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How exactly were Cerberus soldiers "improved" with those husk-looking implants?

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I mean, did those things really give them any sort of advantage over regular Alliance soldiers? The changes are obvious in Phantoms, but there was that mook soldier on Mars who was unmasked by Ashley/Kaidan. What did TIM mean when he said "[his people] are being improved"? Will-O-Wisp (talk)

  • My guess is that they were things like improved reaction times, stronger muscles, ability to see through smoke, reduced panic response, low grade indoctrination to improve their ability to take orders from their leaders, et cetera.  Things that would be useful to soldier (particularly those who were converted at Sanctuary and as such were not trained soldiers). Luper567 (talk)
  • The glowing eyes are meant to represent something like the tapetum lucidum of some predatory mammals, which is a night-vision upgrade. There's also the matter of control. For Western armies, only around two soldiers in even a combat platoon can actually take a life, until the continuous atrocity bends them to it - which can take months or years. It's common for soldiers to not fire at all, or aim to miss. With the induction procedure as seen with Private Talavi, that problem is a thing of the past. Never mind skill; just inducing aggression and removing kill inhibitions would make your soldiers an order of magnitude more effective. The Nazis achieved something like the same result towards the end of WWII, with the use of amphetamines. SDoradus (talk)
  • My guess is that stuff is probably also necessary, but not sufficient.  The phenomenon you're describing was very true in the days of conscript armies (less so today, in the age of professionalized soldiering).  However, even in a conscript army, people had some sort of connection to the country they were fighting for, or at least the men beside them.  That is not the case for the people captured and brainwashed at Sanctuary, who likely had little love for Cerberus prior to wandering into their deathtrap.  For the men like Talavi, who came to Cereberus more less voluntarily, it was probably enough, but it probably wasn't for the later "recruits." Luper567 (talk)
    • Garrus, speaking to Ensign Copeland after Lessus: "For every soldier you add, your enemy loses two: the one you converted, and his buddy on the other side who can't pull the trigger on a friend ... if you don't respect your enemy's capabilities, you're in for one nasty surprise after another."
    • This is why both Private Talavi and his sister are important; Talavi is far less inhibited about killing (and being killed). His sister's desperate need to avoid fighting her brother leads, if you authorize her transfer, to a loss of war assets (a lack of engineers in a crucial sector). Current research is heading in TIM's direction.  SDoradus (talk)
  • I should add that the disposition of nearly all soldiers, even professional ones, to avoid taking a life is disputed but well documented. The percent of exceptions ('natural killiers') varies with the study but around one in twenty, even of self-selected professional troops is typical. The two US names you most often see cited are S.L.A. Marshall (General) and Grossman (Lieutenant Colonel). Both have been heavily criticised, though not so much by professional soldiers; much more by historians and political movements. National armies tend to prefer the views of their fellow soldiers. The Russians have their own ideas on how to instil a killing spirit. So do the Brits.
  • On the other hand, Luper is right that it's possible to improve this. The degree to which the professional vs. conscript distinction fixed this is disputed, but one Kiwi general (Fergusson VC) observed that green troops often fired high simply because they weren't trained to compensate for recoil.
  • For the US, training improvements meant that the number of conscripts (not professionals) who would actually fire on seeing the enemy rose from 15-25% (WWII, oft-criticized study by General S.L.A. Marshall)  to around 95% (Viet Nam). Some of the improvement may have been due to the use of "blind fire" in Viet Nam. Critcisms of the high figures from Marshall usually focus on lack of interview attribution, and lack of statistics, but this is to apply modern standards which did not exist at that time. Later professional soldiers taking up the task found confirmation in earlier wars, some of which (especially the French) actually some statistical basis.
  • Sociopaths seem to make very good soldiers; cf. studies quoted by Grossman, another military man often criticised by those outside the military. But the really juicy active research in Cerberus-like implants is secret. You do see the occasional riveting summary, like this :
    • Emerging neuroscience opportunities have great potential to improve soldier performance and enable the development of technologies to increase the effectiveness of soldiers on the battlefield ...  promise new insights for future military applications ...  such as cognitive fitness, brain–computer interfaces, and biological markers of neural states.
  • Fortunately, so far the tech is in its infancy and "...the chance that advances in systems neuroscience would have an impact was quite remote." That at least is what the Secretary for the Army and the National Research Council are saying in public. SDoradus (talk)

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