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Environmental Protection and Sensors

Written: 2000.06.13

An actual WW1 gas mask, worn by soldiers to protect them against mustard gas attacksThe environmental protection given to Federation ground soldiers is non-existent. They walk into combat situations without gas masks to protect against nerve gas or sealed suits to protect against corrosive chemicals, biological agents, or harsh environmental conditions. They have environmental suits at their disposal, but those suits afford their wearers poor freedom of movement, and the only time they have ever been used in a combat situation was the space-walk in ST:FC.

(Alyeska here) the only time seen in combat, but we have seen their use before. Its just that all the other times their have been combat there was no need for environmental suits. Why go running around the battlefield in a space suit when you don't need to?

This is a classic example of an argument which is predicated upon ignorance of real life. So "Alyeska" can't figure out why soldiers would want to wear environmental suits into battle, eh? Perhaps "Alyeska" should try watching less TV and reading more books. Specifically, history books. Here's a tip, Alyeska: look up "mustard gas".

Although some Federation cultists claim they have personal force-fields, they cannot function as complete environmental isolation systems since the users need to continue breathing while operating the force-field. They are probably similar to the device that Worf cobbled together in "A Fistful of Datas". If they were capable of complete environmental isolation and processing of contained air, then Federation soldiers wouldn't need spacesuits to "go outside".

(Alyeska here) as scene in more then one occasion the ship would scan the planet first before sending down an away team. In 1 episode of TOS suits were needed before landing on a planet. In DS9 suits were worn untill Embok Nor had its life support reinstated. In Voyager suits have been worn on planets with hostile conditions.

I fail to see how this can be interpreted as a rebuttal. In my quoted text, I explained that the Federation's rumoured personal shields can't be useful as environmental isolation systems since they need special suits to go into hostile environments as seen in STFC. So how does Alyeska respond? By pointing out more examples where they needed suits to go into hostile environments! Thanks, "Alyeska." I wasn't expecting you to support my argument, but your gift is appreciated.

Starfleet officers carry portable tricorder units to gather information about their environment, but those tricorder units are not tactically useful. Although they can use their tricorders to determine if an enemy soldier is somewhere ahead, they cannot use them to see through darkness or smoke to actually shoot that enemy soldier. Instead, their targeting abilities are entirely limited to what they can accomplish with the unaided human eye, which makes their sensory capabilities markedly inferior to those of Imperial stormtroopers.

(Alyeska here) I have already commented on this. There is no canon evidence to show that stormtroopers have any sensory enhancement items. Infact more then one book portrays them to be limited due to the helmet. On the otherhand tricorders can scan any direction regardless of the direction pointed. More then one episode gives the tricorder a range greater then 2 km.

More red herrings. I explained that tricorders gather information but they don't help you aim your weapon. "Alyeska" retorts that tricorders can scan in any direction and have long range (and repeats an unsupported claim about stormtrooper helmets). What does any of that have to do with the fact that tricorders can't help you aim your weapon? "Alyeska" obviously never participated in any sort of debating society. Someone should explain to him that the idea of a rebuttal is to address your opponent's points, not to babble incoherently about unrelated topics.

As an aside, a tricorder would be a suicidal device to use in ground combat, because it relies exclusively on active scans. This was most blatantly demonstrated in "Juggernaut" when B'Elanna Torres boarded a Malon freighter and had to turn off her tricorder because the scanning signals were reacting with dangerous substances in the ship's air. She couldn't simply switch it to passive mode; she had to turn it off entirely.

Why is it bad for tricorders to rely exclusively on active scans? Well, it's bad because active scans act like a beacon, broadcasting your location to anyone within range. Don't simple-minded Trekkies like "Alyeska" ever wonder why submarines don't send sonar pings constantly? Don't they ever wonder what a HARM missile is for? In real life, when a SAM operator switches on his radar, he gains the ability to target enemy aircraft. He also makes it possible for enemy aircraft to target him, and they'll immediately try to pick him off with specialized missiles that track his radar emissions.

The same would be true for tricorders; if a Federation soldier wants to advertise his position, then by all means, he can switch on his tricorder. He can crank it up to maximum power and scan everything for many kilometres around. And then, he can put his head between his knees and kiss his ass goodbye, because enemy artillery or air support will be zeroing in on him shortly.

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