Any straggler even looks at me the wrong way, I put his ass down.
―A remark by a Boston soldier.
The United States military, commonly referred to as the military, appear as an enemy faction in The Last of Us and are mentioned in The Last of Us Part II. By 2033, the military, along with the Center for Disease Control and Federal Disaster Response Agency (FEDRA), are the only known remnants of the United States government.
After the initial Cordyceps brain infection (CBI) outbreak, FEDRA and the military replaced the civilian leadership of the U.S. government, imposing martial law and dissolving the other organs of state. To keep the citizens under watch, the military transformed most cities into quarantine zones, preventing citizens from leaving the city, subjecting them to forced labor, and when supplies were low, even restricting basic food rations. As time passed, their strict control became permanent, leading to the military consolidating a within the cities they occupied. The Washington Liberation Front subsequently compared them to fascists.
The player encounters the military in the Boston quarantine zone. Early on, pistol-wielding soldiers without body armor are encountered, but soldiers in body armor and riot helmets will begin to appear more often as time progresses, with assault rifles supplementing their pistols. Infected members of the military are also present in the game, located mostly in the Boston outskirts.
- 1 History
- 2 Equipment
- 3 Strength
- 4 Gallery
- 5 Trivia
- 6 References
- 7 Navigation
Early outbreak and creating quarantine zones
When the CBI outbreak began, the military forces and local law enforcement attempted to contain it. As Sarah watched a news report, a soldier in the background orders his men to leave the area due to a gas leak nearby. An explosion interrupted the broadcast before the news reporter can be warned. When Joel, Tommy and Sarah attempted to escape the infection, they witnessed the military setting up roadblocks along the highways, which caused a large traffic jam. They also saw military helicopters flying over their heads.
The military also resorted to shooting civilians suspected of infection, including children. In one instance, a soldier reluctantly attempted to execute Joel and Sarah after his commanding officer ordered him to; he killed Sarah and wounded Joel, but Tommy shot the soldier dead before he could kill Joel.
Soon after, the military and FEDRA also formed an alliance and merged their leadership together. As such, the military linked with the group's central command structure often. Some soldiers would colloquially refer to FEDRA's command area as "CENTCOM".
As social order collapsed, FEDRA deployed the remaining military forces into the United States' cities and created massive quarantine zones (QZs) to contain the masses and isolate the infection. The Air Force the surrounding areas of some of the QZs, significantly the downtown area of Boston, with the objective of killing as many of the infected as possible, while also creating buffer zones. Within the zones, as phone lines broke down around the country, people struggled to get in contact with others in different zones. To resolve this, the military endeavored to keep people connected by delivering notes and letters families and friends had for one another, on the promise such letters would arrive within two weeks of being posted. However, this assurance was not always kept.
FEDRA Attorney General Arthur Munroe ordered all military patrols to limit their efforts to find civilians trapped outside the QZs, lowering their search radius to only ten miles from the QZs. This meant civilians in towns, universities and the countryside were left to fend for themselves against the infected. Several citizens expressed outrage at the military not maintaining efforts to find survivors, noting failure to do so doomed those people to either starve to death or turn on one another to survive.
By the mid-2010s, the military had consolidated control of all major cities in America. They successfully converted them all into QZs and built high walls to keep out rogue survivors and hordes of infected. The military had listening posts on the outskirts of the zones to monitor radio transmissions.
The military and FEDRA had a large presence at the Seattle general hospital which by that point was being overrun by infected. It is insinuated that the hospital contained critical research regarding the CBI outbreak, as the military had sacrificed a significant amount of troops to retrieve files contained in the overrun lower levels of the facility.
The military also dispatched troops to deal with nests of infected in buildings surrounding the zone. Avery's patrol (containing Seb, Victor, Irina and Mali) was sent to the Hotel Blacray to clear the infected present by planting explosives. However, their efforts failed, leading to the hotel surviving the blast but trapping the soldiers inside with the infected. Stalkers eventually killed the soldiers.
Resisting dissident groups and losing power
During FEDRA's control over the quarantine zones, anger grew towards the military and their rule over America's people living in the cities. The first known dissident faction were the Fireflies, a group founded shortly after the military put Los Angeles under martial law in the 2010s. The group called for the return of all branches of government to end the military's rule and staged several attacks against the military. Anti-FEDRA and military sentiments began to appear throughout America after the military executed at least six Firefly members. Alongside this, a conspiracy began sprouting among people in the quarantine zones that the military were hoarding food for themselves rather than feed the civilians. In time, large numbers of civilians in numerous quarantine zones came to believe in the Fireflies' idea of living under their own rule rather than the military's.
By the 2020s, numerous QZs fell into civil war between the citizens and the military, ranging from protests in Pittsburgh to outright warfare in Seattle. The Fireflies assisted in these uprisings, especially in Pittsburgh. The military fought hard to keep control of the zone, deciding to publicly execute three people they branded as traitors to the peace. This action only furthered Firefly support, with an alliance forming between them and the city's residents. Large-scale fighting broke out over the next fourteen months, ending with Captain Mastros calling for his soldiers to abandon the zone, and the rebels lynching any soldiers they captured. They even captured and burned Mastros and his squad to death. The rioting citizens did not want to be controlled by FEDRA, nor take orders from the Fireflies. Thus, it wasn't long before they killed the Firefly agitators as well. They later found and killed the soldiers hiding out in the city's hotel, and secured a working Humvee from a fleeing military garrison, meaning the city was now completely under their control.
Meanwhile in Seattle, military rule faced challenge from a terrorist group known as the Washington Liberation Front, a group of dissident residents enraged by the expulsions, food shortages, and executions the military conducted under Lt. Torres and Sgt. Ward's rule. While the military had worked well in collaborating with civilians in the zone, even receiving help from Boris Legasov in combating the infected around the Hillcrest community, the WLF represented the wing of civilians against military rule. The WLF's leaders Emma and Jason Patterson conducted an anti-FEDRA campaign, distributing anti-FEDRA propaganda, stealing the military's supplies and inciting sedition among the Seattle residents.
Eventually, the military eliminated the Pattersons, along with most of the other top officials of the Wolves, leaving Isaac Dixon as the last remaining original instigator of the rebellion. In retaliation for their deaths, Isaac killed three soldiers to avenge the Pattersons. While several citizens were morally against Isaac's actions, the remaining WLF members voted him as their new leader. Over the coming weeks, the WLF committed attacks on military checkpoints, assaulted convoys, and committed open armed conflict against the military. 
To counter the WLF's growing aggression, Torres ordered the soldiers open fire on any and all WLF protests, including peaceful ones. The order led to the Thursday Market massacre, an event that saw the military's brutal response to the WLF march cause a surge in WLF support and membership among the Seattle residents. The action was particularly controversial as the protesters were campaigning for food for their families and ended the military's propaganda campaign to frame the WLF as a terrorist group filled with murderers; the WLF now became known as the citizens' own freedom fighters. The increased membership led to further success for the WLF, with even FEDRA soldiers defecting to join the militia group.
In time, the military gave up on their campaign to defeat the WLF, with Torres ordering Ward to evacuate the military personal from the city along with rabbi Zivah Saunders and their family. Torres penned a note to Paul Douglas at FEDRA Headquarters conceding that the zone was lost. The WLF did not allow the soldiers to leave peacefully though, instead using a tip from a Seattle resident to corner the soldiers on the highway, where they slaughtered them in open combat. Torres and Ward's squad managed to escape the battle but the WLF chased them to the courthouse, where they finished the fight in a final skirmish, successfully killing the military's leadership and officially ending their reign over the city. Within a few months, the WLF successfully captured all of FEDRA's military checkpoints in the city. With that, the WLF had successfully won the war against FEDRA and now controlled the QZ.
However, some military personal fled into the city's suburbs. Unwilling to let them reintegrate into the city's community, the WLF hunted them down to clear the city of the military completely. They also killed Boris and his daughter Sofia Legasov in Hillcrest.
However, a portion of the military force assigned to Seattle managed to pull out successfully. Notably, Perez, Green, Adams and an unnamed soldier succeeded in escaping the WLF's slaughter and hid out at a radio outpost in the city for several days.
The Fireflies continued their efforts to disrupt the military's rule throughout the country as well. Tommy Miller and Eugene Linden were stationed in Denver as part of a war effort against the military in the city. The Fireflies also successfully defeated the military in Salt Lake City, converting the local hospital into their primary base by the early 2030s. However, by 2033, the tide began to turn back in the military's favor.
Late outbreak and remnants of control
By 2033, according to Joel, the military had lost control over many quarantine zones, and hunter rule was the norm in those areas. Their only known fully operational QZ is Boston, where the residents circumvented the military's strict rule through their smuggling trade. An entire battalion was stationed here, under the command of a general and the soldiers still possessed high-grade weapons like assault rifles and Humvees. Despite this, they did not control the mall within the city and were running low on supplies by July that year.
Much like the former QZs, Boston was plagued with starving citizens, rigid work duties and strict curfews on all residents. The military used barriers to prevent anyone from leaving without permission or entering certain areas in the city. There were regular checkpoints throughout these zones where civilians were required to present papers, and there were also random infection checks, with the military killing infected people immediately via lethal injection or outright shooting them. Like in Seattle and Pittsburgh, people here believed the soldiers were hoarding food for themselves. Citizens also had to assist the military in work duties, such as fortifying the wall. While doing so, they had to wear yellow suits crafted in a similar fashion to the military's uniforms, except these clearly denoted their ranks as civilian workers rather than soldiers. In contrast, the soldier's blue uniforms had the word "ARMY" on their chest patches, as well as on FEDRA-owned doors and devices. Citizens who refused had their ration cards revoked and were placed in solitary confinement, punishments which the people heavily disparaged.
Regardless, many outside the Boston QZ believed living within the walls under military rule was a safer life than those living outside the zone. Further, complaints against FEDRA were low enough that the soldiers did not bother to arrest people for sedition, despite it being a crime according to FEDRA in former QZs. Indeed, the thriving smuggling market of food, guns and drugs appeared to placate Boston's residents enough to not rebel openly to FEDRA rule. The only openly active resistance to FEDRA rule came from Marlene and the Fireflies living the zone, who bombed checkpoints daily and got into numerous skirmishes with the military throughout the city. However, by the summer of 2033, the military had clamped down on the Firefly insurgents, leading Marlene to order her troops to withdraw from the city, meaning the military's rule over Boston uniquely survived militia rebellion for control.
The military did recently control Hartford but that too fell to rule by hunters because of food shortages. Some citizens from Hartford were trying to sneak into the Boston QZ. Sergeant Winston Asher encountered them and killed the ones that were infected. He wrote to his superior Major Banks regarding the incident, asking for more patrols, but did not expect the officer to reply as he felt Banks was incompetent and the military were running low on supplies at the time.
Events of American Dreams
The military has little tolerance for Fireflies and their sympathizers. They cause "disappearances" and summarily execute civilians suspected of being Fireflies. According to Ellie, they even train teenagers at their military preparatory schools on how to kill Fireflies. The military, in their mission to eliminate the Fireflies, engaged them in key points throughout Boston. At one point, they successfully pinned them down in the streets, nearly succeeding in defeating all of Marlene's squad. However, Riley Abel, situated on a roof above the firefight, intervened by tossing smoke grenades at them, disrupting their line of fire, enabling the Fireflies to escape. The soldiers attempted to shoot Riley, but she escaped.
Events of The Last of Us
When Joel and Tess are smuggling Ellie outside of Boston, they are surprised by two soldiers patrolling the outskirts who subdue Joel and order Tess and Ellie to put their hands on the heads and kneel down. When scanned for infection, Ellie stabs the soldier in the leg, causing the soldier to knock her down. Joel tackles him, wrestles his gun away, and kills him; Tess shoots the other dead before making their escape. Humvees and infantry pour into the area to search for them but eventually retreat when they lose track of the group. Such implies any "stragglers" found outside the Boston wall are sent back to the QZ and charged, as Joel and Tess were going to be escorted back before Ellie was scanned.
While crossing through a building, the trio encounters dead soldiers and several who had turned into runners, who had left the zone to search even the severely damaged downtown for supplies despite the high risk. This implies the military is becoming increasingly desperate to find supplies to keep the QZ from falling apart. They learn the soldiers (officer Waters, Private Shah, Private Coolidge, and Private Atwater) had encountered stalkers but died while awaiting reinforcements.
By morning, the military caught up to the trio at the Capitol building, having earlier killed the Fireflies that they were supposed to rendezvous with. Tess killed two soldiers before dying, while Joel and Ellie evaded the others via fighting past various squads of soldiers before making it to the subway line, narrowly avoiding being shot at by a Humvee.
They are shown to conduct vehicle patrols that go outside the walls to search for anything worth taking, going as far as Lincoln. One such patrol was overrun by infected and crashed into Lincoln High School. Bill wanted to steal the battery from a truck, as the military are the only ones who make new batteries any more. This indicates that they have at least some industrial capacity; given how it seems standard policy for smugglers to be captured if possible, it is possible the military uses prisoners as labor to allow troops to focus on their duties.
Events of Left Behind
The military's entire 4th Infantry Division was stationed in the Denver QZ. Members from this section followed an "infection protocol"; with no cure discovered, all personnel that become infected are to be executed immediately. This includes civilians. Chief Warrant Officer Larry Caulfield was executed by Captain Regan Francis after the former was bitten when their helicopter crashed at the Colorado Mountain Plaza. The pilot, Sean Brendon, was also bitten but died upon impact. Regan later showed regret, writing that she "shot him like a dog" while he begged and tried to tell her that he still had time left. However, when Private Ellis got bit, Regan immediately amputated his right arm, thinking it would prevent the fungus from infecting him. With no recorded precedent of a human ever surviving a bite via amputation, the two wondered whether Regan's actions were right or not. Regan initially thought of abandoning Ellis but later decided to stay with him.
Ellis later killed her out of fear that he would be killed when she reached for her gun and died of his injuries in an air duct after escaping from some infected. Ellie can find recordings of their predicament left all around the shopping mall.
The military has changed drastically since the early outbreak. They use assault rifles with mounted flashlights and wear gas masks and body armor, but clearly do not have enough to spare for every soldier to use. Thus, many soldiers go without adequate protection, and/or are forced to use 9mm pistols as their primary weapons. Some soldiers even use revolvers. They also use smoke grenades when facing Firefly militia.
Their uniforms have changed completely; they now wear blue uniforms (possibly the  Handheld scanners have been developed, which allow troops to easily test individuals for infection. They are very accurate, one correctly identifying Ellie as infected within seconds.). Their old uniforms were likely replaced due to deterioration over the course of 20 years, and the military's limited industrial capacity made it easier for them to produce plain blue uniforms rather than camouflage; possibly since the latter would need to be produced in greater quantities, due to requiring forest, urban, winterized versions and so forth. In addition to their standard uniforms, some soldiers wear ballistic vests and police-style riot helmets. These riot helmets are likely used to protect the face from attacks by hostile survivors and infected, although they are shown to function in the capacity of a as well, being capable of saving the wearer from a headshot with a firearm.
During the initial outbreak, a soldier is seen wearing a uniform with woodland camouflage commonly seen as part of a MOPP Suit worn by soldiers during chemical warfare. Coupled with the gas mask, this implies that the government believed (not incorrectly) that the disease could have been airborne or spread by physical contact, explaining the high amounts of protection.
Types of soldiers
In The Last of Us, there are three types of soldiers that are encountered. Some soldiers are armored and often wield assault rifles more than pistols. They patrol on top of buildings and guard checkpoints, as well as being the primary troops who conduct operations outside the safety of the wall, such as patrols or supply runs. These appear to be the "regulars" of the military.
Other, non-armored troops are seen to only have blue uniforms and field caps, carrying pistols more than assault rifles. These lightly-equipped soldiers are mostly encountered inside of the Boston wall, so it can be assumed that they are recruits or some form of city defense force. Although their jobs appear to be centered more on policing than combat, they are encountered in the same squads as heavier troops in some situations.
Another type of soldier is also seen just once, who cannot be fought. They carry assault rifles and wear HAZMAT suits, gas masks, and oxygen tanks. They deal with environments that are contaminated by spores, such as the condemned apartment building where civilians are hiding during the beginning of the game. Their equipment appears to offer enhanced protection from spores over just having a respirator; their oxygen tanks suggest that they can operate in spore-contaminated zones for longer periods of time than other troops.
There were also medical squads within the military, seen in Left Behind. For instance, a squad of soldiers from the Denver QZ wore green uniforms similar to the non-armored soldiers in Boston, with the notable distinction of having a Red Cross arm band on their ride arms. they lacked protective vests but typically carried surgical supplies with them.
The military still use M939s along with Humvees and mounted .50 caliber machine guns and loudspeakers. A wrecked M35 truck was also seen in Lincoln, appearing to be a short-body variant. Several long-abandoned ones were seen scattered across the country, and the Fireflies once used of some at the University of Eastern Colorado. Two burned-out M2 Bradley IFVs were seen in Pittsburgh. Another long-abandoned one was seen in the FEDRA camp in Salt Lake City. Bill's dialogue suggests that they scavenge fuel from abandoned vehicles.
It is interesting to note that no operational aircraft are seen post-outbreak, although Tess explains after leaving the Boston quarantine zone that the military carpet-bombed the city around the QZ to create a buffer zone and kill as many of the infected as possible. A crashed military helicopter, possibly a UH-60 Blackhawk, appeared in the Colorado Mountain Plaza, indicating that there is still a handful in use.
The military is the strongest faction the player encounters, rivaled only by elite members of the Fireflies, as they still have access to assault rifles, body armor, and Humvees despite being fought at such an early stage. The military is so strong that the Fireflies actions to defeat them have proved mostly futile, with the military resisting many terrorist attacks on checkpoints and rioting in various cities throughout apocalyptic America.
However, the hunters and Fireflies combined forces were enough to defeat the military in cities like Pittsburgh, greater numbers contesting the military's training and resources. The Washington Liberation Front was also able to defeat the military garrison stationed in Seattle, even after suffering heavy casualties due to a string of successful military counter-insurgency operations. Regardless, lone survivors typically struggle.
The player is unable to combat them when first encountering them in Boston. Attempting to attack or bump into the soldiers there causes them to shove the player back and give a warning. Bumping into the same guard again will make them knock the player down and fire a shot into their head instantly killing the player. Later, when in the outskirts, engaging them in a firefight is ill-advised because the player lacks powerful guns and ammunition. As such, stealth killing or simply sneaking past them is preferable. However, if faced in smaller or weaker numbers (like in the Capitol building or the abandoned railway station underneath it) the player could face them head-on then since they only use pistols rather than assault rifles.
Joel and Tess managed to overpower the two soldiers who attempted to arrest them after Ellie distracted one. Tess shot one dead while Joel easily tackled and killed the other one, displaying poor training in hand-to-hand combat, despite having better equipment. Alternatively, they may not have expected trouble from three seemingly ordinary survivors.
Of the groups shown to face infected, the military has actually lost a lot of their soldiers despite being the best-trained and equipped faction left. The squad that encountered infected in downtown Boston were overrun, many becoming infected or being killed. Avery's squad in Seattle, that encountered a group of stalkers, met a similar fate. A heavily armed squad sent to retrieve data research about the infected from the Seattle hospital were also all slaughtered by the infected living there. A mounted patrol was also overrun, crashing into Lincoln high school. Even a four-man unit lost two men when facing just one runner. However, there was one account where a soldier defeated three runners by himself, without being bitten.
The Last of Us
- As with other factions, the military recruits females but they are not encountered during in-game combat. Regardless female runners outfitted within military uniforms and gear can be fought in "The Outskirts".
- On the photo mode of the Remastered edition, the military ironically register as friendlies until the player faces them at the Capitol building.
- Interestingly, the crashed helicopter in Left Behind bears an incorrect paint scheme and markings. Blackhawks that are used for medical evacuation would be painted an overall dark grayish-green, with small Red Cross markings on the nose and side doors.
- An M1 Abrams tank that can be found in Seattle while exploring the downtown area with Dina bears markings "USMC 198533", identifying that it had previously belonged to the United States Marine Corps.
- Drafting notice
- "Fun and Games"
- Lost Hill note
- "The Quarantine Zone"
- See the radio broadcast
- WLF recruiter journal
- "Bus Depot"
- "Seattle Day 1"
- "The Outskirts"
- Lone FEDRA soldier journal 2
- Lt. Torres' final memorandum
- Evacuation letter
- Evacuation leaflet
- Cite error: Invalid
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- Newspaper clipping
- "The Suburbs"
- Looting note
- Neighbor exchange
- Lone FEDRA soldier journal 1
- Soldier's letter
- Chapel note
- FEDRA orders
- "Seattle Day 3"
- FEDRA final note
- Traitors flyer
- Note from mom
- Abandon zone note
- Final attack note
- Mob attack note
- Fireflies note
- Truck note
- FEDRA census document
- Boris' daughter's drawing
- Turn in Boris note
- Condolence note
- Boris' confession
- List of known WLF agitators
- Join WLF note (Downtown)
- Plea to a friend letter
- Rabbi Saunders' letter
- Note to informant
- Yolanda's note
- Rebecca's tip off
- "The Firefly Lab"
- Marlene's journal
- Warning note
- Note to brother
- "Back in a Flash"
- The Last of Us: American Dreams
- Field ops log
- "Bill's Town"
- Salon note
- Generator note
- Atrium recorder
- Duct recorder
- Atrium note
- Crew photo
- "The Enemy of My Enemy"
- "The University"