For reasons unbeknownst to them, a hundred US military personnel from 2016 have been thrown backwards in time, coming out in the middle of Kansas, December 9, 1941, one day after the Pearl Harbor attack. They can find no particular pattern among them except they're all officers (commissioned and noncommissioned) or specialists, with none of them being grunts. They further are all either decorated or otherwise distinguished from their peers, and span the Navy, Marines, Army, and Air Force. None have any particularly meaningful expertise outside their military careers (none are electromechanical engineers, none designed weapons previously, none are manufacturing geniuses, etc, etc).

They can't figure out why they went back in time. For some more concerning is that their memories have been altered. They no longer have any specific knowledge of the events of WWII, with their knowledge of history becoming less and less spotty the closer to 2016 they try to recall. While they realize that the allies most likely won the war (since the allies are still around for the most part in 2016 and the members of the axis didn't seem to fare as well; they even recall Berlin being divided in two by the US and Russia), they don't know the actual mechanics and events, and so they can't act as prophets for the battles to come.

They reach out to the US Government and somehow manage to convince the powers-that-be that they are, in fact, from the future. The US military forms a small task force to allow these 100 men to advise the military as to ways to improve their military by means of tactics, organization, training, strategy, and logistics.

To clarify: none of these men are engineers, and so they can't help design modern technology unless the technology is simple enough for the normal man to understand. These men probably won't be useful in even so much as (for example) speeding up the development of the jet fighter, unless it's arguing the case as to why the jet fighter is a good idea, and to describe what roughly a modern jet fighter looks and acts like. Nobody is going to have these men make blueprints.

Since the 100 men know the US emerged victorious, they're not aiming to help the US win, but to:

  • Reduce the casualties in WWII
  • Speed up the victory of WWII
  • Leave the American public sector in a more favorable place
    • Economically
    • For traditional warfare (They think they remember a "Korean war" coming up, although they can't remember the exact date or any real details)
    • For non-traditional warfare, specifically the Cold War

They also are wise enough realize that not all modern tactics, strategy, etc, will be a good fit for the past. Some things won't apply, some things will need to be altered, and some things will be smart ideas for the military to implement right away.

As long as they can provide a solid (enough) argument for any suggestion the US military has expressed willingness to cooperate as far as the US public will allow.

Oh, and the 100 are considered top secret, and knowledge of them is to be kept absolutely secret from both the world at large, and the citizens of the US.

How would these 100 men help accomplish the before listed goals? What knowledge might they possess that could be helpful? How would their efforts affect World War II and the coming Cold War?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Great Question! Made all the better because most of the active membership of this exchange are too technically adept to be among your time travelers. Most high school graduates with an interest in science could speed up the evolution of jet propulsion in the 40's. $\endgroup$ Aug 3, 2016 at 19:16
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @HenryTaylor As a high school/college graduate who read "popular" science things (magazines, etc) and who did robotics during high school, what are you suggesting that I'd tell the people of that era? I can't think of anything practical and functional I could convey. $\endgroup$
    – Ranger
    Aug 3, 2016 at 19:20
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ You are right. I just checked out some aviation history and the Jet Turbine was already understood by engineers in the late 30's/early 40's. I honestly thought that that design didn't come into common knowledge until later on, and it was that idea, which many high school students study (because it is cool) which I thought would be an easy contribution to the war effort. Too late to edit my comment now, but I guess I underestimated my grandparent's generation. Apologies to them too. $\endgroup$ Aug 3, 2016 at 19:30
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ OP you might like to have a read of the GENFORCE manual now made open source by the Government. gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/… This manual should be your bible for writing your story and will answer 99% of your questions. $\endgroup$ Aug 5, 2016 at 9:40
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Surely the elephant in the room here is, what would the US gov do if they were told about events following WW2? atomic weapons, the cold war, cuba missile crisis etc. the key thing about ww2 is not defeating Hitler. its getting nukes before the russians and crippling russia and china while war with them is still feasible $\endgroup$
    – Ewan
    Aug 5, 2016 at 9:57

14 Answers 14


This is potentially massive but as Officers they are likely to focus their efforts on three large areas which were warfare evolutions

  • Combined Arms Battalions (or if USA, the Brigade Combat Team)
  • The Role of Special Forces as force multipliers
  • The rise of Mission Command

Each of these areas have detailed histories and to the layman, they are unlikely to mean much, but to serving personnel each of these three pillars sit at the heart of how we fight and win modern wars.

Combined Arms Battalions are integral, independent fighting units which can manuevere the battlefield with everything that is required to engage and defeat an enemy. One Commander has control over all of the assets required to support and deliver the mission (G2, G3...G9). They are not dependent on stovepiped organisations to provide some asset (although cynical service personnel prob have loads of examples (Fixed Wing unavailable in the HIDACZ at this moment haha ;-) )

Special Forces are highly skilled, highly trained operators often supported by extraordinary assets in order to disrupt the enemy to a far greater effect than traditional warfare. As an example, Delta Force was inspired by watching the SAS which in turn were an evolution of events in World War 2. It is very likely your officers would be the inspiration for the entire Special Forces movement in modern history.

Mission Command is the idea that each devolved military unit is empowered to complete it's mission in the best way it can see fit. IE As a Commander you state that your intent is to secure a bridge crossing and inform your Platoon that is their mission. How they secure the X'ing then becomes a matter for the Platoon to decide...at the lower level each man is empowered to decide how he will accomplish his part within the timings and parameters set.

It is quite revolutionary and would have ended the idea of trench warfare. Advance towards a trench is not an order, secure the town of Riems is an order.

These documents should your Bible : https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/455017/1995_AFM_Vol_2_Gen_En_Basic_Pt_1_Op_Art.pdf << Basic Forces (Similar to WW1/2)

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/455022/1996_AFM_Vol_2_Gen_En_Mob_Pt_1_Op_Art_Tac_Doc.pdf << Mobile Forces (Similar to Modern Armies)

  • 6
    $\begingroup$ The German army is already using Auftragstaktik in 1941 (indeed they developed this idea from the Sturmtruppen tactics of late WWI and the idea can be traced farther back to the late 1800's). Allied commanders like Allenby in the Palestine and TransJordan theatres also were using variations of Mission Comand in WWI as well. Special forces also have a long history, the term Ranger dates to the French and Indian Wars period in the 1700's, and Boer "Commandos" fought the British in the Boer war. Combined Arms units are an innovation, but tank/infantry cooperation in WWI provided examples. $\endgroup$
    – Thucydides
    Aug 5, 2016 at 4:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Thucydides I have upvoted you because you are correct but we are focussed only on WW2 for this question; in that regard historical examples from previous centuries are not really applicable. By that I mean, the Officers in the new world would likely not just pilot the ideas but actively ensure they were embedded throughout the entire military structure they are today. Of course Special Forces existed but not anywhere near the professional tri-service outfits that we possess today. The name Ranger/Commando is not indicative of a volunteer, organised SF in those periods. Merely tactics. $\endgroup$ Aug 5, 2016 at 6:39
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    $\begingroup$ The point I was trying to make is many of the ideas we think of as "new" actually have very long histories, although most people are unaware of them. Considering it took 300+ years to "embed" the idea of the Rangers into the US Army (despite the Indian Wars, Civil War and even WWII), there is a lot of work needed to change the culture to embrace these ideas. $\endgroup$
    – Thucydides
    Aug 5, 2016 at 15:59

The big problem is similar the "bring on the industrial revolution" trope in SF: everything is based on an accumulation of knowledge and experience from the past. Even then, it isn't entirely clear just what the "x" factor is for industrialization, Hero of Alexandria described simple steam and atmospheric engines in the first century AD, and places as diverse and the Hanse and the Serenìsima Repùblica Vèneta had liberal social systems, banking and other social and economic factors which should have led to an industrial revolution, but for whatever reason failed to do so.

Your 100 men might have knowledge of 21st century tactics, operational art, and strategy, but by your own setup will lack the tools to make the tools to actually execute any of these strategies and tactics.

Consider a modern Infantry squad is festooned with radios and other communications gear. They wear composite body armour, carry a range of automatic weapons, anti-armour weapons and probably a backpackable UAV, and ride into battle in a Stryker or Bradly fighting vehicle if they are not ferried in by helicopter. A WWII infantry squad communicates by voice (Platoon level portable radios didn't become common and ubiquitous until the Viet Nam war), and the bulk of their firepower is the BAR. They don't have the organic ability to deal with enemy tanks (and won't until about 1944). They wear uniforms of organic fabric, wear a steel helmet for protection and move on foot. To use modern infantry tactics at the squad level requires you to bridge that gap.

The other branches of service will be facing the same issues. Much of what we think of as modern warfare is dependent on advanced long-range sensors, high-density communication networks and a very robust (and in the case of Western nations, global) logistical network. Much of what we take for granted today was developed in the Second World War, and the move towards portability and ubiquitous availability of this sort of equipment depends on the development of solid-state electronics, advanced, portable computers and even the discovery of physical principles which are unknown in 1941 (think of night vision equipment based on light amplification rather than infrared searchlights).

Another issue is military organizations of any era are based on the available technology. Regiments in the Second World War era often had organic artillery or anti-tank guns, or separate machine gun companies (note, different armies had differing organizations, this is not specific to the US army of 1941), while post-war organizations gradually dropped these establishments as crew served weapons and later individual weapons became capable of doing many of the same jobs. Would a soldier of the 21rst century used to having a Javelin anti-tank missile (with a range of 2500 m and capable of day and night fire) be able to recognize that a platoon of M-10 tank destroyers provides only a fraction of the capability?

Frankly, 100 field soldiers are not going to add a tremendous amount to the ability of the allies to win the war. 100 scientists and engineers who understand the principles of modern technology and can "make the tools to make the tools" will have a far greater impact.

  • $\begingroup$ As the question describes these men know the limitations of bringing the future to the past, and so they will consider that when they advise anything. As to the scientists bit, I agree, and that's why I didn't send back any scientists or engineers. $\endgroup$
    – Ranger
    Aug 3, 2016 at 19:24
  • $\begingroup$ Also to further clarify, these are a mix of commissioned and noncommissioned officers. "Field soldiers" isn't a particularly fitting categorization, any more than describing the leads on nuclear physics projects 'lab techs.' $\endgroup$
    – Ranger
    Aug 3, 2016 at 20:05
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with this, but feel you were actually too lenient. These solders risk being a harm to their side if they try to provide tactics advice, because it's quite possible not all of them realize that the tactics they know are only viable with appropriate equipment and will convince others to try their 'brilliant future tactics' only to see soldiers die because the tactics were detrimental to the units at hand. Having said that, while not scientists there is a good chance they remember a bit of useful science and random future tidibts amongst 100 of them to help boost science development $\endgroup$
    – dsollen
    Aug 3, 2016 at 20:59
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    $\begingroup$ You always need to develop the tools for the job. Leonardo da Vinci "invented" the tank in 1487, and various inventors recreated the idea multiple times (H.G. Wells "The Land Ironclad" was written in 1903), but no practical tank could be developed before WWI because the various parts were missing (effective IC engines, reliable tracks and suspension etc). Otherwise tanks might have been used in the American Civil War. $\endgroup$
    – Thucydides
    Aug 4, 2016 at 6:34
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Gryphon Spelling it "armour" is a regionalization, not a mistake. $\endgroup$
    – Azuaron
    Jan 17, 2018 at 17:10

Well, they could do a lot - but I'm not sure if this would change WWII a lot. The future conflicts for sure. How? Well, they know a lot of things that wasn't obvious like "hey, heavy tanks aren't so nice, but we have this Main Battle Tank concept, you should try to do sth like that" or "M1 Garand is cool, but you know what is much cooler? Assault rifles! We can tell you how this work, try to construct that". They would give a clear idea what will be good and what won't, saving A LOT of effort of scientists and engineers.

Maybe they would be able to make some minor improvments in organization and tactics, but (as far as I know) US Army tactic and strategy didn't evolve much, it's still based on motorized troops, air superiority and caring (as much as possible) about soldiers. Tactic evolved with the posibilities. For example, Blitzkrieg (German doctrine of mechanized assaults and massive usage of tanks with close air support) was created BECAUSE someone (well, probably Guderian was first with his "Achtung! Panzer!") saw potential in it.

  • $\begingroup$ I think DeGaulle was the first to see the potential in mass mechanised attacks. He wrote a book or paper on that between the wars. $\endgroup$ Aug 4, 2016 at 18:57
  • $\begingroup$ AK 47 was developed within one year or so it is claimed. If they guys from the future really insist that assault rifles are a game changer it will and could be done to influence WWII and not just following conflicts. $\endgroup$
    – Ghanima
    Aug 4, 2016 at 19:43
  • $\begingroup$ @SMS von der Tann there was some people who was talking about mechanized mass assault before Guderian (in France, England and USSR, but I can't remember who exactly), but as far as I know Guderian was first to create doctrine of combined forces of tanks, motorized infantry and air support. $\endgroup$
    – Elas
    Aug 4, 2016 at 21:22
  • $\begingroup$ @Ghanima well, AK-47 was based on Stg-44 as far as I know. But Stg-44 was developed in like one or two years, so - you got the point :) $\endgroup$
    – Elas
    Aug 4, 2016 at 21:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Elas The one in France was DeGaulle, I think I might have heard of one in the US as well, but I forgot who it was. $\endgroup$ Aug 5, 2016 at 12:13

To be blunt, your soldiers aren't bringing anything new to the table.

Answers up above have pointed out that many of the things considered "novel", and "modern", aren't, except the ones explicitly reliant on new technology that wasn't available at the time, which as stated these guys are not bringing back with them. The military tactics and strategies used today would be quite, generally speaking, familiar to an experienced soldier or officer in World War 2.


If they are believed, their knowledge of 21st century strategy, tactics, and organization can "decide" many controversial questions and avoid dead ends.

  • Of course the Air Force is an independent service, equal to the Army and the Navy.
  • Jet engines or turbofans are the way to go.
  • Battleships? Who needs battleships? Carriers are the way of the future.
  • Heavy brigades/divisions have roughly equal proportions of tank companies/battalions and mechanized infantry companies/battalions. Separate tank battalions and tank destroyer battalions? Forget 'em.
  • On the other hand, light battalions/brigades need their organic anti-tank.
  • Infantry squads need two or three fire teams organized around decent GPMGs.
  • All artillery in heavy divisions is self-propelled.
  • The first hour counts for medevac. Combat lifesaver training, ambulances, helicopters.
  • Cavalry does not mean horses. It means MBTs and IFVs, or helicopters.
  • Of course the force is racially integrated.

The same reasoning might yield a large number of premature suggestions:

  • Bombing can decide wars, even without nukes.
  • Submarines are really useful to protect carrier battle groups.
  • Army aviation needs helicopters with anti-tank missiles.
  • The Army doesn't need much air defense below the theater ballistic missile level, the Air Force fighters will take care of that.
  • 105mm is light artillery for airborne forces, all serious tube artillery is 155mm. On the other hand, 203mm is oversized. Who needs that?

The problem will be to tell the practical suggestions from premature ones.

  • $\begingroup$ Much of that depends of technology. 155 is effective today because of advances since 1945. 203mm tube artillery vastly outranged 155 in the period we are discussing. The industrial capability to make so many motorized vehicles is also lacking in 1941, and theatre ballistic missiles don't even exist. OTOH, many navies are already moving towards aircraft carriers as capital ships, but full adoption needs to wait for more effective aircraft to be developed. Knowing the future isn't the same as knowing how to develop the tools. $\endgroup$
    – Thucydides
    Aug 4, 2016 at 6:30
  • $\begingroup$ @Thucydides, that's why I called the 155mm a premature suggestion. I believe that the first group of bullet points is effective for 1940, the second group of bullet points isn't. $\endgroup$
    – o.m.
    Aug 4, 2016 at 6:55

First thought is, they would definitely know that atomic weapons exist and that they work, giving a boost to the Manhattan Project (not started until 1942).

This would apply to other areas of technology as well. Even if they can't tell you how they work, knowing that something is possible and important to future military endeavors will definitely fast track research and development. That weird helicopter thing Sikorsky is working on for the army, give him more money. That rocket guy in New Mexico (Robert Goddard) give him some funding that he's trying to get for years.

None of these things would likely change World War 2 much but they could quickly increase the United States military technology in the 1950s and onward.

  1. They had radios and could have used them more often and more effectively.
  2. They would have beefed up the sniper program with a lot more trained snipers in the field vs. a limited number of marksmen.
  3. Armor would have included better guns that were available to US military, but which they failed to implement.

In WW2 one guy was responsible for taking out an entire panzer division. How did he do it? With a radio calling in artillery strikes on the enemy. This is the basis for US military doctrine today. To many WW2 US infantry charged into a situation and fought out of them with guns blazing. Modern tactics would have put higher priority on spotting enemy targets and calling in artillery and air strikes on that target before engaging in direct combat. By the time infantry engaged the enemy it would be from better positions and mopping up what was left over if anything was left over. The infantry would also not engage until the area was well scoped and snipers had eyes on the target.

Give credit to the Soviets for implementing snipers much better than anyone else. Once again, instead of having regular infantry engage the enemy, modern military tacticians would first use snipers to pick off key vantage points prior to sending regular infantry in. Regular infantry would then have snipers keeping a close eye on the periphery for them while they advanced into areas.

While spotting, targeting, and calling in strikes seems slower than rushing in, it would actually prove faster as infantry would face less opposition as they advanced. Too often US infantry got bogged down in gunfights with enemy forces that could have been eliminated with calling in both air strikes and artillery strikes after spotters identified the targets. With a radio, you can let the artillery shells and bombs from air planes do the job while infantry protects those calling in the strikes.

Also, snipers in both urban and rural settings proved very effective for the Russians and proves very effective for modern military forces today in both settings. Guys in a pill box are easy targets for snipers who could take them out prior to sending in infantry. Spotters with high power optics available at the time could have identified targets and areas of resistance prior to sending guys in.

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to WorldBuilding scifi16! Interesting first answer. If you have a moment please take the tour and visit the help center to learn more about the site. Have fun! $\endgroup$
    – Secespitus
    Aug 15, 2017 at 20:03

I second Thucyidides answer, tactically they're of little use because the tactics they know won't work in this world with these units. Really we haven't discovered any brilliant new tactics so much as slowly and steadily adjusted our tactics as new technology made new options available. For the time modern WW2 leaders likely are better tacticians for planning WW2 battles then they are.

In fact, I hope they don't try to offer direct tactical level advice, they would likely get people killed by suggesting tactics that don't make sense for the weaponry and armor available at the time. People will be lured in by their 'future special knowledge' and go along with foolish plans. Ideally, they realize they should not try to play in everyday tactics!

They could have an effect on the war, not win it but help with it; but the effect is not in smalls scale tactics, but in the assorted other knowledge they have which could help.

For starters, WWII is interesting because both sides were constantly looking for super weapons in really bizarre areas. You know about Nukes, but you may also have heard of our bomb-detecting dolphins, firebomb bats, and all kind of other attempts at brilliant super weapons which did not pan out at all. These generals will know what weapons are used in the future, and by process of elimination what super weapon attempts didn't pan out.

They also will know what weapons are common in the future, which can help. For instance, by telling everyone how important air power is in the future they may be able to encourage quicker adoption of the carrier and naval air power.

While I don't believe training in modern tactics would help identify mistakes in tactics of WW2 directly, there is still a chance someone can identify them. With 100 militarily minded individuals you have a good chance of at least one being a military historian, who read about WW2 and knows a good bit about the battles there. I know you said they forget this knowledge, but how much does 'forget' mean? sure they don't know exact battles but they may remember some of the analysis about bad tactics or military doctrine, either directly or in a vague enough manner that they will recognize it when they see it happening in front of them.

And finally, ignoring their military training entirely, you still have 100 people from the future who will all have an assortment of non-military future knowledge, from college & education, past jobs, hobby, or personal interest. This collection of assorted other knowledge is likely to do far more long-term good for the country then their military training.

For starters, the general knowledge of the future technology and expected of any modern man could be useful. Telling people how massively powerful computers will become will likely ensure the government invests more money into their development (remember, the first computers were seen as so massive and expensive as to be of limited use, no one expected the exponential growth of computing). Knowledge about nuclear reactors and Nuclear weapons would confirm that the Manhattan Project would work and may result in funding the project sooner and with more financial support. I could go on with many examples, but knowing where our industry will be now can help decide what is worth perusing and what is ill-advised for the government.

Furthermore, with 100 people you will likely have more useful specific knowledge. The officers will have gone to college and gotten various degrees. If even one of the 100 officers got a degree in Electronic Engineering, or computer engineering, or some related field you know have the knowledge to jumpstart the production of electronics & computers. Someone trained in business or economics would have studied economic patterns of the past and may have suggestions on how to avoid things such as the .com bust. Frankly, anyone with knowledge of the hard sciences will have some unique knowledge that was discovered only recently. With so many people there are going to be many such instances of someone having the right knowledge to further some scientific discovery or governmental/economic policy. It will take longer for this knowledge to pan out to concrete results, but it will likely be the most useful in the long run.


Their value is likely zero during the war, but they will have some value after it.

Just to restate the primary premises here:

  1. These soldiers are not bringing any new technology with them.
  2. They do not know the specific events of WWII other than the statement that the Allies won.
  3. They know modern tactics, but especially without knowing the events of WWII may not be overly versed in WWII's tactics and why they were used.

After determining those things and With those premises, the governments best course of action is likely to refuse to talk to them any further and do their best to shield real decision makers from any knowledge that they even exist.

From the perspective of our WWII handlers, they know that the Allies win if nothing changes. Introducing new knowledge from these people from the future may speed that up and make things better, but it could also change things in a way that causes the Allies to lose. In other words, letting senior decision-makers know anything from these future soldiers is a huge gamble when they are currently sitting on a safe bet. With things of obvious utility like engineering advances, that gamble is probably worth taking, but even then they should think long and hard before letting the butterfly flap its wings. When talking about tactical refinements by people who do not understand the current ground situation, the answer is that it is almost certainly not worth taking.

Remember while there are certainly timeless things about tactics that will be applicable in any era, those have also been known for millennia. When you talk about the small details, they are very dependent on the situation you are facing and particularly susceptible to changes in technology. Modern tactics in the countries that used to be the Allies, in particular, are heavily dependent on concepts like robust communications, sensor platforms, and air superiority they either did not exist or were in their infancy during WWII.

A modern officer sent back might be able to speed up refinements in combined arms, but the people during WWII figured the basics out very quickly as combined arms came into existence. And again, modern combined arms expects radios capable of communicating with those particular allied forces to be available very low on the chain of command which was not true in WWII. The modern officer might be able to nudge things knowing how things will be, but he'll have to adapt to the technology of the time. That, of course, is very manageable, but changing tactics comes with risks and if these soldiers come with the knowledge that the Allies win if things play out naturally, that risk is probably not worth it.

After the war, they are likely to have some value because if they remember modern society they will be able to say what inventions are achievable in the relatively short term. This will help focus research efforts and could spur technology somewhat faster. Knowing for a fact that something is possible prevents researchers that might otherwise give up to continue on for one thing.


The most significant knowledge they have is that of atomic weapons. Specifically, they (and everyone else in 2016) know that

  1. Atomic (fission) weapons are feasible, something that the Manhattan Project scientists weren't decided of until July 1942
  2. Nuclear weapons have huge strategic significance

Given this knowledge, they would be able to push for the acceleration of the Manhattan Project. They would be able to confirm the feasibility of atomic weapons eight months earlier than happened. Even if this only saved them four months, they could have ended the war in April 1945, avoiding (among others) the battle for Berlin.

This would have led to a US/British/French occupation of Berlin instead of the divided Nato/Russian occupation, and given Truman and Churchill a huge ace in the hole at the Potsdam. This would have altered the post war balance of power hugely.


Three important concepts differ from WWII-era, and modern leader training can affect them:

  1. The concept of Strategic Bombing as a (mostly) standalone force capable of destroying an enemy's infrastructure, industry, and morale. It was popular in WWII, but quite discredited since.

    This change will preserve allied bomber forces from being expended in expensive but often marginally-effective raids, and freeing aviation resources for more effective use.

  2. The concept of Aircraft Carriers over Battleships as the Navy's primary offensive resource. This change did occur later during WWII.

    The Dec 9, 1941 scenario is a bit late - all USA WWII battleships were already long in production by this date, but production of aircraft carriers could perhaps have been accelerated.

  3. The Army's concept of timed counteroffensives to defeat an entrenched enemy (often called "meat-grinder" tactics). The US Army developed this during 1951 to counter the much larger numbers and trench-warfare defenses of the People's Liberation Army in Korea.

    Since trench warfare did not occur much during WWII, this knowledge seems likely to have negligible impact.


The biggest difference between the ww2 military and modern western militaries is the rise of the professional soldier.

I apologize that this is disjointed. I'll clean it up in a day or so.

In ww2, soldiers were largely conscripted men, whose long term goal was to get out of the military and back to real life. Most soldiers in the war never fired their guns, and most of those never hit an enemy.

The 21st century soldier is a volunteer career soldier, trained to the level of a ww2 commando. The early introduction of post Vietnam management and training practices does not require tech (although tech helps).

Can't use laser tag equipment for simulated fire exercises? Bath beads were known in ww2. Load them with paint instead of soap, inventing paint ball, and you can make a decent simulated fire exercise that even incorporates every army's weak spot - logistics.

Individual units have more autonomy than their ww2 counterparts. They are given a broad objective within the overall strategy, and then they work out the "how" on their own within the rules of engagement.


There are substantial technological and infrastructural improvements that they could provide even with only a lay-person's knowledge. There are some simple things that hadn't been figured out yet.

  1. The interstate system was a huge boon to the US's economy. Eisenhower was inspired by the German highways during WWII and their utility for logistics. Starting the interstate system 15 years earlier could really kick-started the US economy in preparation for the cold war.
  2. Any of them who have studied military history may have remembered how to make chaff (you cut aluminum into strips of half the radar wavelength). That have sped up anti-radar technology for planes by 6 to 12 months.
  3. They could get duct tape added to standard military supplies two years earlier.
  4. Inter-modal shipping containers weren't developed until the 1950s. Getting those earlier could really help the US supply Europe during the war and boost its economy afterwards.
  5. They likely could help get composite tank armor developed earlier. Even if this wouldn't make it out by WWII, it would help in the post-war conflicts.
  6. The double helix structure of DNA wasn't discovered until the 1950s. They could get a decade jump on all DNA-based medical discoveries.

There would also be areas where modern knowledge could be a hindrance to scientific endeavors. The biggest one I can think of is the Manhattan project, where the knowledge that centrifuges are used for modern uranium enrichment would actually be the wrong direction for WWII (though could help post-war development).


A lot of folks have covered in various ways some of the things these future officers could help. I hope I can throw out a few more and emphasize some that have already been brought up.

One prime point is that although the OP specified officers, not "just grunts", there is an important oversight. Many Officers in the modern US military started out as "just grunts". I was in college ROTC and was somewhat surprised to find out that roughly half of the higher up students were "prior service" meaning that they were either currently in the reserves or active duty as corporals or sergeants. Based on that asuumption, several of the officers brought back will have been "just grunts" at some point in their careers. This will lead to something important!

Training: A lot of people say modern boot camps aren't as brutal as WW2 boot camps and that may be true, but modern boot camps are more systematic. It's no longer 6 weeks of harsh discipline and push-ups. There is a lot of education going on. An example is that modern Marines go through a lot of MCMAP training, or Marine Corps Martial Arts which contains some good stuff. Everything a recruit goes through these days has a purpose. So these guys will have a memory of what they went through as a boot and might be able to improve the training by quite a lot. This won't make a massive difference right away, but if the reserves coming in to help at the front are of better quality, more are going to survive to become experienced. This kind of thing should yeild great results down the line.

Improve the Weaponry: Even though these guys aren't engineers themselves, they may be able to work with engineers to do things like building a better sniper rifle. The Famous Barrett Sniper Rifle was an evolution from the truck mounted .50 cal Machine gun. I don't think it would be a very long stretch to have someone start developing a shoulder fired .50 cal sniper weapon that would have an effective range well past the best German or Japanese Marksmen. Add in the small amount of knowledge that officers insignia shouldn't be shiny and that the enemy hasn't caught on to this quite yet, and a Sniper armed with a great rifle could take a heck of a toll on the enemy command structure. Even the scope technology should be there, based on the work done on Bombers from that time. Bonus, we might start not advertising our own officers by blacking out the shiny stuff. Other suggestions could be made on things like ablative tank armor. not direct design, but in suggestions on what to design.

Tactics: Not all modern tactics would necessarily work out, but some would. Another answer mentioned a closer coordination between artillery and infantry. Scout, Pound, and then move in.

Logistics: Make no mistake, Wars are won by logistics! That's often an officers job, and even though I can't think of some specifics, I'm pretty sure things have improved on that front. Outside the box thinking could help here. A bomber is a plane that picks up heavy things and drops them, with precision, somewhere else. Bullets, Beans, and Bandages could be sent to the front that way, in theory. just an example pulled from the aether.

Medicine: It's remotely possible that a combat medic or doctor could be sent as well. A modern combat medic might be able to help in the development of new lifesaving techniques. This would be of greater benefit later in the war as new groups of medics could be trained.

These guys could make great guides to development


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