You have to solve a problem. It won't be easy. You can say the process of solving the problem will take a lot of resources you don't have - typically the knowledge.

In military this is called reconnaissance by fire. In everyday life, when dealing with your super extra convoluted tricky problem you sigh "Oh well, let's go... this will be a recon by fire. :-( "

How to sigh without the warfare term?

  • Trial by fire may be what you are looking for. – Mick Dec 18 '17 at 5:45
  • An alternative to war here is religion. It will be a baptism by fire. But even that phrase is used in military contexts, a soldier's first time in battle. You could say "oh well, it's sink or swim" to refer to the need to plunge in, despite a lack of readiness. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Dec 18 '17 at 13:00
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo I think though that "trial by fire" and "baptism by fire" is more about getting experience by getting tossed in the deep end and less about gaining knowledge of the situation by firing blind. – ColleenV Dec 18 '17 at 13:26
  • 1
    @ColleenV : But taking on a problem you're not prepared for is analogous to being tossed (or jumping) into the deep end. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Dec 18 '17 at 14:29
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo Sure, but that’s not the same sense that “recon by fire” has. recon by fire is shooting toward areas wherever you think the enemy is and seeing if anyone shoots back. – ColleenV Dec 18 '17 at 16:03

My unique suggestion:

Dead man walking.

This idiom describes someone who is doomed despite all appearances to the contrary.

Applied to your example with your boss and coworkers (Dec. 19 '17 at 16:38), the worker could be showing up to work, talking to coworkers, and going about their day as usual on a superficial level. The reality, however, would be that the assignment is nearly impossible to complete, and that the worker will fail and suffer the consequences.

Some less-precise, non-warfare equivalents, previously suggested in the comments:

Being thrown in the deep end (or the lion's den).

Sink or swim.

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