In the movie Aliens, it takes Ripley and Burke to point out that firing armor-piercing rounds inside a cooling tower is a no-go, since if one of the bullets damaged a tower, the result would be a nuclear explosion.

My question is why weren't the marines briefed on this before they entered the cooling towers, or even before they landed on LV426?

It seems a little odd that nobody mentioned to them before they went in that firing armor-piercing rounds inside the cooling towers would be a no-go, meaning that they'd need to leave their ammo behind before entering any of them.


1 Answer 1


Up until things fall apart, Lt. Gorman is in charge. It's his call to stop the APC and have the marines go in on foot, and it's his call (after Burke and Ripley point out the danger to him) to have Sgt. Apone confiscate the magazines from the marines' pulse rifles (and the smart guns). (And also not to have the marines withdraw and re-equip with less dangerous weapons, like Hicks' shotgun.)

Lt. Gorman is not good at his job; he's never done a combat drop before and he's in way over his head. He's the one familiar with the marines' weapons (Ripley had to ask) so it's his job to figure out if the marines might endanger themselves with their own weapons. It's also his job to look at the ground they might end up fighting over and to make adjustments to weapons, tactics, disposition, etc. before he sends the marines in.

Sgt. Apone is not a commander, and Ripley and Burke aren't in the chain of command. This is purely on Gorman.

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    I think you just have to point out that Lt. Gorman is in charge and "in way over his head": he just has no experience to account certain features of the towers etc. With the consequences... Sep 21, 2021 at 8:05
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    BTW, there was a pre-brief, but it fell apart due to Vasquez and Hudson and Drake's lack of discipline. (ignoring it, and cracking jokes during the briefing) All the marines seemed undisciplined, When Apone confiscates the 'batteries/power cells' for the two smart guns, Drake and Vasquez immediately put new ones back in. They seem more like a rowdy football team than an experienced combat team. So between the Nub Officer, the laidback Sargent, and the misfit marines, it was a disaster just waiting to happen. I always felt that Burke set it up that way, so he could snag an Alien for the company
    – NJohnny
    Sep 21, 2021 at 15:12
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    @NJohnny - are you a former submariner? You said "Nub" so I had to ask!
    – Forbin
    Sep 21, 2021 at 17:49
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    @Forbin Yes as a matter of fact. ;)
    – NJohnny
    Sep 21, 2021 at 19:15
  • For the uninformed, in the naval services (or at least the sub service) a "Nub" is a "Non-Useful Body" or "New, Un-useful Body," i.e. a new person in the unit who may have a lot of formal training but lacks practical experience and has probably not passed any local exams to earn watchstation qualifications.
    – Forbin
    Sep 22, 2021 at 20:30

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