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"I hate the Army."
Francis

The U.S. Military Logo in Left 4 Dead

"Or they're gonna line us up against a wall and shoot us."
Nick

The Military is an omnibus term for the unified military forces (or what remains of them) of the United States: the country that provides the setting for Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2. As a background entity, they play a part in attempting to contain the Infection, as well as scattering improvised military waypoints, outposts, and rescue areas along with military-grade weaponry for any living Survivors to defend themselves from the Infected. Unfortunately for the Military, many of its members have succumbed to the Infection and so appear (in their camouflage fatigues) as part of the huge hordes of Common Infected, or have been killed in action.

Involvement with containing The Infection[]

Map found in Whitney County displaying the military outposts still evacuating.

Throughout the three weeks of the Infection, the Military was working alongside CEDA in an attempt to fight and stop the Green Flu epidemic from spreading. As CEDA failed to contain the virus, the Military eventually took over CEDA's responsibilities as the Infection spread throughout the country. Originally, the Military's strategy was to evacuate and rescue as many people as possible, but once that became less feasible, it is evident that a political decision was taken to declare martial law. This enabled the Military to institute more direct and draconian measures to contain the threat and to attack overrun areas of the country. One such measure involved the Military forcibly separating Carriers (people who were infected by the Green Flu, but did not show any symptoms) from non-Infected Survivors (people who had not encountered the Infected) and burying Infected corpses in mass graves (refer to The Sacrifice Comic). In The Park, The Survivors encounter piles of bullet-riddled uninfected corpses next to a decontamination trailer, a fact that Nick, Ellis and Coach may remark on at the time. The reason for these executions is unknown.

At the initial outbreak, CEDA policy banned civilians from possessing firearms (something many Survivors obviously ignored and which adds further credence to the theory that CEDA's grip on the situation was loose). However, when the Military took over these rules were overturned and civilians were encouraged to arm themselves for their own protection. Since it is probable that CEDA was first on the scene and operating in accordance with civil powers and legislation, its handling of the crisis appears to have been less aggressive in dealing with both the Infection and its concomitant breakdown in law and order, which could largely explain why its measures failed. Under martial law, the Military has a free hand to take whatever actions its command structure dictates, and for this reason its stance is both violent and ruthlessly direct. In this regard, several public notices seen throughout the Left 4 Dead series make it explicit that deadly force is authorized.

The arbitrary nature of martial law is well and subtly illustrated in each volume of Left 4 Dead. In The Sacrifice comic, the original Survivors are forcibly detained by the Military, escape from custody by a hair's breadth and vow never to have anything more to do with the Military (and thus organized authority). Their experiences thus lead them to trust no one but themselves and to declare their own "independence". However, in Left 4 Dead 2, despite evidence that it once executed civilians regularly, the Military keeps a helicopter in the middle of a horde of infected to save a small band of Survivors caught on the wrong side of a bridge set for demolition. At the same time, these Survivors maintain blind faith in the Military despite physical evidence and testimonials from the original Survivors that their lives and liberty may be forfeit once they are under the Military's control. In the final chapter, only street smart, ex-con Nick has the pessimism to express the possibility that the Military will line the Survivors "up against a wall" and shoot them.

Activities by Location[]

Fairfield: After local law enforcement and CEDA failed to contain the infection within the city, the Military deployed a limited number of forces, and they were promptly defeated. In response, they quarantined the city and began operations in Whitney County and Riverside.

Mercy Hospital: The Military worked alongside with CEDA and the medical staff at the hospital to help protect civilians and develop a vaccine for the disease; however, they were not able to hold out long enough. When trying to evacuate everyone by chopper on the rooftop of the hospital, they left a Minigun. A soldier's corpse is seen beside the radio.

Whitney County: Just outside the city of Fairfield, the Military set up a small outpost near the bridge in the county, most likely to aid the quarantine and containment of the Infection in Fairfield as well as aid fleeing refugees.

Riverside: Set up a command center in the town to monitor the situation in Fairfield. However, once the Infection spread to the outskirts of the city, the Military was forced to desert this post.

Newburg: After CEDA failed to quarantine the airport and the city was overrun, the military conducted carpet bombing to slow the infection, and threatened to destroy any illegal flights occurring there.

Daughtery Farm: The Military held out here for a while but had to pull out and return to Safe Zone Echo; they were not able to find any more Survivors. However, they left a radio for any future Survivors.

Millhaven: Used to test carriers for the Infection as well as create a vaccine. Overrun due to Lt. Mora's mutiny alerting all the infected around.

Rayford: Used by CEDA as a safe outpost, the Military had a small command center at the Army Reserve building (which was destroyed). They also aided in transporting Carriers in train cars, escorting live Infected specimens and carrying supplies and ammunition. The train was derailed and the Tank specimen was trapped there.

Atlanta: According to Graffiti in The Sacrifice, the Military and CEDA were holding out in Atlanta. It is unknown when this outpost was established, but according to a map found in The Hotel, it was overrun by day Twenty-One.

Whispering Oaks Motel: The Military set up barricades and occupied the motel as a screening facility, fortifying its defenses in an attempt to keep the infected at bay. The first Infected were detected at the motel and the military burnt their corpses in the drained swimming pool, eventually the military abandoned the site and rigged the nearby bridge to the amusement park to explode, buying more time for CEDA evacuations.

Village en Marais: Although told to keep out by signs, the military did send at least one paratrooper to a nearby swamp for unknown reasons (Possibly to investigate a nearby plane crash).

New Orleans: With the Green Flu virus inching towards New Orleans and CEDA's continuous failures in containing the infection, the military took over all operations and evacuations centers. The military was separating people into groups by Carriers and non-Infected. It seems the city became a huge war zone as refugees were fighting to survive by killing the infected, avoiding the military's harsh protocols, and being killed by other armed refugees due to paranoia. Graffiti found throughout the campaign suggests that the surviving refugee community created by the apocalypse realized that the asymptomatic characters — for instance, the Survivors in both games — were infecting the healthy population. Some of the uninfected refugees harbored an urge to murder the carriers to ensure their own safety and prevent future infection, while some few advocated for their forgiveness. People were told to head towards the Louisiana Naval Base where they would be evacuated by helicopter to the cruise ships out in the Gulf of Mexico; in the meantime, the military began bombing parts of the city to stop and slow down the spread of the infection.

The Waterfront: The Military received and processed civilians via boat at a restaurant and lined people up in what were once streets.

Bienville Park: Due to the overcrowded Bus Station Evacuation Center, CEDA and the Military had refugees wait in the park as people were slowly being processed at the bus station. Due to the risk of Infection, the military and CEDA boarded up the restrooms near the entrance and forced people to use the other bathrooms located towards the right of the park.

The Bus Station: A bus station in the heart of New Orleans that was used by CEDA as an evacuation center. The Military took over and started separating Carriers and the non-Infected. Civilians were rioting demanding to be evacuated, which escalated into chaos as the Infection continued to spread. The Military was forced to take action and shoot the civilians onsite.

Veterans Memorial Bridge/Louisiana Naval Base: A double-decker bridge in New Orleans was used to get to the Louisiana Naval Base where refugees would be taken by helicopter to cruise ships out in the ocean. The last helicopter was to leave but stays behind when alerted to survivors and the bombing was suspended. After the survivors enter the vehicle, it departs and the bridge is destroyed by Super Hornets.

A U.S. Soldier, that has been turned into a Tank.

Cruise Ships outside New Orleans: Still functioning.

Echo Safe Zone: Status unknown, presumed functioning.

US Northeast Command HQ: Location and Status unknown, presumed overrun.

Other Safe Zones: Located in California, Texas, Oregon, Nebraska, Minnesota, Maine, Colorado and Georgia. All are overrun.

Other Military Outposts: Located in California, Idaho, Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, North and South Dakota, Kansas, Wisconsin, Illinois, Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. All are unknown.


Known Personnel[]

Personnel at Millhaven[]

Others[]

Military Rescue[]

An Infected in U.S. Army uniform (National Guard).

The military is still active in rescuing living Survivors, though possibly due to thinning numbers, cannot afford to station personnel at every rescue area to greet and coordinate any Survivors. Nevertheless, they usually leave means of contact, generally via radio for any living Survivors to communicate with them. As the Infected are unable to speak any human language anymore, or use technology for that matter, the military can be assured that any attempt at communications will be genuine.

Places in which the military will actively send Rescue Vehicles:

  • A military C-130 Hercules plane flies over the city of Newburg at the beginning of Dead Air. The plane lands at the ruins of Metro International Airport to refuel. However, the co-pilot is killed by the Infected, stranding the pilot inside his vehicle. The L4D Survivors then encounter the static aircraft and agree to refuel it. In exchange, the pilot flies them out of Newburg.
  • Farmhouse Finale, Blood Harvest. The military set up a radio along with ammunition and weapons in a farmhouse. When contacted, they will dispatch one M93 Fox CBRN Reconnaissance Vehicle to retrieve any survivors still standing.
  • The Bridge, The Parish. Cutting their losses on the Mainland, the Military has decided to transport survivors on naval vessels, where everyone will be free from the infected, although they are still attempting to pick up survivors at every opportunity. When reached, the last helicopter was to depart while fighters are to destroy the bridge, With survivors in contact, the bombing run is postponed and the helicopter awaits, after which it ferries the survivors to offshore vessels while fighters destroy the bridge. The helicopter is a CH-53 Sea Stallion, specifically equipped to handle Carriers and to delay

Technologies used in the series[]

The military operates a wide variety of vehicles, some of which are anachronistic with the game's settings.

  • HMMWVs (Humvees) — These are a common form of transport in the military, and through most campaigns in both games can be mostly found in military/evacuation areas but are also found in locations such as highways or in the streets. These vehicles are often abandoned and unarmed for balancing reasons. These Humvees appear to be based on the M1025 variant. The Northern variants owned by the National Guard come with a woodland camouflage. The Southern variant appears in desert tan, likely withdrawn from oversea operations to reinforce existing military efforts.
  • M-35 2 1/2 Ton Truck — The M-35 Truck is the standard transport truck of the United States Military. It can be seen in both the North and the South although it is in its woodland camo in all areas that are seen. Sometimes Heavy Machine Guns are seen on the back and can be used. They are usually found in military/evacuation sites and are also scattered around (though they number less than the Humvees) a bit. Its back acts as a ladder for the purpose of accessing its cargo bay.
  • UH-1 Iroquois (Huey) — The UH-1 is a small utility helicopter first fielded in Vietnam in 1959, later retired and replaced with the UH-60. While only civilian variants were operated in-game, there are files and sprites for military counterparts. Were they to participate, the UH-1's presence could have implied a last ditch effort due to the spike in vehicular losses or shortages.
  • C-130 Hercules — The C-130 Hercules is a cargo/transport plane serving the USAF. (The only one seen in the game comes with ROKAF liveries, implying that it was recalled to assist in fighting off the infection). It is seen at the beginning and end of Dead Air. Originally stopping for fuel, the soldier responsible for the job was killed by the infected, with the survivors finishing the job and fleeing in the aircraft.
  • F/A-18/E Super Hornet (F-18) — The F/A-18/E is a multi-role jet fighter in use with the Marine Corps and Navy but not the Air Force. It is seen in The Parish during the first level and during the last two, where they strategically target the city and the bridge with precision strikes to delay the infection while minimizing survivor casualties. It is so far the only military vehicle that does not directly participate in rescues.
  • CH-53 Sea Stallion — The CH-53 is a cargo helicopter used by the Marines (there are no explicit markings indicating its allegiance, however). One appears in The Parish, equipped to handle Carriers, yet it differs little from the standard CH-53. During the prologue at Dead Center, one is seen leaving the Survivors while it presumably heads to the mall or ships. A wrecked one is also seen on The Parish near the sewers.
  • M93 FOX — Currently the only armored vehicle seen in the Left 4 Dead series, it is an export variant of the German APC Tpz Fuchs optimized for CBRN reconnaissance in U.S. service. It appears in Blood Harvest as a rescue vehicle. Supposedly modified for HAZMAT transport, it efficiently bars the infection from reaching its crew.

In addition, the Military has a fair amount of firearms which are available for the Survivors to use:

In Left 4 Dead

In Left 4 Dead 2

It can be noted that many of the firearms the military has been seen to use are no longer in major US Military Service (like the M79, M-10, M60, M16A2 and M1911). These weapons may be drawn from existing stockpiles and supplied to the public to relieve the defensive pressure

Military Presence[]

Throughout the Left 4 Dead series, the Military have also shown their presence via the use of posters and signboards displaying instructions and warnings. The use of deadly force by the military is repeatedly emphasized showing their seriousness compared to CEDA. Bill also mentions that the military is speaking out to Survivors through radios, informing people of where to go. Abandoned vehicles and military weapons have also been left behind as areas are overrun by the Infected. This is seen differently in The Parish, however, as F-18 Fighter Jets are seen flying above the New Orleans skyline making their bomb runs throughout the city trying to stop the Infection.

Military Signs[]

These military signs can be found all around The Parish in Left 4 Dead 2.

Gallery[]

Notes[]

  • The in-game uniform for the Military appears to be the M81 Woodland Battle Dress Uniform (BDU). However, BDUs should not have been worn by active personnel in the games' 2008—2009 setting, given that the Marines and Army had phased out the uniforms in 2005 and 2008, respectively.
  • The Humvee near the safe room in The Park is the only vehicle that has a detailed interior. Most of the cars and trucks in the Left 4 Dead series has black or dark windows, allowing the designers to forego detailing the interior.
  • The Tank is unable to punch military Humvees, as they are heavier and would not go as far as a civilian vehicle.
  • The M53A3 truck in both Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 uses the same textures. The Humvee in Left 4 Dead is painted green and in Left 4 Dead 2 is painted tan.
  • Bill was a former soldier and had two tours in Vietnam before he retired.
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