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In this future flashback scene from the original Terminator movie, an infiltration unit gets inside the place where humans hide.

Why have an infiltration terminator at all?

Skynet could just get the location of the hiding place and toss in a few poison gas grenades. Or it could pull back its units and bomb the place from the sky.

This is kind of related to the question about why Skynet would want prisoners, but this is more focused on getting inside human hideouts rather than just rounding up prisoners.

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I can think of a few of reasons why Skynet would want infiltration units:

  1. Skynet's resources may be extensive, having effectively conquered the world except for a few plucky resistance units, but they are not unlimited. Using a single robot to eliminate a single high-value resistance target (such as a cell leader) is cheaper and more efficient than bombing/poisoning the whole region.

  2. Wide-scale bombing may not be effective, if there are escape routes or reinforced shelters inside the base that Skynet is not aware of. The recent war in Afghanistan showed how persistent a group of insurgents hiding in underground cave networks can be against an enemy with heavier firepower and air superiority. Infiltrating the resistance bases with a single unit allows for confirmed kills (not to mention recon of the base itself.)

  3. If Skynet is indeed interested in capturing prisoners, per your linked question (regardless of the reasons why) then bombing the crud out of resistance bases is actually counterproductive - Skynet would be killing far more humans than it needed to and therefore depriving itself of potential captives.

Also, as Revenant pointed out, the terminator in the clip you linked only started shooting everybody because its cover had been blown. It almost certainly would have stayed passive until it found its target (presumably John Connor) had the dogs not started barking.

  • "Using a single robot to eliminate a single high-value resistance target (such as a cell leader) is cheaper and more efficient than bombing/poisoning the whole region." Kill a few leaders and others will take their places. Kill everyone, and nobody is left to lead. – RichS Jan 27 '17 at 5:48
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    Yes, except that because of all the Wibbly Wobbly time travel in the Terminator series, the Machines know that John Connor is vital to the war effort of the human resistance and killing him will mean the difference between winning and losing the war. – DisturbedNeo Jan 27 '17 at 9:49
  • But how did the Terminator know its cover was blown with dogs barking? I guess Skynet knows what the humans know about using dogs to sniff out terminators that it then reprogrammed all its T-800s to know? But then it would not make sense as to why it would be sending out the same T-800s, if this was the case. – Wanting Answers Jan 29 '18 at 10:16
  • @ArvinGBorkar Just because a solution isn't perfect doesn't mean it should be abandoned. I'm sure humans could detect T-800s without dogs, after all, it would just be harder. (If nothing else, I imagine a pressure plate to check for weight would be a dead giveaway, for example.) So just because Skynet knows dogs can sniff out a terminator isn't necessarily good enough reason to call the whole thing off. – Steve-O Jan 29 '18 at 16:01
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    @ArvinGBorkar The T-800 knew its cover was blown because the dogs were barking. It knew the dogs were used to detect terminators because Skynet knew (as you surmised,) since the war had been going on for a while. (But it didn't know there would be dogs in this particular base until it got there.) Skynet was continuing to use T-800s for infiltration despite knowing about the dogs because you can't conquer the world by giving up as soon as your enemy comes up with a counter-tactic. One assumes the ratio of successful T-800 missions is still high enough that Skynet finds them worthwhile. – Steve-O Jan 29 '18 at 20:43
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The terminator in T3 summed it up pretty well when he said "John Connor was terminated on (specific date) this unit was selected due to the emotional attachment he had for my model number due to his boyhood experience"

The purpose of an infiltration unit is to infiltrate, confirm its target then terminate them, the reason the terminator in the scene you linked starts shooting is the dogs blew its cover so it went to its secondary mission which was presumably kill as many people as possible.

  • But how did the Terminator know its cover was blown with dogs barking? I guess Skynet knows what the humans know about using dogs to sniff out terminators that it then reprogrammed all its T-800s to know? But then it would not make sense as to why it would be sending out the same T-800s, if this was the case. – Wanting Answers Jan 29 '18 at 10:17

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