Summary on Dissecting the Alt Right

 

It should be obvious now my stance on the White Nationalists and Trolls, as well as that I disagree with much of the line of thinking of many groups in the Alt Right. As someone who would probably easily be described by some as a George Bush Neo-Conservative, by others a Constitutional Conservative, or by many of the Alt Right as an “Establishment Republican”, I wouldn’t fit well into much of the Alt Right if I tried, but I do see a need for discussion and reaching a point of mutual understanding with much of the Alt Right to prevent the sort of radicalization that will make them the dangerous force we are seeing them turn into. I’d like to believe that discussion could help mitigate the violence we saw across the country following the Charlottesville protest. Let’s be honest, there will never be an end to hate anywhere in the world, but cutting them off from attention and resources, means that they may exist, but they don’t have to affect our lives.

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How to Survive a Real Life Zombie Apocalypse

I recently did an interview with the LADbible, because for some reason they wanted to speak to me about zombies. Whatever, it’s press. They posted a redacted version of the following piece, but I wrote the whole thing, so I might as well share it.

Who are you and why should anyone care? 

I’m an honorably discharged Marine with two Iraq tours, and have since become a writer and manage a page called the War Elephant. I mostly focus on the military, geopolitical stuff like who we are fighting and why, as well as strategy, and tactics. I also write on some politics.

What did you do in the Marines?

I ended up becoming a Marine Marksmanship Instructor, which meant I trained on most of the Marine Corps infantry weapons systems and trained hundreds of others on them, as well.

So you got to use those skills in Iraq?

Nope. My unit transitioned to a base defense unit where we were posted to security for a large air-base in Iraq. For the types of insurgents we fought, it would have been an even bigger suicide mission then normal. In the wisdom of fate and the Marine Corps, years of training left me and the four hundred other Marines in my unit trapped in guard towers, and as gate guards, logging vehicles that came in and out of the base. It gave me a huge sense of fulfillment to be a glorified toll booth clerk… huge.

So how did you become a zombie specialist?

After the war, during college, I started writing. It started mostly explaining the war because, at that time, the only people sharing knowledge about it had absolutely no experience and had no idea what they were speaking openly… unfortunately. I may not have been kicking in any doors during my stay, but if you live in foreign country engaged in a moderately significant point in its history, you are going to pick up a few things. From that point on, I was on a personal mission to fix the internet. Progress has been slow. That opened the door to writing on the other conflicts throughout the world: Ukraine, ISIS, Syria… basically everything sad in the last decade.

From time to time, after talking about nothing but war, you need to unwind. Rather than fishing, I keep writing, but I succumb to the absurd. I engage my regular readers with extremely hypothetical scenarios they propose. A few of these were answering what would happen if the Marines besieged Cinderella’s Castle (I called that one Operation: It’s a Small War After All) and who would win between Star Wars Storm Troopers and Star Trek Red Shirts (the answer is Darth Spock, if you’re curious. ) Eventually, I found my way to answering followers’ questions about zombies.

In truth, this is a fairly common practice even in professional circles, not so much zombies and Disney World I mean, but hypothetical battles in general. There are actually teams of analysts working directly for the Joint Chiefs that specialize in creating and revising plans to combat every nation and pseudo state on Earth for a hypothetical conflict. This includes not just the big ones like Russia and China, but allies like the UK, France, and Canada… especially Canada… but also the places you’d never think of going or needing to go (Looking at you Trinidad – you’ve been warned.) The reason for this is that trying to solve for hypothetical situations presents new strategic and tactical challenges that still need to be overcome. In doing that, our simulation wars create new methods and inspiration for fighting real wars of the future. Plus, the simulations give mission planners something to fall back on when a war no one saw coming actually does crop up (cough… Grenada.)

So zombies?

Eh, everyone needs a hobby.

Zombies are great from a hypothetical strategic planning perspective. Think about it. You have an aggressive and unpredictable light infantry insurgency force with infinite capabilities to recruit if given access to urban centers. Direct combat is less effective than counter-insurgency. Allies must meet these forces with adequate regional counter-insurgency measures within hours of the conflict’s commencement, or else the defending forces face an exponentially worsening threat. All this, while also incurring exponentially greater civilian casualties and losses to civil infrastructure as the cost of prolonged failure.

If planners in a hypothetical test bed solve that problem, then wars like Iraq would have been remembered as one of America’s greatest strategic victories, rather than the birthplace of what could be called the zombie caliphate. It’s actually a big enough problem, and a cool enough challenge, that there is a real document floating around where military strategists gave a shot at preparing a rational Zombie Defense strategy. They said it was for “training purposes”, but we know better.

So yeah, thinking about zombies is a fun way to explore real world combat and geopolitics from a different angle.

Fair enough. So if a zombie attack were to actually happen today, would we make it?

That depends on a lot of variables, the first of which being ‘what exactly are we dealing with?’

I mean, what are the zombie’s capabilities. Are they slow or fast? Can they be killed? (“How?” is a good follow up.)  How is the condition spread? Do you have to be bitten or is it a virus we can carry for years? Can they cross large bodies of water? Is it possible that they may evolve into a higher order of monster once they’ve consumed enough human flesh, such as werewolves, vampires, or the la chupacabra? All of it is something we will have to factor into a reasonable guess on if we make it or not.

And consider it like this, are these zombies just rabid humans who spread the disease through biting, but are otherwise prone to the natural human problems of bleeding to death and starvation? That gives us options… mostly hiding, but still options.

Or are they something worse? Are they truly undead manifestations of horror, brought back by some malicious magical force? Look, if your hearts not pumping, then your blood isn’t flowing. If your blood isn’t delivering oxygen to your brain, then nothing is telling your muscles to move, not to mention that the muscles don’t work either from lack of nutrition or getting bitten through by another Zombie. Biology matters. The body is a system. You can’t just say, “It’s dead,” and then not be surprised when it keeps on going without half its limbs and no pelvis. The universe just doesn’t work like that.

That means that the zombies that are truly walking around dead without their vital organs intact are ran by magic and that just changes everything. How do you fight something magic, because hacking at it with a sword and a crossbow aren’t going to cut it against a horde reanimated by dark magic. We’re going to have to find that crazed wizard in the forest with this Necronomicon of evil sorcery and put an end to this reign of unholy terror. And if the dead are truly walking around eating people, visiting our worst nightmares upon society, we can’t rule out that we could be dealing with some underworld level stuff here, as in some real unholy horror. In such an event, I should think some stumbling bumbling monsters that are literally falling apart are not so bad when we should expect a flood of demon locusts to descent upon humanity to smite us from the fiery chasm of Hell very shortly.

But maybe it’s not magic. Maybe we are dealing with some sort of evil nano-technology that has replaced all bodily human functions… and somehow went evil in the process in an attempt to replicate? If that’s the case, which government agency do we blame? (I blame the Department of Agriculture. No one ever suspects the Department of Agriculture, and that’s what they’re planning on.) Bigger question, is there a shut off somewhere, or what it someone the DoA (interesting acronym, huh?) wanted the apocalypse? Or worse, what if the pestilence of purification comes from advanced aliens, who figured out this is the best way to beat us? They’ve seen all our movies and know that no matter how ungunned by the super intelligent aliens with their space ships and death rays we always win, yet throw a herd of stupid and slow moving murder cattle at us with a logarithmic capacity for genocide, and we crumble. Yeah, we handed over the keys on that one folks.

I’m just sayin’, know your enemy.

So assume we are dealing with a dumb, slow, undead zombies. Would that easy?

Okay, we can work with that. As far as that goes, exponents matter. The speed of growth and spread are going to matter, but in general we ought to be okay. More than likely, it seems difficult for me to believe that a single patient zero would have a great deal of success walking around aimlessly against people smart enough to run away from, or at least walk briskly away from such a stupid creature. It seems a bit much to believe that we wouldn’t be able to contain that in the first town before the outbreak reaches critical mass. Of course, knowing the Department of Agriculture, they’ll probably weaponize the disease into something like fast moving, much smarter hunters of the living.

Okay, so we are dealing with fast moving, much smarter hunters.

Oh, then we’re screwed. Perhaps not all of us, but civilization as we know it is screwed. From this point, we’re looking to where we could geographically find the safest place to build up a defense. That’s going to mostly be a battle of luck because if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, well… you’re about to join the other team.

What do mean by the wrong place at the wrong time?

Like I said, it comes down to geography. This was the subject to an piece I wrote on how your environment can contribute greatly to the success or failure of a survivor’s odds of staying alive. Certain environments fair better when you think about it. Obviously, a city is a death trap and don’t even hope to escape in time. Highly cramped and offering little long term places to hide, along with the fact that there will very quickly be no food, water, or resources of any kind left to scavenge, cities are the last place you want to be. I’m just saying, if you live in an urban area, then you hear of a zombie event happening, don’t even bother with figuring out an escape plan. Just start basting yourself and accept the inevitable.

That said, while most of humanity doesn’t live in cities, most of technology does, so all of us who rely on what comes out of them better start becoming a lot more independent really fast. That means no satellite news, no digital anything, and no logistical support (like your fancy department stores or Uber.) All that is going out the window. Even things you think of being from the rural areas, like farm produce and oil, someone in cities is managing all that. There is going to be a time where their bodies are still fresh and no one is making the calls that get goods from the people who have them to the people who need them.

Assuming we get the resource problems under control, move a bit farther out, and areas like the plains don’t look so bad anymore? Sparse and spread out population centers, lots of open flat terrain to see enemies coming from far off. Yeah, maybe investing in a little land in Oklahoma wouldn’t be so bad after all. They’ve got some lovely lakes with lots of fishing.

Beyond that there are mountainous areas, like Colorado. Insurgency warfare taught us a lot about hiding in mountains by being on the receiving end of those who do. You may not be able to mount an offensive, but you can securely hold up there for year. As long as we have a food source, a few survivors could hold a mountain pass indefinitely. Deserts might help speed the decaying process, but forests will provide the undead just as many opportunities to corner us as it would provide us against them. Jungles are great too, because they allow for the vegetation, jungle rot, bugs, and other predators to slow down and make short work of the demon spawn, all dangers humans can learn to avoid.

Generally, look to nature. When you are dealing with an unstoppable enemy, you want the terrain to do the hardest work for you, so looking to places with the most natural barriers is always the best way to go. We can talk about manmade defenses, but eventually, bullets run out, people get surprised by a stray bite, training accidents happen, fatigue or stress drives some to insanity, and the infantry starts falling back on the second string guys. At that point guards fall asleep on the tower, or someone leaves the gate unlocked and if humanity was your only option, the humanity is screwed. Basically, the sooner you learn that humans are unreliable creatures in the long term and that someone will screw up eventually, the sooner you’ll start relying on defenses that can’t change, like a narrow pass flanked by high cliffs, or a deep river.

While mountains, rivers, and jungles seem like the best defenses to begin with, the best by far is thousands and thousands of miles of ocean water. If you happen to live on some tropical island far, far off to sea and you hear news reports of rampant viral outbreaks, cannibalism, and then suddenly nothing but radio silence… just stay there.  You’ll be okay and civilization is now kind of depending on your lack of curiosity and selfishness, at least for the time being. If you do still have contact with the mainland, you have the benefit of any of the contaminated being discovered on a plane ride over, or in the days and weeks that it might take for a boat to arrive.

So where would the best places be?

If I had to pick one place to be, it would be Hawaii. It combines a lot of the nice-to-have list for geographic security; lots of oceans in every direction, and even if the worst were to happen, the islands are covered in high mountains and thick jungle for the survivors to retreat to as a final fallback line. Hawaii is also special because, being presumably the last holdout of the once great American Empire, it will inherit perhaps the most valuable asset yet remaining in the world that zombies will have little effect on, the United States Navy. Equipped with just a touch of security, I would predict following any zombie apocalypse, Hawaii would become the new global seat of power, consolidate the future island nations of Earth into a unified government, and one day be the force which takes back the rest of the planet.

So what about the individual? What can we do improve our own survivability?

Not a lot. You’re probably going to die.

So there’s nothing we can do?

I’m just being honest, but sure there are things that could improve your chances. Do you work out? Awesome, I mean, you’ll taste a lot better with all that juicy muscle tissue, but at least the zombies will have earned it. Martial arts experience? Eh. I have a black belt, but if I were to really think about going hand-to-teeth with a zombie, I’m sure I would win, but I’m going to get bit, scratched, or whatevered into becoming one myself. You definitely don’t want to go that route. Guns? Guns are cool. You want to survive? You better make friends with your scary 2nd Amendment buddy with more ARs than you have rooms in your house. And yeah, guns need ammo, but if you’re nice to him, he’ll teach you how to make bullets too. Then you’ll have a tradable skill in the apocalypse. Stick with that dude. That dude’s a survivor. They’ll probably make him the mayor of Survivoropolis.

If you’re really curious about your odds, I’d suggest one of the online tests of survivorshipness. Don’t go with one of the zombie ones though. As we’ve already shown, what we mean when we say “zombie” can vary wildly, so it’s better to test your survivorship skills against something more objective, something that exists in the real world that we can measure – something like Justin Biebers. Anyway, there’s a good test out there to test how many Justin Biebers you could take in a swarm. There used to be a really great one for 5th graders, but I’m thinking the special snowflakes killed that one. I got 29 Biebers, but that didn’t factor in the Marine Corps stuff, so I’m thinking I could do better. Either way, we can objectively measure the fighting strength of one Justin Bieber, and that should provide us a good metric for where we stand against the zombie in our scenario. I’d say take the number of Biebers you could take on and divide that by 5, and you should be somewhere in the woods of the size of a swarm you can survive by yourself.

So, basically we have no chance? Awesome.

Well, there is one thing people need to keep in mind. So much of zombie horror is the destruction of society, that monolith of community that we have erected which we can’t imagine ourselves without. When we place ourselves in a zombie apocalypse, we always imagine that we will be one of the last hold outs, a lone survivor wandering through the woods with no support, and no anchors. If we live our lives like that, we won’t be one of those survivors, though. We’ll just be another half-eaten face in the crowd.

No, if you want one skill to develop to survive, it’s leadership.

This sounds like the warm fluffy portion of the article.

No, I’m serious. The only way you’re going to make it, on one level or another, is to learn how to work with other people as a team. Think about it.

Imagine you’re a former Navy SEAL and a survivalist geek. You know how to be stealthy, and keep your cool in a tough situation, and you’ve also learned to live off the land. You’re also armed to the teeth. Think you’re well prepared to endure the end times? Eventually, you are going to run out of bullets, find a horde you can’t escape from, or meet a situation your training alone wasn’t enough to help you get through.

Of course, an even worse situation is that you don’t. Maybe that doesn’t happen, and you just keep going on, and on, forever. You still have to deal with a universe in which you are the sole survivor and there is no point or meaning to your life besides this horrific existence. Even if you haven’t read the works of Friedrich Nietzsche, the ramifications of existential nihilism are going to creep their way into your mind, and in that world of absolute narcissism, if the zombies don’t get you, your own bullet to the grape just might.

The point is, whether you are a master survivalist or whether you just get lucky, going it alone means you’re just as dead as the rest of us. You gotta know how to get along with others.

So explain.

You’re going to have to learn to work in a group under stressful situations. Being friends matters, because you’re not going to have all the skills needed to last forever. Someone is going to get sick and need care, you’ll need an engineer, you’ll need a gatherer, and you’ll need a few fighters to kill zombies and keep others alive while doing it. You’re going to want those friends eventually, but what a group like that isn’t going to want is the selfish individual. You take your lone wolf, every man for himself crap and throw it into the death pit. The in-group will be quick to punish and maybe even exile individuals, as the zombies will mean that survival is no longer a matter of individual effort, but where one actually needs to think of the group’s survival as necessary for their own. Play nice, or your tribe is going to make you zombie chow, not because they’re bad, but because that is what is best for the tribe.

Having made friends, you’re going to need to learn to teach others. Having a skill is great, but sharing that skill with others is greater, at least for the group’s survival, which as we said, was best for you. You know how to defend yourself? Awesome, but six of you defending yourselves together can take on exponentially greater threats to your collective survival. Educating others also multiplies the vital skills in your groups, meaning that if one is unfortunately gone the way the meat pie, then the others don’t lose the vital knowledge they had.

Beyond that, you’re going to need friends to help you build the walls, friends to help you gather and eventually raise food, and friends to help distribute it all. Look, I hate Socialism, but in the end times, there’s gonna be a lot of sharing. Finally, you’ll need ambassadors, because friends are good, but civilization isn’t going to rebuild itself. You’ll need networks of survivor groups connecting resources across regions. That’s why the ultimate necessity for survival is and always will be leadership, the ability to pool the talents of individuals and create action in others.

Ok, so last question. You’ve collect your team of survivors. How would you make it out?

Well, you’re going to need a shovel.

A shovel?

Yeah, a shovel. Look, surviving is a long-term plan and if you aren’t lucky enough to be born to a hula girl who was the daughter of a wealthy cattle rancher in Honolulu, you’re going to need a strategy. Having the means to fight back is always good, and being a good leader will keep you alive, but humans eventually fail, even if it is just from fatigue and stress. That’s why you want passive defense; systems that protect you without you doing anything about it.

Like walls?

Walls work, but zombies can get over walls. They can stack up on top of one another in mobs and scale them. Walls can also always come down. You’re not going to be having a very good day if that was your plan. No, what you need for an enemy that is both unstoppable and incredibly stupid is to reshape the terrain to move the walking undead away, meaning that after a bit of sweat, you never have to worry about it again.

So how do you do that?

You should look up how the Romans fought. They were the world’s greatest army up to their time and ruled for over a thousand years. They did that through military might, but the way they fought though, was a mastery of earthworks. People should look up the Siege of Alesia. Wicked smart stuff. Anyway, the way you secure yourself isn’t a wall, and it certainly isn’t a security team rushing to the defense every time a minion pops out and snags one every couple of weeks. You need a pit – a big, unavoidable trap which the dead can drive themselves toward, and fall unmercifully to the bottom. Might be good to divert a stream or something through there to clean up the goo, though.

If it were me, I would surround my colony with a deep trench. That should provide for defense, but to clear the area, I would throw in some loudspeakers powered by solar panels and running on automatic timers along a road leading to the colony. When I say “some loudspeakers,” I’m talking about miles of them. Every now and then, one would turn on, blaring out a message to any survivors wondering around about how to find the colony, and maybe something whimsical and ironic. I’m thinking Highway to Hell by AC/DC.

And yeah, you guessed it, some of the dead are going to make their way into earshot and head toward the speakers. After twenty minutes or so, the speaker shuts off and the next one toward the colony trips on a few hundred yards down the road. The cluster gravitates toward the sound as more zombies join. On and on they go until the now decently large herd reaches the cliff. What’s on the other side? Another speaker, tempting the ravenous horde. While they may not make the leap, an interesting thing about crowd dynamics is that those in the back have a way of pushing that the beasts in the front may not appreciate. As the horde builds in size, the force pushing on the zombies near the edge is enough to push them over. As the zombies in the rear push forward to become the zombies in the front, which are replaced in turn, the deep canyon below will become the greatest zombie killer in the world. Where a great human zombie hunter may succeed at maybe a hundred before his luck runs out, AC/DC and a big hole in the ground will keep killing zombies without anyone ever needing to lift another finger… granted the water keeps flowing to flush them out, of course.

This is the beauty of passive defense systems. They are harder to set up, but the systems do the work better than you could and they never stop working. A zombie world isn’t going to be one where heroes fight tooth and nail to beat back the horde. The more they do that, the more the horde takes the best and brightest that remain. What the zombie apocalypse is going to require are engineers, engineers and smart leaders to guide them. Guns also wouldn’t hurt.


Jon Davis is a Marine veteran writer and blogger. You can follow Jon’s page, the War Elephant, at War_Elephant.com, or on Facebook, Twitter, and his soon to be launched YouTube Channel The War Elephant. You can also follow his answers on Quora. He’s also very poor and funded through the crowdsourcing platform Patreon. To donate a to keep his lights on a stable internet connection, please visit his patreon campaign.

No More Task Force Rogue Ones: A Tactical Analysis of the Raid on Scarif

This is a brilliant look at the planning of Task Force Rogue One’s raid on Scarif. It is exactly what I would have said, only better.

The Angry Staff Officer

Disclaimer: this should not be read as not wanting more Rogue One-type movies; we need more Star Wars films like this.

Also: SPOILERS.

There’s a common phrase that you’re aptto hear in discussions on Army readiness: “No more Task Force Smiths.” For reference, Task Force Smith was a rapidly cobbledtogether unit of infantry and artillery that was shipped to Korea in the opening phase of the Korean War. Intended to show the North Koreans that America wasn’t messing around, TF Smith instead demonstrated that the U.S. Army had completely misread the resolve of the North Koreans. TF Smith was literally driven over, suffering over 50% losses against the enemy armor. It was a lesson in humility – one that the U.S. Army is still struggling with to this day: how could the Army that defeated Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan in 1945 struggle against a rag-tag bunch of…

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The 5 Nations that (Might) Survive a Zombie Apocalypse

Five years post the zombie apocalypse, countries we haven’t called countries, will be leading the ashes. For my criteria, I first tried to think about the nations, or rather regions, would have the greatest strategic advantages against a walking horde of the undead. The greatest of these were geographic. I went into greater detail on that in my answer to What would be the worst and best possible types of places to live in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse? There, I determined that if you had to be stuck anywhere, the best place to be would an island, very far removed from any floaters seeking to undo your happy existence.

After geography, I looked at overall population. A strong enough population will have to exist with which to provide crucial services after import, export systems collapse. This was followed by military capacity and the potential for armed security. This is an obvious boon to any survivors, providing the capability to stay grounded, and eventually even project outward, re-securing territory from the hordes or even rescuing survivors. After this is perhaps the most important, food security. Food and water independence will be vital to survive, even if the zombies aren’t fighting to take what you already have.

That said, I’ve intentionally ignored several extreme examples of several tiny island nations, because they are so small that they simply aren’t interesting enough to talk about. One day the radios stopped working after a big commotion and then no more ships… ever. For example, small communities like the hundreds of tiny islands surrounding the main islands of Indonesia, won’t experience any of the devastation wrought on their home islands. At best, they will see a relative explosion in refugees, but will likely be unchanged. Micronations like Tuvalu, Nauru, the Falkland Islands, or Tristan, literally the most isolated island on the planet, are just too boring to talk about. Thousands of islands exist that together don’t equal a population of more than a few million people. They have no long term significance as they will never be able to help create a world fit for humanity after the Age of the Undead. The best they may do is one day recreate the double outrigger and colonize a few more islands. 10,000 years from now, they might be able to colonize the mainland again… having completely forgotten the most historic event in the history of humanity – it’s destruction. That said, they might go completely unaffected by the calamity, but because they were so insignificant to begin with, I’m just not going to talk about places like Tristan Island anymore, but focus on places that might actually be meaningful after the apocalypse.


5) The Democratic Republic of Puerto Rico

  • Population: 3.548 million (2014)
  • Military: Reliant on US, but consists of high retired veteran population and several large facilities capable of refitting.
  • Food Security: Reliant on imports

Currently a territory of the United States, assuming the effective destruction of the continental superpower giant, Puerto Rico would no doubt seek independence with haste. Who they would declare independence to, won’t really matter, as everyone will have bigger problems than worrying about it. Surrounded by water, the island state is guarded by numerous high cliffs, which have already been fortified by a history of military significance to the Caribbean. The island nation will be able to hold it’s own from both the random zombie caught adrift, or the horde of American, Central American, and South American refugees the tiny island will likely be pushing away.

Add to this the presence of a more than 2000 acre former naval base on the island. Roosevelt Roads provides the means for the Puerto Ricans to create a last refuge for stranded American Naval vessels searching for a secure port. Given this, Puerto Rico may soon find itself the inheritor of the Atlantic fleet. Following this, the new Nation state may find itself with the power and influence to leverage strength for the imports it will soon be desperate for by becoming a leading naval power.

Where Puerto Rico fails is in production of food. The island can support much more than it is currently producing, but given it’s near future calamity… it’s going to need a lot more.

Agriculture constitutes about $808 million US$ or about 0.8% of the island’s gross domestic product (GDP). [44] However, Puerto Rico imports 85% of its food even though most of the land is fertile. Only a mere 6% is arable; a fact that poses a direct threat to Puerto Rico’s food security. [45][46]

After initial growing pains, and once resolving bids for power among the surviving islands of the Caribbean the country stands a good chance of not just surviving, but thriving in the post apocalypse new era.

4) Iceland

  • Population: 323,002
  • Military: Military consists of less than a thousand members of the Icelandic Coast Guard
  • Food Security: Wealth of agricultural surpluses

Iceland ranks low on the list for several critical lapses in its Zombie Preparedness Plan, but will able to leverage certain advantages few other nations can.

First, Iceland is a relatively barren place to live. 78% of the island is unfit for farming and agriculture, and of the rest, only about 1% is actually used. Most of this space is used for feed crops such as hey, and the rest for potato and other subsistence foods.

Militarily, the island has nothing to brag about. Geopolitically, it is centered in a part of the North Atlantic so far north that it has little strategic value to anyone. For many years, the only military presence was that of the US military, tasked with being the sole defense force for the tiny country. After 2006, the US forces left, leaving Iceland with no real projection power at all. What remains is a coast guard, consisting of around a few hundred people, juggling three ships and four aircraft.

Iceland is very far from any populated regions, like the UK and Scandinavia. Crossing the freezing waters of the North Atlantic won’t be easy for even hardy survivors, and the few ships capable of making the voyage will be few enough that the tiny Coast Guard Forces may possibly be able to manage the inflow of refugees.

The refugees, as well as their boats and planes, will serve well the underpopulated island by provided much needed labor to fill the needs they are very quickly going to have. But with every new soul, a mounting problem is going to become more evident, a theme we will see more and more, not enough food.

Iceland, however, does have something that most other nations don’t. It is capable of harnessing vast amounts of the Earth’s geothermal energy to heat its homes and provide power. This will help make up for the small national population, but also provide something few other surviving populations will have, a valuable and rare commodity resource. Five years down the line, the world is going to be desperate for power, as few means exist for coal, nuclear, and there is no where left to produce the vast manufacturing structure required to build solar and wind power, nor repair the massively complex offshore oil rigs. Iceland’s survival depends on harnessing and communicating this power, as it will provide the economic power to make Iceland one of the world’s most valuable exporters.

3) Panama

  • Population: 3.9 million
  • Military: No military, but 12,000 members of the Panamanian Public Forces
  • Food Security: Wealth of agricultural surpluses

Panama is the sole exception to the island rule of zombie survival. That is because of its incredibly unique geography. Panama, though technically forming the narrow land bridge between North and South America, is effectively an island. The thick jungle and high mountains mentioned in previous sections describe why never in history has a major land invasion involved walking troops from either North or South of Panama and into the neighboring continent. The nation is just too hostile to land traffic. This has been traditionally very bad for Panama, isolating it between impossibly large and wealthy landmasses, a wall rather than a road. Of course, one day a zombie apocalypse happens and what was once its greatest weakness, is now the nation’s greatest strength – a geography hostile to foot traffic.

For survivability, the Panamanians hold food exports as a major industry. From fish to fruit, the country will be able to care for its own with ample resources while defenders are able to hold back the few walkers at the periphery until, eventually, Panama can play a major role in reconnecting the shattered world via its famous canal.

It’s greatest weakness, however, is that the country lacks any formal military. Panama is the second country in Latin America (the other being Costa Rica) to permanently abolish standing armies. All that remains is a 12,000 strong members of the Panamanian Public Forces. This para-military group lives on standby for civil disturbances and general policing. They will be completely unequipped to handle zombies who behave much differently than a peaceful protest no one wants to turn into something bigger. If only that were all that stood between the Panamanians and the oblivion, then that wouldn’t be enough, but adding in the natural boundaries of both inhospitable jungle and impassable mountains, along with the advantage of how truly few people would be required to defend the two narrow borders, and we can begin to see why they would survive where others wouldn’t.

2) New Zealand

  • Population: 4.471 million
  • Military: 11,440
  • Food Security: Wealth of agricultural surpluses

New Zealand is a large island chain of high mountains, defensible valleys and a stable population and economy. Perhaps its greatest advantage, at least for this question, is its isolation. Though most maps place New Zealand relatively near Australia, in truth, nearly all of the Continental United States could fit between them. New Zealand is alone in void of the blue. Normally, this would be a bad thing, but zombies change things. It is so far out that it poses little risk from floating zombies drifting about, nor does it suffer a great risk of refugees overwhelming the island, some which may even be infected. Once planes stop flying, travel by boat will allow anyone showing unusual signs such as necrotizing fasciitis or spontaneous fits of cannibalism will be vetted and done away with long before reaching port in Queensland.

The active duty military is nothing to brag about, but high mountains also make for defensible terrain. Whether facing invasion from the dead or whoever else is left, a New Zealand Defense Force would have the means to hold up years fighting whatever comes from the sea.

Perhaps most importantly of all, the country has a large food surplus, taking in over 14.8 billion dollars in agricultural exports. This is the true saving grace of New Zealand. Other nations may survive the zombies, but they won’t survive the hunger. New Zealand will survive both, and in fact, may become one of the wealthiest nations on the planet very, very soon, as they supply sustenance to the rest of the world’s small island survivors deeply lacking in basic nutrition.


Noteworthy Mentions:

The Japanese State of Hokkaido

Hokkaido is the northern most island in the Japanese Island chain. While still posting a large and modern population, it is centered in with high mountains and cold winters. It is however, very distant from the more populated islands to the South, and since it is not part of the same land mass, will see refugee traffic required to pass through the whole of Japan before reaching Hokkaido. The military tradition of Japan will also see use as they defend themselves from the horde of Japan, not only of zombies, but refugees no doubt pouring over over from lower Japan, the Koreas, and even China and Southeast Asia. These refugees will serve as the greatest obstacle to Hokkaido’s Japanese sanctuary from the horde. Given the billions of people who may seek shelter there, it may be a distinct possibility that they will prove too much.

Madagascar

I’d love to say that Madagascar would do well. It has a large population, good terrain and is an island nation. There are two reason I don’t see it doing well for this question. First, one problem it faces is the same that it has in this world already. It is a poor nation with inadequate government. That means that the government isn’t quick or efficient at responding to major events. Assuming that the crowded island nation doesn’t succumb to the zombie horde itself, the other horde it will have to deal with will be coming from Mainland Africa. This will be Madagascar’s second major problem. When refugees begin flooding in from all across every part of the continent through the relatively narrow Mozambique Strait, that will be too much for the overwhelmed government. I see starvation and chaos, and that is if there are no walking dead.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a relatively modern place. It even boasts a fairly large military, relative to its small landmass. It even has land to grow crops, and supply its people. What does it have against it? If you’ve caught on to the pattern of the last two… it’s neighbor, the second most populous nation on the planet.

As well prepared as a tiny state might be, no nation on Earth will be prepared to suddenly accept the fleeing mass of a country of over 1 billion people. Whether they manage to cross the narrow and partially submerged land bridge connecting the two bodies, or through thousands of rafts floating across the sea, Sri Lanka will, in a matter of days, be inundated with millions more than the tiny island can support and more than the government can manage. In the end, I didn’t add them because of how well they would do, but how every clearly they would spell the exception to the rule of the safety of the tropical island, if everything else is stacked up against you.


Finally, the nation which will do the best following a zombie apocolypse, one of the few who may actually see an increase in power and influence in the future to come, isn’t a nation at all today, but would quickly become one once the end becomes a reality for everyone else. That nation is…

1) The Independent Hawaiian State

Population: 1.42 million (2014)

Military: Very large military population and immense US Naval assets.

Food Security: High food producer, but also heavily reliant on food inshipment.[1]

The nation of Hawaii boasts many natural barriers to a zombie plague. Surrounded on all sides by thousands of miles of ocean, Hawaii’s greatest defense is the great blue barrier of the Pacific Ocean. Any zombie lucky enough to accidentally drift in the wrong direction for such a long period of time will be cursed with the ravages of coarse salt water, and months of decay as its body dissolves into the sea.

Should it be possible for Hawaii to fall victim to one of the blighted, the mountainous isles lend themselves well to defense against the undead.

In the unlikely event, the chain even has the extraordinary fortune of escape, where all or most of the survivors can quickly evacuate one island by either air or sea, both safe from zombie interruption, to a clear island not far away. This provides time for survivors to be organized, defenses to be manned, and a means for the retaking of any lost island in the chain.

The survivors of Hawaii, however, will face a different battle than most of the world. Their struggle will mostly be an effort to provide a balanced diet. The island state is a major food producer for many various staple fruits, vegetables, and meats, as well as sugar. It’s agriculture, however, is geared toward specialty items and they have to rely on imports for the difference. Early in the apocalypse, Hawaii will face the singular difficulty of having an overabundance of certain foods, while being completely lacking in other nutritional requirements. There are much worse states to be in, but the state will require some time to readjust their agriculture to a structure more geared toward food independence.

Given that, the key factor for the survival of Hawaii is its other great asset of pre-apocalypse strategic importance as an important naval installation. Hawaii bases afforded the United States Navy central staging points for seaborne operations overseeing half the planet. Following the fall of continental bases, most ships out to sea will have little else but to set sale for the last operational command in the United States Navy. Given the overwhelming strength of the US Navy today, commanding more Super Aircraft carriers than the rest of the world combined, Hawaii will not only be able to survive, but be transformed into overwhelmingly powerful Pacific hegemon. Given the number of naval ships and Marines stationed on Hawaii, it will serve not only as the greatest source of internal security, but be one of the only remaining nations capable of force projection, and in time, be the leading force in reclaiming earth from the Zombie horde.

What are the Best and Worst Places to Live in a Zombie Apocalypse

I was researching for an answer to the question What would be the worst and best possible types of places to live in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse? and in my quest to figure out the places that would do the best, I wanted to think first about the places that would do the worst. My first goal was to think about the nations, or more accurately, the regions, that would offer the greatest inherent strategic advantages against a walking horde of the undead, either in slowing them down or aiding the defenders and survivors. As with military strategies, the greatest factor is always geographic. The rest of this list evaluates the most common geographic regions of the planet and their potential as either safe havens or death traps.

The first place we have to start is always the, highly urban centers.

We are just going to brush past the obvious. Ravenous monsters running down streets grabbing and biting everyone in an exponential decline of madness. Crowded cities are zombie all you can eat buffets.

Disregarding the crowded cities’ inherent weakness to viral infection, particularly the sort of infections that make their hosts into auto-ambulatory, semi-sentient, predatory cannibals, cities are also highly reliant on imports, producing almost none of the basic requirements to maintain themselves on their own. Given a general collapse of civilization, and the arteries of fresh produce and products, these city centers would be left void as much by desertion, as by the zombie hordes. This will end life as we know it for metropolitan Europe, the United States East and West seaboard, China, India, densely packed islands like Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, much of Central America, as well as nations dense around major rivers, such as Egypt and much of the Middle East.


Temperate forested regions will be next. The heavy cover will prevent most efforts to guard against the lone zombie stalking through the woods. Survivors can easily face danger while fleeing in these thickets, unwittingly running from one threat, immediately into one much deadlier, hidden in the veil of green. The ability for a single zombie, or even a massive horde, to remain hidden only a few miles, or even a few hundred feet from population and strategic centers means that these areas may provide the illusion of a safe haven from fleeing urban refugees, but will soon visit upon these souls a grisly fate. Millions more who survived the initial infestation will find the dark embrace of eternal night within rustling of leaves. Most of the Eastern United States, what remained of Europe through to central Russia, as well as large and particularly populated regions of Asia and Australia.


Next are the grasslands. While more secure due to the wide openness and lack of a host population than cities, the major plains of the world provide little to no defensive advantage to those who live within them beyond sight. A lone zombie may creep across the plains, able to be put down by trained rangers, but the onset of a horde, will afford survivors no strategic advantage. The open terrain may provide time, but it will not provide safety. At some point, those who make it to the grasslands will be uprooted to survive the hordes. This interruption to daily life may recreate the nomadic lifestyle of the Native Americans and Bedouin peoples, but the quest to follow sources of food is much different than the quest to avoid becoming it. This won’t be a long term survival strategy. If annihilation is avoided from zombies, it will surely overtake them via starvation. If an external source of long term security isn’t met, these nomadic colonies of scavengers will not last indefinitely.

Gone would be the Central North American continent, large tracks of South America, All of Central Africa, the remainder of the Middle East through the Central Asian steppes, India, and Australia.


The tundra provides humans who live there the possibility of being aided by the environment. The intense cold will slow movement of the zombies allowing greater time for defense and culling operations to occur. The danger of the tundra is, however, as it has always been, the in-hospitality of its very nature. The intense cold makes life hard and food scare. No longer able to rely on imports, many of these regions will be worse off from the collapse of self sustaining civilization, than from the few half frozen dead that arrive at their doors. The world in the cold will return to a lifestyle it existed in 500 years ago. If people weren’t able to live then, they won’t be able to live without civilization today.


Once we reach the deserts do we start to experience regions where humans have the advantage. Like the plains the deserts offer large offer a wide area of security where it can be seen if one comes to a settlement. Unlike the plains, the desert itself serves as a weapon to the zombie. Arid heat will dry out the dead walker as shards of sand slowly grind the being to collapse. Once the dead have dried out, they will soon deteriorate to join the sand and the dust of the desert landscape.

It will be said that the desert populations that exist today won’t be able to survive as they do now. Some regions, such as Arizona and Saudi Arabia, have become food exporters through the importing of vast amounts of water, artificially pumped or funneled from far away or by draining their natural, and limited aquifers. These feats were only achieved through incredibly complex technological operations. With a collapse of society, these systems will collapse, as well. Assuming they survive the zombies, many won’t find survive the hunger, to say nothing of those who run out of water. Those that do may see a return to a Bedouin life of nomadic wandering, serving as the vital trade network keeping the last few desert environments surviving just above subsistence.


Jungles will fair well for those who can just plain survive in the jungle. The dense vegetation will make traversal by way of mindless dead nearly impossible. Fighting off deadly predictors, rot, or simply being swept away by floodwaters will see most of the dead plague disappear into the heavy growth. Even bugs will become the defenders of mankind in that environment. The jungle, however, proves just as much of a burden to defenders seeking to protect populations. In much the same way that human warfighters were defeated by the ravages of jungle living in World War II all the way to Vietnam, rangers set to defend regions from zombies will have to learn to survive in the jungle before they have to learn to survive the zombies. That said, like with the temperate forests, one wrong move could put you at odds with a dead man’s bite. Fortunately, these instances will be one off misfortunes, not the type of exponential collapses to society we see in other parts of the world.

Given that the jungle also provides a wealth of vegetation and even suitable cropland, small communes of villages could spread throughout the jungle terrains, providing sanctuary for millions of people. Rather, millions of survivors. We may see hardy bands of villages reform all across the equator as humans cower in the jungles. Places like the Gold Coast of Africa into the Congo may see massive die offs once the cities are emptied, but their people may survive the apocalypse if enough of them find their way to the jungles. Northern Brazil and Southern Venezuela just the same. The jungles of Asia, including the Burmese, and those the Indonesian island chains are problems, there, they have such massive and dense populations (Burma is a country smaller than Ireland or Virginia, but with a population equal to Russia, and Indonesia is the third most populated nation on Earth) that they would face unimaginable carnage before anyone reaches a deep jungle haven. Even once they did, I’d imagine the undead saturation would matter far more than jungle rot, snakes, and giant spiders.


Mountains. Almost the best location to be will be those centered high in the mountains. Providing difficult terrain to navigate and highly defensible natural barriers, they will form virtual fortifications for those who dwell inside.

The only burden to those within the confines of the high altitudes will be food. Places like the United States state of Colorado, Europe’s Switzerland, or Asia’s Afghanistan may be highly weaponized populations and able to provide for their own security, but being that all of these exist as part of a globalized network of partnerships for goods and services, they will be without certain valuable, in some cases, live saving commodities. Without some access to large quantities of fresh food, either through subsistence or protected conclaves of agricultural, they will do little better than those who live in the tundra.


So, we’ve eliminated virtually any place on the planet from being somewhere where a nation might do well to survive the end. There is, however, one geographic type which provides those who live there the best set of strategic advantages to survive, both as a population, and without suffering the onslaught of the zombie horde. That would be the islands.

Islands, such as the island of Tristan (the world’s most remote island) can be miles, sometimes thousands of miles from the range of the walking dead… or anything else. Though the dead are dauntless in their trudge across the land, when water comes into play, they suffer the ravages of salt water corrosion, as well as the rotting effects of something saturated in water for days. Presuming a zombie even could walk across the bottom, or perhaps float to the shore, but it would likely dissolve in a matter of days, or be eaten by some unlucky dweller of the deep long before that. Given that, the horde of undead coincidentally all emerging from from the sea to overwhelm a lonely victim seems incredibly unlikely.

Islands also possess another advantage to their inhabitants, being a long field of view. Many islands in the sea are really just the peaks of massive underwater mountains, mountains which reach up above the water and sometimes, high into the sky. These mountains, as previously stated, offer a wide view. Seeing out miles and miles to the sea gives their inhabitants hours to prepare for what little may be able to come, where others living in places listed above, might have only minutes, or even seconds, to deal with a mountain of very, very bad things.

Last, and perhaps most important, many islands are sustainable by growing fruit and vegetables on their own. This means that those who survive, can afford to last a while, at least until plans can be made. Granted, most islands today sustain their large populations thanks to huge amounts of imports… so that’s going to be rough to get through, but a slow starvation of some isn’t the same as becoming food for others. That said, many islands are capable of self-sustainment, as they have been for generations before the dawn of modern shipping. Those that can make the transition, we will see them do well in the Age of the Undead.

Uncertain Future – Works Cited

How has Mortality Rate Per Battle Changed Throughout History?

Time and technology have not changed mortality in battle until only very recently.

Looking at the major battles of history will show that the progression of time seems to have not had a significant effect how many men die in a particular battle. What it will show, however, is that what seems much more important is the match-up of enemies in terms of strength, battlefield logistics and tactical advantages. Throw in other factors like if a particular army on any given day is even capable of retreating drastically affects the numbers and is not dependent on what era the battle was fought it. Where time and technology have greatly affected the number of men who die is related to those who would have otherwise passed a few days later or on the roads to and from battle.

Historically many, many more warriors have died as the result of poor medical care, starvation or exposure than have died at the end of enemy weapons. It has really only been in the last 300 years or so that significant enough advances in medicine have had a drastic effect on the survival of a soldier. Add into this logistical capabilities have evolved better and better ways to get more warriors, food, medicine and supplies to the battle lines.

I’ll take a second to also note that historically there has been little distinction in reporting battlefield casualties from fatalities. Fatality refers to an actual death, while casualty refers to either death or severe injury. Since even very minor wounds often would result in death due to little knowledge of the human body or as a result of infection, to get injured was a much more serious thing in wars until just after the American Civil and Napoleonic Wars. Historians of those eras either didn’t or couldn’t record the differences as well as we can today. This also muddles the facts when we try to compare wars of different times. An example of this would be to compare the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest day in American military history, to the Battle of Cannae, one of the most crushing defeats to the Roman Empire. At Antietam we have, however, a total fatality count of only 2% while at Cannae it can be reported that there was over 53% casualty rate. From this we can see what likely has happened is that most of those who died at Antietam did so after the battle and that most of its history probably refers to death and injury, while Cannae would suggest that there is little record differentiating between deaths and injuries. While it was a gruesome battle, particularly for the Romans, I find it hard to believe that a whole half of the battlefield died in the fight.

From these battles it seems that two factors actually have much more effect than the era of the battle on who and how many will die. What seems to affect the mortality rate more than any other factor is the presence of overwhelming force and the availability of retreat.

Presence of overwhelming force:

This is actually a good thing. In many battles where one side held a clear advantage in numbers, equipment, and leadership, the total mortality was surprising low. I contribute this to lower total casualties because the winner doesn’t lose as many men, the loser breaking and retreating early and the concept of surrender, which is much more common than many think. To cite battles by Alexander, by the time he marched into India, a majority, or at least a sizable minority of his men were made of Persian soldiers who were once his enemies that were now absorbed into his army. Many of these were mercenaries, but many simply served the new ruler of Persia. This would not have made many of his battles after he left Greece possible, had the Macedonians killed as many as they could, leaving no one to recruit later.

Another example of presence of overwhelming force would be the invasion of Iraq by the United States and Coalition forces in March of 2003. In that series of engagements strategic pin-point bombing destroyed the Iraqi military’s communication network and much of their leadership. More traditional bombings took out bases, aerial and ground assets, leaving only scattered infantry. With combined arms capabilities, Coalition forces had at their disposal the ability for a single soldier to call in airstrikes, mortar and artillery fire, more infantry, or other specialty capabilities for any enemy they encountered. This, along with the fact that even without these abilities, the individual United States infantry troop has better training, combat tactics, gear and experience than even elite troops of almost any other nation. What ended up taking place during the invasion was that a numerically weaker force of around 265,000 annihilated a force of about 1,190,000 suffering only 172 losses to the Iraqi losing nearly 30,000 in the span of only about three months. That is a kill ratio of 175:1. What this amounts to is the most successful invasion in history with more ground captured and fewer losses than could ever be expected. In spite of this massive win, the total casualty percentage was around 2% overall. It was truly an amazing accomplishment. That isn’t to say that anyone believes the next 8 years went all that well, though.

An example where overwhelming force was not present would be the battle of Yarmouk in 636. This was a face-off of two extremely powerful armies of the time, each believing, reasonably well that they could win, the Eastern Roman Byzantines and the Rashidun Caliphate. The battle lasted for six days, a great deal of time for a pitched battle. The fighting was more or less even until on the sixth day, the Roman line broke, fled and were massacred. The fact that they were so evenly matched lead to very high casualties, in this case 14% for the winner and 45% for the losing side.

From my findings, overwhelming strength seems to be the most merciful way to fight a war. It brings a swift end to a fight, keeps allied casualties down and encourages enemy forces to flee rather than be annihilated. It may seem obvious, but far too often forces will meet with just enough to maybe win and result in catastrophic losses.

Ability to Retreat

Another factor important to many battles is the ability for the loser to get away. Most battles ended in some level of an organized retreat and most people who fought survived. Where this is ability to run away is somehow prevented you see the most massive of casualties. Once again I will refer to Yarmouk and Cannae. At Yarmouk when the Romans finally broke they were greeted with only a series of rivers behind them. Many were then unable to retreat and then massacred by the Islamic army. At Cannae, a brilliant general was able to utilize his units to completely envelope the enemy army. This meant that the Carthaginian forces had to keep fighting until every last Roman in the envelopment was killed. It cost the Carthaginians 16% of their forces, but the Romans suffered a 75% casualty rate. Had either of these armies had the ability to disengage from the battle they had already lost, we would have seen much fewer losses.

These are a few of the things to consider when viewing the history of warfare across such a long span of history. That said I have tried to collect enough resources to answer the question as best I can as a hobbyist.

Greek Battles

Battle of Marathon, 490 BC
Total Combatants: 35000
Total Casualties: 6603
Total Casualty%: 18.87%

This is a major battle involving the Greeks and Persians. According to historical records this showed the Greeks conflicting massive losses to the Persians due to their use of more advanced equipment, training, tactics and a more motivated population of military. In that battle they inflicted losses of more than 6000 on the Persians while only losing a few hundred themselves.

Battles of Alexander the Great

Battle of Gaugamela, 331 BC
Total Combatants: 122000
Total Casualties: 48100
Total Casualty%: 39.43

The Battle of Gaugamela took place in 331 BC between Alexander the Great and Darius III of Persia. The battle resulted in a decisive victory for the Macedonians and led to the fall of the Persian Empire. It is another battle where we see a smaller force, with much better tactics, logistical support, training, equipment and motivation soundly defeat a much larger force.

Roman Battles

Battle of Cannae 216BC
Total Combatants: 136400
Total Casualties: 73000
Total Casualty%: 53.42

Cannae was one of the most crushing defeats the Romans ever experienced. The greatest feat in this battle was the leadership of Hannibal. He marched an army of mostly mercenaries gathered from all over Northern Africa and what is now modern Spain and France through the Alps into the heart of Rome. He led an incredibly diverse variety of warriors, many speaking different languages and vastly different from his own Carthaginian culture, into a highly flexible force combining the unique capabilities of each unit into one amazing strategy. By the end of the battle the Romans were completely surrounded and cut down one by one suffering more than 65,000 casualties.

Crusades

Battle of Yarmouk 636
Total Combatants: 85000
Total Casualties: 29875
Total Casualty%: 35.15

The Battle of Yarmouk was a major battle between the Muslim Arab forces of the Rashidun Caliphate and the armies of the Eastern Roman Empire that I have never heard of before writing this answer. It was extremely important, however, in that it ushered in the Islamic Arabs as the new power, filling the power vacuum as Rome’s time was coming to an end.
Middle Ages

Battle of Falkirk 1298
Total Combatants: 21000
Total Casualties: 3000
Total Casualty%: 14.29

Here Scots led by William Wallace are soundly defeated by Edward the First as their pikemen are arranged into a defensive formation to guard against cavalry charge and are in turn showered by archery fire.

Battle of Grunwald 1410
Total Combatants: 49000
Total Casualties: 12500
Total Casualty%: 25.51

Here an alliance of Polish and Lithuanian forces defeated the Teutonic Knights and brought about the end of the Northern Crusades.

Battle of Agincourt 1415
Total Combatants: 31500
Total Casualties: 8612
Total Casualty%: 27.34

Here English longbowmen secure a massive victory by taking advantage of a confused and disorganized force marching through thick mud. Environmental factors played the largest part of this battle, aiding the archers in staying safely away from the fighting to break up enemy formations and kill many enemy forces before they could reach the fight.

Early Modern Era


Battle of Flodden 1513
Total Combatants: 60000
Total Casualties:12500
Total Casualty%: 20.83

This was the largest battle between the Scots and the English. This was a crushing loss for the Scots, resulting in the loss of their king.

Battle of Vienna 1683
Total Combatants: 305700
Total Casualties: 46500
Total Casualty%: 15.21

This is one of the most important battles of history. This marked the end of Islamic growth in Europe from military victories. An alliance of Christian forces gathered together enough to stop a much larger Ottoman force. The Ottomans would not recover from that loss and their military prowess would eventually fade until they were finally broken up in the 20th century.

American Revolution*

Battles of Saratoga 1777
Total Combatants: 21600
Total Fatalities: 530
Total Fatality%: 2.45

This was an important battle for the Americans though its numbers are not that impressive for a post like this. See my note at the bottom for reasons I think American battles experience such low casualties. Saratoga marked a turning point in the American Revolution in favor of the Americans. What is probably the result of the low casualties were the civility of forces, the ability to retreat and the practice of taking prisoners, more than 2000 English prisoners in all.

Napoleonic wars


Battle of Austerlitz 1805
Total Combatants: 157000
Total Casualties: 16305
Total Casualty%: 10.39%

Here Napoleon led his French Army to soundly defeat an alliance of Russian and Austrian forces. His tactics and strategies in the battle were brilliant and gave the battle and the leader himself legendary status. This battle is often considered one of the greatest executed in history and on par with Gaugamela and Cannae.

Battle of Waterloo 1815
Total Combatants: 190000
Total Casualties: 75000
Total Casualty%: 39.47

Overconfident from Austerlitz and other victories, Napoleon doesn’t factor in the environmental factors and the importance of combat logistics. He suffers greatly and even more so in the retreat back home.

American Civil War*

Battle of Antietam 1862
Total Combatants: 113500
Total Fatalities: 3654
Total Fatality% 3.22

The Battle of Antietam is considered the bloodiest single day in American history. Once again, the numbers above do not give a full image of the battle. It is difficult to say if these estimates include battle losses or losses later from wounds.

Battle of Gettysburg 1863
Total Combatants: 165620
Total Fatalities: 7863
Total Fatality%: 4.75

Gettysburg is much the same story. Here we actually have very good records of how many died at the battle, how many were wounded, and how many went missing. This battle was considered the turning point of the war and resulted in the North securing vital strategic points and resources that would eventually starve out the South from a logistical and economic standpoint.

World War I

Battle of the Argonne Forest 1918
Total Combatants: 740000
Total Casualties: 292000
Total Casualty%: 39.48

While Antietam would be considered the bloodiest day, Argonne Forest is considered the single bloodiest battle in American history. It is hard to be considered a single battle, however, since it stretched two months and along the entire Western front. It was the final offensive by Allied forces and ended in the November armistice bringing about the end of that war. The lethality of this battle was due to the exponential growth in military technology while holding to tactics and strategies that were severely outdated. For the first time air power played a significant role in combat operations. Machine guns had evolved to the point that they were now reliable and afforded a single lucky soldier the ability to mow down entire platoons in seconds. Artillery was now able to fire from miles away reliably. Artillery has accounted for more battlefield deaths in World War I and II than any other source combined. World War I was one of the most lethal wars in history because it combined new technologies with old tactics for devastating effects.

World War II


Normandy landings 1944
Total Combatants: 3052299
Total Casualties: 556323
Total Casualty%: 18.23

Normandy was the beginning of the end for World War II in Europe. It was the single largest military operation in world history. Thousands of ships moved millions of men to swarm the a length of the French northern coast as long as the coastline of Texas. Hundreds of thousands were lost in the attempt to defend it and on the side of those securing a foothold.

Battle of Okinawa 1945
Total Combatants: 303000
Total Casualties: 107513
Total Casualty%: 35.48

This was one of the last major battles of World War II. The battle was important because with the capture of Okinawa, the American forces would be able to easily reach mainland Japan with aerial bombers. Nearing the end of the war this battle was important because of the massive losses experienced by the Japanese defenders, many refusing to surrender and instead volunteering for kamikaze suicide attacks. In the end the Japanese lost more than 90,000 men or nearly 80% of their defense force for the island.

Recent Changes in Warfare

More recently we have seen a significant shift in how many casualties result from a battle. In the Yom Kippur War and the War in Iraq 2003-2011, you see that battle in the modern era is actually much less about killing and much more about securing or destroying vital asset to enemy and ending their ability to fight. This was true for all other wars as well, but never before have armaments such as the B-2 Spirit Bomber, F-22 Raptor, Tomahawk cruise missile or the Javalin Missile system been available. Now the ability to destroy vital targets and prevent actual soldiers from even engaging in a fight is the preferred method of engagement. The ability to strike from a distance has actually done more to end battles quicker and prevent the deaths of many a modern warrior. This level of technological prowess doesn’t guarantee an easy victory and as always is still vulnerable to guerrilla warfare, terrorism and other forms of non-conventional battle tactics. For the purposes of this question though, the modern era is one where perhaps we have seen the last of massive losses of warriors in single battles.

Yom Kippur War

Yom Kippur War 1973
Total Combatants:1125000
Total Casualties: 15950
Total Casualty%: 1.42

The Yom Kippur War was a war between a coalition of Arab states against Israel. The war saw numerous small engagements over a very short time. Early strikes against the Israelis meant that the Israeli feeling of invulnerability was shattered. After regrouping they gained the high ground and at the end of engagements had forces ready to take both the cities of Damascus and Cairo.

Iraq War


2003 invasion of Iraq
Total Combatants: 1455000
Total Casualties: 29672
Total Casualty%: 2.04

As mentioned before, the invasion of Iraq was one of the single greatest engagements in history in terms of land taken and number of allies lost in battle. It was also important in that the speed and lethality of the Coalition forces made it extremely efficient and allowed for a minimal amount of enemy forces to be killed. It stands, however, as battles such as Austerlitz in 1805 and Cannae in 216 BC that without a good plan for after the battle, political incompetence can lose a war started with the greatest of battles.


* American battles surprised me that the casualties were so low. As mentioned before, this may be due to good modern efforts to distinguish between dead and wounded, as well as discounting for the dead who died shortly after. Another theory is that it might lend to the idea that American wars like the American Revolutionary and Civil Wars actually were quite civil. Close relations between the Colonials and English and the North and South may have caused a much more “peaceful” type of war than what could be expected when completely foreign powers meet in battle. The practice of care given to prisoners rather than killing everyone most likely was a huge factor in this as well. A third possibility may be that this was the beginning to the American approach to limit American casualties. The American practice is to send in more than enough men with massive logistical support and focus on strategic wins that damage the ability to make more than the actual warriors themselves. Other cultures haven’t historically shown this as their priority.

**I want it known that to come up with these estimations I wasn’t always afforded perfect records. To keep things simple most of the statistics can be found by following links to the Wikipedia pages on the wars, campaigns and battles I have provided. Where numerous sources disagree I tried to use my best judgement and sometimes averaged the most reliable sources. That said, I am probably wrong, but ballpark on many of my figures. I freely accept this, but just wanted to make a clear representation of the big picture of battlefield mortality over history and not on the details of each individual battle. Let’s face facts, this answer got long enough.

I would really love casualty counts for Battle of Adrianople, Battle of the Catalaunian Plains and many other battles. It was horribly difficult to also find good assessments for any of the major battles in Asia. I would really love good information for them since their forces and battles were astronomical. Please suggest if you find information for other great battles.