Militaries Are Useless
When armed forces are particulary bad at their first purpose : dealing with menaces.
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(permanent link) added: 2013-06-11 07:11:58 sponsor: PoignardAzur (last reply: 2013-08-24 07:03:02)

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In some shows, when a country is attacked by some enemy (alien, monster, evil overlord), their armed forces, which are probably made specifically to defend said country, show themselves rather bad at defending it : they use Hollywood Tactics (Five Rounds Rapid is a very popular one in those settings) instead of more efficient and logical ones, do evil stuff that just undermine their side for no reason, and refuse to cooperate with The Hero. The reason ? In these shows, the military is useless.

The aim, of course, is to make the Hero the only one who can defeat the bag guys : how can you save your world when it can defend itself thanks to its competent army ? That's why you often find this in Superhero settings. It's also quite frequent in stories about an Alien Invasion or a Zombie Apocalypse, because a war consisting of large open Curb-Stomp Battles is a quicker way to show how the enemy won than the long and complex battles that would have occurred had the military been competent. And of course, don't expect anything from them when Adults Are Useless : since most armies are made of adults, they're unlikely to help.

Note that this trope isn't about lots of soldiers dying : that's the Red Shirt Army. A military can achieve great victories by swarming the enemy with disposable soldiers, or loose everything while keeping a low casulaty record. This trope comes when the military as an institution has no use.

First cause of Easily Conquered World, though some countries in TV Land can have the worst possible army without being conquered. Can include Police Are Useless and No FEMA Response, where they don't even try to help. Often overlap with Conservation of Ninjutsu. Sister trope of Armies Are Evil.

Previous name : Armies are useless. Possible other names : No Armed Force reponse, Armies are incompetent.


Examples

Anime and Manga
  • Bleach. The Gotei 13 is a glaring example. Their military is comprised of roughly 6,000 soldiers, yet, their strength rests almost entirely on its thirteen Captains, thirteen Lieutenants and the seated officers, who're always sent to the front lines while the rest of their divisions stay behind. They also have an entire spy network (the Onmistukido), and a Kidou Corp. which never get used.

Film
  • In The Avengers, the army doesn't send any troops to help the titular heroes defending New York against the alien invasion. And of course, they don't think one second about sending a single missile to destroy the one building on which the phlobetonium supporting the invasion stands, or sending some nukes in the two-way portal to take down the exposed enemy spaceship. Nuking the city seems so far more sensible.
  • Godzilla
  • At the end of The Incredibles, when the Giant Omnidroid attacks some random cities, the army's response is basically "send some guys attack it with tanks and submachine-guns, then do nothing". EMI bombs, anyone?

Literature
  • In Animorphs, due to the Adults Are Useless setting, the military doesn't seem very worried about the Earth being invaded by aliens. Even after losing an aircraft carrier, the hometown of the animorphs being quarantined, and the governor of California (no, not this one) making an official speech about how the aliens are invading the world, they simply consider this as a hoax and don't bother investigate. Obviously, even after admitting that yes, aliens are invading, their only purpose is to send some Redshirts die to support the main cast.
  • The aurors in Harry Potter may qualify, depending on whether you consider them as an army or not. In the sixth book, they fail to kill or capture any Death Eater, put innocents in jail (where they are captured and Brainwashed by said Death Eaters) instead, and do nothing to prevent the ministry from being infiltrated by Voldemort.
  • In the first half of World War Z, every single armed force of the world (save for Israel and... that's all) holds the Idiot Ball until the world gets really screwed. For example, the Battle of Yonkers, where the military fails to bring enough ammo to wipe out the waves of zombies.

Video Games
  • While the soldiers of Half-Life are pretty tough, the guy who give them order is probably very, very dumb. The lab accident engineered an inter-dimensional alien invasion ? Let's kill the security guards to prevent them from doing their job ! A particular scientist seems pretty good at killing loads of aliens for us ? Let's put all our resources in taking him down ! Now because of all this mess we have plenty of witnesses to kill ? Let's shoot them on sight instead of gathering them (and then shooting them) ! And now our marines are slaughtered by the aliens that keep invading ? Let's send assassins kill the marines ! No wonder why they lost the following war in seven hour.
  • Left 4 Dead
    • In the comic The Sacrifice, the soldiers are quite bad at fighting zombies. If three civilians and a Viet veteran can kill hundreds of infected with hand-made weapons in the worst possible places (airport, hospital, church), do you think that trained soldiers in a base with twenty feet high walls, barbed wires, artillery, choke points and choppers can do the same ? Of course they can't, they're soldiers.
    • Left 4 Dead 2 is an aversion. While the CEDA is quickly overwhelmed by the zombie invasion, the military is both far more ruthless and more efficient at dealing with it; the evacuation points of the army are still operational, and for what we know of it, they do manage to save people from the zombie invasion.
  • Commented on in Solatorobo, where one character asks what the hell the army was doing when Kaiju were attacking his city.

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