United Nations Space Command
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The United Nations Space Command (UNSC) is the military, exploratory, and scientific agency of the Unified Earth Government (UEG) and has acted as the emergency governing body of the human race at large for a time. The UNSC was formed in the 22nd century, a time when remnants of old cultural ideologies clashed for supremacy in the Sol System. The UNSC served mainly as overseer of United Nations military operations in space. After initiating massive militarization propaganda throughout its off-world colonies, through the UNSC, the UN defeated Frieden and Koslovic insurgent forces in a conflict known as the Interplanetary War, which consisted of several side-battles that took place on Mars, the Jovian Moons and the South American rainforests. Although the Interplanetary War brought a great deal of suffering to both the colonial population and the residents of Earth, it also united most of humanity's military forces by the end of the 22nd century.
Prior to the Covenant attack on Harvest in 2525, the UNSC was stretched across human space. The most urgent concern was to contain the spread of the Insurrectionists, a violent resistance movement consisting of colonists who wanted independence from the Unified Earth Government. The UNSC fought constant battles in a loosely-defined civil war known as the Insurrection. In an attempt to help end the long-running war, the UEG commissioned the ORION Project and later the SPARTAN-II program, which created elite supersoldiers to combat the Insurrectionists. When the Human-Covenant War began and the alien invaders began destroying the Outer Colonies, these Spartans became humanity's best hope against the technological superiority of the hegemony. When the war began, the UNSC, which had been mired in controversy, became humanity's greatest protector. This allowed the UNSC to override civilian rule and establish itself as humanity's primary government. Although the Unified Earth Government was more open to step down, the Colonial Administration Authority, the arm of the UEG ruling over the colonies, resisted the UNSC's rise to power, and was stripped of its influence.
Near the end of the year 2552, Earth was the last remaining major human bastion: it too nearly fell under attack by the Covenant, succumbing to occupation. Near-crippled in the aftermath of the Fall of Reach, the UNSC led by Chairman Chief of Naval Operations Fleet Admiral Lord Terrence Hood, dedicated most of its remaining assets to the defense of the Sol System. The Human-Covenant War finally came to an end after the UNSC and the Sangheili Fleet of Retribution eliminated the Covenant leadership and destroyed the Flood threat.
In the aftermath of the war, the UNSC has upheld its alliance with the Swords of Sanghelios and eventually ceded political power back to the UEG. The UNSC is now experiencing a resurgence as it rebuilds humanity's wartorn domain and moves to reestablish itself as a major power within the Orion Arm.
Ultimate authority to direct the actions of the UNSC's armed forces lies in the office of the President of the Unified Earth Government. The authority granted to the President is legally absolute, though the Chairman of the UNSC Security Council is the principal commander of all UEG military assets and is authorised to act in the president's stead regarding matters of defense. The Security Council acts as the principal staff element of the UNSC and is responsible for policy development, strategic planning, resource management and fiscal evaluations. The Security Council is staffed by the highest-ranking officers from the Navy, Marine Corps, Army, Air Force and Office of Naval Intelligence - with the Chief of Staff of the Spartan Operations department granted a non-voting advisory role on the council as of 2554. The UEG also maintains a Secretary of Defense position, though the powers and limitations of this office are unknown.
Despite the official status of the UNSC as subordinate to the UEG, the Massacre of the Outer Colonies in the war with the Covenant saw substantial authority handed from the government to the UNSC - with the military granted substantial emergency powers and martial law declared for the duration of the conflict. Civilian governance was formally restored in 2553 following the war's end, though this process considerably eroded the institutions of government and as such the UNSC retains a wide latitude of operational freedom regarding interactions with surviving colonies and affairs on Earth. This has led to a mass public sentiment that the UNSC is a military government, with the UEG in practice merely acting as its public relations arm. The UNSC is additionally bound by the laws of the UNSC colonial charter, a document written to provide a set of regulations regarding military colonial governance.
Below the UNSC Security Council is the UNSC High Command, or HIGHCOM - the UNSC's joint staff and executive body. Senior HIGHCOM officers report to the Security Council, but they primarily serve to coordinate joint and inter-agency protocols and objectives. HIGHCOM controls a wide range of sensitive and strategically vital officers and boards including the UNSC Inspector General, General Officer Review Board, UNSC Special Topics Committee and UNSC Ordnance Commission. HIGHCOM also serves to advise UEG civilian leadership on issues relating to defense, and are based at HIGHCOM Facility Bravo-6 in Sydney, Australia. Other organisations included within HIGHCOM are a number of administrative commands, including UNSC Personnel Command (PERSCOM), the Medical Corps, the Engineering Corps, Human Resources, and Astrophysics. Legal matters such as the issuing and enforcement of protocols are handled by the UNSC Judge Advocate General's Corps. Research designed to improve the UNSC's operations is carried out by the Internal Audit office.
Overall, HIGHCOM ensures that the UNSC's component branches work in close coordination, with very few "turf wars" over resources or responsibilities.
The UNSC is divided into two primary combatant commands - Naval Command (NAVCOM) and Unified Ground Command (UNICOM). The former controls all space-based assets and operations, while the latter focuses on terrestrial and close-orbit missions. NAVCOM has administrative control over the Navy and its officers alongside select Marine Corps units. UNICOM has operational authority over UNSC Army and Air Force deployments and some Marine units, and work alongside the Navy to coordinate orbital fire support missions and in-atmosphere support.
NAVCOM and UNICOM form joint task forces that are thus then assigned to one of four Central Commands (CENTCOMs) - responsible for the defense and security of a given region of human space, referred to as CENTCOM Regions. These regions follow well-mapped slipspace routes which connect dozens of star systems; forces assigned to one CENTCOM cannot be moved to another without the approval of HIGHCOM, thus meaning each region must carefully marshal their limited resources. UNICOM planetside forces are organised into task forces that contain ground, air and maritime combat assets.
The UNSC's armed forces are comprised of six major military departments; four of these branches (Navy, Marine Corps, Army and Air Force) are recognised and defined in UEG law, while the Spartan Operations division is a "continuing organisation" that lacks explicit recognition and instead works directly under the UNSC's High Command. The Office of Naval Intelligence is a unique case; an organisation that is bureaucratically a subordinate service of the Navy and not recognised as an independent service branch, but has enjoyed de facto autonomy from the Navy for nearly a century. Despite these technicalities, these six organisations are all on occasion informally referred to as the six branches of the UNSC
The military departments themselves are broken down into two major groupings; the UNSC Defense Force (UNSCDF) and the UNSCEF (presumably standing for something akin to UNSC Expeditionary Force). The former administers defensive assets of the UNSC and encompasses the Army and Air Force, while the latter includes Naval and Marine Corps forces. It is unclear whether the UNSCDF and UNSCEF have any relation to NAVCOM and UNICOM.
The Navy is the senior service of the UNSC, formed in 2163 during the Interplanetary War. The UNSC Navy is commanded by the Commander-in-Chief of Naval Operations (CINCNAV), with a Deputy Chief of Naval Operations serving as their deputy. The Chief of Naval Operations serves as the Navy's representative on the UNSC Security Council. The Chief of Naval Operations also serves as the Commander-in-Chief Fleet (CINCFLEET).
The UNSC Navy operates, trains, organises and equips space forces to establish local naval superiority in deep space and close orbit - primarily signified by the use of its vast fleet of spacecraft. This force is used for the purpose of destroying or suppressing enemy space components, in particular those seeking to attack UEG commercial or terrestrial holdings. The Navy ensures the safety of UEG trade and commerce, assists other governmental agencies in agencies of interstellar governance and as such, very little of interstellar consequence happens without the help or oversight of the Navy. The UNSC Navy is headquartered at Fleet Command Headquarters on Reach.
The Navy's collateral functions include;
The Navy has a dual chain of command; administratively, Navy personnel report to NAVCOM while operationally they report to their assigned Task Command. There are three Task Commands under NAVCOM;
Navy warships are assigned to fleets, which are organised in one of two ways;
Fleets are assigned to numbered numbered Sectors such as FLEETCOM Sector One, contextually organised based on low-energy slipspace routes leading away from Earth. Special task forces may also be created without being assigned to a sector, and given responsibility for regions outside of these standard routes - designated as "lettered sectors". Fleets are comprised of numerous battle groups, flexible combat elements that can be "plugged together" into ad-hoc fighting forces depending on the immediate situation. Squadrons serve as administrative groupings of warships for record-keeping and honorific purposes.
The UNSC Marine Corps is another senior service of the UNSC, and was formed alongside the Navy in 2163. The Marine Corps is the naval infantry department of the UNSC, and works closely alongside the Navy to effect military action across human space. The administrative head of the Marine Corps is the Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC), who serves as the Marine Corps' senior general and service representative on the UNSC Security Council and Unified Ground Command staff. The CMC is responsible for organising, planning and implementing all Marine Corps activities. The Marine Corps is headquartered at Fleet Command Headquarters on Reach. The Marine Corps is responsible for maintaining an expeditionary force in readiness, which can seize and defend terrestrial and extraterrestrial strategic sites in advance of a larger main UNSC deployment. As such, the Marine Corps organises, trains, equips and maintains land, air and space-based combined-arms teams capable of being rapidly deployed by the Air Force and Navy. They are the general-purpose combat force of the UNSC, and employ a wide range of personnel from sharpshooters to combat engineers to xenolinguists. Marine Corps forces are under administrative control (ADCON) of Marine Corps Forces (MARFOR), which focuses on the ability to reorganise, train and direct a given unit's long-term activities. Operational control (OPCON) of combat forces is handed to one of two combatant commands; Naval Command (NAVCOM) and Unified Ground Command (UNICOM) - which provides the authority to conduct missions and delegate tasks, but not the ability to alter the internal organisation of subordinate units.
Marine Corps forces are unusual in that they may transition back and forth between combatant commands in combat zones, synchronised by Joint Deconfliction Teams. Marine Corps forces assigned to NAVCOM form a unit referred to as Fleet Marine Forces, under the operational control of FLEETCOM command. Fleet Marine Forces include Marines assigned to shipboard and facility security, boarding parties and most aerospace assets. Landing parties and expeditionary ground combat elements remain under the jurisdiction of NAVCOM, though this reading of the regulations is vehemently contested by UNICOM. Conversely, Marines conducting long-term planetary security missions, train-and-equip details and force augmentation for UNSC garrisons fall under UNNICOM control.
The Marine Corps' collateral functions include;
Marine special operations forces such as the Orbital Drop Shock Troopers (ODSTs), UNSC Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance and other Marine special forces are typically deployed under the control of Naval Special Warfare Command (NAVSPECWARCOM). The ODSTs maintain a number of specialised internal divisions to oversee special activites such as the ODST Special Purpose Forces, containing the air assault units nicknamed "Bullfrogs" and the Special Tactics and Equipment Group (STEG), who oversee the Hellbringers - specialised ODST warfighters who oversee the usage and deployment of demolition charges, incendiary weapons, nuclear weapons and thermobaric weapons.
The UNSC Army is the primary terrestrial department of the UNSC, and provides the majority of the logistical support and reserve soldiers who fight in ground campaigns. The Army is responsible for defense of UEG territorial holdings and the long-term occupation of enemy territories, and as such trains, organises, equips and maintains amphibious, land and airborne forces for this mission. As such, while all Army soldiers are trained warfighters, in peacetime they also provide an invaluable force of engineers, technicians, builders and designers who perform public works and improve existing colonial infrastructure to support future UNSC deployments. The Army also maintains its own Corps of Engineers for performing some of the duties listed above, alongside the Army Security Forces for the purpose of military policing - particularly among the Inner Colonies. Army Security Forces may be employed for the duties of colonial occupation, reconstruction oversight and even civilian law enforcement, or deployed into the Outer Colonies to assist CAA Marshals and UNSC peacekeeping forces in fighting against Insurrectionist elements, monitoring megacorporate activities and guarding critical infrastructure.
The Army's collateral functions include;
Army forces have been historically administratively organised under the control of specialised local commands (Army Component Command) based on a particular assigned colony, though the destruction of many of these worlds in the war with the Covenant saw most of these "temporarily" disestablished and replaced by sector working groups on Earth and Reach. Operational authority of Army forces is granted to UNICOM.
The Army operates its own special forces such as the Army airborne, Pathfinders and Army Rangers - who are presumably organised under Unified Special Warfare Command (USW), or simply Special Warfare Command (SPECWARCOM). SPECWARCOM organises its detachments into "Groups" such as Special Warfare Group Three. , as well as specialised maritime forces colloquially referred to as the "wet navy". Army submarine arsenal ships and aircraft carriers are vital components in the defense of colony worlds.
The UNSC Air Force serves as the primary air combat department of the UNSC. Contrary to their name, the Air Force does not simply operate aircraft within a planetary atmosphere, but instead focus on maintaining aerospace superiority over a given world via the use of unmanned drones, crewed aircraft and orbital weapon platforms. The Air Force operates a network of quick rapid reaction Squadrons on Earth and in the Inner Colonies, which are prepped and ready to deploy atmospheric fighter craft and military spaceplanes at a moment's notice. These strikecraft work alongside surveillance and weapons satellites to attrition an attack and assist Navy elements on station - this task saw the Air Force rack up a considerable kill ratio against Covenant invaders during the Great War despite their disadvantage in numbers and technology. The Air Force's atmospheric forces are primarily comprised of unmanned drones such as the F-99 Wombat which are deployed in large numbers, though they are augmented by crewed multi-role craft such as GA-TL1 Longsword interceptors, F-41 Broadsword fighters and even B-65 Shortsword strategic bombers.
The Air Force's collateral functions include;
Air Force units may be expeditionary or garrison in nature, with the largest overall groupings named Groups and Wings, respectively. A given Group/Wing is a larger organisation within the Air Force that combines several air Squadrons with non-aircraft units to provide specialised functions such as airbase operation and fuel refining. Squadrons consist of two to six Flights plus additional command and technical elements, and are typically named by a number and a mission type (such as the 980th Intercept Squadron), while a Flight consists of three to four individual aircraft and their support personnel. Flights are officially identified by a phonetic letter designation, though most also get an informal nickname.
Air Force orbital defense platform assets are grouped under the Orbital Defense Command, while regular air combat operations are conducted under the Air Combat Command. The Air Force also maintains its own signals intelligence (SIGINT) division and the Air Mobility Express - who work to provide airlift and spacelift capacity for the UNSC. The Air Force often employs Army maritime forces as launch platforms for its operations, using roving watercraft and carrier platforms to vector strikes against targets from outside the enemy's sensor horizon before retreating to underwater staging areas.
The Air Force was the first service department to directly collaborate with the newly-established Spartan Operations branch, funding a joint-operations laboratory to test novel ways in which super-soldiers can augment their capabilities and certifying Spartan-IV personnel as pilots for next-generation fighters.
Office of Naval Intelligence
The Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) is the preeminent intelligence service within the UEG. The organisation is ostensibly and bureacratically subordinate to the UNSC Navy, though in practice retains almost complete autonomy thanks to nearly a century of growth. This has seen ONI take over the duties of previously-independent agencies such as the Department of Colonial Security (DCS) to become the sole major intelligence organisation in human space. ONI is headed by the Commander-in-Chief of the Office of Naval Intelligence (CINCONI), who is granted a seat on the UNSC Security Council. ONI remains closely-linked with the Navy in terms of administration and overall culture, though collaboration at the flag officer level is fraught with political peril and bureaucratic manoeuvring.
ONI's collateral functions include;
To achieve its goals, ONI is divided into five sections that each specialise in different aspects of intelligence gathering, analysis and dissemination. Each section in turn, has its own compartmentalised teams dedicated to more specific long-term taskings and program management.
Established in 2553, Spartan Operations (sometimes unofficially termed the "Spartan branch") is the sixth and newest military department of the UNSC, charged with oversight of the Spartan supersoldiers. Unlike the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force, Spartan Operations is not a formal military branch recognised in UEG law but instead a "continuing organisation" that lacks explicit legal recognition. Spartan Operations instead functions as a special forces command that answers directly to the UNSC Security Council, eschewing the oversight of ONI that characterised the SPARTAN-II and SPARTAN-III programs in the earlier half of the 26th century. The Spartan Operations program is led by Commander-in-Chief of the Spartans (CINCSPAR), a position which was granted a non-voting advisory seat on the UNSC Security Council in 2554.
Spartan Operations is predominantly comprised of SPARTAN-IV personnel; a program originated in the final months of 2552, alongside some remaining SPARTAN-III personnel. SPARTAN-III personnel also serve in the unit, with all known surviving IIIs offered integration into SPARTAN-IV following the war's end. Despite this, Spartan Operations only retains administrative control of the Spartans themselves, with operational authority granted to Unified Special Warfare Command and Naval Special Warfare Command for field deployments. Tactical deployments of Spartan personnel are overseen by Central Command in their assigned CENTCOM Regions, who oversee the allocation of Spartans to various UNSC fleets and armies within their purview. As such, Spartans are often deployed alongside UNICOM and NAVCOM special forces units, such as ODSTs and Army Rangers. Spartan Operations additionally continues to operate programs inherited from prior Spartan generations such as the Headhunters.
Unlike the rest of the UNSC, the Spartans do not operate a strict escalating rank structure and instead operate in a strict framework that emphasises teamwork, co-operation and specialisation based on personal skill alone. This is the result of a deliberate effort to emphasise the informal leadership traditions of prior Spartan programs and adapt them to emphasise independence of rigid chain of command adherence. As such, all Spartans receive a direct commission as an officer in the UNSC, though this authority typically does not extend outside of their direct chain of command. Nonetheless, UNSC personnel in the field are often expected to defer to Spartans and in turn, Spartans are expected to take the initiative in combat scenarios. The baseline Spartan role sees a given Spartan tasked with the equivalent authority of a Lieutenant in the Navy, with higher ranks awarded appropriately equivalent officer status.
Spartans are typically deployed in fireteams of 4-5 personnel, with each member assumed to be omni-capable in most disciplines. As such, they are typically expected to develop specific highly-specialised skillsets known as "Specializations" to further aid their team and enhance their subject matter expert status. Fireteams are generally assigned based on social dynamics and combat efficiency, though Spartans are expected to perform well in any unit.
Alongside the Spartan personnel themselves, Spartan Operations operates its own network of infrastructure to serve as training and stationing grounds. These include orbital training stations such as Laconia, Naxos and Virgo, alongside smaller War Games platforms known as Munera Platforms. Spartan Operations is also involved in the Anvil Initiative and Project CRUCIBLE, a joint-initiative with the Swords of Sanghelios to equip and train Spartans and Sangheili for joint operations, based on ANVIL Station.
As space exploration progressed in the 21st century, colonization operations required international cooperation and assistance in order to effectively conduct territorial expansion throughout the Solar System. The International Society of Civil Engineers was formed at this time (2021), an organization that contributed immensely to furthering the quality of space engineering. National-conservative philosophies quickly made changes to adapt to the situation. An imperative change in worldwide government was necessary to accommodate space colonization demands, which the only global administration organization humanity could rely on. National governments began to combine their overall authority on a global scale, thus enhancing the influence of the United Nations under their supervision. In 2075, the United Nations (under the nations' influence) created the Unified Earth Government, then as an international think tank tasked with solving the challenges of interplanetary expansion and governmental unification.
By 2080, human colonization of the Solar System was fully underway. Offering reasonable living conditions and a physical composition similar to that of Earth, Mars was the first planet to be colonized and soon became a major center of science and industry. Settlements were also established on Luna, the asteroid belt, as well as the Jovian Moons, the latter sponsored in large part by Unified German Republic corporations. Advances in terraforming technology enabled the reshaping of many of the Solar System's formerly inhospitable worlds into sustainable earthlike environments.
Human settlement of the Solar System was initially driven more by commercial goals than the comparatively modest programs run by Earth's nation-states. Corporations sought to escape the bureaucracy and laws of national governments and the United Nations that interfered with their operations on Earth. While this resulted in many scientific and technological developments, it also bred suspicions about the ethics of the offworld corporations' activities. In response, the UN enacted the Genetic Rights Act in 2165 in order to ensure the fulfillment of basic human rights in humanity's expanding domain.
Political conflicts (2160-2170)
As the UN's campaign of centralization and globalization progressed and increasingly more space settlements were being established, ideological political and economic tensions did not disappear with them. With the transition being made from Earth-based capitalism to post-industrial space capitalism, elements on the extreme fringe of the political left-wing saw a rebirth of doctrinal origin, and revolutionary ideas of change once again took the form of military organizations.
One of these ideological resurgences centered around Russian-born revolutionary Vladimir Koslov, who proceeded to form a neo-Communist guerrilla armed force named after himself; the Koslovics. The new group of communists aimed to dismantle capitalist systems and corporate power on Earth and in newly-occupied space territories, putting a particularly strong emphasis on liberating orbital installations and orchestrating so-called "workers' crusades," or armed campaigns against their foes on the opposite end of the political spectrum.
The Frieden military movement, based in the Jovian Moons and sponsored by corporate powers in the Unified German Republic, reacted once this upsurge of communism became obvious and Koslovic revolutionaries began attacking their infrastructure. Considered a Fascist movement, the Friedens' ardent anti-Koslovic sentiments convinced them to adopt revolutionary ideals as well. Among their primary objectives was gaining corporate independence by seceding from UN colonial administration and establishing a self-contained Jovian state. Frieden propaganda claimed that in order to reach a peaceful (as their German name suggests) and independent Jovian nation, the UN, an advocate of internationalism, was to be driven out of the Jovian Moons and destroyed around the Solar System, including on home ground.
Earth's still-disparate, United Nations-aligned national militaries soon found themselves pinned from the extreme left-wing and extreme right-wing alike. These political tensions would soon lead to a final face-down between fascism, communism, and international representatives of democracy throughout various colonies, space environments, and national territories.
Jovian Moons Campaign
Despite Frieden war-mongering propaganda, the Jovian Moons were still held under tight UN control up to 2160. In March of 2160, the Frieden's led its first revolutionary assault against UN authority, attacking UN Colonial Advisors on the moon Io and giving rise to political reactions on Earth. International UN military forces deployed to the Jovian system, engaging the fascist rebellion in three months of battle.
The Jovian Moons Campaign heated tensions within faltering national governments of Earth, paving the way for wars-by-proxy between military corporations, national armies, and political renegades as governments that sponsored colonies in the Solar System responded to Frieden-UN ballistic exchanges and initiated military campaigns of their own, either for their own benefit, or for the benefit or their respective colonies. In a vicious chain reaction, politics on Earth took a downturn to arms mobilization.
Following a relatively blurry outcome in the Jovian Moons, Koslovic, Frieden and UN forces prepared for an engagement in South America in the year 2162, one of the most fertile and economically-promising regions of Earth. Presumably in an attempt to gain some material goods from industries in South America, the two military juntas assaulted each other and the UN troops scrambling to defend home territory, culminating in what is now symbolically known as the Rainforest Wars.
The conflict in South America resulted in an enormous amount of human casualties, especially in the lines of infantry on all three sides, due to difficult fighting conditions among the continent's numerous mountain ranges, rainforests, wildlife and volatile weather. Real consequences of the conflict, however, consisted of severe starvation and famine on an international scale - which is reason to believe the UN was no longer acting solely as a military defense force in the face of political extremists, but also as a primary provider of starvation relief - along with a further tensing of military conflicts already raging through the Solar System.
Advent of the UNSC
In the most spectacular offensive since the start of the bloody tripartite war, UN command adopted a military strategy long-forgotten throughout the peace-dominated period prior to the outbreak of the Jovian Moons Campaign in 2160 - the "Blitzkrieg"-style lightning ground assault. After capturing both Frieden and Koslovic forces on Mars, the UN delivered the first space-deployed contingent of the newly-established Marines in December of 2163 on a mission to crush communist infantry encampments in the basin of Argyre Planitia, marking a turning-point in space warfare through dedicated deployments of Marine forces in ground assaults and ship-boarding operations that would follow during the war.
The offensive was an incontestable success for the UN side. As a result, military theory and strategy implemented the use of Marines in high-priority missions as a baseline for successful operations, especially within the context of larger conflicts.
However, the most important consequence of the anti-totalitarian campaign was of both political and military nature. The United Nations itself did not control a dedicated space military prior to the Mars Campaign, a lacking element which it would replace with a special emergency military force that would come to represent humanity's overall military might. In the wake of the success of the UNSC Marines on Mars, the UN used its growing influence to not only take control of Earth's national governments, but also absorb Earth's national military organizations into a single, organized force; the United Nations Space Command was created.
As of 2164, psychological results of the campaign on Mars were formidable; civilian trust in the newly-formed UNSC military was boosted by massive televised propaganda, providing the UNSC with large waves of enthusiastic volunteers from all military services around the world. A sense of urgency, courage and hope helped UN forces scramble extraordinary divisions of Marines, infantry and fliers for a final campaign to annihilate remaining communist and fascist outposts and strongholds on Earth as well as throughout the inner planets and beyond Jupiter. The final campaign for peace lasted from 2164 to 2170 in a series of brutal crackdowns on Frieden and Koslovic hardliners. The result of this war gathered strong civilian support for some sort of powerful international military that could repel revolts and uprisings wherever they may occur. The UNSC emerged as the leading force to further those goals.
Coincidentally, the war formally ended where it had begun: in the Jovian Moons. The Callisto Treaty was signed in 2170 by commanders of Koslovic and Frieden forces in the presence of UN colonial authorities, definitively ending the 10-year-long conflict with a victory of UNSC forces and democratic leadership.
2170 saw the creation of the first multinational and multicolonial representation of democracy in outer space. Faced with concerns of overpopulation and starvation on Earth, consequently coupled with a looming destabilization of capitalist economy, the Unified Earth Government—up until then lacking concrete power—was formed into a full-fledged governing body in a time of cultural and military reconstruction.
The brutal ten-year-long war put the spotlight on problems facing the overpopulated Earth, and the Rainforest Wars also exacerbated issues relating to food distribution; this, along with the UN overmilitarization that occurred during the war, presented immediate problems for the postwar United Nations Space Command. The ensuing famine and societal problems related to the postwar population boom provided the spark to change the political nature of governance on Earth and elsewhere, leading to widespread political reform.
The Colonial Era
The pressures engendered by the Interplanetary War made space colonization seem more attractive in subsequent centuries, and the Unified Earth Government would sign off on the first large-scale interstellar colony ship program that was revealed in 2310 to ease the burden of an overpopulated Earth. This would not have been possible without the invention of the Shaw-Fujikawa Translight Engine in 2291, which allowed the ships to travel vast distances within a reasonable time by opening portals into Slipstream space. At the same time, the UEG established a separate colonial governing body known as the Colonial Administration Authority as well as the Colonial Military Authority, a dedicated military force to police the colonies.
In 2362, the first colony ship, the Odyssey, was launched, beginning the period of human history later known as the Domus Diaspora. This initial colonization effort was concentrated in the Epsilon Eridani system, which would later become one of the centers of humanity's interstellar empire. Vast numbers of citizens and soldiers elected to travel to these new colonies, stabilizing the overpopulation problem on Earth and giving the military new tasks to handle. As the first colonists are stringently selected, the Inner Colonies eventually formed an elite society of the best physical and mental human specimens. A core ring of 210 Inner Colonies were not fully developed until the end of the 24th century.
The apex of this colonization movement would come in 2492 when more then 800 worlds were inside UNSC territory, many of them targeted for human habitation. These settlements ranged from fairly well-tamed planetary strongholds to tiny hinterland settlements. During this period, the planet Reach (orbiting Epsilon Eridani, right on Earth's metaphorical doorstep) became the UNSC's primary naval yard and training academy. Reach was a major producer of warships and colony vessels, as well as a training ground for covert operatives and Special Forces.
Over the course of humanity's interstellar expansion, a number of alien artifacts were discovered; while unknown at the time, these were the works of a long-vanished civilization known as the Forerunners. However, virtually all of these findings were discreetly concealed by the UNSC's Office of Naval Intelligence, which exerted virtually complete control over the research and information flow about xenoarchaeological discoveries. A noted example of this is Onyx, originally surveyed as an ideal world for human settlement but declared off-limits by ONI due to the alien technology discovered there.
By the final decade of the 25th century, a chain of Outer Colonies was providing the UEG with valuable raw materials; the political power, however, remained with the aforementioned Inner Colonies. These differences in wealth distribution and political power, led to new threats of secession from the outer territories. Over time, ideological and political causes resulted in many of the Outer Colonies engaging in open rebellion. A series of brushfire wars across human space sprang up, with hundreds more threatening to erupt as well. By 2511, UNSC estimates, largely based upon the projections of Dr. Elias Carver, put massive, overwhelming, and uncontrollable rebellion at less than twenty years away.
Military conflicts began disrupting UNSC authority in the Outer Colonies where several uprisings among working-class agriculturalists and other social classes grew unhappy with the UNSC's largely inconsiderate governance. This unrest gave rise to the Insurrectionist movement, a loose collection of violent colonial separatists with the shared goal of liberating the Outer Colonies from the Unified Earth Government's influence.
Fearing the consequences of the possible breakup of their fledgling interstellar empire, while wishing to preserve as much infrastructure as possible, the United Earth Government would embark on a series of covert efforts to quickly and quietly deal with insurrections without incurring massive civilian casualties.
Before the UNSC expanded its forays into biological augmentation to create successful Special Forces programs in the 26th century, the Colonial Military Authority experimented with a prototype Special Forces project in the 24th century that tested the effects of bioaugmentations on Marine Corps and Navy personnel. The experiments proved ineffective and were formally canceled as a result, marking the first attempt to create a specialized force of covert-warfare operators in response to insurgent outbursts within the domain of the Unified Earth Government.
Due to increasing risk of insurrectionist activity in the late 25th century, the UNSC's Office of Naval Intelligence conceived a project to train Special Forces soldiers in counter-insurgent and counter-revolutionary warfare. The ORION Project, retroactively termed as Spartan-I, was an Naval Special Warfare program, overseen by the CMA, created to train special advanced warfare squads to combat the Insurrection. They became experts in counterinsurgency operations, assassinations, raids, and eliminating high value targets—all considered black operations. However, expectations for the new soldiers were not met, and the project was deactivated in 2506, and all members reassigned to other Special Operations units. In the coming years, ORION's methodologies would be uses as basis for a reform in the Orbital Drop Shock Troopers, the most famed special operations force of the UNSC Marines.
Several years later, ONI's alarming projections on colonial instability prompted them to initiate a second generation supersoldier project which would come to be known as the SPARTAN-II program. Partly informed by the pioneering efforts of ORION with new methodologies conceived by Dr. Catherine Halsey, the new program introduced highly unethical aspects such as the covert conscription of mentally and physically gifted children who would be molded into the perfect instruments to quell insurgent leadership and thus prevent the predicted scenario of indefinite all-out war. Physically augmented and equipped with state-of-the-art MJOLNIR powered armor, the Spartan-IIs would prove to be the most effective soldiers fielded by the UNSC, although not in the role they were originally intended for; the attack of the genocidal Covenant quickly saw the Spartans reallocated to combat the new enemy.
During the Covenant War, the success of the Spartan-IIs would convince the ONI leadership to use similar methodologies to create hundreds of supersoldiers in the SPARTAN-III program. Despite various refinements in their training and augmentation processes, most of the Spartan-IIIs would be less well-equipped than their predecessors for budgetary reasons, and the majority of them would ultimately perish on strategically important, high-risk deployments. Following the end of the war, the SPARTAN-IV program marked a return to ORION's recruitment protocols, drawing candidates from the UNSC's extant military forces; additionally, technological advances and the relegation of equipment manufacturing to the private sector allowed each operator to be issued with the previously prohibitively expensive Mjolnir armor. With Spartans being created in increasing numbers, their presence across UNSC-controlled space would become far more established and publicized in the years that followed than ever before.
2525 marked the most important turning point in human history. It would mark the beginning of the great technological advancement, the unification of a divided and fractured human race, and the first contact between humanity and extraterrestrial intelligence; the Covenant. It would also see a majority of the UNSC's colony worlds destroyed, with billions killed by orbital plasma bombardment, a technique latter known as glassing. The most important war in the history of the human race began with a disastrous first contact at the distant colony of Harvest.
By this time, the UNSC overrode the UEG, and thus became the central civilian authority throughout its territory and Earth itself. Although the central government was more willing to step down given the magnitude of the crisis, the Colonial Administration Authority was far more reluctant. As a result, the UNSC stripped it of most of its power. By the middle to late stages of the war, the government of humanity could be accurately described as an "emergency military" force.
Stemming from the chance encounter of human and Covenant forces at Harvest, the first contact made between humanity and the Covenant involved the ship Minor Transgression, and was less peaceful than the second contact made between the two factions. A meeting between representatives of the two factions took place on the fields of Harvest, but the attempt at diplomacy soon turned into a bloodbath. The Covenant claimed the planet for the numerous "Forerunner relics" their luminaries had detected, and slaughtered most of the colony's population. The vast majority of the Covenant remained unaware that the humans they were sworn to annihilate, were in fact the very Reclaimers (mistranslated as "Reclamation") their ancient texts spoke of.
On April 20, a scout ship, the CMA sent in a scout ship, the Argo, to investigate the cessation of communications between Harvest and the rest of the UEG's colonies. Before being destroyed by Covenant forces, it discovered that the planet had been incinerated, and its surface covered by fields of magma. Soon after, Battle Group 4, consisting of the frigates CMA Arabia and Vostok and the destroyer CMA Heracles, were sent to investigate. On October 7, the battle group dropped out of Slipspace and to Harvest. In orbit around the remains of the colony world was a single alien ship which proceeded to attack the battle group, destroying them all except one. Intercepted communications identified the enemy as the Covenant, a caste-driven, theological organization made up of several alien species. The message "Your destruction is the will of the gods...and we are their instrument" was broadcast in perfect English. The war for mankind's very survival had begun.
Since the later Second Battle of Harvest in 2526, where an enormous human fleet led by Vice Admiral Preston Cole barely won against a single Covenant ship in a symbolic "victory", the UNSC's grip on their territories declined significantly. While the UNSC fought a formidable defensive action against the Covenant's onslaught, the Covenant's technological superiority in space overwhelmed humanity's naval defenses. Over the next 27 years, the Covenant had managed to destroy nearly all of the Outer Colonies, and a portion of the Inner Colonies. Recognizing that it was fighting a losing battle against a superior enemy, the UNSC adopted and enforced the Cole Protocol, drafted by Admiral Cole to ensure that the Covenant never learned the location of Earth as the war continued to spread into human space.
The UNSC's military victories against the Covenant were few and far between, with Admiral Cole winning a decisive victory against the Covenant at the Battle of Psi Serpentis in 2543, destroying an entire enemy fleet at the cost of his own life. Behind the scenes, humanity began to extensively reverse-engineer technology recovered from both the Forerunners and the Covenant in a bid to bridge the gap between the Covenant and humanity's technological advancement. The deployment of the Spartan-II supersoldiers proved devastating to the Covenant and enabled the UNSC to stave off several major Covenant offensive operations. However, the Covenant's encroachment of human space continued largely unabated, and the ongoing war of attrition took a toll on the UNSC's offensive capability as the threat to Earth's survival drew closer.
RED FLAG and Halo
By 2552 the UNSC, outnumbered and outgunned, had nonetheless managed to slow the Covenant's inexorable progress through human space. However, the situation remained dire. In desperation, HIGHCOM ordered a high-risk operation, sending the SPARTAN-II supersoldiers to insert into Covenant space, capture one or more high-ranking Prophet, and return to UNSC space. With such valuable hostages, the UNSC would then attempt to ransom these leaders for a truce. Before the operation began, the Covenant found and destroyed the fortress world of Reach, destroying a large portion of the UNSC's military forces, inadvertently stopping the operation and, seemingly, killing most of the Spartans.
A single ship, the UNSC Pillar of Autumn managed to escape the planet, with one active Spartan on board; Master Chief John-117. The ship followed coordinates derived by the AI Cortana to a Forerunner ringworld known as Halo Installation 04. There, John-117 encountered a parasitic lifeform known as the Flood, which Halo had been built to eliminate by destroying all life in the galaxy. John-117 destroyed the ring before it could be fired by detonating the reactors of the Pillar of Autumn. After hijacking a Covenant flagship, the Spartan reunited with the survivors from Installation 04 and the destruction of Reach. This small band of soldiers attacked a force of Covenant ships in Operation: FIRST STRIKE, one of the most successful UNSC operations against the Covenant in the entire war.
Starting September 5, 2552, all remaining naval assets were recalled to Earth and amalgamated into a single command grouping under the Home Fleet in preparation for an impending Covenant invasion.
By October of 2552, an estimated twenty-three billion civilians were killed since the dawn of the Human-Covenant War, and the Covenant haphazardly discovered the position of the human homeworld, Earth, and sent a preliminary task force there, believing it to be the location of the Ark, an ancient Forerunner relic. They encountered staunch resistance, and were initially fended off as soon as more Covenant reinforcements continued to arrive in-system days and weeks after the initial invasion. Further complications arose from the political and religious crisis that emerged in the wake of a UNSC operation to assassinate the Prophet of Regret, and the secession of the Sangheili from the hegemony, leading to the Great Schism. Overnight, the Covenant was thrown into chaos. Nevertheless, by November, the forces loyal to the Prophet of Truth had already subjugated large parts of Africa since its arrival shortly after Regret's departure from Earth by attempting to excavate a long-buried large Forerunner structure. Later, Truth took the majority of remaining Covenant loyalist fleets with him after he departed aboard the Forerunner keyship Anodyne Spirit for Earth. Upon their arrival in the Sol system, the final Covenant fleets devastated much of the planet, mostly via orbital bombardment, after routing the numerically-inferior Home Fleet on November 17. Only the offensive led by Commander Miranda Keyes through the Forerunner portal uncovered in Africa, and the help of the Sangheili fleet prevented the eventual destruction of the UNSC and Earth itself.
The UNSC and their Sangheili allies launched a joint operation to destroy the Covenant once and for all at the Ark. Fighting against a massive Covenant fleet (3:1 numerical superiority in space), and even greater forces garrisoned on the Ark, the allies were able to stop Truth from firing the Halo Array. In addition, the Sangheili known as the Arbiter killed Truth, the Covenant's last remaining leader, while SPARTAN-117, leading the ground effort to destroy the Covenant's remaining forces, deactivated the Halo Array before the Halo installations could be fired. On March 3, 2553, the Human-Covenant War officially ended in a victory for the UNSC and the Sangheili, but at a high price. Most major military outposts, along with countless colonies had been destroyed. Earth, despite the loss of billions to orbital bombardment, remained battered but standing.
Reconstruction and new conflicts
Since 2553, the UNSC has engaged in an extensive period of reconstruction in order to restore stability to the shattered remnants of its territory. The UNSC has moved to reclaim those worlds that were not completely destroyed during the Human-Covenant War. Former colonies such as Eridanus II, Meridian and Draco III were resettled and became strategic staging points for humanity's efforts to reunite its reach across space. New planets such as Oban have also been colonized for the purpose of resettling the countless millions of refugees whose worlds were lost in the conflict. The UNSC also aimed to salvage any recoverable military assets lost during the war; paying companies such as Warner & Ives to recover slipspace drives from derelict vessels, and buying scrap from clearing house auctions, such as those in New Tyne on the planet Venezia. With the genocidal threat of the Covenant ended, the UNSC has employed some of its former species including Unggoy and Huragok in a limmited capacity. The UNSC also maintains its earlier peace treaty with the Swords of Sanghelios under the leadership of Arbiter Thel 'Vadam. In 2553 the Joint Occupation Zones were created and are now governed by both the UNSC and the Sangheili, with former colonies such as Carrow now hosting new citizens from both sides. The UNSC has also established outposts around the Halo Array and other such Forerunner installations, which they closely monitor with the Sangheili. However, tensions remain as insurrectionist movements have grown in strength, with worlds like Venezia and Gao effectively having seceded from the UEG as recently as 2553. In early 2553, the Office of Naval Intelligence began authorizing operations to sow dissent among the Sangheili, disregarding the alliance in the hopes of rendering them unable to fight should they become a threat again. These actions culminated in a civil war between the Arbiter's forces and those who opposed the alliance with humanity.
In spite of the catastrophic damage UNSC's infrastructure and personnel suffered during the Covenant War, various secret projects initiated in the final years of the conflict enabled the UNSC to regain some degree of military power in the months after the cessation of hostilities. To symbolize their newly regained strength, the UNSC adopted a revised version of its original emblem shortly after the war. The UNSC's rebuilding efforts were spearheaded by the symbolic commissioning of the UNSC's most powerful warship, the UNSC Infinity, in February 2557. A dramatic modernization of the UNSC's military assets has been ongoing, with new warships implementing both Covenant and Forerunner technologies for use against humanity's enemies. While the reconstruction of humanity's territories continued for many years after the end of the Covenant War, various Covenant remnants, most prominently a group led by Jul 'Mdama, defied the truce between humans and Sangheili and arose to threaten the UNSC. In July 2557, the ongoing conflict against the new Covenant was joined by the Didact and his Promethean constructs due to an encounter on the shield world Requiem.
Following October 28, 2558 the UNSC was largely immobilized by the Created when Cortana and her Guardians took over Earth and most human colonies. UNSC expeditionary forces that managed to avoid the Created's Guardians were able to regroup with the Swords of Sanghelios on Sanghelios.
By the time the Covenant War began, humanity, and thus the UNSC, had reached Tier 3 of the Forerunner civilization rank system. Humanity's rank continued to rise due to the capture of Covenant technology and equipment, which was studied and adapted for human needs. The very best and cutting edge of UNSC equipment was supplied to the SPARTAN-II project. Human technology was innovative, rather than reverse-engineered from Forerunner technology. This meant humanity remained flexible in their technical expertise, despite being hundreds of years behind the Covenant. One such example of ingenuity was the energy shielding technology adapted and improved for use on the MJOLNIR armor.
The UNSC's pre-Covenant War and wartime policies were viewed with hostility by the civilian populace, especially within rebel movements. Starting with the implementation of the Cole Protocol and martial law, the UNSC's political takeover of the UEG and CMA branches and its generally authoritarian military policies championed over the course of the Human-Covenant War, the UNSC's public image has been stained by rebel and civilian allegations of fascism, totalitarianism and oppression.
These allegations are not completely baseless, considering most of this perceived UNSC-directed oppression lies with poor administration in the Outer Colonies, which has led to violent food riots perpetrated by proto-rebellious groups of dissatisfied colonial workers suffering from hunger and poverty at the hands of corporate planetary control.
The UNSC also limits the freedom of the press to an extent, a measure put in place by ONI's Section Two after the Inner Colony Wars—allegedly to prevent humanity from tearing itself apart from within. ONI also exerts almost complete control over information about xenoarchaeological findings; any scientists studying alien artifacts are drafted to serve under ONI's supervision. Nepotism is notably prevalent within the organization, sometimes openly; Corbulo Academy of Military Science was based around the concept of training the offspring of high-ranked military and government officials as commissioned officers.
List of appearances