"These Colonial Marines are very tough hombres. They're packing state-of-the-art firepower, there's nothing they can't handle."
Burke to Ripley, regarding the USCM (from Aliens)

USCM seal.

The United States Colonial Marine Corps (USCM), commonly known as the Colonial Marines, is the United Americas' primary "force-in-readiness", founded in 2101.[1] They specialize in force projection, being able to operate independently in environments far from home for extended periods thanks to their technological prowess and sizeable space fleet at their disposal. The USCM is the successor to the United States Marine Corps and are at permanent readiness for immediate deployment across human-controlled space without any additional reinforcement, training or provisioning.

The Colonial Marines, along with the United States Army, are part of the United Americas Allied Command. The primary duties of the Colonial Marine Corps are to maintain security for all United Americas signatories and at all extraterrestrial colonies that fall under United States of America's control, and serve as the vanguard of any major combat operation. They have fought on more than two dozen worlds, including Tientsin (8 Eta Bootis A III), Helene 215, Linna 349, BG-386, LV-1201, LV-742, and the infamous Acheron (LV-426).


The USCM is the major striking element of the United Americas Allied Command, and is the nation's only major means of forcibly entering a hostile area from space.[1] Its ability to project power on distant worlds makes it an essential element to the nation's security, and as such its versatility and responsiveness are key in any crisis.

While the USCM is not directly controlled by Weyland-Yutani, they are often called upon as a security force when the interests of the company are at risk, as the business generated by their ventures is considered a great asset by the UA administration.


The National Security Act of 2101 formally established the Colonial Marines and its structure. At its peak in 2165 during the Tientsin campaign, the USCM numbered over 240,000 Marines; by 2179 that number had dropped to 165,000, with a further 50,000 in reserve.[1]

At some point in 2600 AD, Weyland-Yutani had bought the Colonial Marines, as the company had become vast and powerful to become a major politcal influence to rival an official government.[2]


Four Marines-A2

Private First Classes Ricco Frost and Mark Drake and Corporals Dwayne Hicks and Cynthia Dietrich.

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.[3]

The operating forces are divided into four combat divisions and four aerospace wings, along with their required support groups. A fifth combat division and aerospace wing also exist as reserves.[1]

Marine Space Force

Main article: Marine Space Force

All combat forces within the Corps are organized into three Marine Space Forces, which answer directly to US Space Command.[3] 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.[3]

Aerospace Wing

The Colonial Marine Aerospace Wing is responsible for providing aerospace support and airmobility to a Marine Space Force. The Wing itself is largely an administrative formation; in practice much of its elements are attached directly to a Division as an integral element.[4]

Each Wing is divided into a Drop Group, a Tactical Group, and a Support Group. The Drop Group is assigned to operate with Marine ground elements as dedicated support, and consists of approximately 200 dropships. The Tactical Group is assigned reconnaissance, ground-attack and air superiority missions, and averages six to eight squadrons of AD-19C/D Bearcat and AD-17A Cougar strikeships along with UD-4L Cheyenne and UD-22 Navaho gunships. The Support Group is assigned CasEvac, search and rescue, psyops and other miscellaneous operations, and consist of 100 dropships and 30 heavy-lift shuttles.[4]


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.[3]

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.[5]

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.[5]

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.[5]

An Aerospace Drop Group and some Attack Group elements are also attached to the MAU, while the number and type of United States AeroSpace Force Fleet units varies according to mission type and size.[5]

Rifle Platoon

The organization of the rifle platoons represents the USCM doctrine of small, autonomous infantry units capable of independent action on a non-linear battlefield.[6] The platoon commander, a lieutenant, is assisted by one or two Synthetics as technical and scientific advisers, medics and drivers. The platoon 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 Armored 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 often operates with fewer personnel.[6]

Organic support weaponry for the platoon includes eight M240 Incinerator Units, eight UA 571-C Automated Sentry Guns, two M78 PIG or M5 RPGs, eighteen M83 SADAR rockets, and one M402 Multiple-Launch Mortar, along with sufficient sensor equipment to establish an overlapping detection matrix with a frontage of over one kilometer.[7]


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 M41A Pulse Rifles, while the Gun Team consists of a gunner armed with the M56 Smartgun and a rifleman armed with a M41.[7]



Corporal Dwayne Hicks in his combat gear.

The Multi-Cam Combat Fatigue Uniform, commonly referred to as Utilities or Cammies by the Marines who wear them, is a three-piece uniform consisting 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 manoeuvres 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.


"Hey, Ripley, don't worry. Me and my squad of ultimate badasses will protect you! Check it out. Independently targeting particle beam phalanx. Vwap! Fry half a city with this puppy... We got tactical smart missiles, phase plasma Pulse Rifles, RPGs, we got sonic electronic ball-breakers! We got nukes, we got knives, sharp sticks..."
―Pvt. Hudson, regarding the USCM's arsenal (from Aliens Special Edition)

The United States Colonial Marine Corps has access to state-of-the-art military technology and weapons, including orbital assault vehicles and armor support.

Body armor


Bladed weapons


Submachine guns

Rifles and carbines

Sniper rifles


Machine guns

Hand grenades and grenade launchers


Anti-tank missiles/weapons

Aerospace defense systems


Other weapons

Land vehicles

Aerospace vehicles

Other equipment

Colonial Marine Bases and Stations

  • Orbital Fort Osney
  • Camp Lejeune
  • Camp Pendleton


  • While never officially stated, it seems likely that the USCM was inspired by the United States Marine Corps, which was formed in 1775 and has fought in dozens of conflicts, including World War II and the War on Terror. The US Marines specialize in force projection operations far from home bases, much like the USCM. However, while the US Marines rely on the United States Navy for their mobility, the USCM is apparently a combined force capable of self-contained mobility and combat operations.
  • In reality, only Great Britain has ever fielded a professional military force known as Colonial Marines (officially titled the Corps of Colonial Marines), which it did twice — the first Corps served in the Caribbean from 1808 to 1810, while the second, more substantial Corps operated in America from 1814 to 1816. During the American Revolutionary War, a group of militiamen also operated under the title of American Colonial Marines, although it was an irregular unit.
  • A Colonial Marine Corps appears in the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica television series, which also featured Predator actor Bill Duke in a guest role in its second season.
  • The actors playing the Colonial Marines in Aliens were required to read the Robert A. Heinlein novel Starship Troopers as part of their preparations prior to filming, and also took part in a training boot camp run by the SAS (Special Air Service), the UK's elite special forces regiment, to help them effectively portray military combat personnel on screen.[9]

External Links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood. Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual, p. 6 (1995), Boxtree Ltd..
  2. Tim Lebbon. Alien: Invasion (2016), Titan Books.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood. Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual, p. 7 (1995), Boxtree Ltd..
  4. 4.0 4.1 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood. Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual, p. 40 (1995), Boxtree Ltd..
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood. Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual, p. 68 (1995), Boxtree Ltd..
  6. 6.0 6.1 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood. Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual, p. 12 (1995), Boxtree Ltd..
  7. 7.0 7.1 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood. Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual, p. 13 (1995), Boxtree Ltd..
  8. Lee Brimmicombe-Wood. Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual, p. 127 (1995), Boxtree Ltd..
  9. James Cameron, Gale Anne Hurd, Gordon Carroll, David Giler, Walter Hill, Stan Winston, Simon AthertonSuperior Firepower: Making Aliens (2003), 20th Century Fox [DVD].