back to article French Colonial Marines to get Aliens medic-datalink

Who remembers the movie Aliens, in which Sigourney Weaver and a team of spacegoing marines got stuck into the eponymous acid-blooded homicidal monsters? Anyone who does will be pleased to hear that one of the cunning technologies of the fictional Colonial Marines will soon be available to the French army. The particular tech …


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  1. Lee Dowling


    Is this so that the French can decide to retreat quicker, then? "Your blood rate is up, better surrender now?" Seriously, without mocking any more countries with pathetic military records, it's a good idea in theory but I don't see the use in practice.

    "Watch out, you're nearly dead."

    "What?... ARGH!"


    By the time you're troops are far enough to notice that something might be wrong, there's not really anything you can do about it. And this can achieve nothing that a simple "dead-man's-switch" wouldn't achieve with much less cost.

    So you know you're troops are dying in a certain area. Wouldn't the radio silence tell you that?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So now commanders will be able to see when their army panics and retreats?

    I've beaten all you merkins to it!

  3. Iain
    Thumb Down

    Pretty colours

    I sense a little aspect of the pretty colours here. I always questioned it in the film, what exactly is the point? Apart from being able to see people slowly dying is it much use? Surely the traditional method of lieutenant asks sergeant "are you ok?" and sergeant replies "we're getting FUBAR" is more efficient. I think there is the risk, as in many areas of life, of over-teching things. Just another bit of equipment to go wrong and become so much dead weight?

  4. Liam

    i wonder...

    i assume this has a 'surrender' button somewhere? and maybe when you do a certain gesture a white flag comes out? :)

  5. yeah, right.
    Paris Hilton


    Why DO militaries celebrate those who lost against overwhelming odds? Wouldn't it make more sense to celebrate those who WON while facing overwhelming odds? As I recall from my own training, when you're in the military the whole point is to make the other guy die for his cause while not dying for yours. Celebrating horrible strategic and tactical failures like that doesn't seem all that wise, as it might encourage repeats in the poor planning that enabled such disasters.

    The datalink seems like a good idea though.... until it gets hacked by the enemy and they use the infantry suit to electrocute and/or otherwise disable your soldiers.

    Paris, because she could probably take on a whole battalion.

  6. Andy Jones


    Isn't the point of the battle of Trafalgar sort of that we won it though?

    I'd hardly call being totally annihilated, and defeating a superior number of enemies the same thing.

    Anyway, best take off and nuke the site from orbit.

    It's the only way to be sure.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Any use?

    Come on Lewis as ex-military, would it be of any use?

    How much data as well?

    Do you need to know how much your colleagues are sweating or just whether they're dead or not?

    I was generally under the impression that the benefit of these things is knowing where everyone is, that they know where they should be going, and that they can speak to each other.. (Although Aliens also showed the problems with that last one)

  8. Steve
    Thumb Down

    Could have it's uses

    Particularly where people are standing sentry and/or watch.

    It's probably of little use in an expected or even unexpected engagement during a patrol when radio will tell the story well enough and a remote commander can do nothing to help.

    But if you have sentries standing watch and an alarm rigged to the sensors it's no longer possible to infiltrate the position by silently taking out the sentry. Sure, it doesn't help that guy, he's still dead. But it might save every other soldiers life.

    Or if the tech isn't up to it, it might cause regular false alarms and then be turned off.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Anonymous Coward

    That's a very funny joke and all, but far funnier is that the Americans would never have won their 'freedom' in 1783 if it wasn't for the cheese eating surrender monkeys.

  10. David Evans

    @yeah, right.

    Never understood that either. Occasionally it makes sense as a rallying cry ("Remember The Alamo!), or a crumb of comfort when everything's turned to crap (Dunkirk) but give me a Rorke's Drift over a Camerone (or a Den Bien Phu, or Roncesvalles) any day of the week.

  11. Dirk Vandenheuvel
    Thumb Down


    "So now commanders will be able to see when their army panics and retreats?"

    Oh the irony this was posted by an anonymous coward.

  12. TeeCee Gold badge

    Not so much Aliens.

    Presumably they've also got helmet cams so the officers in the comfy control centre can see what the soldier sees.

    Presumably you also get a readout of ammo reserve and health level, maybe with an additional pictorial representation of how how badly cacked your chosen warrior is right now.

    Not much like Aliens, but I know something that bears a resemblance. Anyone got a screenshot from the original DOOM?

  13. Derek Bez

    @ Yeah Right

    It's not winning or losing. It's how you play the game.

    You're spot on about hackability though. Misinformation is a powerful tool in a commanding officer's arsenal. I'm sure Sun Tsu had a bit to say about it.

    Wasn't there another program used by US? military that could remotely inject adrenalin or other chemicals to enhance battlefield performance? Or have I been playing dodgy video games? Stimpak anyone?

    Alien = Protoss

  14. George

    When I worked for one of the big companies...

    ...who make new and fantastic ways of killing each other, there was constantly the commanders that came in saying there was just too much information to be useful.

    Surely this is just more, I can imagine this is useful for special forces to be able to see if the men you sent out to do the job are alive without giving away the position but anymore than that.

    I would imagine though that this will as well as vitals will send back it will show a position, then again maybe not.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Anonymous Coward

    Shame on you.

    The yanks have their excuses for their pathetic Fracophobia, but for a Brit to insult our wartime allies is really low. And you are as brave as the thousands of resistance fighters who died fighting the Nazis Mr ANONYMOUS COWARD?

    What a waste of space you are.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It might be of use to the squad leader or platoon leader so they could see whether any of their troops were under undue stress (panicing and about to do a Big Fat Legger) and needed more motivation/calming. It might be of use to the combat medic in remote triage. Might be of use in assessing the general wellbeing of troops in harsh environments: who's forgotten/not had time to change out of their winter long johns they needed to stay still on stag through the desert night and is now suffering from heat exhaustion on the tab through the desert heat...

  17. jai

    A day in the Marine Corps is like a day on the farm

    "Who remembers the movie Aliens"

    this is a tech website - surely Alien and Aliens is mandatory watching for everyone in our industry, no?

  18. Anonymous Coward


    "Suivant les sondes, il a laissé tombé un brique!"

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yup, it's useless crap.

    There are only a couple of things suggested that this would help with:-

    >[Knowing when the enemy have been] silently taking out the sentry

    Does that actually happen? Is that what silenced weapons are for, or are they just confusing to the enemy?

    Surely sentries are set up to watch each other?

    >whether any of their troops were under undue stress (panicing and about to do a Big Fat Legger)

    Could you actually tell that from a vital signs read out? I'd expect a fast heart rate and copius sweating to be a normal part of warfare..

    (Certainly if my limited experience with paintball is anything to go by, a state of dripping sweat and near heart attack seemed normal)

  20. Graham Bartlett

    @Mr Fishbat

    (what a wonderful name...)

    Possibly the AC was influenced by the fact that there were many more collaborators than resistance fighters back then. Or that Charles de Gaulle was allowed by the Allies to call himself head of the French army (with rather dubious justification), thereby allowing him to become president of France, at which point he indulged in a whole lot of Anglophobia. Or by present-day EC trade subsidies propping up the French farming industry with money from the rest of Europe. Or by institutional corruption within the EC, in which French politicians are actively involved (although to be fair, the Italians are out-corruptioning everyone).

    And yeah, I don't see why Camerone is seen as so great. Like the Charge of the Light Brigade, it should be seen as more of an object lesson in how not to do it. If there was a serious point to it (like the 300 Spartans holding things up until reinforcements could take over) then fine, but otherwise it should serve as an example that if you're going to get beat and the rest of your army won't benefit, it's probably more useful for you to bug out and fight another day.

  21. James Summerson

    The French Resistance

    Can I refer Mr Fishbat to the numbers of Resistance / Maquis / FFI before and after D-Day? Pre 1943 the numbers were tiny and propped up by large numbers of British SOE operatives. In June 1944 the Resistance numbered about 100,000 - funnily enough it jumped to about 200,000 in July 1944 and doubled again by October 1944.

    While not wishing to take anything away from any of those brave souls who stood up against occupation, it seems the French have a very long record of jumping onto the winning side when it suits them. Wartime allies, hmm yes, for a short period at the start of WWII and a short period at the end.

    You'd like to think that they'd have the same attitude to us as Fishbat gives to them, given our support in WWI and WWII but they seem to take a malignant humour in ignoring history pre 1960 or so.

  22. Keith Rogers


    So how are these kind of things secured? Even if the traffic itself is encrypted, each soldier is still transmitting which can allow them to be located.

  23. Ian

    Could be useful

    It's one of those situationaly useful things and the argument of having too much information to be useful is ignorant.

    Anyone who works in IT knows that the more info you can get the better you can diagnose a problem, you may not need all the information all the time but you'll use all the information at some time depending on the problem.

    This information could largely being ignored most the time but to cite some examples, if radio comms go dead then it's an indicator as to whether the radio has simply failed or whether your entire squad has just been taken out by an IED.

    Also in a firefight, if your squad gets split it's nice to know that everyones okay or if someone gets hit you need to know if it's worth risking your life to get to him or leaving it until it's a bit safer - i.e. does he have a pulse or has he gone already?

    What if they link this information to satellite maps of troop movements? If you see the people that have gone down are all on the right flank you can take a good guess that that's where the sniper that's picking them off is.

    All information is useful situationally, to expect it to be useful all the time is missing the benefits of needing it some of the time though.

    As for the whole British vs. French thing it's simple, the French are very strong on national pride and they've had to accept, admit or display weakness to us Brits on many occasions through the years. They don't hate us and we don't hate them, if it came to and the need arose the British and French would gladly fight alongside each other but they also don't like to admit publicly that they've required our support on so many occasions and on the same note we don't like the fact they don't acknowledge our support on so many occasions. It is a shame because we have so much shared history and together have more power in the world than many other nations. There is little that could compete against the influence of an Anglo-French political machine.

  24. David Lester

    That's not MM and JFK ...


    As you are obviously an educated man, I offer for your consideration today's new French word: "Atomize" (pronounced atom-ee-zay). Approximate translation: "Nuked". From the verb "atomizer".

    I feel you of all people would appreciate having such a word in their lexicon.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Could be useful

    But so could extra medical gear, ammo or bigger radios. There's a trade off in this stuff.

    It all smacks of an attempt to stuff some gizmo where it's not needed, it's the sort of thing that gives IT a bad name.

  26. daniel Silver badge
    Thumb Up


    Amen on all points

  27. Anonymous Coward


    all your frenchmen are belong to us

    Next probes, he dropped a brick?

    aha someone just dropped a brick in the office

  28. Anonymous Coward


    So when will they be able to scatter power-up objects on the battlefield then? And isn't the last thing a soldier (or commander) needs when in the heat of battle---to be bothered by reports from HQ that someone is dead, only to have it turn out to be a flaky sensor or loss of telemetry? There is such a thing as an information glut--too much information available to process meaningfully in real-time.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    N'approache l'infant, bitche

    Aliens is quite funny if you watch it with French subtitles. But surely the marines in that film lost? Their elaborate command and control system could not compensate for the piss-poor planning and poor performance of their Lieutenant. Who emulates a loser?

  30. Joakim Gabrielsen

    May come in handy, but...

    if they come with the same kind of strange electrical faults as some french made cars, I'm not sure I would like to wear this digi-soldier suit.

  31. Ash
    Thumb Up

    Another Aliens tech trick

    All we need to do is line our blood vessels with the same goo that lines our gut, and we can dispense with our lungs!

    The way we break down carbohydrates leaves us with a lot of hydrogen to get rid of, and hydrogen is what defines acidity (pH stands for power of Hydrogen). In essense, the only reason we breathe is to prevent the build up of free hydrogen radicals in the blood stream, causing the acid-blood situation the Aliens have. So, if we can solve this issue of hydrogen in the blood, we need never be out of breath again, and can replace our lungs with some kind of nipple laser!


  32. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    If it was the UK

    We'd buy this super duper equipment. Then the MoD could see that if they had spent 10th the amount that this kit cost on body armour instead, then they wouldn't be watching a flat line!

  33. dodge

    Hack it so that the generals think they're all dead

    It would be great ... hack the system so that the generals back home think some key units are being wiped out, triggering a retreat, then in the confusion -really- wipe them out.

    Or vice versa. It could be enormous fun messing with their minds.

    Why don't they all just go back to swords? People still get to die gloriously, but it's SO much cheaper.

  34. Tim


    Err... not quite. We breathe in order to obtain oxygen which is used to metabolise the sugars we eat. The products of that reaction are CO2 (shh, it'll get taxed) and energy.

    You are right about needing to remove hydrogen and breathing helping with that - people with overly acidic blood will start to hyperventiate - but solving the hydrogen problem won't remove our need to breathe!

  35. Mark Roome

    Now I understand

    I have never before understood that bit in the movie "Flushed Away", when Le Frog says to his Henchfrogs: "To action" and they all say: "We surrender", but now, thanks to the wonderful collective called The Reg Commenters(tm) I know have some useful historic knowledge.

    Thanks chaps (and esses)

  36. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    I agree with Keith Rogers

    Having a soldier transmitting all the time is akin to giving the enemy a location fix. Find enough in a given area and you're just begging for an artillery strike.

    As for the glory of the Camerone battle, it is not because they lost - it's because they stuck together and resisted in spite of impossible odds. It's because they stood their ground and never gave up, never surrendered.

    Yes, they knew they were going to die. They knew they were doomed. But they did not kneel and wait for the slaughter. They made the enemy pay dearly for the victory, and to a man, they fought to their last breath.

    It is the heroic display of resistance and combat brotherhood that is celebrated, and rightly so. Because if you can remain trustworthy and steadfast when all is lost, then you can do so anywhere, anytime, under any conditions.

    I would think that any soldier would understand that, and appreciate it.

  37. Steve

    @ j. j. fishbat

    "The yanks have their excuses for their pathetic Fracophobia, but for a Brit to insult our wartime allies is really low. And you are as brave as the thousands of resistance fighters who died fighting the Nazis Mr ANONYMOUS COWARD?"

    Wait a minute, you're saying there is something wrong with a BRIT insulting FRANCE? Where the hell have you been for the last 1000 years? Besides, this kit is going to soldiers, not resistance fighters and it was the soldiers who surrendered.

    Now get back to your garlic munching you Agincourt apologist!

  38. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: @ j. j. fishbat

    L'internet - mon dieu, il est plein des 'tards.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    What all of you seems to be missing is that this data is great for training and tactics. If you send your units out on maneuvers, you can observe how they react to the given situation and adjust training accordingly. A good example of this is target practice. Americans practice shooting at silhouettes. Apparently this makes the soldier more likely to pull the trigger on a fellow human, than practicing shooting plain old bullseyes.

  40. Mike Crawshaw

    @ "Sigh..."

    Aha! So THAT'S why!!! The 'merkins practice shooting at cut-outs, and they all have a little Union Jack with "Made in England" on the bottom.

    So, when in real life, they see a tank with a Union Jack on it...

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    >Agincourt apologist

    They didn't run away that time either...

    Hmm... so that's two famous instances of the French not running away..

    Oh hang on, Dien Bien Phu as well...

    Perhaps they should run away more...

  42. John

    Never Surrender!

    "As for the glory of the Camerone battle, it is not because they lost - it's because they stuck together and resisted in spite of impossible odds. It's because they stood their ground and never gave up, never surrendered."

    Well, ya, too bad they couldn't have used that same gusto in WWII....

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Google for Camerone and read some of the accounts. 60 men fought 2000 and killed 5 times their number to defend the logistics train of a siege. They could have surrendered and lived, but elected to fight to the death until only 3 effectives remained, all without ammo, ending the fight with a bayonet charge of half a dozen against a thousand.

    They negotiated an honourable surrender, retaining their weapons and recovering their wounded. Yes, that's glorious.

  44. Dave Bell
    Thumb Up

    Camerone: they succeeded.

    Camerone occurred because the Legion was protecting a French supply convoy in Mexico. The Mexican commander was pretty dumb, because with 2000 men against 65 he still didn't split his force and try to get at the convoy.

    The supply convoy got through,

    Call it a Mexican victory. So was the Alamo. And the Germans sank the Jervis Bay. But look at what they lost while they won.

    Rommel shouldn't have had ir so easy at Kasserine Pass.

  45. StopthePropaganda

    gotta love the French Military-seriously

    we don't get to hear from them enough. All we get are whiny socialist politicians and simpering leftist vespa riding coffee shop wankers that the media celebrates as the "average Frenchman".

    The Frog's (and I use this term endearingly) military does a whole lot more with a whole lot less, with as much or more hostility from their own pampered elite. If the French could actually support their uniformed men, both financially and politically, they would have a much better record.

    Case in point, last year, while French politicans and Western leftist controlled media were making it sound like everyone French hated everything American, French carrier jets were conducting joint training exercises in the Gulf, learning how to land on American carriers. Other cooperative ops have been training with American special ops hardware for use by Frogmen.

    Spirited, tough individuals-the bane of Socialists everywhere-that's the core of the French military. Any technology that further stifles these warriors is a bad thing for Europe. Remote REMF's are stifling. Telemetry of this type, is good only for drama purposes, which is why it was used in Aliens. The last thing we need is Media trying to castrate the free world even farther by using artificially illuminated drama to force weak politicians (and politically motivated upper echelons) to be even less willing to make the Ultimate Sacrifices these soldiers *already volunteered* for.

  46. Arnold Layne

    Oh god, I can see it now.

    "It would be great ... hack the system so that the generals back home think some key units are being wiped out, triggering a retreat, then in the confusion -really- wipe them out."

    No need to go to all that effort. It'll get outsourced to EDS or Crapita and they'll fuck it up without the hell of hackers.

    Flame icon because it reminds me of the Foreign Legion's badge.

  47. R Callan

    Ash & Tim

    Hydrogen is no problem really to life, unless oxygen concentration drops too low (disregarding the explosive potential of H2 and O2 intimately mixed).

    pH actually means (deep breath) the negative logarithm of the hydrogen ion concentration.

    pH changes in the blood are caused by CO2 dissolving in the plasma and forming carbonic acid. This upsets the carbonate/bicarbonate buffering system, more CO2 means more acidity. Fortunately just breathing removes the excess CO2. The human body is not very tolerant of abnormal pH, once the pH gets out of the normal range (thinks hard) 7.250-7.350 then all sorts of funny things happen, none of them good for one.

    End of lecture on physiology. B-)

  48. alistair millington
    Thumb Down

    Sounds cool but why the French...

    Remember Argentina, the French gave the Argentinians the secrets of how to fire an exocet anti ship missle from a land based launcher which was in port stanley while the devonshire (I think it was) shelled the town. (Our sub sinking their flag ship meant they had non of the anti ship missiles at sea. No anti sub abilities meant they stayed in dock) The ship was hit above the water line by luck. They also supplied them the missiles in the first place. M15 stopped them sending more because SAS losses would be too great to take out the airbase that held their plane launched anti ship missiles. So they only had a limited supply.

    So don't think pre-1960 it was any different to agincourt or American independance. Nothing changes for our gallic cousins. As stop the propoganda said, the people that run it are to blame. Heres hoping the new president they have and his words the other week will come true.

    I just like the way their only major celebration is about a foreign legion in a foreign land.

    Then again, right now though we would be pushed to go to anyones aid, we could muster an army of chavs and fat people but I doubt we could muster the horoes of old, things change.

    @ Stu Reeves,

    Nah... If this was the UK the MOD would go to buy it after development, spending 10 x the amount and taking fifteen years before finally buying it under the emergency provisions from an off the shelf dealer anyway.

    They can already see that not spending time in development would have meant they could have a 100 new tanks, a few hundred thousand more men, or paid better funeral and pension funds to those that need it. It is the fact they don't do anything about it after seeing that they could have done more with the cash.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    It says it all really...

    ...that the toughest corps in the French army is composed almost entirely of non-Frenchmen.

    (It's not called the 'Foreign' Legion for nothing you know!)

  50. Random Comment

    Have I got it wrong ...

    ... or does this seem like a whole lot of targets bleeping there whereabouts for smart bullets to follow to the source?

    Expensive, but almost guaranteed hits ...

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