Congo Ground War
War of 1996


July 2nd - July 4th, 1996




Human pyrrhic victory

  • Neutralization of alien threat
  • Half of the human population killed in the conflict
  • Emergence of human global unity
  • Creation of the Earth Space Defense

United Nations United Nations, composed of:
United States United States
Russia Russia
China China
Flag of Japan (1870-1999).svg Japan
United Kingdom United Kingdom
France France
Germany Germany
Romania Romania
Italy Italy
Israel Israel
Flag of Iraq (1991-2004).svg Iraq
India India
and all other countries



United States Thomas Whitmore
Russia Boris Yeltsin[1]
China Jiang Zemin
Flag of Japan (1870-1999).svg Yasumichi Marukawa
United Kingdom John Major[1]
France Jacques Chirac
Germany Helmut Kohl[1]
Romania Ion Iliescu
Italy Oscar Luigi Scalfaro
India Shankar Dayal Sharma
Israel Shimon Peres
Flag of Iraq (1991-2004).svg Saddam Hussein
and other countries' heads of states and military leaders

An alien supreme commander


United States U.S. Armed Forces
Russia Russian Armed Forces
China People's Liberation Army
Flag of Japan (1870-1999).svg Japan Self-Defense Forces
United Kingdom British Armed Forces
France French Armed Forces
Germany German Bundeswehr
Romania Romanian Armed Forces
Italy Italian Armed Forces
India Indian Armed Forces
Israel Israel Defense Forces
Flag of Iraq (1991-2004).svg Iraqi Armed Forces
Iran Islamic Republic of Iran Army
and other military forces

Harvester forces



Total (killed/captured)


The War of 1996 was a full scale assault on Earth from July 2nd to July 4th, 1996 by a vast extraterrestrial race (later named the "Harvesters") seeking to harvest Earth's natural resources. It was the largest military conflict in the history of mankind, taking the lives of 3 billion people. Within a span of two days, 108 cities were outright destroyed, as the aliens began a systematic and genocidal campaign of wiping out humanity. The onslaught was halted when humanity coordinated a global counterattack after the United States managed to disable the aliens' force-field technology and the subsequent destruction of the alien mothership, thus ending the war in human victory.

The conflict drastically altered the political alignment and social structure of Earth. Humanity set aside their previous cultural and nationalistic rivalries and united globally. The Earth Space Defense was established to defend Earth and humanity from future extraterrestrial threats.


The aliens known as the Harvesters had been surveying Earth and the human race for decades, selecting the planet as a potential target seemingly as early as the 1940's; identifying their cultural hubs, military strongpoints, strengths and weaknesses and various other subjects, steadily gathering and processing this information and formulating the perfect time to strike.

In 1947, the United States government secretly acknowledged the existence of extraterrestrial life when an alien ship crash landed in Roswell, New Mexico. The ship and the bodies of its occupants were recovered by the U.S. government and relocated to Area 51, where the ship was continuously studied and attempted to be reverse-engineered.[3] The government covered-up and discouraged the ship and the aliens' existence, which resulted in popular rumors and conspiracy theories surrounding Area 51 and the Roswell incident. Only a few selected people in the U.S. military and intelligence agencies knew and discouraged revealing this secret to the public for fear of mass panic and the tense political climate of the Cold War between the United States and Soviet Union. At the same time, the United States were hiding a secret war with aliens.[3][4]

July 2ndEdit

David Levinson: It's like in chess: First, you strategically position your pieces and when the timing is right you strike. See? They're positioning themselves all over the world, using this one signal to synchronise their efforts and in approximately 6 hours the signal's gonna disappear and the countdown's gonna be over.
Marty Gilbert: And then what?
David Levinson: Checkmate.

On July 2, a 550 km wide alien spacecraft dubbed the "mothership" entered Earth's orbit and deployed thirty-six saucer-shaped "City Destroyer" spacecraft, each 15 miles (24 km) wide, and taking position over some of Earth's major cities, either nation capitals or cultural centers such as New York City and Jerusalem. The aliens made use of human satellites to relay signals between vessels and coordinate their attack. Human response was in mass panic and uncertainty as people tried to flee from the targeted cities while the world's governments placed their military forces on high alert and making attempts to contact the aliens without causing hostile first contact while remaining ignorant of the extraterrestrials' malevolent intentions.

The United States government, under the Whitmore administration, placed the Vice President and the Cabinet of Joint Chiefs as well as other high-ranking government officials to NORAD as a precaution. However, President Thomas J. Whitmore elected to remain in the White House to try and appeal the American population for calm; Cabinet members General William Grey and Secretary of Defence Albert Nimziki stayed as well; Grey to assist the President and Nimziki as security advisor. Though Nimziki was one of the select few individuals who knew about the aliens and their advanced technology, he did not inform the President of this so as to ensure "plausible deniability", a decision that would prove disastrous later on.

L 1a des

Destruction of Los Angeles.

The aliens' hidden transmissions in Earth's satellites was eventually identified by David Levinson, an MIT-trained satellite technician, who quickly learned about the aliens' hostile intentions. With the support of his estranged wife Constance Spano, the White House Communications Director, he convinced Whitmore to call an evacuation.

Unfortunately, this warning came too late. On July 3 at 2:32 AM EST,[3] the City Destroyers simultaneously fired advanced directed-energy weapons at the thirty-six targeted cities and completely reducing them to ruins. The majority of those remaining in the cities, unable or unwilling to flee, perished in the devastation. Whitmore, Levinson, Spano, Grey, Nimziki and some of the White House staff escaped the destruction of Washington aboard the presidential plane, Air Force One.

July 3rdEdit

General Grey: If you calculate the time it takes to destroy a city and move on, we're looking at the worldwide destruction of every major city in the next 36 hours.
President Whitmore: We're being exterminated.

Following the attacks, the City Destroyers began to move onto other cities. Soon after the initial attacks, the affected nations launched individual counterattacks against the invaders. However, humanity's retaliation against the aliens proved extremely disastrous; the City Destroyers and their Attackers were protected by energy shields, making their vessels invulnerable to conventional weapons. As a result, human military forces were utterly routed in a one-sided massacre. Following the initial engagement, the aliens began methodically eliminating many military installations and commander centers, such as the Cheyenne Mountain Complex and NATO headquarters in Brussels.[3]

After the failed counterattack, President Whitmore was finally informed of the existence of Area 51 from Nimziki and personally inspected the facility there in hopes of learning anything that could stop the invaders. During this time, the City Destroyers annihilated another thirty-six cities in the second attack wave. With the world's military forces left in disarrayed, it was calculated that the aliens were expected to destroy every major city on Earth within 36 hours.

During a chance encounter with a captured alien, which was downed and captured by U.S. Marine Corps Captain Steven Hiller, Whitmore gained insight into the aliens' motives; through an extrasensory connection with the alien, Whitmore learned of the aliens' intentions to plunder Earth's natural resources at the cost of destroying all life on the planet. Acknowledging that an attempt to make any truce with the invaders to be impossible, Whitmore authorized to launch a nuclear attack on the City Destroyers. The recommendation was transmitted to the remaining nuclear-armed states, which they refrained from launching their arsenals until the results of the Americans' nuclear attack were made clear.[3]

A City Destroyer set to obliterate Houston was targeted, but ultimately the nuclear missile failed to penetrate the vessel's shields, leaving Houston devastated while the alien vessel remaining completely intact. Further nuclear attacks were then immediately called off. By the late evening on July 3, all the remaining major cities had been abandoned and military forces had been routed. A select few, including Whitmore, began considering ways of how they could resist the inevitable ground invasion by the aliens.[3]

July 4thEdit

Main article: July 4 counterattack
We're fighting for our right to live, to exist, and should we win the day, the 4th of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day when the world declared in one voice, 'We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to live on, we're going to survive. Today we celebrate our Independence day!'

- Thomas Whitmore

Since the arrival of the alien mothership, the alien spacecraft kept in Area 51 reactivated itself and providing its human handlers new insights into the aliens' technology. David Levinson, working with Area 51's staff, developed a means to temporarily shut down the invaders' shields: by transmitting a coded virus directly into the mothership's systems, which the City Destroyers and the Attackers drew their energy and coordination from, and enabling a single worldwide counterattack. This plan required physically entering the mothership in order to transmit the virus. The captured alien spacecraft was refurbished and used in infiltrating the mothership, with Captain Steven Hiller volunteered as its pilot and accompanied by Levinson, who personally transmit his virus, and along with deploying a nuclear warhead to cripple the mothership.

All remaining military forces on Earth were informed of the July 4th counterattack via Morse code from the Americans, with Whitmore himself personally leading the first strike to confirm the shields are disabled. After Levinson successfully transmitted the virus, Whitmore led his forces in battling a City Destroyer approaching Area 51 and were able to inflict damage on the invaders. It is during this battle that the Americans learned that the destroyer's weapon port is its weak point, when one pilot, Russell Casse, flew his aircraft directly into the weapon port in a suicide attack, causing a explosive chain reaction that completely destroys the entire ship.

The Americans then informed other military forces from around the world on the City Destroyers' weak point, before they could strike in their fourth wave. Meanwhile, Hiller and Levinson successfully launched the nuclear warhead that completely vaporized the mothership, and managed to escape the ensuing destruction unharmed. The loss of the mothership ensured the disorientation and subsequent destruction of the remaining alien forces left on Earth.


In the space of three days, the world had changed forever. The whole of the planet united in a single goal, fighting one common enemy. That is unprecedented in the history of our species and the greatest building block we could have for starting again. I do find it ironic that we came together and triumphed on a day named for independence and separation. But I'm guessing extra-terrestrials don't have a good sense of irony.

- David Levinson

Ending 10

Steven Hiller with Dylan Dubrow watching the remains of a City Destroyer.

Humanity had won the war, but at a tremendous cost. Earth was devastated from the invasion as more than a hundred of the planet's populous and historical cities along with irreplaceable institutions such as museums and libraries were destroyed, and at least three billion human beings were killed.[2] Many of these deaths were caused by riots, disease, crime and hunger during and following after the conflict.[5] Those alive would never recover from the wounds of the invasion, both physical and emotional.[3]

Alien survivors were discovered in the aftermath in which many were either captured or killed. Others, however, were able to establish a temporary and fierce resistance against human forces such as in Russia and the African Congo. One such example was in the newly founded and self-isolated African nation of Umbutu in which an alien cell survived for more than ten years after the invasion until they were eradicated by 2006.[6]

Within time, the international community recovers and becomes more politically united by common cause and putting to rest centuries-old conflicts and political distrust due to a newfound fundamental sense of self-awareness that humanity as a whole is not alone in the universe and had barely escaped from their extinction.[3] Coinciding with this unity, the United Nations formed the Earth Space Defense to prevent the possibility of a similar extraterrestrial invasion in the future. The remains of the alien vessels were salvaged and reverse-engineered by humanity to creating new technology for consumer and military use, and further help in Earth's reconstruction process and expanding humanity's reach across the solar system.

Twenty years later, it was revealed the aliens were able to send a distress signal on the X-Band frequency before the mothership was destroyed[2], which results in forcing the aliens' queen to personally come to Earth and threatening the human race once more in 2016.

City CasualtiesEdit

108 cities were completely destroyed in three waves by the aliens, and 35 were saved and suffered from minor structural damage after the prevention of a fourth wave.[1]

First Wave Second Wave Third Wave Intercepted Wave
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Sao Paulo, Brazil  Buenos Aires, Argentina  Caracas, Venezuela
New York City, U.S.  Philadelphia, U.S. Pittsburgh, U.S. Cleveland, U.S.
Washington, D.C., U.S.  Atlanta, U.S.  (3) Houston, U.S.  Dallas, U.S. 
Los Angeles, U.S. (2) Colorado Springs, U.S. Phoenix, U.S. Las Vegas, U.S.
Vancouver, Canada Seattle, U.S. San Francisco, U.S. (5) Area 51, U.S.
Toronto, Canada  Chicago, U.S. Detroit, U.S. St. Louis, U.S.
Mexico City, Mexico  Guadalajara, Mexico  Monterrey, Mexico  El Paso, U.S.
Havana, Cuba  Miami, U.S. Boston, U.S. Montreal, Canada
Dakar, Senegal  Abidjan, Ivory Coast  (7) Kinshasa, DRC Tripoli, Libya
Lagos, Nigeria  Addis Ababa, Ethiopia  Nairobi, Kenya Cape Town, South Africa
Jakarta, Indonesia  Medan, Indonesia  Perth, Australia   Sydney, Australia
Singapore, Singapore Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia  Rangoon, Myanmar  Mandalay, Myanmar
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Phnom Penh, Cambodia  Vientiane, Laos  Bangkok, Thailand
Manila, Philippines Hanoi, Vietnam  Pingxiang, China  Kunming, China
(1) Hong Kong, China Guangzhou, China (4) Macau, China Taipei, Taiwan
Shanghai, China Ningbo, China Hangzhou, China Wuhan, China
Beijing, China  Shenyang, China  Changchun, China Qiqihar, China
Seoul, South Korea Pyongyang, North Korea Pusan, South Korea Hiroshima, Japan
Tokyo, Japan  Yokohama, Japan  Nagoya, Japan  Osaka, Japan
Calcutta, India  Dhaka, Bangladesh  Kathmandu, Nepal  Lahore, Pakistan
Bombay, India  Bangalore, India  Madras, India  Colombo, Sri Lanka
New Delhi, India  Hyderabad, India  Mogadishu, Somalia  (6) National Republic of Umbutu, DRC
Karachi, Pakistan    Islamabad, Pakistan  Kabul, Afghanistan  Mecca, Saudi Arabia
Tehran, Iran Baghdad, Iraq Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Cairo, Egypt
Jerusalem, Israel  Tel Aviv, Israel  Damascus, Syria  Beirut, Lebanon
Vladivostok, Russia Harbin, China  Sapporo, Japan  Petropavlovsk, Russia
Moscow, Russia  St. Petersburg, Russia  Helsinki, Finland Stockholm, Sweden
Kiev, Ukraine  Odessa, Ukraine  Volgograd, Russia  Ankara, Turkey
Istanbul, Turkey  Bucharest, Romania  (8) Belgrade, Serbia Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina
Athens, Greece  Naples, Italy  Algiers, Algeria  Casablanca, Morocco
Rome, Italy  Venice, Italy  Milan, Italy  Monaco, Monaco
Warsaw, Poland  Vienna, Austria  Prague, Czech Republic  Budapest, Hungary
Berlin, Germany  Hamburg, Germany  Frankfurt, Germany  Munich, Germany
London, UK Birmingham, UK Liverpool, UK Belfast, UK
Paris, France  Lyon, France  Marseille, France Barcelona, Spain
Amsterdam, Netherlands  Brussels, Belgium  Antwerp, Belgium  Rotterdam, Netherlands

1. Hong Kong was under British administration.

2. Colorado Springs was targeted for destruction because of the NORAD base at Cheyenne Mountain.

3. Houston was largely destroyed by a nuclear missile.

4. Macau was under Portuguese administration.

5. The original target was San Diego.

6. The Umbutu ship was the only City Destroyer to survive intact before it was shutdown following the destruction of the mothership.

7. The DRC was called Zaire in 1996.

8. Serbia was part of Yugoslavia in 1996.


Arrival of the City DestroyersEdit

The City Destroyers attackEdit

July 4th counterattack, also known as The FourthEdit

Behind the ScenesEdit



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 War of 1996 website
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Independence Day: Crucible
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 Independence Day: Official Novelization
  4. Independence Day: Silent Zone
  5. How I Saved the World
  6. Independence Day: Resurgence
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