i personally didn't mind that they were bullet magnets, that was their job as the muscle and they had high health to go along with to make it easier, i had
Nothing as satisfying as seeing the animated kill of your suit wrecking their power suit in close combat. Also the suits were tough mobile and aggressive they offered what the robots failed to deliver. Enemy Within took an already good game and made it worth replaying. They should learn from that.
So if we lost in the first third, there should be no sympathizers.
They could have just said most of xcom got wiped of the map, except for some rookies on holiday and a few teks.
they could be the children of surviving personnel or they could be people who joined because of oppression by the aliens as evidenced by the gameplay footage which showed advent soldiers brutalizing civilians before walking into combat