Battle for Earth

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This article is about the major battle at the end of the Human-Covenant War. For smaller conflicts during the post-war era, see Battle of Earth (disambiguation).




Battle for Earth
A multimedia collage of the Battle for Earth. Images used starting from top left going clockwise: File:H2A - BattleofEarth.png, File:Orphic Spear 1.png, File:Time to Believe.jpg, File:Cleveland in 2552.PNG (edited to remove text), File:Battle of Sector Six 09.png, File:Voi 7.jpg.
Clockwise from top left: The Fleet of Sacred Consecration above the European Union; Alpha-Five dropping into Mombasa; John-117 supposedly at the Second Battle of New Mombasa; a Ket-pattern battlecruiser over Cleveland; a Phantom reinforcing the Covenant in Sector Six; John-117 and Thel 'Vadam watch as Indulgence of Conviction crash lands into Voi.



October 20, 2552[1][2] – c. December 3, 2552[Note 1][2]


Earth, Sol system


UEG/Fleet of Retribution victory

  • Covenant invasion successfully repelled; most surviving forces flee to Installation 00
  • Earth brutally bombarded[3] but full glassing averted; parts of Africa are, including in the excavation of the Portal at Voi
  • Catastrophic reduction of Earth's population[4] and majority of cities destroyed[5]
  • Local Flood infestation contained[6]

Post-Great Schism:

  • Flood (briefly on November 17)

Post-Great Schism:





See here for details on participating forces

Post-Great Schism:

See here for details on participating forces



Very heavy

  • Massive terrestrial and exoatmospheric losses[16]
    • Majority of the Fleet of Sacred Consecration

Completely sterilized

Civilian casualties

Civilian losses in the billions[17]

HLC battle for earth.png

This article is part of a series on the
Battle for Earth

To check out information for other Human-Covenant War battles, see here!

"We ran from them. They followed. We thought they'd never find us... we were wrong."

The Battle for Earth,[19][12] also referred to as the Earth Sustained Defense Campaign,[2] was one of the largest, bloodiest and latest engagements fought between the Covenant and the forces of the Unified Earth Government (primarily those of the United Nations Space Command), at the end of the approximately twenty-seven year-long[Note 2] Human-Covenant War, which took place on and above the planet Earth from October 20 to at least December 3, 2552.[Note 1] It was one of the most important battles of the war, as the fate of humanity depended on the survival of its homeworld and seat of its government.[Note 3]

Though the invasion took place on a global scale, the most significant conflicts occurred in the East African Protectorate in the form of three battles fought within and between the cities of Mombasa and Voi, collectively referred to as the first, second, and third battles of Mombasa.[20] The conflict began when the Fleet of Sacred Consecration, under the command of the Prophet of Regret, arrived on October 20 with intentions of traveling through the portal that a luminary in its possession pointed to. This move was made without the consent of the other two Hierarchs and in ignorance regarding the status of this planet as humanity's homeworld. Faced with the full might of the UNSC Home Fleet, it was not long before Regret's flagship fled to Installation 05. Soon after this, the Prophet of Truth initiated his plans to replace Sangheili with Jiralhanae and assume control over the entirety of the hierarchal triumvirate. The Jiralhanae occupation forces left behind by Regret assumed control of all remaining local Covenant forces on and over New Mombasa by secretly killing all abandoned Sangheili in the city to secure Truth's later arrival following the beginning of the Great Schism. Later on the next day, a large Jiralhanae support and excavation fleet sent by Truth was then dispatched to Mombasa and begin to glass most of Kenya, alongside the remnants of Regret's fleet while additional Covenant reinforcements continued to appear in the system and began a resurgent and larger assault on the planet.[21][13][2]

At this point, the fight for Earth began in earnest. Smaller battles were waged all across the world, from the UEG capital of Sydney, Australia, to Cleveland, URNA, to Havana, Cuba, and to Mount Erebus, Antarctica and multiple other locations even when the Sangheili and now Jiralhanae-led Covenant forces turned on each other following the beginning of the Great Schism.[22][5][9][2] By November 17 after very hard fighting, most of the Home Fleet had been obliterated by substantial Covenant naval forces loyal to the Prophets, including the Prophet of Truth,[15] and the majority of cities were destroyed as well throughout the battle.[23] After defenders and the orbital defense grid were overwhelmed, the Earth had been massively devastated by a large Covenant bombardment, resulting in catastrophic human casualties.[3] It was on this date that the Prophet of Truth himself, aboard the Forerunner Dreadnought and with Spartan-117 in tow, arrived and headed straight for the Excession, by then fully excavated. Upon interfacing with the keyship, the portal was activated and a large contingent of the remaining Covenant fleet under the Prophet's command departed through the Portal with the intention of activating the Halo Array from the Ark.[24]

Almost immediately after this, the Flood arrived aboard a captured Ket-pattern battlecruiser, which crashed down in the town of Voi. A battle group assigned to the Fleet of Retribution, a Covenant separatist fleet allied with the UNSC against Truth and his loyalists, was permitted to glass a large portion of Kenya to prevent the parasite's spread. With the threat from the Flood dealt with and the bulk of Covenant forces gone, several UNSC forces accompanied the Fleet of Retribution in pursuit of Truth.[6] The remainder of UNSC forces remained behind to defend Earth from an expected full-scale Flood invasion and also began a major counteroffensive to eliminate all Covenant that remained.[6][2]

Official accounts report that, faced with the potential of human extinction at the hands of an alien hegemony, a significant number of civilians joined the UNSC forces to repel the Covenant throughout the campaign on Earth with many becoming an instrumental part of the war effort.[12][5]


The Human-Covenant War was a decades-long conflict wherein the Covenant hegemony was determined to exterminate all of humanity at the behest of its three Hierarchs, who falsely considered humans as representing the living embodiment, and thus discreditation, of their religion's gods at the time of their discovery. Also a goal of the empire, from long before first contact with humanity, was the location and activation of the Halo rings.


In 2550, preparing for a possible battle at Earth, the UNSC reactivated the museum ship UNSC Crassus.[25]

In the aftermath of the Fall of Reach, the UNSC began to pull the majority of its forces back to Earth, with most units assigned to defend Earth's six tether cities.[26]

Formation of the Home Fleet

From May 14–19, 2552, UNSC forces in the Earth Defense Coordination Zone were placed at maximum readiness levels and all warships with magnetic accelerator cannons self-deployed or towed to rally points. Cairo Station was established as flag headquarters. Following September 5, 2552, all remaining naval forces were consolidated into a single command grouping: the UNSC Home Fleet. Fleet Admiral Joseph Harper was appointed senior flag officer and given primary administrative and tasking authority over all assets in the Sol system under emergency directives authorized by UNSC High Command and approved by the UEG Security Council. Remaining expeditionary and defense fleets retained administrative control over their battle groups, though all type commands were dissolved.[2]

Earth compromised

Erde-Tyrene, as represented by the luminary discovered on Meridian.
Main article: Operation: FIRST STRIKE

The Prophet of Truth discovered the location of Earth after the Fall of Reach, but withheld knowledge of this discovery from the rest of the Covenant leadership.[13] To attack the human homeworld, he ordered an assault fleet to secretly assemble at Unyielding Hierophant station in the Tau Ceti system. The fleet would overwhelm Earth's defenses in a single decisive strike.[13][27] The fleet was discovered by the UNSC AI Cortana and a preemptive strike was led by Vice Admiral Danforth Whitcomb and a SPARTAN-II, strike team, which successfully destroyed Unyielding Hierophant and almost the entirety of the assembled fleet, some five hundred ships.[13][28] Earth was granted a small reprieve.

The Prophet of Regret also independently learned of the location of Earth that was known as Erde-Tyrene as the location of a Forerunner artifact, the Portal leading to the Ark. This revelation came after long study by stewards of a Forerunner luminary taken from the moon, Meridian, in 2551. Not being privy to Truth's information, Regret set off to uncover the artifact without any knowledge that Erde-Tyrenne was the humans' homeworld. Regret unknowingly led his small fleet, a mere two assault carriers and thirteen battlecruisers, straight into Earth's formidable defenses.[13] Truth belatedly learned of Regret's expedition to Earth, and dispatched a large Jiralhanae-led support and excavation fleet to reinforce the remaining forces of the initial fleet. They arrived almost one day after Regret had fled.[13][21]


Arrival of Regret's fleet

"Something's not right. The fleet that destroyed Reach was fifty times this size!"
Fleet Admiral Terrence Hood[10]

The High Prophet of Regret's fleet was detected near Jupiter's moon Io, as a series of slipspace "whispers". Probes were sent to investigate, but shortly afterwards the Covenant fleet exited slipspace near Earth, just outside the killzone of the planet's orbital defense platforms. UNSC forces went to TACCON Alpha 2. Fleet Admiral Harper ordered his battle group of the Fifth Fleet to attack, but quickly received new orders from Fleet Admiral Terrence Hood to fall back and defend the ODPs. Having expected an overwhelming enemy offensive in the style of the Battle of Reach, the relative weakness of the attack puzzled the defenders.[10]

Orbital Defense

Fleet Admiral Harper: "First Echelon, you're with me, blanket those cruisers, take ‘em out one by one. Second Echelon, keep those carriers busy."
Cortana: "Registering all hostile vessels inside the kill zone. Thirteen cruisers, two assault carriers. I'm going loud!"
Fleet Admiral Harper and Cortana as the space battle between opposing fleets rages.[10]
The battle in space takes place despite Regret's fleet being outnumbered by the UNSC Home Fleet.

The assault carriers converged on the battle cluster including Athens Station, Cairo Station and Malta Station.[10] The ODPs opened fire as the enemy entered range. Covenant troops boarded the stations, intending to demolish them with a Chershi-pattern antimatter charge each. As each bomb was planted the Covenant withdrew. Athens and Malta were demolished in quick succession. Cortana, aboard Cairo, deduced the nature of the threat and John-117 was dispatched to prevent the same fate from befalling Cairo.[10]

Cortana directed the SPARTAN-II to the bomb's location in Cairo's fire control center. En route to the bomb, John-117 rescued Commander Miranda Keyes and allowed her to board UNSC In Amber Clad. The frigate departed Cairo to join the fray.[10]

Meanwhile, Harper's Fifth Fleet continued to engage the Covenant task force in Earth orbit, sustaining huge losses in the wake of the Covenant's superior firepower but still prevailing through sheer numbers against the unusually small Covenant force. However, even as their escorts were effectively routed by the UNSC, the two assault carriers pushed onward, bypassing much of the already battered human fleet even as they too came under fire.[10]

The two assault carriers began to break through toward Cairo. Cortana directed Cairo's MAC against the Solemn Penance, but the ship did not stop to engage and instead made directly for New Mombasa on the surface. Admiral Harper led the attack on the second carrier and depleted its shields. Keyes volunteered to attack the carrier immediately, but Hood was unwilling to pit a single frigate against so large a target.[10]

The solution to the second carrier came from an unexpected angle. John-117 and Cortana managed to defuse and capture the Covenant antimatter bomb aboard Cairo, and the Spartan volunteered to go EVA and personally plant the bomb on the last carrier. With Lord Hood's approval, John-117 leapt out of an airlock with the bomb using only the initial explosive decompression for impulse. Longsword interceptors opened a breach in the carrier's hull and allowed the Spartan to infiltrate and plant the bomb internally. The detonation destroyed the ship. John-117 escaped using the same means he had arrived and free fell to the UNSC In Amber Clad.[10]


"Dear humanity, we regret being alien bastards, we regret coming to Earth, and we most definitely regret the Corps just blew up our raggedy-ass fleet!"
— Avery Johnson commenting on Regret's message.[29]
Main article: Battle of Mombasa
Concept art for the campaign level Metropolis in Halo 2: Anniversary.
A Scarab attacks the city at the start of the invasion on New Mombasa.

Regret's carrier came to arrive over New Mombasa in the East African Protectorate via slipspace and deployed troops into the city and the surrounding area in an attempt to clear and secure it.[30][31][29] While the Mombasa Tether had been shut down, the city's population were trying to leave the city.[32][31] While the UNSC, militias and armed citizens was fighting against the Covenant forces, UNSC high command wished to discover why the Covenant were landing only in Mombasa, and John-117 was ordered to capture Regret for interrogation. The Spartan deployed with marines and ODST in a trio of Pelicans from the UNSC In Amber Clad near the city. The dropships were shot down by a Covenant Scarab in Old Mombasa.[29] John-117 and the survivors regrouped and pursued the walker to NM 105E, and across the bridge to New Mombasa Sector B. At the time, the Alpha-Five was tasked to recover the Conduit that was brought by the Covenant on the city while another ODST squad were ordered to retrieve information the Covenant were interested in.[33] The Scarab was eventually trapped and destroyed by John-117 at the end of a canal. Covenant forces started to withdraw to the carrier for slipspace departure to the Halo Installation 05.[34]

In orbit the Home Fleet began deploying ODSTs to Mombasa in SOEIVs, intending to board the carrier and capture the Prophet of Regret. One Squad, Alpha-Nine, deploying from the UNSC Say My Name and led by Gunnery Sergeant Edward Buck, was diverted by ONI to secure the city's infrastructure AI.[35]

Regret's means of escape took the UNSC by surprise. The carrier initiated a slipspace jump while still over the city. By this time, Lord Hood originally attempted to intercept the Covenant carrier by dispatching two Marathon-class heavy cruisers at New Mombasa.[34] The UNSC In Amber Clad quickly recovered John-117 and the light frigate along with UNSC Paris, UNSC Redoutable, UNSC Coral Sea were fast enough to follow the carrier into slipspace while UNSC Dusk only followed in the fleeing ship's wake.[36] The slipspace rupture severely damaged the city[34] and generated an EMP. Many ODSTs had not yet landed when the carrier escaped and were caught in the EMP and blast. Drop pods were disabled in flight and plunged into uncontrolled freefall. Those who survived the blast were scattered across the city.[35]

Around this time, Covenant forces also attacked Cairo, Egypt[22] and Berkeley, URNA. At Berkeley, a Covenant starship, possibly a Ket-pattern battlecruiser from the Fleet of Sacred Consecration, began deploying its Seraph fighters on the city.[37][Note 4]

Covenant reinforcements

Fall of Mombasa

Veronica Dare: "When did this happen?"
Edward Buck: "They started showing up right before I went underground."
Captain Veronica Dare and Gunnery Sergeant Edward Buck viewing a second and larger fleet of Covenant starships circling Mombasa.[38]
After fully securing the East Africa, the Jiralhanae excavation fleet begin to uncover the Portal at New Mombasa.

Immediately following the slipspace event, Jiralhanae forces loyal to the High Prophet of Truth, who had embedded said troops into his political rival Regret's fleet,[19] enacted their leader's orders. The Jiralhanae violently displaced their Sangheili commanders left in the initial fleet both ground-side,[39] and in orbit, and then seized the full control of Covenant forces at Mombasa in order to secure Truth's arrival on the Portal by his loyalists,[1] the beginning of Truth's plan to place the Jiralhanae as the Covenant's primary warrior race.[13] While High Charity and the rest of its fleet were following the Solemn Penance on their way to the newly discovered Halo Installation 05, the murder of Regret's Sangheili forces remained secret from the rest of the Covenant.

Surviving UNSC forces in the city, aided by the New Mombasa Police Department, continued to resist, but were eventually overwhelmed. The next day on October 21, a Jiralhanae-led support fleet sent by Truth arrived at the African continent, joining the remains of Regret's fleet as the combined fleet began glassing Mombasa and the surrounding area together, uncovering the Portal to the Ark.[21][13] Captain Dare and her ODST squad managed to secure the city's infrastructure AI and escape before the city fell to the enemy.[38] These forces of the new fleet was both archaeological and military.[40] While a handful of ships of the second fleet engaged Earth's forces, the majority of the fleet was preoccupied for the excavation of the massive slipspace portal.[41]

Covenant occupation

"So then the Covenant fleet really starts to tear into the orbital defenses. It's getting ugly up there. Major skirmishes with the Second, Seventh, and Sixteenth Fleets."
Sergeant Laura "Smokes" Tanner[9]
UNSC and Covenant forces fight each other for supremacy of Earth.

The battle spread all over the globe in the following days and weeks with more and more Covenant fleets of multitude of warships continuing to arrive and attacked targeting cities and areas globally after the full compromise of Earth,[23][9][2] led by Jiralhanae and Sangheili commanders.[5][7] At the same time as these events, other colonies and parts of the Sol system such as Luna and Mars came under assault by the Covenant.[2]

While maintaining a significant presence in orbit, the Covenant ships deployed ground forces to multiple targets around the globe.[9] However, due to many Covenant forces, notably those under the command of the Prophet of Truth and his Jiralhanae loyalists, that were concentrating their forces at Kenya for the excavation of the Portal at Voi, some of their forces were sometimes disorganized, hence less effectual.[2] A Second Battle of New Mombasa between the UNSC and Jiralhanae-led Covenant ground forces takes place shortly after the first battle over seven days[42] before the end of October.[43] The Spartan Blue Team, consisting of Frederic-104, Linda-058, and William-043, were constantly engaged for the first two weeks. They repelled enemy ships in orbit in numerous zero-gee operations whilst on the surface they neutralized Covenant excavations, first on Ross Island in Antarctica,[9] and then underwater off the Yucatan Peninsula.

London in the 26th century.
London, one of many major cities to fall under Covenant occupation.

Sydney, Australia was one of the cities invaded by the Covenant during the engagement due to its importance in UNSC's war effort. Though the city suffered heavy damage by Covenant bombardment, the UNSC's HIGHCOM Facility Bravo-6 remained undamaged.[44] Diego Garcia, following its effective attacks against the initial Covenant forces during the Battle of Mombasa, was attacked by a Covenant capital ship to destroy the base around November, but the base managed to survive the attack.[22][45] Aranuka, a vast city-platform built, was aggressively invaded by the Covenant, killing thousands of Aranukan inslanders, and much of the city was destroyed in their research for a supposed hidden Forerunner artifact. Despite heavy casualties, the UNSC was able to drift the alien invaders away and the Aranuka Space Tether survived the siege of the city.[46]

Elsewhere, Jiralhanae forces landed in London, Britain and soon established an occupation of the city. UNSC forces were deployed into the city to evacuate civilians, including future SPARTAN-IV commander Laurette Agryna.[47][48]

On November 3, the Great Schism finally erupted among the Covenant with all now-casted out Sangheili and Covenant forces, now led by the Jiralhanae as the new dominant military backbone of the hegemony, turning and fighting each other which resulted many Sangheili being allied with the UNSC following the death of the Chieftain of the Jiralhanae Tartarus during the Battle of Installation 05.[15] During that time, the Spartan Blue Team were deployed to Havana, Cuba, where they stole the enemy Jiralhanae destroyer Bloodied Spirit, and destroyed another destroyer and the Centennial Orbital Elevator. They subsequently redeployed aboard the stolen ship to the Forerunner shield world Onyx to aid Dr. Catherine Halsey, the creator of the SPARTAN-II program.[49] During the same day, 3 UNSC expeditionary fleets of the Home Fleet: the Second, Seventh, and Sixteenth Fleets were contesting Earth orbit against numerous Covenant vessels during major orbital skirmishes as the fighting in orbit is scattering the orbital defense,[9] but the Covenant continued to raid the surface in search of Forerunner artifacts, with many under the Prophet of Truth's command mostly concentrating in East Africa.[41]

On November 10, Covenant forces began to excavate and occupy built-up positions centered around Free-fire Area OZONE in Arizona, URNA.[2] As of mid-November, the majority of cities were destroyed over the course of the Battle for Earth,[23] and the population of Earth was already reduced to 5 billion earlier this month.[50]

Truth arrives

Fleet Admiral Terrence Hood: "Master Chief, you mind telling me what you're doing on that ship?"
Master Chief: "Sir, finishing this fight."
— Admiral Terrence Hood and John-117, as the Keyship arrived at Earth.
John-117 attempting to assassinate the Prophet of Truth before the Prophet's death being foiled by a Kig-Yar Sniper.

Near the conclusion of the Battle of Installation 05, the Prophet of Truth departed High Charity, near Halo Installation 05, in the Forerunner keyship Anodyne Spirit on November 3, arriving at the Sol system on the November 8 and proceeding on course towards Earth at near-relativistic speeds.[1] The prophet sought to activate the Ark, fire the Halo Array, and begin what he thought would be the "Great Journey". After the loss of High Charity to the Flood, the Covenant reorganized to make a final push offensive on Earth,[15] as the Prophet of Truth took many remaining Covenant fleets at his disposal following his departure.[51] However, upon his arrival, the Prophet quickly learned that John-117 had stowed away aboard the ship and its crew then became preoccupied with finding and eliminating the Spartan.[52]

By this time, the Prophet of Truth led the largest Covenant invasion force recorded by the UNSC at that point in the war to Earth: a very massive Covenant combined armada, presumably both larger than the one used during the Fall of Reach and containing at least over three hundreds ships – including the remaining loyalist starships and fleets of the High Charity defense fleet – as the final contingent of his forces.[14][53][53][51] The fleet would later breach the Lunar perimeter,[3] and then engage the UNSC Home Fleet, which was already weakened by the previous invasion fleets over Earth, at some point prior to the Forerunner Dreadnought's arrival on Earth as the November 17 dawned.[15]

Whilst on Installation 05, Commander Miranda Keyes, Sergeant Major Avery Johnson, and Arbiter Thel 'Vadam learned of the Prophet of Truth's intentions and departed the installation after the Anodyne Spirit while Rtas 'Vadum and most of Sangheili vessels under his command, comprising hundreds of ships, stayed behind on Installation 05 in order to quarantine and glass the Halo ring as well as quarantine High Charity in order to stop the escape of the Flood and the Gravemind from both the Halo and the city. Upon arrival at Earth on or just before November 15 aboard one of the Sangheili vessels,[2][52] they took up station in an old military base, Crow's Nest, near Voi, and waited for John-117 to arrive.[3][Note 5] On November 15, Sergeant Major Johnson and the ONI interrogated Quick to Adjust, a rebel Huragok since the Regret's attack on New Mombasa, to share information he had and relating to the Portal at Voi.[2][38]

Turning the tide

Main articles: Scramble onboard Forerunner Dreadnought, Battle of Cleveland

Colonel James Ackerson: "See, that's why you're going to lose. All your pomp and thinking you're right about everything... when it comes down to it you're just dumb and arrogant and--"
Shipmaster Lepidus: "That's why we'll win."
Colonel James Ackerson's last words before his demise at the hands of Lepidus, and Lepidus after executing James.[16]
The Forerunner Dreadnought ferrying Truth jumps into Earth high orbit, where the final space battle continues to rage between opposing fleets over the planet.

At some point between November 15 and 16,[Note 6] while John-117 was still hunting the Prophet of Truth, the UNSC already lost their garrison on Mars at the hands of the Fleet of Furious Redemption following the Battle of Mare Erythraeum,[5] which led to a dramatic increase in Covenant force deployments on Earth as the Covenant began to concentrate more of their forces on the planet, worsening the siege.[23] Despite the dramatic increase in Covenant deployments, the works of Colonel James Ackerson in the Battle of Mare Erythraeum helped buy UNSC ground forces on Earth precious time.[54] By this point, the UNSC would be hardly faced with impossible odds with no hope in sight against the full might of Covenant forces on Earth.[16]

Shortly after the loss of Mars, Covenant forces also invaded the city of Cleveland on Earth without intending to destroy it or kill civilians, unlike other cities, looking for a supposed Forerunner artifact known as the "Key of Osanalan" as told by a wounded and Covenant-tortured Colonel James Ackerson, who was captured aboard Lepidus's vessel, the Triumphant Declaration, and that was a necessary component for the firing sequence of the Halo Array. Additionally, his plan would help the population to escape the city and stall the Covenant assault on Earth and prevent the planet's fall to the Covenant like Reach.[5] During the battle, many civilians were captured and interrogated at Jacobs Field in Old Cleveland for the Key of Osanalan,[5] but later evacuated following a surprise attack from a ODST team that suddenly killed most of the Covenant forces.[55]

Arriving in a large chamber aboard the keyship Anodyne Spirit with the Prophet of Truth and a pack of Jiralhanae soldiers and honor guardmens being present, John-117 attempted to kill the Prophet remotely via a Vostu-pattern carbine, as soon as the Spartan was then attacked by a Kig-Yar Sniper and the Prophet escaped, forcing John-117 to confront and engage a number of Jiralhanae warriors. While the Spartan was believed to be dead, the Prophet of Truth orders the crew of the Forerunner Dreadnought to jump further in-system and finally arrived at Earth in high orbit on November 17, spearheading the final contingent of Truth's forces as the final space battle is still raging and the ship was then surrounded by the massive space engagement.[15][16] During which, John-117, emerged once again, broadcast to the UNSC, confirming his presence and his information regarding his situation.[16]

At the outcome of space engagements, almost the entire UNSC Home Fleet, hence many entire smaller fleets, had been utterly overrun by the outnumbering and outgunning Covenant naval forces, though it was likely that most of the overwhelming Covenant fleet, mostly the capital ships, was in return destroyed by the UNSC defenders, mainly due to Earth's formidable and fierce defense and Hood's brilliant leadership, especially thanks to multiple defending "Super" MAC-equipped orbital defense platforms,[8] throughout the Battle for Earth.[3] After demolishing most of Earth defenses, the recently-victorious Covenant fleet then lead a colossal bombardment on Earth, causing extreme terrestrial casualties and damaging much of the surface of the planet.[3] The Cairo Station survived the final space battle relatively intact, albeit left damaged.[15]

Concept art of John-117's descent to Earth at the start of Halo 3.
John-117 and the Dreadnought entering Earth's atmosphere before crashing on East Africa.

James' civilian brother, Ruwan Ackerson who was aware of what the Covenant are looking for during the Covenant interrogation at Cleveland, along with Myras Tyla, were both brought to a secret UNSC forces to meet Sergeant Twyker in attempt to repel the Covenant forces in Cleveland.[5][55] Ruwan was injected with Tykos 30, an organic tracking device, as Tyla and the remaining civilians were evacuated. He was then taken to Chagrin Falls, where a Jiralhanae Chieftain demanded that Ackerson relinquish the Key of Osanalan and an army of Jiralhanae surrounded him. However, Ruwan told them he was the Key, which confused the Covenant and brought him aboard an orbiting Ket-pattern battlecruiser, the Harbinger of Piety, before the Minister of Inquisition. There, the Minister vows to spare Earth from the Covenant occupation in exchange for knowledge of the apparent "key". Aboard the Forerunner Dreadnought, John-117, unable to assassinate the Prophet of Truth and take control of the Forerunner Dreadnought's trajectory, was informed that the Harbinger of Piety that was holding the "key" is to be destroyed. Since the ship was near the keyship, the Spartan was ordered by Twyker to find a way off the Forerunner Dreadnought to avoid being caught in the impending destruction of the cruiser. The Master Chief was then ordered to find a way to return to Earth quickly as the Forerunner Dreadnought began to enter Earth's atmosphere.[16] While the Minister was still interrogating Ruwan, the Nassau Station proceeded to remotely shoot at the Harbinger of Piety with a single shot from its MAC gun, destroying instantly the cruiser and killing everyone aboard, including the Minister of Inquisition and Ruwan Ackerson. Though, Twyker's worries was proven ill-founded due to Forerunner Dreadnought remaining unharmed following the Harbinger of Piety's destruction.[16]

After that a furious Lepidus was aware of the loss of Harbinger of Piety and the Key of Osalanan was in fact turned out to be a hoax perpetrated by Colonel James Ackerson while openly mocking the Covenant for their arrogance, the Jiralhanae shipmaster decapitated the colonel aboard the Triumphant Declaration over Mars. Ultimately, the attack on Cleveland was repelled due to James's act of self-sacrifice, and that of Ruwan.[16] Though the Martian valiant defense forces were crushed during the Battle of Mars, they are credited for delaying Covenant forces from pressing their siege on Earth.[56] Shortly after the Covenant worldwide bombardment, the Earth human population was swiftly reduced to only 200 million individuals, initially around 10 billion prior the Covenant assault with heavy casualties and a major evacuation effort and the sudden change after Truth's arrival.[4][50][57] The refugees of Cleveland, including Tyla, were evacuated to a relief camp in Akron.[16]

Immediately after the Type-27 Mantis deployments has been cleaned, the UNSC frigates initiates an attack on the Forerunner Dreadnought.

Battle for the Portal

Main article: Battle of Kenya

"Marines, the Prophet of Truth doesn't know it yet, but he's about to get kicked right off his throne. You will take our city back. And drive our enemy into the grave they've been so happily digging. One final effort is all that remains."
Fleet Admiral Terrence Hood

As the Dreadnought entered Earth's atmosphere, John-117 left the ship by leaping off during re-entry and crashing into the East-African jungle.[58] By this time most of Truth's remaining forces arrived to the now-uncovered Ark portal at Voi and had set up heavy AA batteries and other defenses near Voi and in the surrounding area to protect their work at the Portal.[3][2] During Spartan-117's re-entry, a pair of ODSTs used a laser designator during an operation in Sector Six (near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border) to track the Spartan's fall.[11] The data made it easier for Sergeant Johnson and Thel 'Vadam to locate the Spartan. After making their way through the jungle, they were extracted by a dropship, despite Covenant resistance, and taken to Crow's Nest.[58] The Covenant tracked them back to the base, however, and launched an attack.[3]

Commander Keyes proposed to destroy the Covenant anti-air defenses at Voi, allowing low flying frigates to strike the Forerunner Dreadnought now landed on the Portal. Fleet Admiral Terrence Hood had only a few frigates left, but was willing to commit to the risky plan with John-117's recovery.[3]

Just before the UNSC offensive began, the Prophet of Truth hijacked Crow's Nest operations center monitors, broadcasting a message to the base, promising the reduction of Earth to glass by the Covenant, and then the Covenant attacked Crow's Nest. Miranda Keyes evacuated and destroyed the base with a bomb before it could be occupied. John-117 barely managed to escape the destruction of the facility but met up with Gunnery Sergeant Reynolds and set out in Warthogs on Tsavo Highway to head for Voi, as did scattered UNSC forces, engaging Covenant heavy vehicles along the way.[3][59]

At Voi, the UNSC broke through Covenant defenses, as John-117 and Thel 'Vadam disabled the last Covenant AA battery. With the path to the Portal cleared, Fleet Admiral Hood ordered at least seven frigates and multiple Longswords to attack the Forerunner Dreadnought. Despite MAC fire, the enemy ship remained intact and was able to activate the Portal. The Dreadnought and the surrounding Covenant ships departed Earth through the resulting Slipspace portal.[24] Covenant battlenet cohesion broke following Truth's departure, allowing UNSC forces in the southwest URNA to begin a major counteroffensive as part of their ongoing campaign.[2]

Master Chief and the Arbiter witness the arrival of a battlecruiser, but infested by the Flood.

Flood on Earth

Main article: Outbreak on Earth

"Quickly! Let us find their ship. Make short work of this abomination!"
— Thel 'Vadam

While the battle for Earth raged, the Fleet of Retribution had been attempting to maintain a quarantine of the Flood-infested High Charity and Installation 05. The Flood-controlled Indulgence of Conviction escaped and arrived at Earth as the Prophet of Truth departed through the Portal. The ship crashed in Voi and began infesting the area. John-117 and Thel 'Vadam quickly made for the crash site intending to overload the ship's reactor. The explosion would destroy the city but would hopefully stop the spreading infestation as well.[6]

Concept art of ODSTs preparing to fight the Flood in Voi, in the mission Floodgate.
To prevent the sudden loss of Earth to the alien infestation, UNSC forces engage the Flood before being reinforced by the Sangheili forces.

A battle group of Sangheili ships, led by Fleet Master Rtas 'Vadum aboard the assault carrier Shadow of Intent, arrived in pursuit of the Flood. The Sangheili believed Cortana was aboard the Flood ship; Rtas 'Vadum could give his own troops and the UNSC only a little time to recover the AI before Voi and the surrounding area were cleansed by glassing. John-117 found the small storage device containing the AI; he entrusted to 343 Guilty Spark for repairs and they were extracted by Phantom to Shadow of Intent.[6]

Thel 'Vadam convinced Rtas 'Vadum to exercise restraint when glassing. Thus, only an area of Africa was glassed instead of a much wider area.[6]

Shortly after the initial skirmishes with the Flood, the Flood-infested High Charity jumped out of slipspace further out in the Sol system. Shortly after discovering the presence of the Portal at Voi, the Gravemind conducted an arcane bridging maneuver allowing it to transport the former holy city to the Ark from the vicinity of Mars rather than physically accessing the portal on Earth; the human homeworld thus escaped further Flood contamination.[60]

The Fleet of Retribution's battle group and the UNSC Battle Group Victory depart from Earth through the Portal at Voi as the Fleet Admiral Terrence Hood remains on the planet from an expected full-scale Flood invasion.
The Fleet of Retribution leaves through the Portal while Fleet Admiral Hood stays on Earth via Pelican.

Dealing with the Flood

Terrence Hood: "And you, Shipmaster, just glassed half a continent! Maybe the Flood isn't all I should be worried about."
Rtas 'Vadum: "One single Flood spore can destroy a species. Were it not for the Arbiter's counsel, I would have glassed your entire planet!"
— Admiral Terrence Hood and Rtas 'Vadum, after the Flood infection of Voi.

Admiral Hood and Commander Keyes joined John-117, Thel 'Vadam, and Rtas 'Vadum aboard Shadow of Intent where 343 Guilty Spark repaired Cortana's damaged storage device. The device contained only a message from the AI; it warned them that the Flood-infested High Charity was en route to Earth, but that beyond the Portal there was a solution to the Flood without firing the Halo Array.[6]

Admiral Hood was determined to make his stand against the Flood on Earth. The Sangheili believed this to be foolish; there was little hope Earth could withstand a Flood spore, never mind a full Flood invasion, and they decided to place faith in Cortana and journey beyond the Portal. John-117 and Keyes convinced a weary Hood to allow them, and a UNSC task force to accompany the Sangheili.[6]

The final stand Hood expected never came; the next day, High Charity and the Flood arrived in the Sol system, but instead performed a Slipspace jump from Mars orbit to Installation 00, an action that spared Earth from a second contamination.[61] It was at the massive installation that the Flood and the remnants of the Covenant were ultimately defeated by the UNSC and Sangheili three weeks later, bringing an end to the war that nearly extinguished the human race.

Covenant remnants

Main article: URNA Southwest Campaign

On November 18, Jiralhanae forces spotted the UNSC Crassus and its escorts at sea and engaged it using a mixture of dropships and war-sleds. While initially successful, the boarding stalled due to the ship's hallways being smaller than their bodies. Lacking any progress, the Jiralhanae destroyed the flight tower and left, leaving the carrier afloat.[25]

With the majority of Truth's forces now bound for the Ark, some of the remaining Covenant forces on Earth fortified themselves in Arizona, URNA. On December 3, Admiral Harper of the Fifth Fleet initiated Operation: MARSH FLASH, which eradicated clusters of Jiralhanae leadership attempting to activate an artifact here. The UNSC was then finally able to repel or wipe out the remaining Covanant invader forces on the planet and the system, effectively bringing an end to the invasion. Despite suffering enormous military and civilian losses, the UNSC retained control of Earth.[46] Marines involved in mopping up Jiralhanae holdouts employed the "Rex" VISR system.[62]


"Before 2552, there was no way anything like that could happen on Earth. On one of those distant planets in the outer colonies, maybe. But an attack on Earth? Couldn't happen. Until it did. It's called glassing. Covenant warships rain plasma down on a planet until everything and everyone on the surface melts. Usually, it's complete world destruction. Earth only got a taste. The prolonged orbital bombardment destroyed East Africa, killing millions before it ended. None of us were safe anymore."
Benjamin Giraud[63]

Battle of Installation 00

Main article: Battle of Installation 00
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Rebuilding and Rebirth

The aftermath of the Battle for Earth.
Main articles: Hillside Memorial, Project Rebirth

On March 3, 2553, a special ceremony on a hill over looking the Portal at Voi was held to honor the end of the war and those who had fallen.[64]

The rebuilding of Earth's infrastructure had begun in earnest as early as January 2553 in Sydney.[65] Project Rebirth, an organized effort to rebuild also took place in Aranuka[46] and Mombasa[66] took place at some point, with works in Aranuka being done by 2558.[46]


The battle of Earth had numerous engagements across the planet. Kenya, Cleveland, Havana, and the Southewestern URNA were battlefields. Fighting also took place at Sydney,[44] Cairo, Diego Garcia,[22] Aranuka,[46] the Yucatán Peninsula,[49] Mount Erebus,[9] and Berkeley.[37]

Luna, Earth's moon was also attacked.[67]


Main article: Timeline of the Battle for Earth


Main article: Participants in the Battle for Earth

Due to the prominence of Earth, and what had transpired prior to the battle, Earth possessed numerous UNSC assets. They clashed with several waves of Covenant forces.

Production notes

Many fans, as well as Halopedia, used to regard the Battle of Earth as two separate battles. Namely, the "First" was believed to comprise the events of Halo 2 and the "Second" was thought to cover the events of John-117's return at the beginning of Halo 3. Later sources have established that Truth's reinforcements arrived just one day after Regret fled, indicating that the "two" battles were one and the same. However, the Halo Encyclopedia: The Definitive Guide to the Halo Universe (even the 2011 revised edition) lists them as two separate battles; this is one of several elements of the Encyclopedia that is seemingly lifted from this wiki.


List of appearances


  1. ^ a b While no official date has been given to the end of the Battle for Earth, the currently last known engagement during the battle, the Operation: MARSH FLASH in Arizona, took place on December 3, although it's still possible that other engagements on some other countries or continents was still occuring after the URNA Southwest Campaign ended.
  2. ^ The war was definitely concluded on December 11, 2552 when the Prophet of Truth was killed. However, an official cessation of hostilities did not come until March 3, 2553.
  3. ^ While not all of humanity believes itself to be subject to the UEG, the UEG claims authority over all of humanity.
  4. ^ This is derived from numerous pieces of information from within the Axon Clips including: Chapter 12 which mentions Kamal taking a flight back to the west coast; Chapter 9 where Sophia mentions that one of the people she is talking to isn't a Berkeley police officer and Kamal having to take a packbus to Reno, Nevada as his first stop; Chapter 10 where Kamal mentions waiting for said bus outside of Oakland.
  5. ^ The Sangheili vessel carrying the Arbiter and the survivors of In Amber Clad arrived at Earth at least two days before Truth's Keyship, despite the latter leaving Delta Halo's orbit well ahead of the former. While this may appear strange given that Forerunner slipspace travel can vastly outpace that of the Covenant, the apparent discrepancy is explained by the Keyship exiting slipspace in the outer edges of the Sol system on November 8 and not landing on Earth until November 17. The reason behind this delay was that the Covenant soldiers inside the Keyship focused on killing John instead of proceeding, as they feared he would kill the Prophet of Truth.
  6. ^ Halo: Uprising indicates that John-117 and Ruwan's actions was both concurrent. While Halo 2: Anniversary and Halo 3 show that Kenya, which was aimed by the Forerunner Dreadnought, was still in night at the time that the ship jumped into Earth and then landed on the Portal at Voi in November 17 in the morning on the African continent, the Battle of Cleveland in Halo: Uprising seemingly took place on the very early morning, if not evening, on the North American continent and still ongoing even after the sunrise on the Cleveland city, which would be likely and realistic that the battle took place at least one day before November 17, although the URNA is oddly still in daylight in the comic when the Forerunner Dreadnought arrived at Earth.


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  8. ^ a b Halo 2, campaign level The Armory
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