Forums: Index Did the UNSC really do all it could do?
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Hey there guys, it's Tuckerscreator' 20:00, June 8, 2010 (UTC). A while ago I had some issues with logging in, as my computer was blocking me out, and for now I have found this workaround of using another computer. So my responses might now be pretty spread out in between, and it will be harder to make some constructive edits, but at least I can still type again.

Anyway, I started this forum because I wanted to ask a simple question: Did the UNSC really do all it could do? I'm curious because essentially I'm working on a fanfic called "Spoils of War" about a vigilante who believes that he must kill the Spartans. What leads him to this is when he manages to break into ONI files and gain secret data about the war, the Covenant, and the Spartans.

Now, half the reason he does this is because he believes the UNSC to be run by incompetents, who completely bungled the war and wasted their time on expensive and ineffectual programs that accomplished nothing in the long run. Writing this, I was curious when writing all his criticisms, and wanted to know what you guys's views are.

Now keep in mind that many of his criticisms (his name's Barton) are meant to be a little misfired, since he misinterprets some of data, such as assuming that the Spartan-II program was created to fight the Covenant, when it was really created to fight Insurrectionists. Half of it is also because he missed out on much of the war(got stuck in cryo-sleep, long story.) and as such didn't feel the desperation that the rest of humanity felt during the war.

I'm not going to put up all his criticisms here, I'd rather save them for the main story! But on some of his point on the UNSC Navy, the books and games are sometimes rather vague so I'd like to know your views. Basically, he argues that:

  1. The Spartan program was wasted by creating ground soldiers when they should have focused on creating brilliant child fleet admirals.
  2. Admiral Cole And Hood were incompetent commanders, Cole being too prone to wasting ships, Hood being too cautious and over reliant on values of honor and "going down with the ship."
  3. There wasn't enough of an effort to reverse engineer Covenant technology or offense attempts on their worlds.
  4. There was zero regard for the post-war future.

Now, on point 1 and 3 he's wrong, in another fic of mine it turns out there actually WAS an offensive attempt on Covenant worlds using child prodigy admirals, but poor communication killed and they didn't arrive until after the war was over(But they didn't know that. Uh-oh.) As for points 2 and 4, the canon is rather vague about this, so I would like to know your views, are his criticisms really justified in light of the entire Human-Covenant War? Please respond, I'll be glad to hear your thoughts.Tuckerscreator' 20:00, June 8, 2010 (UTC)

I'm of the opinion that the UNSC actually did very well in the war, and that they were actually in a fairly good position after it was over, far cry from the "Oh God, Earth's all we've got left, there's only 200 million Humans left" wailing. Canon actually backs me up on this: At the Covenant's Step of Silence in High Charity, there's only 76 glass shards, each representing a planet glassed by the Covenant. 76. 76, out of 800 UNSC colony planets. The Cole Protocol apparently worked very well, if after 25 years the Covenant only found 76 UNSC colonies (possibly less, especially if the Covenant have glassed planets before the Human-Covenant War). UNSC ground forces were actually highly effective against the Covenant, it was in space where they failed. Thinking about it, the UNSC should probably have a pretty large colonial population and a large base of resources to draw on to begin rebuilding, although, the Halo Encyclopedia (which has a few errors, I admit), does say that only 17 out of 800 colonies had Human settlements on them (I'm going to assume that means major settlements of over a billion people. Anything else is unrealistic). Maybe the rest were poorly populated industrial or agricultural worlds, and the Covenant glassed quite a few of those as well as a number, maybe even a significant percentage, of those heavily populated worlds, which, given the civilian losses suffered at Earth, might do result in a nasty dip in the Human population.--The All-knowing Sith'ari 20:34, June 8, 2010 (UTC)
So the Cole Protocol seems like it worked, based on those numbers, although I'm a little unsure about them as 091 posted a link a while back where Joseph Staten said that the "800 colonies" number was never canon, as it was written by a non-Bungie employee. But otherwise, what about battle wise? Can it all be chalked up to the fact that the Covenant were simply so much more advanced or was the UNSC really taking too long to exploit flaws in Covenant strategy?Tuckerscreator' 20:45, June 8, 2010 (UTC)
Regarding the Step of Silence; that is an error. The Step of Silence is an age within the Ninth Age of Reclamation. The previous editors misinterpreted the format and deduced that it was the chamber within the Hierarchs. The shards of glass did in fact represented planets glassed by the Covenant, but it also included those before the Human-Covenant War. So, the exact number of human planets glassed by the Covenant remains unknown.
As for the topic; I believe the UNSC did everything it could to combat the Covenant but knew it was an impossible victory. Focusing on naval firepower/tactics aren't always the solution to everything. We know that Covenant ships would eventually overwhelm the UNSC because of their superiority. The creation and support of the SPARTAN programs was crucial in slowing down the Covenant by eliminating key members and locations that fuel the Covenant's efforts. Ackerson's plan would be fundamental to this cause; trading lives for time, knowing that they would eventually lose the war. As Halsey once said, the UNSC is fighting a losing war and she knew the Covenant would eventually find Earth and eliminate humanity. It was an inevitable defeat.
The turning point of the war was the stumble of Installation 04, which is a good luck charm to humanity... perhaps John-117's luck played some role? The downfall of the Covenant started when Installation 04 was destroyed; events after this crucial moment were fundamental in turning humanity's doomed fate.- 5əb'7aŋk(7alk) 20:48, June 8, 2010 (UTC)
I guess that's the part I sometimes have trouble with myself, that the entire war was turned around within a space of just 6 months. It IS due the victories at Alpha Halo, Unyielding Hierophant, and the Ark, but what I've wondering is why those three battles WERE such devastating blows. Did the Covenant just have just too many ships at those regions or did their overconfidence just cause them to not build any backup ones?Tuckerscreator' 20:58, June 8, 2010 (UTC)
Might be a little of both as well as some other reasons, such as (1) Flood consumed High Charity, probably reducing the Covenant's strength by millions, if not billions. (2) Great Schism broke out (y'know, Truth chose the WORST possible time to ignite civil war, or am I missing something?); that broke the Covenant apart entirely. And (3) All three hierarchs ended up dead. Without them, the Jiralhanae started repeating their cycles of internecine civil war. It's also possible that the Covenant felt the end of humanity was near and thus chose to tone down on ship production. But who knows? In the end, it's just Bungie who knows the whole truth :) --Survivor of the Old Guard


Well, the destruction of Alpha Halo led to a political instability in Delta Halo, led by the Arbiter whom is fuelled by the former Heretic Leader and the Gravemind. Had it not been for both, the Arbiter would have simply be like the Arbiter we see in Halo Wars. A mere puppet. Without the destruction of Alpha Halo, the Shield World in Onyx would've not activate. The same applies to the Portal in Earth. Only with Alpha Halo's destruction these installations would activate.
The destruction of the Unyielding Heirophant wasn't that significant to saving humanity; it only bought them time. Truth had them as the first strike force to weaken Earth's defense, if such defense exist like it did over Reach. As we see in H2, Earth manage to assemble far larger numbers of ODPs. If his strike force to weaken the enemy's defense fails, he can always use High Charity's defense fleet to perform that duty at the risk of having High Charity damaged. Keep in mind that the fleet protecting High Charity is larger.- 5əb'7aŋk(7alk) 21:24, June 8, 2010 (UTC)
So the sudden collapse of the Covenant's assault on humanity was because of civil war. So they essentially forgot? Given the sudden lack of leadership with the death of Truth, I can see how this is possible, though it seems a little TOO covenient for everything to all be place like that. Still, makes sense, gotta give them credit.
On the other hand, what about offensive attempts? I already mentioned my attempt above to answer this question, but to me it feels like, aside from FIRST STRIKE, which you said was to buy more time, and the canceled "capture a Prophet" mission, there seems to be very little effort by humanity to attack major covenant strongholds in an offensive attempt until very late in the war. And Cole himself say in "Evolutions" that all they'd need to find Covenant worlds would be a couple of satelliates.Tuckerscreator' 21:34, June 8, 2010 (UTC)
In a sense, yes. To launch a successful assault, you need a stable structure within the military/government. If you don't have unity or the trust of your military officers/advisors, the assault will fail to some extent.
You have to know that the Covenant has been on an offensive role ever since the Human-Covenant War broke out. Due to with inferior technology and numbers, the UNSC would have to focus on establishing proper defense. Once a defensive line is established, then they could try focus on attacking Covenant-populated planets. Such defense would be the Cole Protocol but the protocol itself isn't always enacted successfully. Then came the ODPs but developments and production of such were too slow. So, in all, the UNSC was too slow in having a proper defense. To go all out by finding and attacking Covenant-populated planet would be of high risk and of stupidity for disregarding the safety of others.- 5əb'7aŋk(7alk) 21:43, June 8, 2010 (UTC)

Well, human fleets were constantly eradicated, so I'd say there wasn't much room for offensives. But there may have been more missions than those revealed in the books. Headhunters tell us that several elite S-III pairs fought behind enemy lines, as did Grey Team. But there isn't much point in offensives if you don't have anything to attack with, so maybe most people thought that sending satellites to look for Covenant worlds would be a waste of resources.

And, even if they did find a Covenant world, it may be utterly insignificant as to the outcome of the conflict (ex. a backwater colony), and then the satellites would've been wasted. Add to that that the Covenant had difficulty finding the human worlds, and they had the Luminaries that reacted on humans and their AIs. As such, I think Satellites would've been less successful. This was another advantage for the Covenant; their goal was humanity's utter annihilation, so they just had to find the worlds one by one, ANY world, militarily significant or not. But for the UNSC to benefit, they would have to find a target worth attacking, and then somehow gather enough resources, ships and men to attack it.

Thus, it's quite likely that the actions against the Covenant late in the war was out of utter desperation; those who approved the Capture the Prophet mission probably didn't expect it to actually suceed, they were just desperate. And let's not get started about FIRST STRIKE. Just expressing my own opinions here.

Survivor of the Old Guard


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I gotta agree with Matt here. Offensive missions, though they sound good, really couldn’t of saved the UNSC and they were wise to focus on defending themselves (which they did pretty well, considering how much larger, technologically advanced, and more numerous the Covenant empire was). The problem is size and resources. Even if they had managed to find a world, gather the necessary troops, and find spare time between defending themselves to attack it, there are still problems. For one, it might not even be militarily important, making the mission a waste. And even if it was militarily important, then it might be defended, making a victory no sure thing. And even then, if you succeed and eliminate a militarily important target, so what? The Covenant have a huge empire, with many more colonies and bases. It might slow them down, but it’d never stop them.



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I'm going to throw my two cents in here, and (point #2) state that Cole wasted warships on attacks, yes, but given the UNSC's infuriating inferior technological level, I think he did the best with what he had. As for Hood, yes, he was overcautious, but all of Humanity was at stake, thus justified.

(point #4) The UNSC was waging a losing war. They knew it, thus the Cole protocol, which bought the UNSC at least 10 years to try to save themselves. The UNSC wouldn't waste their valuable fleet assets in suicidal attacks in the last few years of the war (apart from the SPARTAN-III program), instead concentrating on defense of existing inner colonies, and it is also stated somewhere in canon, that the UNSC practically abandoned the outermost outer colonies, but thats not really relevant. Furthermore, the UNSC didn't actually know if it would win, or even survive the war, which explains the lack of post-war planning.


I say the UNSC had to have done all it could on the offensive front. It is the fate of Humanity at hand. Defense though was something it lacked. - Echo 1 23:04, June 8, 2010 (UTC)

No, the UNSC didn't do all it could have done. Why? Because ONI started the Human-Covenant War. Ok, I'm kidding. I honestly think the UNSC did do all it could do to at least try to win the war. They started the SPARTAN-III program to trade the lives of "meaningless" orphans for time, they launched weird operations using Black Team and Gray Team, entire fleets tried to overwhelm a few Covenant vessels just to win back a few colonies, strange and weird weapons - such as NOVA - were created, and the list goes on and on. As we all know, Humans won the majority of battles on the ground, actually. It was the fact that the Covenant had superior star ships - they copied Forerunner technology - that we were losing so badly. There's only so much a race that is outmatched technologically and numerically can do, and that's when times got desperate. Defensively? Humanity did all it could. Offensively? Humanity did all it could. -- Sergeant Major Arnold Lewis, UNSC Naval Special Warfare Development Group[COM] 23:09, June 8, 2010 (UTC)


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Before I make counterarguments to the above points, I'll make a few statements.

Not everything that appears to be shown in canon should be taken at face value. War is complicated, and the thing about it is that you've got to be two steps ahead to win a battle, physically or metaphorically. So even if the UNSC didn't appear to make the best decisions, I believe that as the most powerful human force in the universe they took the Covenant seriously and put in their highest efforts with a lot of consideration as to their repercussions.

Cquote1.png The Spartan program was wasted by creating ground soldiers when they should have focused on creating brilliant child fleet admirals. Cquote2.png


This seems like a good plan in foresight, but really is a mistake in hindsight. The thing about Fleet Admirals is that genius or not, they're vulnerable. By the time they reach such a high rank, they're most likely aged, and not have the best physical ability. And the goal of the Spartans is to win the war, no matter what the cost. More than one went down willingly to pull a victory for the UNSC. While in the case of a SPARTAN NCO this may be a minor loss compared to the rewards, Admirals have greater numbers of ships at their command, and trading fleets for a fight would be too costly for the UNSC.

Cquote1.png Admiral Cole And Hood were incompetent commanders, Cole being too prone to wasting ships, Hood being too cautious and over reliant on values of honor and "going down with the ship." Cquote2.png


It's very difficult to understand how war works, and I don't think your friend could determine what Cole and Hood's motives were. The thing about Preston Cole is that he knows how much firepower he's got and how much hurt it can do towards the enemy. Many soldiers in the UNSC had signed up to fight, even if they died for it, and Cole knew that the most blunt method of defeating the Covenant was throwing sheer numbers at them. Now there's a balance between making the right sacrifices and reserving your forces, and it makes decisions very difficult for an admiral. And since Cole was commanding in the first half of the war, the UNSC didn't know all that much about how the Covenant worked, so he did the only thing he could. He gave them everything he had.

As for Hood, it has to be known that by the time we get around to his authority over the Navy, the war had been going on for a very long time, and many soldiers and systems were lost. It had come to the point where it was necessary to save every human they could, and by this time it became clear that just outnumbering the Covenant wasn't enough, because they were just going to come back. Humanity needed something to give it a drastic advantage over the Covenant, and after finding out that the aliens were searching for something on Sigma Octanus IV, ONI devoted more time trying to find out what it was and possibly using it against the Covenant. And Hood had to keep the wolves at the door until there was a solution, because otherwise humanity was almost certain to face extinction.

Cquote1.png There wasn't enough of an effort to reverse engineer Covenant technology or offense attempts on their worlds. Cquote2.png


Covenant technology is tricky. Because they were often referred to as "imitative", and took it from another source rather than create most of it themselves. Therefore it was harder for humanity, who were often referred to as "innovative", to decipher how it worked. Because even if the UNSC found out the basic idea of Tier-2 technology, they had to either find massive amounts of resources to keep using it, or else study it themselves until they came across something. There were a few breakthroughs during the war, such as the shielding system on the MJOLNIR armour suit, but for the most part, it was under lock and key. In short, it's hard to reverse-engineer something that wasn't engineered by who you took it from.

As for offensive attempts on the Covenant worlds, it's a lot harder than it sounds. It's most likely that the Covenant didn't inhabit as many worlds as the UNSC, judging from the fact that they believed Harvest was the human homeworld for several years. Unlike humanity, who took any habitable planet they could set a population on, the Covenant looked for "holy" worlds, ones that had traces of Forerunner technology. And for the planets they had, they might have had different navigational tactics, which the UNSC couldn't find in a ship's system (as stated in the Fall of Reach, the Covenant understood humanity very well, but it couldn't be said the other way around).

Cquote1.png There was zero regard for the post-war future. Cquote2.png


I think the UNSC would have been more concerned with winning the war first, and it was either expending everything they had or possibly being wiped out. There was no alternative. And in any case, the Human-Covenant war was probably the first conflict humanity had with alien species. Things would work differently, as surrender was probably out of the question, and after the mission to capture a Prophet was scrapped, the war would probably end by killing everyone on the other side.

So in conclusion, yes I believe that the UNSC did everything they could. There would have been no point to hold back on anything, and the Office of Naval Intelligence made difficult but necessary decisions to give humanity every advantage they could gain. Perhaps that was why people held them in low regard, and thought that they were cold and heartless beings that were as inhumane as the Covenant. And that is their burden to bear, because winning the war would outweigh all the costs.

Well said, Sona. =D Rainbow_Dash.pngRainbow Dash (Talk)(Contribs)  
Indeed, well said :) Survivor of the Old Guard
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