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UNSC WARNING: This document, Sangheili Armed Forces, is property of the UNSC and is Classified [NOVEMBER BLACK], protected under Office of Naval Intelligence Security Protocol 1A. Disclosure of its contents to, or access or alteration by, personnel with a clearance level lower than GAMMA THREE is an offense punishable by court(s) martial and imprisonment or execution for treasonous acts. Failure to disclose confirmed or suspected breaches of security will be treated as complicity, and is punishable by dishonourable discharge and/or imprisonment.
Lieutenant Commander Michael Pomare, Office of Naval Intelligence, UNSCDF Navy
ONI Seal 1
"There was honour in our Covenant once. But that honour withered a long time ago, as the Prophets turned from the path the Ancient Ones forged. For more than three thousand cycles, we have followed a Covenant of blood and shame, a dishonour to our fathers' fathers, an affront to the Gods, and a stain upon our honour that will never truly wash away. But no more. The blind followers have opened their eyes, and have glimpsed the true face of betrayal - and we have good memories. Our war of vengeance shall burn a path of glory through the stars, sweeping our foes aside like a sacred wind, and our names and deeds shall shall be sung for a thousand years!"
―Supreme Commander Zuro Dun 'Xoram
Mark of Shame by CeruleanRaptor
Sangheili Armed Forces
Political information
Type of government

Feudal Meritocracy/Military Junta

Head of State

Arbiter Thel 'Vadam


Commander Rtas 'Vadum

Executive branch

High Council

Societal information


Official language



Gift economy

State religious body

Modified Covenant/Sangheili Faith

Historical information
Date of establishment

Prior to 800th Century B.C.E.

Date of dissolution

852 B.C.E.(Foundation of the Covenant)

Date of restoration

November 3, 2552


The Sangheili have never been the most cooperative species in the galaxy, relying on a meritocratic feudal society with a strong tiered class system. On the largest worlds, clans hold control of vast swathes of land, isolating themselves from other states diplomatically and economically. On smaller offworld colonies, some interaction is more common, but a single clan will usually retain the majority of power. Trying to erect a truly effective civilian government for the entire species would have proven a monumental task, especially when it would come to controlling the vast amounts of territory the decimated naval force would have to patrol - so Arbiter Thel 'Vadam didn't even try. Instead, the newly reestablished Sangheili Armed Forces took over as the central controlling force behind the Sangheili. Their strong martial cultural emphasis made its establishment swift and popular, and while differences in style of government were still common, the species was able to at least unite on military matters.

As the War of Vengeance began in earnest, the SAF found itself forced to deal with internal dissent, but being a military government, found it easier to deal with than traditional Sangheili bureoucracy would have. The conflict at Unrivalled Splendour, the Mandorla campaign, and the attack on Ulysses all saw Sangheili separatist forces crushed by SAF military might, some taking longer than others would have. By the end of the War of Vengeance, the SAF encompassed more than four hundred star systems, with military bases and colonies in most, with a secure stellar border against the Covenant Remnant factions, though border skirmishes and raids would continue long afterwards. Since it's establishment, the SAF have retained strong diplomatic ties with the UNSC, and though technological and economic trade has been limited for the most part, joint operations between the two have forged a strong alliance, especially against the former Covenant.

Officially, the Sangheili Armed Forces began their governance on March 3rd, 2553, the date the Human-Sangheili Non-Aggression Pact was signed, though it is held to be officially created on November 3rd, the date the Schism erupted. Naturally, for a long while, there was much confusion in terms of hierarchy and coherence, but when the Arbiter returned from Delta Halo, he took swift control of the disparate Sangheili forces, combining them into a single entity.



War of Vengeance

Rise of the Governors

Cold War

Onslaught of the Sovereigns


  • Arbiter - leader of the Sangheili as both a people and a force of power, the Arbiter is neither elected nor replaced. When current Arbiter Thel 'Vadum dies, the High Council may elect another leader, but he is the last warrior to ever bear the title "Arbiter".
    • Civil Authority - distinct from the military, this encompasses all civilian affairs.
      • High Council - modelled after the old Covenant High Council, the new council is comprised of purely Sangheili, though with Lekgolo delegation and Unggoy representatives.
        • Regional Leaders - often claiming the loyalty of many clans on multiple planets, these leaders are integral to the SAF's coherence. Their loyalty has been dearly bought, but their honous makes it sure and pure.
          • Colonial Feudal Clans - often controlling large swathes of land, sometimes even entire planets or planetoids, the feudal clans are ruled by Kaidons, who govern their people at the local level. Kaidons may serve in the military, delegating their duties to a handpicked council of elders.
    • Military Authority - the armed forces of the Sangheili, the military engages their enemies in war and liaisons with their allies in peace. Currently headed by former Special Operations Commander Rtas 'Vadum.
      • SAF Fleet - the naval contingent of the SAF, consisting of all warships, transports and supply ships. Commanded by a Imperial Commander, with Supreme Commanders leading separate fleets.
      • SAF Army - the planetary portion of the armed forces, the Army performs invasion, occupation and recovery operations, using infantry, armoured cavalry, and aerial forces.
      • SAF Special Operations - deployed in highly volatile situations where sheer numbers or strength is cumbersome, or detrimental to the mission, Sangheili Special Forces commandoes are chosen from the best warriors in the SAF, using stealth and cunning where strength fails.
      • SAF Ceremonial Guard - guardians of the Arbiter, his councillors, and the leaders of the Sangheili, Ceremonial Guardsmen are protectors and defenders against attack or assassination, and are rumoured to conduct assassination missions of their own when needed.

Civil Authority

Humans tend to approximate the SAF with the UNSC, in that both are military institutions that hold significant authority over civilian populaces, but the analogy does not hold up very well. For one thing, there has never been a clear distinction between civilian and military roles in Sangheili society - all Sangheili males are warriors, but only those who choose this as a lifelong profession become soldiers for the SAF. Secondly, the SAF was never given the opportunity to replace an already existing civilian authority, as the UNSC did the UEG - with the outbreak of the Great Schism and the secession of the Sangheili species from the Covenant, the Sangheili were left with a very fragile leadership, and the only unifying factor was the combined outrage of the Prophets' betrayal. Moving quickly, the Arbiter worked to organise all Sangheili ships, fleets and legions under his banner, reestablishing the millenia-old Sangheili Armed Forces, and establishing this as the primary authority of the Sangheili species, governing the hundreds of worlds and dozens of systems it holds under its sway.

In its role as a civil authority, the SAF relies much more heavily on independent government than the UNSC ever has. Each colony is rules by a single clan, which in turn pays tribute to the Arbiter as a local regional satrap. These clans sometimes hold vast swathes of land under their control, and large enough clans may sometimes split into two, creating new nations and states - the recognition of the SAF as the single unifying force for the Sangheili, the High Council as the voice of the colonies, and the acceptance of the Arbiter as the leader of the Sangheili is almost absolute. Sangheili society places a high regard on the fuedal meritocratic aristocracy, and the Arbiter is a pseudo-religious/military title that all recognise. In the years since their abandonment of the Covenant, the rank has once again become a privilege to bear, and is a symbol of total authority.

Dissent is not uncommon, however. Some clans disagree on the methods the SAF use to govern the colonies, while others accuse it of favouritism. Certainly, the High Council has shown a degree of bias towards the well established clans and nations, and newer colonies and clans have found it difficult to be heard. The sorest point of contention has been the alliance with humanity - while the authority of the Prophets has been totally rejected, their teachings have been harder to shake off, and many still consider humanity to be heretical creatures only worthy of oblivion. Others take offense at the notion of collaborating with an "inferior" race, and see their research of Covenant technology as an affront. Motions have been put forward in the High Council itself to cease all contact with the UNSC, but all attempts have been blocked by the Arbiter and the military leadership. Some are easily placated by the promise of military glory in battle against the enemies of the Sangheili, such as the Blood Covenant or the Privateer Alliance, which in turn increases their standing among the Council - others have instead attempted to secede from the SAF, declaring their independence, and scavenging what they can to form their own private military forces. These have invariably failed in their goals - the attack by Sangheili secessionists on the UNSC Ulysses Naval Shipyards in 2558 was driven off by the Fleet of Enduring Fury, while the breakaway colony of Unrivalled Splendour was threatened with glassing as an example to other malcontents.

Military Authority (Service Branches)

The true military branch of the Sangheili Armed Forces, the SAF Fleet and SAF Army serve as the orbital and planetary components of all Sangheili military operations. Inter-service cooperation is vital - the nature of space warfare means that without the aid of naval forces, ground warriors are stranded with no means of reaching the frontlines - likewise, a space force can wipe out as many ships as it can, but without the accompanying troops to consolidate gains all they can do is glass a planet to deny its use to the enemy - an extremely expensive and wasteful practice.

SAF Fleet


The Bringer of Holy Light, one of many ships that served with distinction during the Human-Covenant War, the Great Schism, and the War of Vengeance.

For the most part, the Fleet still operates using the same equipment they used under the Covenant - the secession of the Sangheili from the Covenant wrested a significant portion of the Covenant's own military assets away from their control, and the Sangheili operate fleets that number in the hundreds. Unfortunately, the knowledge to build and maintain these ships was mostly lost without the aid of the Prophets, who retained the important knowledge almost as a safety measure. A few scattered shipyards still operate - the Morhekan Orbital Shipyards, the salvage yards at Unnerved Glance and Wondrous Glory, and the naval graveyard at Sanghelios all ran flat-out during the War of Vengeance to return damaged or decommissioned ships to operational status - but no new major ship designs have emerged from the Sangeili for two decades. A small number of improvements and upgrades have made their presence felt throughout the Sangheili Fleet, with improvements to the shield and DEW systems especially pronounced, provided by UNSC technological developments, but the Sangheili have so far refused all offers to accept UNSC warships to resupply their fleets.

Fleet organisation is extremely loose, with little of the regimental subdivisions typical of the warrior legions. In theory, this is intended to make a fleet as flexible as possible - smaller taskforces and battlegroups can be formed as needed, with Ship Masters given temporary or permanent authority of these units as Fleet Masters, all answering to the Fleet's Supreme Commander. A single fleet, such as for example the Second Fleet of Enlightened Benevolence, can consist of almost three hundred ships - this is certainly enough to conquer a major colony, but is considered overkill in the smaller, more vital engagements that take place. Supreme Commander 'Xoram has taken a more active role in combat than other Fleet leaders usually take, leading his ships personally from the frontlines. Typically, this role is delegated to lesser Fleet Masters. In the Post-Schism Sangheili Fleet, a Supreme Commander is considered another type of politician by their subordinates. All Supreme Commanders must answer to the Imperial Admiral, who in turn answers to Rtas 'Vadum, commander-in-chief of the Sangheili military forces.

SAF Army

Historically, a Sangheili Army has always been integrated with naval forces, with many ships carrying a permanent detachment of ground troops for invasion, occupation and recovery of planetary assets. During the Covenant era, this served the Army well - they were able to engage the human defenders, recover whatever relics the Prophets demanded, and return to their ships. After the Schism, though, the sudden loss of so many ships, either taken by the Jiralhanae or destroyed in battle, meant that the Sangheili were left with more ground troops than they had ships to carry them. In the Post-Schism era, these troops are now carried by dedicated troop ships, usually salvaged older models that are no longer capable of going up against their enemy equivalents. Once the orbital battlefield has been secured, the troop ships are sent to the planet's surface to deploy the legions they carry to the planet's surface. While it frees warships for combat, it means that invasions are longer affairs than they once were, requiring more preparations to implement, and that removal of these troops once the mission has been accomplished takes longer as well.

In the early days of the Schism, the SAF incorporated a number of other races into its ranks - the few Kig-Yar who chose to fight for their Sangheili employers, the Unggoy infantry who stayed, and the Lekgolo warriors. By its end, most of the Kig-Yar had abandoned both sides of the war, preferring to engage in their own activities, while the Sangheili had eventually stopped using the Unggoy as warriors because of their insufficient numbers. The Lekgolo, however, continued to serve among SAF units, often with distinction, and are the only species the Sangheili recognise for a martial skill that rivals their own.

Ground forces typically use weapons once standard to the Covenant, such as plasma pistols, rifles and repeaters, needlers, carbines, needle rifles, and so on, although freed from the constraints of the Prophets, many warriors modify their weapons as they are able, adding optical or digital scopes, improved targeting sensors, and so on. SAF armoured cavalry consists of the Ghost as a light scout, with the Wraith performing long-range artillery functions, with Shadows serving as troop transports. Banshees serve as aerial support, either as fighters or as ground attack aircraft, harrying enemy infantry, armoured and aerial forces. The SAF Army also operates both the Spirit and Phantom dropship, though it does not possess any Seraph fighter units, leaving the operation of these units to the Fleet.

SAF Special Operations

The SAF Special Operations Command differs from the SAF Army in a number of ways. Service is not compulsory, as in the Army, and indeed many warriors are turned away as they apply to join the elite commando units. There is no shame or stigma attached to this - the Special Operations units of the Sangheili are the best fighters, strategists and tacticians in the SAF, and thus are the greatest Sangheili warriors alive.

Commando units prefer light weaponry, allowing them to move fast and silently, striking with a speed that is dizzying. Employing advanced active camouflage generators, commandoes can render them nearly invisible for short periods of time, allowing them to penetrate enemy installations without being detected. So far, the only means of penetrating this camouflage is thermal imaging, a trick that human soldiers and Marines used to great effect during the Great War, though the Jiralhanae and New Covenant have yet to realise this weakness. They rarely use vehicles, preferring to use dropships for local insertion. They are rarely deployed on extended campaigns - their operations are short, lethal, and permanent. During and after the Schism, the SAF Special Forces introduced a modified variant of Phantom dropship, incorporating active camouflage systems for stealth infiltration of enemy territory for rapid deployment. These modified dropships were painted green, rather than the typical Covenant purple, both as a symbol of defiance against Prophet aesthetic conventions, and to differentiate them from Covenant dropships, preventing friendly fire incidents.

Before the Schism, the commandoes were led by famous Commander Rtas 'Vadum. Today, although he also serves as the Commander-in-Chief of the Sangheili Armed Forces as a military force at the side of the Arbiter, he also retains his command of the Special Forces, deploying them personally, often to great effect. As they did before the war, some warships retain commando units aboard, both for ship defence and security and in the event that a boarding party or planetary raid must be launched.

SAF Ceremonial Guard

Many of the Honour Guards who protected the Prophets during the Covenat committed suicide in the days after the Great Schism began, shamed from defending liars and betrayers. After the Great Schism, the Ceremonial Guards were revived almost from scratch, using personnel and leaders from the old Honour Guard legions and accepting new members from the Fleet and Army. They serve a similar function to their predecessors, protecting the highest ranking Sangheili in the SAF from assassination or attack, and have proven quite effective in this role. In two instances, Ceremonial Guards worked alongside defending Army forces during Blood Covenant attacks, proving single warriors to be worth up to ten Jiralhanae warriors, fighting at close quarters with energy swords or the long bladed glaives.

There is some variation of the armour, with more public and low-risk officials possessing guardsmen with graceful, ornate armour with curved protuberances. Higher-ranked officials possess more modest protectors, often clad in the simple armour of a low ranked Minor or Veteran. Guardsmen are treated with respect by all Sangheili - these are warriors proven in combat who have given up the chance for further honour on the battlefield to defend those who lead the Sangheili as a people. All who make such a sacrifice in the name of their species are revered.



Although the SAF itself incorporates both Unggoy and Lekgolo, the military itself allows only the Lekgolo to contribute warriors to its service. Efforts to return those Unggoy who have still not defected to the fledgling Unggoy Star Empire, or to the New Covenant, have met with failure in most cases - terrestrial worlds with methane atmospheres are fragile, and so all requests by the SAF to establish an Unggoy colony on Mettisette have been swiftly rebuffed by the UNSC, who still retain sovereignty over the alloy-rich 26 Draconis System. In civilian lives, the Unggoy form an integral part of the SAF economy, serving as menial workers and indentured servants for Sangheili officials. The UNSC regards the practice as slavery, and have vocally opposed the practice at the urging of the Unggoy Star Empire, but the SAF retains it. Indeed, much of its infrastructure is dependent upon Unggoy workers, and conditions for the Unggoy under the Sangheili have certainly improved, a sign of how desperate the Sangheili are to prevent an insurrection that would economically destabilise them.

Lekgolo colonies are often isolated affairs, established on alloy-rich planetoids too small for Sangheili mining ships, often formed into elaborate space colonies. Seventeen ships have been gifted by the Sangheili to the Lekgolo, crewed and operated by Lekgolo worms - in essence, the ships have become the shells for massive "Hunter" creatures, now tasked to mining star systems that the Sangheili do not have the resources to reach. At least three warships were crewed by Lekgolo during the Schism and War of Vengeance, among these the [[CCS Purity of Spirit}} being the most renown, a CCS Class Battlecruiser that served with distinction, fighting for the Sangheili. Afterwards, although the Purity of Spirit was decommissioned to serve as the basis of a civilian Lekgolo colony, and later as the Lekgolo embassy to Sanghelios, the Lekgolo would remain a presence among the SAF Fleet, though never in a large size in the combat forces.

The only non-hostile relationship the SAF maintains with another separate faction is with the Unified Earth Government, the recognised legitimate government of humanity as a species, and more specifically the United Nations Space Command Defence Forces, the primary exploration, colonisation and defence force of humanity. This relationship has not always been something either faction has been happy about - many Sangheili still believe the humans to be inferior, while the humans for their part object to having to rely too heavily on a race that spearheaded slaughter of them in the billions, despite their break away from the schism. Nevertheless, it is with humanity that the Sangheili have formed their strongest bonds, both militarily and culturally. During the Schism, humanity was hard pressed to recover, and it was with Sangheili aid that the UNSC began the process of reconstruction. During the War of Vengeance, the two worked in tandem in joint operations to eradicate the Blood Covenant, a threat to them both., and then both signed separate non-aggression pacts with the New Covenant. These shared experiences have created a sort of mutual respect between the two, and military operations have been so closely run that some in both chains of command have called for limited integration - currently, N'tho 'Sroam is the only Sangheili attached to ONI in a liaison position, and while there has been talk among the SAF High Council of using human firearms to replace those they cannot repair or replace themselves, the SAF Fleet has adamantly refused to use human-built ships. Economically, the two have limited trading contact with each other, with the UNSC purchasing raw materials from Sangheili merchants and the Sangheili accepting various goods and pieces of equipment that they have lost the knowledge of creating, such as weapons, food preparation kits, medical supplies, and so on. Food is something neither species has in common - humanity being omnivores while the Sangheili are exclusively carnivores - so consummable trade has never been an issue.

The SAF's relations with factions claiming to be the legitimate successors to the Covenant have typically been sour. The Blood Covenant could perhaps have forestalled the immediacy of Operation: TACK HAMMER simply by picking a name less likely to enrage the Sangheili, who quickly latched upon it as a focus for their retribution. Their regard for the Blood Covenant, such as it was, was dominated by a mixture of loathing and disgust - both for the Jiralhanae-led infrastructure and leadership that it possessed, and for forcing them to recognise them as a threat to Sangheili security. Against this threat, the Sangheili were even willing to tolerate the existence of a small, independent Jiralhanae colony populated by members of the Brotherhood of Ruskt for use as an intelligence gathering service, though this would backfire horribly with the Blood Covenant's Operation Tartarus. With the New Covenant, however, the SAF's response was more subdued. While it had spent years fighting a vindictive war against the Blood Covenant, they had little intelligence on the state of readiness of the New Covenant and chose to wait until this information could be gained. With both SAF analysts and UNSC liaisons recommending patience, a nonaggression pact was signed between the three factions - afterwards, the SAF would initiate limited trading and contact with the New Covenant, though always approved with the goal of improving knowledge of their potential enemy. When the Governors of Contrition staged a well-organised and stunningly successful coup, the SAF would cast aside their traditional hatred of the Prophets to stop the Governors activating Halo and other Forerunner facilities.

The political landscape of the Orion Arm after the Second Great War is particularly tumultuous, and constantly shifting - greatly weakened by the Governors' insurrection, the New Covenant has to face its own threats; the UNSC still remains trying to restore its fractured infrastructure from the Great War; and the rise of the Unggoy Star Empire has cast doubts on humanity's potential rise to dominance. The Sangheili remain, as always, primarily warriors, but have been left without an enemy to fight or fleets to fight with; frustration at this fact is building up to a point where their greatest threats may be internal ones.

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