The United States Army was the largest armed force of the United States of America. It is organized under the Department of the Army, responsible for conducting its affairs and regulating its operations. Though the civilian government formerly exercised control over the military, the Resource Wars combined with the deteriorating economic situation led to the erosion of civilian authority and gradual transition of a federal republic into a military junta, with the President of the United States exercising dictatorial control over the state.
The United States Army was a direct descendant of the Continental Army created to defend the fledgling nation, although its 21st-century history would put it far from its roots. By mid-century, it was an incredibly powerful tool of an imperialist state, used when economic pressure could not achieve its political goals.
The first known example of the Army acting in this capacity came in 2051, when the United States began exerting pressure on Mexico to protect their economic interests there, primarily the crude oil supply. The U.S. deliberately destabilized the country through economic pressure, paving the way for a military invasion.[Non-canon 1] American units seized oil refineries and infrastructure to ensure the flow of crude oil did not cease.[Non-canon 2] Not long afterward, rising oil prices worldwide bankrupted smaller nations and led to the European Commonwealth declaring war on the Middle East; the United States was severely affected by the skyrocketing prices of oil. In subsequent years, this would become known as the beginning of the so-called Resource Wars,[Non-canon 3] exacerbated by the dissolution of the United Nations in July that ensured no international body would exist to mediate between nations or enforce international treaties, allowing for unrestricted use of military force.
Against the backdrop of an increasingly worsening international situation, including nuclear exchanges in the Middle East and the Euro-Middle Eastern War, the United States stepped up its efforts to militarize. One of the first major projects emerged in 2059, as the Anchorage Front Line was established in Alaska to protect the state's natural resources. A side effect of this decision was the escalation of tensions with Canada, as the United States Army demanded the ability to station troops on Canadian soil, in an effort to protect the Alaskan pipeline.[Non-canon 4]
A year later, in 2060, available fuel reserves were on the brink of depletion worldwide.[Non-canon 5] The problem was further emphasized by the collapse of the European Commonwealth and the Middle East oil powers, as the oil fields were exhausted.[Non-canon 6] Together with a deteriorating economy and worsening social climate, the United States began to crack.[Non-canon 7] The Third Red Scare was a response to the increased hostility of the People's Republic of China, primarily its intelligence operations on American soil, and pervasive propaganda that blamed the nation's problems on Communist foes.
The Army was particularly affected by the fuel shortages, as its vehicle fleets became crippled by fuel shortages, although it did not stop them from deploying cargobots in Appalachia in late 2060 for providing reconnaissance and delivering supplies. In response to the shortages, the United States Army initiated a research program to develop power armor in 2065.[Non-canon 8] Although no prototype proves itself to be workable in the field, intense research, development, and prototyping paved the way for future advances in military, construction, and most importantly, cold fusion technology.[Non-canon 9] The military continued research in other areas continues as well, including more powerful nuclear weapons.[Non-canon 10]
These advances would prove crucial for the Army in the near future. Spring of 2066 was the turning point in history, as oil resources dried up across the globe causing an energy crisis in China. Bordering on collapse, the Communist state aggressively pursued a trade agreement with the United States to export crude oil to the Asian superpower. The talks eventually broke down,[Non-canon 11] culminating in the July 24 declaration by the U.S. president that the last known supply of petroleum would be used exclusively by the U.S. and they would not sell or trade any oil to outside parties. Adding further insult was the public announcement of the development of the first crude fusion cell, an offshoot of the power armor project, in the summer.[Non-canon 12]
In the winter of 2066, China launched an invasion of Alaska to seize its natural resources and stave off collapse. This daring, trans-Pacific military operation began the Sino-American War, the last war the United States would ever fight.[Non-canon 13] The initial invasion overwhelmed American defenders. Military units of the Army and other branches of the military found themselves reeling from the initial attack, retreating on all fronts well into 2067, despite the Canadian government backing down and acquiescing to American demands for transfer rights through Canadian territory at the end of 2066.[Non-canon 14] It was not until the first suits of T-45 power armor were pressed into production that the Chinese thrust into the nether regions of America was slowed and halted. The first units proved to be incredibly effective in defense, but somewhat lacking in offensive capabilities. As the Chinese military lost the initiative, the situation rapidly deteriorated into trench warfare as neither side was capable of breaking the stalemate and forcing peace terms on the enemy.[Non-canon 15]
The war continued, with the Army and other branches liberally drawing on Canadian natural resources to support its war effort. Protests from Ottawa were routinely ignored as Canada became Little America: A colony of the last superpower on the continent.[Non-canon 16]
The Army outright occupied Canada in 2072, as rioting and protests in Canadian cities culminated in a sabotage attempt of the Alaskan pipeline. Army troops marched north, opening a second front: Fighting against Canadians.[Non-canon 17]
On the domestic front, the Army deepened its ties with the corporate world, as its robotics program developed. The Army commissions RobCo Industries and General Atomics International, long-time suppliers of combat robots to the military, to create the most powerful combat robot in the history of warfare. Its mission? To liberate Anchorage, Alaska from Chinese occupation. The project was meant to serve both military and propaganda needs. The former dictated the capacity, the latter the design: In the words of General Constantine Chase, initiator of the project, Liberty Prime was to embody the American military: A walking, talking, nuke-tossing hero reminding enemies of the U.S. that they picked a fight with a global superpower. Confident that the project would soon yield result, General Chase publicly confirmed in June 2072 that the U.S. Army was working with General Atomics and RobCo to create a superweapon meant to establish dominance of the United States on the Alaskan front.
Not all companies were lucky enough to be commissioned. For example, in 2071, the West Tek Research Facility was put under Army command, which would oversee the development of a Pan-Immunity Virion from 2073. The research would eventually evolve into the Forced Evolutionary Virus project.[Non-canon 18]
One of the turning points of the War came in 2074, as, despite claims of fighting a defensive war, American infantry and mechanized divisions landed in Asia, in a counter-invasion of Chinese mainland. The American economy strained as American soldiers, Marines, sailors, and airmen fought a war on three fronts: Canada, Alaska, and mainland China. Neither side was willing to yield, despite eight years of constant warfare. The situation rapidly deteriorated into a stalemate, just like in Alaska.[Non-canon 19] Ambitious flanking maneuvers such as the Gobi Campaign, and the Yangtze Campaign, where U.S. Marines rapidly overran Shanghai and Nanjing, did little to tip the scales in favor of American forces. As late as 2077, American troops would struggle to control supply routes, forcing permanent garrisons, such as the 5th Infantry Regiment in remote locales such as Mambajao in the Bohol Sea region of the Philippines.
By 2076, the war had raged for a decade. Both China and the United States were nearing exhaustion. In January, the Army stationed a permanent garrison at West Tek's research facility in California to ensure that the Forced Evolutionary Virus project (a super-soldier program that emerged from PVP development) remained safe from international espionage. Dogs and chimpanzees are the first test subjects, paving the way for future development.[Non-canon 20] Outside the nation's borders, the annexation of Canada completed later in the month. Its provinces remained under martial law - all protesters and rioters were shot on sight. Atrocities committed by the Army quickly made their way stateside, fermenting anti-governmental sentiment.[Non-canon 21]
Later that year, the Army gained a decisive advantage. The T-51 power armor finally completed testing with the Corps of Engineers in June, giving the American soldier the tool they needed to confront the Chinese. Next-generation power armor was rapidly manufactured and provided to mechanized cavalry units. Sent to the Alaskan and Chinese fronts, they carved a swath through Communist forces. The Chinese economy crumbled under the onslaught and supply lines from nations annexed by the Beijing regime started falling apart.[Non-canon 22] However, the Washington regime did not fare any better. In August, food and energy riots started in urban centers across the United States. A state of emergency and eventually martial law was declared, with Army deployed on the domestic front to fight their own countrymen.[Non-canon 23] Demoralized troops behaved like thugs towards their own countrymen.
Collapse of America
The counterpoint to this disastrous turn of events came in early 2077, as the Anchorage Reclamation ended with a decisive American victory on January 10, after a final offensive spearheaded by T-51 power armor units adapted to the cold environment penetrated Chinese defenses around Anchorage. Despite the embarrassment of the Liberty Prime project, which failed to produce a working weapon for use in Anchorage, General Constantine Chase was credited with the victory.[Non-canon 24] The Anchorage War Memorial was hastily erected on FDR Island to commemorate the efforts and sacrifices of American soldiers on the Alaskan front, basing on an iconic photograph taken in Anchorage. The victory in Alaska heralded bad news for American and Canadian citizens, as the military junta in control of the United States deployed mechanized cavalry units to Canada and the United States. Veterans of the Chinese and Alaskan fronts found themselves fighting their own countrymen, quelling riots, and enforcing the national quarantine. Mounting civilian casualties tested the loyalty of soldiers and desertions started to occur. Captured deserters were imprisoned or sent to feed the Army's newest Robobrain development program.[Non-canon 25]
The campaign in mainland China was reinvigorated by the victory in Alaska and the deployment of T-51 units. Army troops clad in T-51 regularly witnessed Chinese troops surrendering upon sighting them and their miniguns.[Non-canon 26] However, the effect did not last. As American troops pushed deeper into the mainland, Chinese resistance increased. By October, the situation transitioned from a rout into a stalemate. After a decade of war, there was no end in sight. Billions of dollars and thousands of casualties were spent in vain. To bolster the offensive, bases across the United States were sealed and troops redeployed to provide more men for the meat grinder.
The situation was made worse by the fact that the oligarchs ruling the United States retreated to remote locations around the globe, expecting a last-ditch nuclear strike from China at any moment. The oil rig was claimed by the president and key members of the junta, becoming the foundation of the future Enclave.[Non-canon 27] The United States was leaderless, continuing on simply due through inertia. When the U.S. Army security detail at Mariposa discovered the FEV experiments conducted on their comrades in arms – the very men arrested for refusing to fight their own countrymen – they rebel. However, even as Captain John Maxson declared them in full desertion from the Army and broke all ties with the United States, there was no response – the chain of command ceased to exist.[Non-canon 28]
Nuclear weapons were launched on October 23, 2077. Within two hours, the United States ceased to exist as a nation, its cities vaporized in nuclear fireballs. The former leaders of the country having already retreated to their safe-havens. Abandoned by their leaders, the survivors began rebuilding on their own.[Non-canon 29]
Although the United States Army ceased to exist alongside the nation it formally served (and actually controlled), it would continue to influence its history directly and indirectly. The most obvious examples are military hardware present in the wasteland, ranging from humble infantry equipment to the high tech T-51 power armor and military robots. More subtle examples include:
- The Brotherhood of Steel formed by Roger Maxson, which became an important player in wasteland politics. The Appalachian Brotherhood of Steel was based on another Army unit, the Rangers (specifically, Taggerdy's Thunder).
- Pre-War veterans and other survivors who came to Appalachia in 2103 and tried to continue their Army duties. One example is Joe Creigh, who took advantage of the automated training regimen at Camp McClintock to join the Army and continue his family tradition. An example of pre-War U.S. Army soldiers that lived in Appalachia are Captain Fields, Sergeant Radcliff and Sergeant Thompson.
- The Enclave, formed by the descendants of the military-industrial complex that ruled America, which almost managed to commit total global genocide.
- Junktown, founded by a former U.S. Army serviceman.
- The Unity, which came into existence as an unintended result of the FEV research project.
The United States Army was structured much like it was in the 20th century. Theater commands, like the Pacific Command (USPACOM), encompassed Armies, divisions, and their constituent battalions, regiments, and so on and so forth. Known units include the 708th Infantry Division, 104th and 184th Infantry Regiments, the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, or the 108th Infantry Battalion.
The Army also included a number of additional divisions responsible for specialized fields of expertise, including:
- United States Army Rangers. A distinguished Ranger unit was the Taggerdy's Thunder.
- Army Special Forces: The famous Green Berets.
- Robotics Division: Research, development, maintenance, and operation of military robotics. Operates under a special Congressional Military Robotics Oversight Committee.
- Chemical Weapons Division: Responsible for research, development, and operation of chemical weapons.
- Military Police Corps: Law enforcement.
- Army Research Laboratory: Military research in conjunction with civilian companies and experts.
- Intelligence Corps: Intelligence.
- Corps of Engineers: Military engineering, design, and construction experts.
- Reserve: Trained units and qualified personnel called upon in times of war.
- Commonwealth Defense Administration, responsible for the nuclear forces that would carry out nuclear counter-attacks.
By 2077 and the Great War, the United States Armed Forces was the most powerful military in the world, thanks to its overwhelming technological superiority. T-60 power armor, T-51 and the older T-45 model, guaranteed a qualitative advantage over any foe, thanks to their superb protection and ability to carry heavy weapons into combat, including rotary cannons usually mounted on gunships or fighters, and crew-served weapons like anti-tank missile launchers. They were essentially mobile firing positions, filling a similar (but not identical) niche as tanks. Power armor units were usually issued to mechanized cavalry formations operating on critical fronts, although significant numbers were issued to special purpose units assigned to domestic security, such as at the Mariposa Military Base.
Energy weapons were another example of the United States enjoying technological superiority over any potential foe. While Germany has developed infantry fielded railguns in the form of the M72 Gauss rifle and the PPK-12 Gauss pistol (which the United States fielded as well), the United States Armed Forces were entering a stage where laser and plasma weapons were issued to soldiers in the field, slowly replacing conventional firearms. While many continued to be developed and tested, production models like the Wattz 2000 laser rifle or the modular General Atomics AER-9 were issued to frontline troops in China and Alaska. The weapons have not yet managed to eclipse conventional armaments, but provided a significant edge to United States forces, thanks to the versatility of power cells: A micro-fusion cell could power anything from a close-range scattergun to a high-precision long-range laser marksman's rifle.[Non-canon 30]
Outside power armor and energy weapons, the Armed Forces deployed advanced, reliable technologies. The standard combat uniform of the military was combat armor, manufactured from advanced defensive polymers, providing excellent protection. Even the first generation, where the armor was manufactured as individual plates affixed to a uniform, was a great combat uniform and was used by light infantry formation well into 2077, with more advanced suits reserved for frontline use in China or sensitive areas on the domestic front. Weapons tended to be more reliable than advanced, with the rugged, reliable M199, and R91 assault rifles, the humble service rifle and/or the MP9 10mm submachine gun being the perfect examples of the philosophy. Although advanced conventional designs (such as bullpup designs and caseless ammunition) were certainly deployed and in number.
Robotics and vehicles
Robotics played an important role in Army operations. Apart from sentry bots, designed originally for guard duties – used to carry heavy weapons into combat on a semi-autonomous unit, the Army also employed a variety of other robotic materiel. Among the materiel were cargobots, protectrons, the more advanced Mister Gutsy robots (militarized versions of the popular Mister Handy utility robot), which entered service in 2077, and the assaultron. This RobCo design was built as a frontline wartime combatant. Fast and deadly at close range, and employs a devastating laser at a distance. Some units can even employ stealth technology. With the progression of the War and subsequent straining of personnel, the military began a process to automate facilities wherever possible, effectively replacing the staff with machines.
With the advancement of cyber-robotics came the development of the robobrain. Developed shortly before the war by GAI, the robobrain was uniquely designed to accept brains as its central processor. They were intended to be a multipurpose platform, with such duties as to command units of robots, interrogation, and to fill tactically proficient combat roles.
Despite the continuing resource crisis, the Army continued to field its extensive vehicle fleet. Infantry fighting vehicles were commonly used on the domestic front, to contain riots and secure evacuations, while heavy tanks provided the firepower necessary on the frontlines. Many of these vehicles would later be used for emergency relief operations until they inevitably broke down or were abandoned by deserting soldiers. The biggest asset of the Army was the Vertibird transport VTOL, enhancing the mobility of power armor units. A new and improved prototype XVB02 Vertibird tiltrotor gunship was in development by 2077, with full-scale adoption planned for 2083. Lastly, though they can hardly be considered aircraft, hundreds of orbital micronuclear platforms were also placed in orbit around Earth, to provide tactical fire support for military forces or defend the home front if need be.
Combat drug use was sanctioned by commanders. In fact, one of the most popular drugs, Psycho, was developed by an R&D company part-owned by General Chase, and to prevent addiction many bases stockpiled endorphin blockers, allowing soldiers to use these drugs freely.
Art and propaganda
United States mainland
- Enclave facilities
- American soldiers
- Strike team
- Military ranks
- Fallout Bible 0
- Fallout Bible 0: "2051 Seeking to protect business interests and their oil supply, the United States begins to exert increasing pressure on Mexico, citing the political instability and pollution stemming from Mexico as a threat to the United States. Various economic sanctions serve to destabilize Mexico, and the United States military enters Mexico to keep the oil refineries running and making sure oil and fuel continue to make their way north across the border... at Mexico's expense."
- Fallout Bible 0: "2052 April The Resource Wars begin. Many smaller nations go bankrupt, and Europe, dependent on oil imports from the Middle East, responds to the Middle East's rising oil prices with military action. The long-drawn-out war between the European Commonwealth and the Middle East begins."
- Fallout Bible 0: "2059 The Anchorage Front Line is established, as the United States increases its military presence in Alaska to protect its oil interests. The Anchorage Front Line causes tensions in the United States and Canada, as the United States attempts to pressure Canada into allowing American military units to guard the Alaskan pipeline."
- Fallout Bible 0: "2060 Traffic on the streets of the world stops moving. Fuel becomes too precious to waste on automobiles, so alternatives are explored - electric and fusion cars begin to be manufactured, but factories can only make limited amounts. Pressure on fusion research increases."
- Fallout Bible 0: "2060 The Euro-Middle Eastern War ends as the oil fields in the Middle East run dry... there is no longer a goal in the conflict, and both sides are reduced almost to ruin."
- Fallout Bible 0: "2062 Despite quarantine measures, the New Plague continues to spread, fueling national paranoia."
- Fallout Bible 0: "2065 August Increasing need for mobility in the United States mechanized cavalry leads the military to focus the efforts on creating a man-based tank - essentially, a two-legged walking armored unit: Power Armor."
- Fallout Bible 0: "2065-2067 Power Armor research grows and several prototypes are developed, many of which prove to be unworkable in the field. These prototypes pave the way for future advances in military, construction, and fusion technology."
- Fallout 3 E3 trailer Capitol Post newspaper Wednesday, January 13, 2066 Newspaper Trailer.png, Teaser Newspaper.jpg
- Fallout Bible 0: "2066 Spring As the oil resources dry up across the globe, China's fossil fuel dependency causes an energy crisis in the nation. China, bordering on collapse, becomes more aggressive in its trade talks with the United States. Unwilling to export oil to China, talks between the United States and China break down."
- Fallout Bible 0: "2066 Summer Adding further insult to the Chinese-American relations, the first crude fusion cell is unveiled, one of the results of the Power Armor project. Devices designed for the fusion cell begin to be manufactured. Incorporating fusion power into the general US infrastructure begins, but the process is too slow to supply power to the regions that need it. Nearly thirteen years later, few sections of the United States were supplied with fusion power."
- Fallout Bible 0: "2066 Winter In the winter of 2066, China invades Alaska. The Anchorage Front Line becomes a true battleground."
- Fallout Bible 0: "2066 Winter As a sign of increasing tension between the two countries, Canada proves reluctant to allow American troops on Canadian soil or allow American planes to fly over Canadian airspace. The United States and Canadian tensions rise, but Canada eventually backs down, and US troops pass through Canada. This sets the stage for the Canadian annexation in 2076."
- Fallout Bible 0: "2067 The first suit of Power Armor is deployed in Alaska. While lacking the full mobility of future versions, this Power Armor is incredibly effective against Chinese tanks and infantry. Its ability to carry heavy ordinance becomes key in various localized conflicts, and it has the power to destroy entire towns without endangering the wearer. China rushes to create its own versions, but they are many years behind the United States."
- Fallout Bible 0: "2069 Canada begins to feel the pressure from the United States military as the US draws upon Canadian resources for the war effort. Vast stretches of timberland are destroyed, and other resources in Canada are stretched to the breaking point. Many Americans refer to Canada as Little America, and Canadian protests are unheard."
- Fallout Bible 0: "2072 The United States' increasing demand for Canadian resources causes protests and riots in several Canadian cities. An attempted sabotage attempt of the Alaskan pipeline is all the military needs as an excuse to begin its annexation of Canada... which in fact, had already begun in 2067."
- Fallout Bible 0: "2073 Sept 15 As China becomes increasingly aggressive with their use of biological weapons, the United States government felt that a countermeasure was needed. The Pan-Immunity Virion Project (PVP) is officially formed and plans are made to begin experiments at the West Tek research facility in Southern California."
- Fallout Bible 0: "2074 Contrary to their claims of seeking only to retake Alaska from the Reds, American Power Armor units, infantry, and mechanized divisions are deployed to China, but they become bogged down on the mainland, putting a further drain on American resources and supply lines."
- Fallout Bible 0: "2076 January 3 A military team under the command of Colonel Spindel is sent to the West Tek research facility to monitor the experiments in the interest of national security. Captain Roger Maxson (the grandfather of John Maxson, the High Elder of the Brotherhood of Steel in F1) is among the team personnel."
- Fallout Bible 0: "2076 January The United States annexation of Canada is complete. Canadian protestors and rioters are shot on sight, and the Alaskan Pipeline swarms with American military units. Pictures of atrocities make their way to the United States, causing further unrest and protests."
- Fallout Bible 0: "2076 June Power Armor prototype completed, resulting in the Power Armor players find in Fallout 1. This is the pinnacle of Power Armor technology before the Great War. Many of these units are sent to China, and they begin to carve a swath through the Chinese forces. The Chinese resources are strained to the breaking point, and the supply lines from the nations China has annexed begin to break down."
- Fallout Bible 0: "2076 August Food and energy riots begin in major cities throughout the United States. Military units begin to be deployed in cities within the United States to contain rioters, and many temporary jails are constructed. A state of emergency is declared, and martial law soon follows."
- Fallout Bible 0: "2077 January 10 Alaska is reclaimed, and the Anchorage Front Line is again held by the Americans."
- Fallout Bible 0: "2077 January 22 The first domestic use of Power Armor within the United States for crowd and quarantine control. Units originally serving in China and the Anchorage Front Line find themselves fighting Americans at home. Food riots increase, and many civilians are killed. Several soldiers defect from the military both in Canada and the United States. They are captured, and are sent to military prisons."
- Fallout 3 Official Game Guide Game of the Year Edition p.43: "Chinese Army (Simulated)
U.S. Army (Simulated)
With conditions deteriorating between the United States and China, a military presence in Alaska was established to prevent a possible invasion across the Bering Strait. With increasingly scarce oil reserves, a last deep-sea deposit below the Pacific Ocean was claimed by China before allegedly being sabotaged by American special operatives. Strained relationships spiraled downward into conflict as China marched on Alaska, and the Sino-American War of 2066—2077 erupted. Under the command of General Jingwei, the Chinese Army usurped control of Alaska's oil pipeline and reserves. In response, the Americans began what came to be called "The Alaskan Reclamation Operation" (2067—2077).
Under the leadership of General Constantine Chase, the U.S. Army battled fiercely to the front lines of the conflict before Chase began deploying specialized Power Armor units that began pushing the Chinese back. Future Power Armor suits were further refined as the conflict dragged on, and the Trans-Alaska Pipeline was reclaimed. With resources flowing through Canada, strained diplomatic tensions between Canada and the United States becoming problematic, and Canadian forces attacking the pipeline, the country was annexed.
A combination of inclement weather, constant American bombardment and trench warfare, and U.S. Powered Armor unit attacks sweeping through mainline China, the Chinese supply lines weakened and finally broke down completely. By the beginning of 2077, the city of Anchorage was finally liberated, the Chinese eradicated, and the operation deemed a success. A commemorative memorial was erected in Washington, D.C., in honor of the soldiers who fought and perished for the greater American good. Violence between America and pockets of Canadian freedom fighters continued throughout 2077, until the Great War obliterated almost all infrastructure, commerce, and human life."
(Fallout 3 Official Game Guide faction profiles)
- Fallout Bible 0: "2077 March Prepared for a nuclear or biological attack from China, the president, and the Enclave retreats to remote sections around the globe and make contingency plans for continuing the war."
- Fallout Bible 0: "2077 October Captain Roger Maxson and his men discover that the scientists at Mariposa have been using "military volunteers" (military prisoners who didn't have their brains scooped for use in Brain Bots) as test subjects in their experiments. Morale in the base breaks down, and Maxson executes Anderson, the chief scientist. Not long after this (and in light of the breakdown of the mental breakdown of Colonel Spindel stationed at the base), Maxson's men turn to him for leadership. He shrugs and says 'we should quit.'"
- Fallout Bible 0: "2077 March Prepared for a nuclear or biological attack from China, the president and the Enclave retreats to remote sections around the globe and make contingency plans for continuing the war."
- J.E. Sawyer: "We often develop technology not because it's great immediately, but because developing that technology helps us move toward its potential. We've had various forms of hybrid vehicles (gasoline combustion engine + ???) around for a long time. Most of them were pretty bad and impractical. We've had biofuels around for a while, but most of those are STILL bad and/or impractical. We saw tanks developed in WW1 that were absolute garbage.
All of those things were kind of crummy for a while, but if we hadn't gone through the stage of "Yeah... this is... okay, I guess," we would never have reached the subsequent stages. Coil/rail gun technology used to be completely impractical. Now it's reached the stage where maybe/sorta we could mount an enormous one on a destroyer and blast through a bunker with a huge slug from miles away. We're probably not going to have Eraser- or Fallout-style Gauss rifles for a while, but we see the potential.
In the Fallout universe, I think that the military appeal of weaponry that uses a small number of more-or-less universal ammunition types would be great. Today, we have NATO standards so that allies armies can share ammunition. But what if you could use the same ammunition type for powering a sniper rifle that you'd use for a devastating close-range weapon (e.g. a Microfusion Cell powering a Laser Rifle or a Plasma Rifle)? For a military force in the field, the flexibility of that would be immense.
Anyway, I considered the EWs in F:NV to have reached the point where they were starting to replace conventional weapons, but had not yet completely eclipsed them -- sort of like the early days of firearms, when they were still being used concurrently with bows."