- "Make the units better with new technology. Make more of them. And make them cheaper."
- —Colonel James Ackerson
The SPARTAN-III Program was a top-secret project initiated by the Beta-5 Division of the Office of Naval Intelligence's Section III in order to produce cheap and expendable supersoldiers to stem the tide of the Covenant's onslaught against the Outer Colonies. In active service between 2536 and 2552, the SPARTAN-IIIs turned the tide of several critical battles of the Human-Covenant War. After the war, the remaining SPARTAN-III personnel were given the opportunity to join the newly formed Spartan branch, supplementing the numbers of the SPARTAN-IVs.
The SPARTAN-III project was both a successor and supplement to the SPARTAN-II Program. Created and engineered by Colonel James Ackerson of the Office of Naval Intelligence, the SPARTAN-IIIs were to be the next generation of supersoldiers. Composed primarily of vengeful orphans from fallen colonies, they would be cheaper to arm, train, and produce; being chosen from a wider pool of candidates, they would also be more numerous than their SPARTAN-II predecessors. They would rely on teamwork and sheer numbers rather than advanced technology and equipment to achieve effectiveness.
The SPARTAN-II program had been a dazzling success for the UNSC. Tales of Spartan supersoldiers fighting off thousands of Covenant attacks had become the stuff of legend. Unfortunately, there were too few SPARTAN-IIs to turn the tide of the war. Even worse, the director for the program, Dr. Catherine Halsey, had postponed the training of new SPARTAN-IIs for years due to the extremely specific genetic requirements for the children to be selected.
The SPARTAN-II program also had several problems and deficiencies which overshadowed its success to ONI. Firstly, the high mortality rate of the children during augmentation was counter-productive to the goal of the program. Next, funding the Spartans, including their training and MJOLNIR armor, cost as much as a battle group, at least according to Rear Admiral Ned Rich. Third, there were far too few of them for them to turn the tide of the war. Finally, the SPARTAN-II program had gone public to improve morale in 2547. Even though it was a huge morale boost to the UNSC, it was a problem for most of the Office of Naval Intelligence. ONI operated in secrecy, and anything that shone light on their operations was seen as detrimental to their efforts.
The SPARTAN-IIIs were designed to be cheap and expendable. Trained in companies of around 300 at a time, they were ultimately sent on suicide missions that the UNSC could not accomplish even with the elite Orbital Drop Shock Troopers. Though the casualty rates of the SPARTAN-IIIs stood at 100 percent on some missions, to ONI, all the operations were strategic successes. They were trading lives for time against the larger and technologically superior Covenant. ONI hoped that in time, enough Spartans would survive to train more and more future Spartans, swelling the ranks of available supersoldiers from only thirty SPARTAN-IIs in 2531 to a hundred thousand SPARTAN-IIIs within ten to twenty years.
 SPARTAN-III companies
 Alpha Company
- Main article: SPARTAN-III Alpha Company
On December 27, 2531, the first group of SPARTAN-IIIs, known as Alpha Company, was sent to Onyx to be trained at Camp Currahee. They were led by Kurt Ambrose a SPARTAN-II who had been abducted by ONI to administer the program. Of the 497 candidates who were conscripted, only 300 became Spartans. This class of Spartans all survived the augmentations and was activated in November of 2536. Their record was at first exemplary, as they saw action at the Insurrection of Mamore, the Battle of New Constantinople, and at the Bonanza Asteroid Belt. Nine months after they were activated, they were massacred in Operation: PROMETHEUS. All 300 Spartans deployed on the mission were killed.
An unknown number of Alpha Company's members, deemed to match the criteria used in selecting the SPARTAN-II candidates (known as "CAT-IIs"), were hand-picked by Mendez and Kurt before Operation: PROMETHEUS and extracted from the company. These Spartans were assigned to other units (sometimes within other branches of the military) and given MJOLNIR armor. By 2552, three of these Spartans served with NOBLE Team: Carter-A259, Jun-A266, and Emile-A239.
 Beta Company
- Main article: SPARTAN-III Beta Company
Beta Company was approved right after Operation: PROMETHEUS in 2537. 418 candidates were conscripted in 2539, but only 300 became Spartans. Disheartened at the loss of Alpha Company, Ambrose used a tougher training program and more thoroughly trained them in unit cohesiveness. Despite their superior training, they were similarly massacred in Operation: TORPEDO in 2545. From the entire company, only two participants survived the battle.
As with Alpha Company, several members of Beta Company deemed too valuable to be wasted on suicide missions were pulled out of the unit before Operation: TORPEDO. Some of them were initially assigned to non-combat roles as cover, much to Colonel Ackerson's dismay, as he wanted to have all Spartans in the field. Like the personnel extracted from Alpha Company, they were issued with special equipment such as MJOLNIR. These included Kat-B320 and SPARTAN-B312, both of whom later served with NOBLE Team, as well as SPARTAN-B170.
 Gamma Company
- Main article: SPARTAN-III Gamma Company
Gamma Company was trained with the help of the only two SPARTAN-IIIs from Beta Company who survived Operation: TORPEDO: Tom-B292 and Lucy-B091. Lieutenant Commander Ambrose regarded Gamma Company to be the finest of the SPARTAN-III companies. 330 candidates were selected, on average only six years old, and at Ambrose's request all 330 were approved. Every one of them survived the augmentation procedures. Gamma Company received deployment orders only a few weeks after the Fall of Reach and most left Onyx before the Battle of Onyx. Only fifteen SPARTAN-IIIs remained on Onyx as they competed for top honors. Following the battle, seven had been killed in action. Teams Gladius and Katana were not present in the early stages of the battle, leaving only Team Saber. Team Saber was the only SPARTAN-III unit to fight alongside the SPARTAN-II unit Blue Team. With the help of their older, more experienced counterparts, they successfully fought off a Covenant attack along with destroying a Sentinel manufacturing facility. Ultimately, the surviving SPARTAN-IIIs escaped to the shield world at the core of Onyx. The main body of Gamma Company was integrated into the SPARTAN-IV Program attached to the newly formed Spartan branch; having joined Blue Team, the Spartans on Onyx were later recovered by the Office of Naval Intelligence and given the choice to join.
 Delta Company
- Main article: SPARTAN-III Delta Company
Delta Company was proposed and Camp Currahee was being prepared for their arrival when the Battle of Onyx began on October 31, 2552. With the death of Lieutenant Commander Ambrose and the disappearances of SCPO Franklin Mendez and Dr. Catherine Halsey, as well as the immediate concerns of the Battle of Earth and the SPARTAN-IV project, it is highly unlikely that Delta Company was ever trained.
 Non-company teams
In addition to the standard company formations, many SPARTAN-IIIs were withdrawn after training to serve in specialist units, at least from Alpha and Beta Companies. Most of these Spartans served under the operational command of the Navy and the Army, though some served in the Marine Corps, and a select few in the Air Force.
Alpha and Beta Companies initially had 497 and 418 candidates, respectively, although only 300 would become Spartans within each company. Of the "washouts" from these companies, most would later become drill instructors for their successors. However, there may still have been a large recruitment pool from which to draw members for specialist teams. At least three Spartans (Emile-A239, Carter-A259, and Jun-A266, all of whom would later be assigned to NOBLE Team) were culled from Alpha Company, though the extent of these personnel withdrawals is unknown. Lieutenant Commander Ambrose believed that as much as 1.08% of Beta Company could folded into base personnel prior to the attack on Pegasi Delta, which was expected to be a bloodbath: SPARTAN-B312 was pulled immediately after training and deployed as a "lone wolf" by an unknown superior; Kat-B320 was extracted (with difficulty) after Operation: CARTWHEEL and assigned to NOBLE Team. Ambrose also attempted to send Lucy-B091 and SPARTAN-B170 on deep, long-term reconnaissance to keep away from Operation: TORPEDO; Lucy ultimately participated in the battle, though B170's fate is unknown. Thom-293 and Rosenda-344 (both from unknown companies) also served in the non-company personnel rotation: Thom eventually served as Noble Six, while Rosenda was considered as a possible replacement in case a counter-insurgency arose due to Emile's excessive hostility toward Insurrectionists.
- Main article: Headhunters
Only SPARTAN-IIIs who had survived two or more specially assigned training missions could join the "Headhunters". These two-man teams of SPARTAN-IIIs went on missions far behind enemy lines and were typically expected to die in combat. The Headhunters' existence was secret even to their peers. Once selected, candidates for the program were separated from their fellow Spartans and sent to specialist training camps on the far side of Onyx. The Headhunters were comprehensively evaluated in order to ensure an effective bond between the members of each team. A contingent of six two-man teams, as well as five additional Headhunters, was maintained at all times to ensure the program's numbers remained constant should one or both members of a team be lost. The Headhunters' SPI armor was more advanced than the suits issued to most SPARTAN-IIIs, as it included energy shielding, motion trackers, and VISR technology, and could also support a prototype active camouflage module. It is unclear whether the Headhunters were maintained after the SPARTAN-IIIs' incorporation into the Spartan branch.
 MJOLNIR-equipped teams
Out of those SPARTAN-IIIs withdrawn from their companies, many were equipped with MJOLNIR armor and deployed similarly to the SPARTAN-IIs rather than on suicide missions like their peers. These MJOLNIR-clad SPARTAN-IIIs played a crucial role in many battles throughout the war in every branch of the military. Since the public was not aware of the distinction between the S-IIs and the S-IIIs, the latter let their predecessors take credit for their actions.
Many MJOLNIR-clad SPARTAN-IIIs defended the planet Reach during the Covenant's invasion of the planet. Gauntlet and Echo Teams were rumored to be deployed in civilian evacuation operations on August 23. Concurrently, multiple SPARTAN-III teams (and an unknown number of SPARTAN-IIs) were deployed to the capital city of Casbah on Tribute. One of these fireteams held off a bevy of Covenant vessels while a small number of civilians escaped aboard a transport craft. Though the entire team was killed, the SPARTAN-IV on the UNSC Infinity would later pay homage to their courage with a simulation of the engagement. By 20:00 hours on August 30, thirteen Spartans had perished near the Aszod ship breaking yards, the last evacuation point on the continent of Eposz; soon, SPARTAN-B312 of NOBLE Team would die in the same location in a valiant last stand.
 NOBLE Team
- Main article: NOBLE Team
NOBLE Team was a special operations squad of the UNSC's Special Warfare Command. Unlike the Headhunter program, NOBLE Team was entirely separate from the SPARTAN-III program, being made up of SPARTAN-IIIs extracted from both Alpha and Beta Companies and serving under the Army's operational jurisdiction. Composed of five SPARTAN-IIIs and a SPARTAN-II, NOBLE Team was issued MJOLNIR armor, which is much more advanced than the cheaper Semi-Powered Infiltration armor issued to most SPARTAN-IIIs. Their most notable combat deployment was during the Fall of Reach. The team was commanded by Carter-A259, with Kat-B320 as his second in command. All but Jun-A266 were killed in combat during the Fall of Reach. NOBLE Team's sacrifice was later commemorated with a statue at Hősök tere in the city of New Alexandria on Reach.
 Operational history
The operational history of the SPARTAN-III program has been marked by success and tragedy. Many of the operations undertaken by the soldiers were suicide missions, but were regarded as successes by the UNSC.
 2536 - 2537
- Alpha Company is activated.
- Alpha Company quells Insurrection at Mamore - Success.
- Battle of New Constantinople - Success.
- Operations in the Bonanza asteroid belt – Success.
- Operations in the Far-gone colony platforms - Success.
- Six other successful unnamed battles in which Alpha Company participated.
- July 27 - August 2, 2537 - Operation: PROMETHEUS – Success, all participants confirmed KIA.
- Candidates for Beta Company are selected.
- July 3, 2545 - Operation: TORPEDO – Success, all but two participants confirmed KIA.
 2545 – 2558
- Candidates for Gamma Company are selected.
- July 24th to August 30th , 2552 - NOBLE Team participates in the Fall of Reach. All but Jun-A266 are confirmed KIA. A group of thirteen SPARTAN-IIIs deployed to defend the Aszod ship breaking yards are also KIA.
- September - October, 2552 - The majority of Gamma Company are deployed on an unknown mission.
- October 31, 2552 - November 3, 2552 – Battle of Onyx.
- February 2553 - The bulk of Gamma Company is integrated into the SPARTAN-IV Program. The joint S-II/S-III Blue Team are given the choice whether to join.
 Alpha Company
- Team Wolf Pack
- Kai-A019 - Unknown status; likely killed in Operation: PROMETHEUS
- Emile-A239 - Reassigned to Noble Team. KIA during the Battle of Aszod.
- Carter-A259 - Reassigned to Noble Team. KIA during the Battle of Aszod.
- Jun-A266 - Reassigned to Noble Team. Serving as a recruiter for the SPARTAN-IV Program as of January 2553.
 Beta Company
- Team Echo - KIA
- Team Foxtrot
- Team India - KIA
- Team Lima - KIA
- Team X-ray - KIA
- Team Romeo – KIA
- Team Zulu - KIA
 Gamma Company
- Team Gladius – KIA
- Team Katana - Severely injured, inside slipspace field pods. Last known position in Shield World 006.
- Team Saber
- Unknown company
 SPI armor
- Main article: Semi-Powered Infiltration armor
Semi-Powered Infiltration armor (SPI) was the primary armor system used by the SPARTAN-IIIs. Though more advanced than the ODST combat suit, it is considerably less advanced and less powerful than the MJOLNIR armor used by the SPARTAN-IIs. Its main benefit was that it is drastically cheaper to produce than the MJOLNIR armor.
This armor is designed with an emphasis on stealth rather than raw power. It features photo-reactive panels that mimic the surrounding textures which were developed by UNSC scientists. It has been described as "part legionnaire mail, part tactical body armor, and part chameleon." It lacks the energy shielding of the Mark V, VI, and GEN2 MJOLNIR armor designs, and a single hit from an enemy plasma weapon melts the suit's photo-reactive panels, rendering its camouflage capabilities useless.
 MJOLNIR armor
- Main article: MJOLNIR Powered Assault Armor
Several SPARTAN-IIIs extracted from their companies were issued with the MJOLNIR Powered Assault Armor to improve their combat prowess. These included the SPARTAN-IIIs of NOBLE Team, who wore the first version of the Mark V in 2552. A variant of MJOLNIR was designed specifically for Spartan serving in the Army's SPECWAR/Group Three: Mark V[B].
MJOLNIR GEN2 armor is standard-issue for all Spartans serving in the Spartan branch, including former SPARTAN-IIIs.
 Augmentation procedures
- Main article: Project CHRYSANTHEMUM
The SPARTAN-IIIs underwent enhancement procedures similar to those of the SPARTAN-IIs, but with higher success rates due to advancements in technology. The rate of survival went up from 44% for the SPARTAN-IIs to 100% for the SPARTAN-IIIs.
- Ash-G099 is once referred to as a private in Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, suggesting that some SPARTAN-IIIs (perhaps all of Gamma Company) were under the operational command of the Army or the Marine Corps. However, the members of NOBLE Team maintained their Navy ranks despite being under the Army's operational control, so this is most likely an oversight.
- The number of 300 SPARTAN-IIIs in both Alpha and Beta companies, who were both massacred but completed their missions and killed many Covenant warriors in the process is a reference to the fabled last stand of the 300 Spartans in the Battle of Thermopylae.
- The protagonist of Halo: Reach is SPARTAN-B312, a SPARTAN-III who was pulled from Beta Company right after training.
 List of appearances
- Halo: First Strike (First mentioned)
- Halo: Ghosts of Onyx (First appearance)
- Halo: Evolutions - Essential Tales of the Halo Universe
- Remember Reach
- Halo: Reach
- Halo: Glasslands
- ^ a b c d e f Halo: Glasslands, page 435
- ^ Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 70
- ^ a b Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, pages 44-48
- ^ a b Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, pages 81-83
- ^ a b c d Bungie.net: Communique from Kurt to Mendez
- ^ Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, Prologue
- ^ Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, pages 96-120
- ^ Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 139
- ^ Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, pages 369-383
- ^ Halo: Glasslands, page 382-389
- ^ Halo: Reach
- ^ Halo: The Essential Visual Guide, pages 29, 62, 101-105, 130, 139, and 165
- ^ Halo: The Essential Visual Guide, page 101
- ^ Halo: The Essential Visual Guide, page 139
- ^ See references under "Non-company teams".
- ^ Halo: The Essential Visual Guide, pages 33, 66, 119
- ^ [[Halo 4: The Essential Visual Guide, page 146
- ^ Headhunters, page ???
- ^ Halo: Reach, campaign level New Alexandria
- ^ a b c Halo: The Essential Visual Guide, page 222
- ^ Halo: Reach, campaign level Lone Wolf
- ^ Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, pages 83-88
- ^ a b c d e f Halo: Glasslands
- ^ Letter from Eric Nylund