The United States Colonial Marine Corps, better known by its acronym USCM or commonly the Colonial Marines, is an American military unit that serves as the United Americas' interstellar "force-in-readiness" ready at all times to operate in environments far from home.
The Colonial Marine Corps, along with the United States Army, are part of the United Americas Allied Command (UAAC). The primary duty of the USCM is to maintain the security of the United Americas signatories and colonies, and serves as the vanguard of any major problem, ready to send in different squads of Colonial Marines.
Established by the National Security Act of 2101, the Colonial Marine Corps serves as the successor to the Earth-based seafaring military unit of the same name due to the United Americas' expansion in becoming a starfaring country and the establishment of space colonies. The USCM has a dual responsibility. First, to be able to serve on land, air, sea and in space. Second, to exploit the advantages of interstellar deployment capability across the vast reaches of space to the surface of distant worlds in the interest of national strategy. Operating closely with the space fleet, the USCM also serves as the nation's combat unit that possesses the versatility and responsiveness to secure hostile areas in space, as well as providing significant dimension to the options available to the National Command Authority in time of crisis.
At its peak in 2165 during the Tientsin campaign, the USCM numbered over 240,000 Marines; by the year 2179, the force has roughly 165,000 Marines divided into four divisions, four aerospace wings, and numerous support groups. There is also a reserve fifth division and aerospace wing with an additional manpower of approximately 50,000 Marines.
The USCM have fought on more than two dozen worlds, including Tientsin (8 Eta Bootis A III), Helene 215, Linna 349 and the Alien planet itself, LV-426.
The Corps is roughly split between the supporting establishment and operating forces. The former includes recruitment, training, research and development, administrative and logistical duties, while the latter performs combat operations. Approximately 58 percent of Marines are in the operating forces.
The operating forces is divided into four combat divisions, four aerospace wings, and their required support groups, along with a fifth division and aerospace wing as reserves.
Marine Space Force
All combat forces within the Corps are organized into three Marine Space Forces, which answer directly to US Space Command. Each MSF is given the primary responsibility of security their designated areas, though the realities of space mean these areas frequently overlap, while the practicalities of frontier operations mean forces typical operate in autonomous task forces of regimental size or less.
- Marine Space Force, Sol is responsible for operations throughout the core systems, and is capable of rapidly reinforcing either of the other two MSFs. Its headquarters is the O'Neil station at the Earth-Luna L4 point.
- The 1st Colonial Marine Division, 1st Marine Aerospace Wing, and 1st Marine Brigade, are stationed at Camp Lejeune, NC; Camp Pendleton, CA; Kennedy ASFB, FL; O'Neil Station, Earth-Luna L4 point; and Gateway station in Earth GSO.
- The 2nd and 3rd Marine Brigades, along with portions of the 2nd Marine Aerospace Wing, are based at Redlake Field ASFB and Glenn GSO station on Aurora 510 ((Alpha Centauri A V)); Ezell ASFB on Nene 246 (52 Tau Ceti II)52 Tau Ceti II; and Titleman station, Lucien-Avril L1 point at (Lacaille 8760 AV).
- Support elements, consisting of Force Troops, Sol and the 2nd Colonial Support Group are located in North Carolina, Florida and the Trobriands on Nene 246.
- Marine Space Force, Eridani is responsible for operations along the American and Chinese colonized arms. Its headquarters is at Happy Days on Helene 215 (82 Eridani II).
- The 3rd Colonial Marine Division and 3rd Marine Aerospace Wing are largely based at Kuat ASFB on Surier 430 (Delta Pavonis IV), with smaller garrison forces along the American arm as far as Thetis (20 Reticuli) and the Solomans (Alpha Caeli V b-h).
- Marine Space Force, Herculis is responsible for operations along the Anglo-Japanese arm up to the fringes of the ISC Network. Its headquarters is at Chinook 91 GSO station over Georgia 525 (70 Ophiuchi A V).
- The 4th Colonial Marine Division, 4th Marine Aerospace Wing and 4th Colonial Marine Brigade are spread out among a number of UA-recognized colonies all along the Anglo-Japanese arm. The largest support contingent, the 1st Colonial Support Group, is centered at Tithonis Mountain on Bernice 378 (Mu Herculis A III)
The 5th (provisional) Division and attached Reserve Aerospace Wing are based in the continental United States and Panama, with two additional reserve regiments able to be raised on Aurora 510.
Colonial Marine Aerospace Wing
The Colonial Marine Aerospace Wing is responsible for providing aerospace support and airmobility to a Marine Space Force. The Wing's aerospace forces are tasked with the following; air superiority missions, reconnaissance, close air support, dedicated strike, forward supply, transport, casualty evacuation and search and rescue. The Aerospace Wing is an administrative formation responsible for the operations of all aerospace craft within the Marine Space Force. The Wing's operating forces are divided into three Aerospace Groups:
- The Drop Group consists exclusively of dropships assigned to operate with the Marine ground forces as dedicated support. They are serviced and maintained by the units to which they are attached. The Wing's Drop Group consists of approximately 200 dropships.
- The Tactical Group consists of squadrons mostly tasked with reconnaissance, counterair and attack missions. An average of six to eight squadrons are assigned to the Tactical Group, consisting of AD-19C/D Bearcat and AD-17A Cougar strikeships along with UD-4 Cheyenne and UD-22 Navaho gunships.
- The Support Group comprises of transports and specialist crafts equipped for casualty evacuation (CasEvac), search and rescue, psyops, special forces insertion, etc. The Support Group operates primarily with the UD-4 Cheyenne and the CS-14 Briareos heavy lift shuttle.
Each Colonial Marine Division is a balanced force of combat, service and support elements allowing for orbital assault and sustained ground operations. The Division is organized around three infantry regiments.
Marine Assault Unit
The Marine Assault Unit, or MAU, is the building block of Colonial Marine combat forces, a reinforced battalion designed for independent deep-space operations far from reinforcement or logistical support. At minimum each MAU has the logistical capacity for thirty days of combat operations.
The MAU is commanded by a headquarters platoon, with a logistics platoon, maintenance company and medical unit attached for non-combat support. Additional combat-oriented support units include a reconnaissance platoon, scout-sniper squad, and a combat engineer platoon. A heavy ordinance company is also attached for heavy fire support and aerospace defense, and can include self-propelled artillery, anti-ballistic and anti-space systems.
Two to four infantry companies provide the heart of the MAU, with each company incorporating support elements such as mortars, anti-tank and SAM missiles that can be distributed among their line platoons. If sufficient starlift capacity is available, an armored company of fourteen tanks may also be attached.
An Aerospace Drop Group and some Attack Group elements are also attached to the MAU, while the number and type of USAF Fleet units varies according to mission type and size.
The organization of the rifle platoons represents the USCM doctrine of small, autonomous infantry units capable of independent action on a non-linear battlefield. The platoon commander, a lieutenant, is assisted by one or two Synthetics as technical and scientific advisers, and to assist as medics and drivers. It is divided into two sections, which are further divided into two squads of four Marines each. Each section is led by a sergeant and includes a driver for the M577 Armoured Personnel Carrier In addition, during Drop operations each section is assigned a UD-4 Dropship from the aerospace company team. Including the platoon commander and crews for the dropships and APCs, a full-strength rifle platoon would number twenty-five Marines, though in practice the platoon operates with fewer personnel.
Organic support weaponry for the platoon includes eight M240 Incinerator units, eight UA-571C Sentry Guns, two M78 PIG or M5 RPGs, eighteen M83 SADAR rockets, and one M402 Multipe-Launch Mortar, along with sufficient sensor equipment to establish an overlapping detection matrix with a frontage of over one kilometer.
The rifle squad consists of four Marines: a Corporal, a Lance Corporal, and two Privates/Privates First Class. The squad is broken up into two fireteams, the Rifle Team and the Gun Team. The Rifle Team consists of two riflemen armed with M41 Pulse Rifles, while the Gun Team consists of a gunner armed with the M56 Smart Gun and a rifleman armed with a M41.
The Multi-Cam Combat Fatigue Uniform. Commonly Refered to as Utilities, or Cammies by the Marines who wear them, this three piece uniform consists of (from head to toe):
- Multi-Cam Cover, or hat with Eagle, Globe, and Anchor affixed in the front above the bill
- Multi-Cam Blouse with reflective nametapes above the left and right breast pockets
- Multi-Cam trousers with six pockets
This uniform is one of two fatigues, or work uniforms worn by Colonial Marines. This uniform is worn during combat maneuvers or field time, or on deployments where combat is supposed to be imminent. Several identifying patches and badges can be worn on this uniform depending on rank, location and Standard Operating Procedure of the Marines assigned command.
The Colonial Marines are likely best known for their use of the M41A pulse rifle, a futuristic, powerful assault rifle with an underslung grenade launcher, and for the M56 smart gun, a large machine gun which is actually worn by the user using a sophisticated harness mechanism. Also featured in the movie Aliens are the M240 flamethrower, the M4A3 pistol and the UA-571C Sentry Guns. The Colonial Marines also employ a variety of land and aerospace vehicles, including the M577 A.P.C., the UD4L Cheyenne Drop Ship and the Conestoga-class assault transport ship Sulaco, all of which are featured in the film. A variety of other tanks, artillery and anti-aircraft vehicles are also mentioned in the Colonial Marines Technical Manual.
Corporal Hicks, is seen carrying a personal weapon of his, an "old fashioned" military pump-action shotgun, "For close encounters". It is also implied by the mess-hall and cargo-bay scene in Aliens that the USCM are also highly trained in knife fighting (and are equipped accordingly) as well as Close quarter combat, making every Colonial Marine a formidable warrior even without the use of firearms.