
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    $\begingroup$ With a trillion dollars, just save your money some time and buy the city? $\endgroup$ Commented May 5, 2017 at 9:27

32 Answers 32


In the Art of War, by Sun Tzu, he mentions that...

"Soldiers when in desperate straits lose the sense of fear. If there is no place of refuge, they will stand firm. If they are in hostile country, they will show a stubborn front. If there is no help for it, they will fight hard."

This suggests that seiging the troops in the city is not a good idea as they will become desperate and only fight you harder, risking the lives of any troops and civilians you have in the city.

What I would suggest instead is to lure the enemy out of the city and in to what Sun Tzu calls "hemmed in" ground such as a valley or gorge.

"Ground which is reached through narrow gorges, and from which we can only retire by tortuous paths, so that a small number of the enemy would suffice to crush a large body of our men: this is hemmed in ground."

This could be achieved by many ways, but building or leaving something of importance to the enemy (food, water, riches etc.) at the end of a kill box seemingly unprotected valley not too far from the city, while you continue to guard all other locations around the city, may fool an enemy commander into leaving the city to steal your supplied bait.

Once they are in the valley, make sure to not completely pin them in, but leave an escape route that runs away from the city. An army of drones, flying, walking, armoured, or otherwise (as highlighted in other answers) is probably your best fighting force to avoid any fatalities on your side. The terrain should work in your favour so that a small number of robots should be able to conceal itself and defeat their larger force. Think the robot version of "300". The robot army can chase the army in to the valley and out the other side (passed the bait) and run them down.

By using a demoralising surprise attack, again making sure to not pin them in, they will probably choose to retreat over fight. And if any choose to fight, they will be easier to defeat as they will not have the aid of their more cowardly allies.

A clever enemy commander my notice this plan as a trap, so maybe having a selection of such targets for them to choose from, and systematically defending/exposing them in an obvious patern, may help to make the smart enemy commander believe he has outsmarted you by learning your pattern, rather than realising it is all a trap.

Not all of the troops may leave at once, so make the bait something that would require a large number of troops to attack, transport, or defend to encourage them all to leave. This could be a dumby apparently active missle silo (which be of huge military importance to them should they wish to hurt you) which would be worth them all leaving, as it would appear to be easier to defend and attack from than the city.

Failing that, repeat the trap several times, as the troops that leave will not return to the city, and so will not be able to pass on the fact that it is a trap to any of the other troops.

Successful completion of this plan would leave the city and its loyal citizens unharmed, as there should be no fighting taking place in the city at all.


Biological weapons, design a plague that only attacks your enemies. Give it a couple week latency and a near 100% mortality rate.

Mop up with autonomous killing machines. Added bonus is that they can quickly get out of control and cause the robot apocalypse -- because at this point your civilization definitely deserves to be utterly destroyed by your own terrible weapons.

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    $\begingroup$ I would love to, but I forgot to ask all the enemy fighters to give me a DNA sample before they went it. I know, seems obvious in retrospect. How can I make sure it "only attacks my enemies"? $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 15:58
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    $\begingroup$ Vaccinate your troops before deploying the bio-weapon. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 18:02

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