20
$\begingroup$

What are plausible reasons for equipping an army with the Faceless Goon style helmets? Is there a good reason at all? Please note that its a faceless helmet not a Balaclava or other form of covering but a full on total head covering helmet.

Some examples-

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

$\endgroup$

closed as primarily opinion-based by bilbo_pingouin, Frostfyre, Mołot, bukwyrm, kingledion Jan 18 at 19:01

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 33
    $\begingroup$ This seems to be an odd question for me. Why wouldn't you want a full helmet? The only reason I can think of for exposing the eyes is to give you better vision. Otherwise, it hurts to get hit in the face! (I assume by "faceless" you mean "fully covered" and not "open to the world.") $\endgroup$ – JBH Jan 17 at 21:39
  • $\begingroup$ yep! I've mostly read that they are bulky, hot and playinging into the faceless goon trope, make it really easy for the enemy to hide in your armor! But if you think they are more viable than they seem please answer! $\endgroup$ – The Imperial Jan 17 at 21:49
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ As a counter-example, I read an article comparing Star Wars Stormtroopers and the Rebels. Because the Stormtroopers were "faceless", Rebel soldiers were much less likely to not shoot at, or to deliberately miss, their targets. Because the Rebels were obviously people, its possible that the Stormtroopers' lack of precision was the very real phenomenon of troops deliberately doing their best to not kill people. $\endgroup$ – Michael Richardson Jan 18 at 2:24
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I feel like the Evil Overlord list deserves a mention here. Especially since this topic touches on the very first rule! $\endgroup$ – Dubukay Jan 18 at 3:26
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ There can be various reasons... which is "good" of "bad" seems to be left to anyone's opinion. You might consider being more specific in your question... $\endgroup$ – bilbo_pingouin Jan 18 at 10:40
36
$\begingroup$

Full Face protection

A full helmet provides protection not just to the head, but to the eyes and face as well.

NBC

Per Sasha's answer, NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) protection requires a completely sealed suit, including enclosed head gear.

Harsh environments

Sandstorms, underwater, vacuum, etc.

HUD

At least one of the images you show are from near future style games/movies. Integrated comms, heads up displays, and low-light/enhanced optics make such a device useful for obvious reasons.

Psychology

Intimidation, anonymity, uniformity, and so on, all have a value in some situations.

Other

In general, the helmet, due to general bulk and inconvenience (can't scratch an itch, stuffy, etc) probably won't be worn at all times, likely only being donned just prior to action, similar to current military helmets. And for scenarios where they aren't needed, lighter headgear might be provided. But there will certainly be scenarios where the fully enclosed helmet is useful, if not critical.

Additionally, people are wired to pick out faces. A shiny helmet might not help, but something matte or camouflaged could make it slightly harder to pick out targets, giving a fraction of a second or longer delay that the helmeted soldier could exploit.

And, hey, it looks bad-ass.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ NBC is called CBRN nowadays. The R is for Radioactive. I'm not sure how that differs from nuclear. $\endgroup$ – Kapten-N Jan 18 at 7:24
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I would highlight camuflage as other points you wrote. Full helmet replaces face camouflage painting and improves it significantly since eyes cannot be seen and face pattern is totally invisible $\endgroup$ – Piro Jan 18 at 8:02
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ In a future/sci-fi setting, protection against blinding by laser weapons or burning by microwave rays may be a very real use for faceless helmets. $\endgroup$ – Cyrus Jan 18 at 9:07
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Kapten-N Suppose Radioactive means just the radioactive component, while Nuclear includes the rest of the nuke - EMP, blastwave, heat. $\endgroup$ – user10328 Jan 18 at 9:46
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @Kapten-N R is radiation: alpha, beta, and gamma emissions, which can be blocked by various materials (with varying levels of difficulty). N is for nuclear, referring not to the emissions, but the materials that emit them. On the battlefield, this can be stuff like the dust and fragments left over when depleted-uranium rounds are used, the fallout from a nuclear weapon or dirty bomb, or radiological contamination such as leftovers from nuclear weapons production or the deliberate use of radioactive material as a poison. Keeping this out is more about sealing and filtering than shielding. $\endgroup$ – anaximander Jan 18 at 11:27
21
$\begingroup$

Anonymous

You can see Riot police covering their faces and name tags so to avoid public persecution, the same thing could happen for soldiers if they are deployed into a civillian zone and if identified could risk their personal lives or that of their families because of the acts they have to commit.

NBC Protection

Maybe they are operating a zone of nuclear, biological, or chemical dangers, so the full helmet is needed to protect them from dangers of their enviroment. In this case their uniforms would be completely sealed to prevent contamination.

$\endgroup$
  • 13
    $\begingroup$ Your first point makes me think of the first rule on the Evil Overlord list: Don’t give your minions anonymous helmets because the heroes are guaranteed to steal them and masquerade as your own men. $\endgroup$ – Dubukay Jan 18 at 3:28
  • $\begingroup$ NBC is called CBRN nowadays. The R is for Radioactive. I'm not sure how that differs from nuclear. $\endgroup$ – Kapten-N Jan 18 at 7:24
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Kapten-N, it's to distinguish between a full on nuke and a dirty bomb as the intent of the weapon is different and hence the risks are different. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Jan 18 at 10:36
16
$\begingroup$

The very first people to consider that were probably the ancient persians:

Herodotus describes the 'Immortals' as being heavy infantry, led by Hydarnes, it provided the professional corps of the Persian armies and was kept constantly at a strength of exactly 10,000 men. He stated that the unit's name stemmed from the custom that every killed, seriously wounded, or sick member was immediately replaced with a new one, maintaining the corps as a cohesive entity with a constant strength.

Suppose one of your faceless soldiers.gets shot by the enemy and leaves the enemy's sight. Another faceless soldier then engages and gets shot, and again gets replaced. Over time your enemies will be questioning whether they are actually scoring hits, or whether it is even possible to take down that resilient guy. This can reduce enemy morale.

Also what Sasha said.

$\endgroup$
10
$\begingroup$

Reasons are:

  • Its cheap to mass produce identical/scaled equipment
  • Full head-gear protects the brain and eyes
  • full head-gear can have a HUD
  • Full head-gear provides a controlled atmosphere
  • It can provide a membership symbol to those wearing it
  • It can be used to induce fear/respect

Fear/Respect

This is perhaps the most likely reason, particularly in earlier cultures. Why?

The most scary and terrifying thing you will ever encounter is an Army of the Nameless Other.

That squad is uniform in appearance and movement, it has tools that you consider dangerous or threatening, and you do not encounter it everyday.

You, a human, are a prey animal and that squad appears to your brain as a hyper-predator.

You will enter flight or fight mode.

Because that hyper-predator is too big and alien for you to mount a proper counter-response too you will prefer flight. There are three exceptions:

  • You came to confront that predator specifically.
  • You are defending something of value, eg: your children or your wife/husband who cannot get to safety or an idea which is as deep as life itself such as free speech
  • You are possessed by extreme emotions already and cannot think at all.

That is why protestors in front of a riot squad behave as they do.

  • Some are actually there to attack and tear something apart - the squad is a challenging target
  • Some are there to defend something from harm - the squad is representative of that harm (hence why riot squads walk slowly so as to not trigger this response).
  • Some are there because it is already a bad day - the squad is alien and will attract a negative response which is why they move slowly, these people will likely come to their senses given some time.
  • Everyone else flees.
$\endgroup$
5
$\begingroup$

Whelp, to me it boils down to heads being very valuable things to protect. They house four of the five primary senses, the third largest organ, several arteries, and the means to both consume nutrients and communicate. That's why helmets are some of the oldest pieces of protective gear.

Now, in modern combat helmets have become slightly less viable due to the sheer power of firearms. Simply put, the amount of material and padding needed to stop a bullet to the face from being lethal makes for a helmet too bulky and stuffy to be worn for long periods, especially in hot environments. If advances in material strength or cooling were made, however, I could imagine a number of organizations adapting much more protective and encompassing helmets.

Ballistic and possible advancements in armor aren't the only factor. Most faceless goons won't be spending all day warring against equally-armed opponents. They're most likely going to be doing things like riot control, raiding buildings for rebels and contraband, and guarding camps full of undesirables. This means a majority of combat they'll be experiencing would be against people that are unarmed, armed with improvised melee weapons, or simply throwing bricks and bottles. In those situations, something as simple as a metal helmet with a hard plastic mask would reduce injuries by a great deal. Full helmets are also useful against shrapnel, a type of damage long associated with guerrilla fighters.

From a stylistic and physiological standpoint, having a standing army with face-concealing has some benefits. Firstly, is it makes it slightly more difficult to count how many soldiers are in a location. Secondly, it makes each of your soldiers look more intimidating and powerful, a trait equally valuable for commanders pressuring enemies into surrendering and for recruiters pressuring young adults into conscripting. Lastly in this category, wearing a mask can make a person feel distanced from their actions, which can lead to them performing acts they would otherwise result to partake in. This would not be a selling point for most organizations, but would be a desirable feature if you were employing these soldiers to oppress their fellow citizens.

The last category I can think of is potential offence, and I don't mean headbutting dissidents into submission (although I would love that propaganda poster). Having helmets that are equipped with air filters can make tear gas a dominant strategy, which would make oppressing the common folk a lot easier. Night vision or some equivalent could mean these soldiers could cut the power of houses or neighborhoods before they raid them, which would make them really hard to fight and evade. Of course, built in computers that link to, say, a database of criminals would be useful.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ +1 Suggest mentioning laser protection - dazzling / blinding lasers are a real thing, easily available in developed countries. Hit a soldier's eyes with a blinding laser and he/she is a permanent cripple. Hit a camera feeding to the eyes and the helmet needs servicing to get a new camera - huge difference. $\endgroup$ – KerrAvon2055 Jan 18 at 11:14
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ +1 for mentioning shrapnel - we still wear ballistic glasses in combat because we know it won't really stop a bullet but it can certainly save your eyes from shrapnel or even just rocks getting kicked up by heavy machinery that moves at 70+ miles per hour. $\endgroup$ – JGreenwell Jan 18 at 14:05
2
$\begingroup$

faceless helmets could be handy for morale purposes in combat. If a faceless ally gets killed next to you it could be less traumatic than seeing the guy you trained with killed. On a similar line of thought bringing faceless soldiers back off the battlefield for medical attention may help to ensure there isn't any preferential treatment.

Faceless helmets could also have an intimidation factor in combat as the helmets give them a less than human appearance, essentially fooling enemies that they have less mercy than a regular soldier or to imagine how horrifying they must be if they need to hide their faces.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ But they taught us in school that hellenic and roman units benefited from all the men in a detail training together - recognizing each other in the heat of battle, maneuvering together, knowing their commander's voice. $\endgroup$ – Vorac Jan 18 at 11:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Vorac you would still be able to recognize people on your squad potentially by markings on the armor. Also kind of depends on the tech level, the future looking pictures used here could easily have HUD and voice-over-comms in the helmet $\endgroup$ – BKlassen Jan 18 at 16:55
1
$\begingroup$

power rangers

source 1. You can have actors who are easy on the eye and can deliver their lines in the native language of your audience. Then with the helmet on you can have fight scenes with a martial arts expert who looks nothing like your actor but who has got sweet martial arts skills. And you can use those same helmeted fight scenes for versions of your program with completely different actors / languages.

  1. If actor stops showing up or holds out for more money midseason, you can have his character's helmet get inexplicably stuck on his head and film the rest of the season with someone more tractable.
$\endgroup$
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ This is useful information but I was looking more for "real world" or In-universe reasons. Thanks anyway 8) $\endgroup$ – The Imperial Jan 17 at 22:59
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @TheImperial Often called Watsonian reasoning, as opposed to the Doylist reasoning provided by the answer. Doyle being the author of the Sherlock Holmes books and Watson, as you probably know, being a character in those books. I just figured that these are interesting words to know. :) $\endgroup$ – Kapten-N Jan 18 at 7:31
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post. - From Review $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Jan 18 at 13:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre - it exactly answers the question. The OP asks about equipping an army with faceless helmets. I provide an image of an army so equipped and lay out the reasons for it. There is no other specification about the world this is in. No answer had covered the possibility of these persons being actors or wearing costumes for a show, but that is the scenario which actually happens the most. $\endgroup$ – Willk Jan 18 at 13:45
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You've answered the Hollywood version of this question, rather than the one the OP asked. One does not normally deploy an army of actors, nor have on hand a second army of martial artists. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Jan 18 at 15:08
1
$\begingroup$

Depends on a technology you use for building the armor

but as an example, it allows equipping the thing with 360-degree vision, which may be controlled by ... whatever you like it being controlled like eye movements even if it may create some problems of being without a helmet, so maybe not the best example, but it depends on technologies at hand.

generally head is most vulnerable and honestly the most important part of the human body, so you would like to protect it as best of your technological abilities. It isn't done that way, because our technological abilities to implement our wishes are quite limited. But if we imagine some future tech, and if one has the ability to keep head functioning after it is ripped off by some strong force, which actually quite doable on smart matter level tech, you would like to have enough of it in head region to be able to do so.

However smart matter armor probably would take a different approach in more than helmet region, soo ... just being in the choir of - why would you like something different if you can implement the whistles. Vision, tactile information on the face, vacuum/underwater/chemicals, sonar vision, information about situation trough taste, tongue; hearing for sure, hairs on the head for feeling danger situation, enemy visual contact - a total sensory overload of everything in the body combined with AI - 6th feeling for real.

Medical assistance, etc etc.

So what limits us are technologies - not reasons or what we would like to have as functionality.

$\endgroup$
0
$\begingroup$

Full face helmets can affect your situational awareness by limiting your peripheral vision, telltale pressures of wind on your face and if not done correctly dampen your directional hearing.

$\endgroup$

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.