"You have been called upon to serve, you will be trained... and you will become the best we can make of you. You will be the protectors of Earth and all her colonies"
— Dr. Catherine Halsey to the SPARTAN-II recruits
The SPARTAN-II Program, originally known as the ORION Project Generation II, was part of the SPARTAN Program, an effort to produce elite soldiers through mechanical and biological augmentation. The SPARTAN-II program would be the first in the series to meld advanced exoskeleton technology with the soldiers' superior physiques.
In the years following the deactivation of the ORION Project in 2506 the effectiveness of small special forces in combating the insurrectionists diminished as the Insurrectionist movement became too large for the UNSC to manage. As insurrectionist became more effective and the military's responses consequently become more forceful, the need for large scale military campaigns became more and more obvious. In 2517 the Office of Naval Intelligence began to reexamine the Carver Findings, which had warned of instability in the Outer Colonies years earlier. The report rationalized that the instability would continue to escalate, and unless drastic military measures were taken, would result in a massive war between the inner colonies and the outer colonies. ONI's own projections at that time and up to 2525 concluded the same as Dr. Carver's findings. The SPARTAN-II project was conceived by Dr. Catherine Halsey of ONI Section III's Special Projects Division as the successor to the ORION Project and the best possible solution to end the widespread insurgency that raged throughout UNSC space. The project was created with several goals in mind. The first goal was to create a group of elite soldiers meant to subdue insurrections in their infancy, without substantial military casualties. The second goal was to minimize civilian casualties and avert civil war. The third goal was to substantially reduce the cost of conventional means of pacification.
Halsey's proposal for the project detailed radical changes in many different fields. The first and most controversial was the subjects themselves, who were selected by a gene-candidate pool, and must fit into a certain age restriction protocol. They must also have possessed superior physical and mental attributes. The trainees must be instilled with military value, and the understanding of war; something that cannot be taught to enlisted soldiers. This narrowed the candidates down to children who would be raised and taught in the art of warfare and military values, from a young age. Using such controversial means of creating a soldier meant that the project would have to be carried out in the highest form of secrecy.
Though conventional body armor had protected soldiers for centuries, the SPARTAN-II project's second radical change involved integrating the subject with a new powered exoskeleton device, designed to help keep its user safe and provide a powerful means of combating enemy forces. The drawback of this new armor is its requirement for augmenting the subject, effectively turning the SPARTANs into human guinea pigs.
Despite the tremendous risk and the unethical means of creating new soldiers, the SPARTAN-II project was greenlit by the top brass within the Office of Naval Intelligence, who concluded that the lives that could be saved far outweighed the risks involved. The project was initially granted funding for 300 candidates, though funding was later reduced to half this number. By 2517, 150 suitable candidates had been identified through DNA gathered from the UNSC's civilian vaccination program, though funding had been further reduced to support only half that number. Seventy-five children, all six years old and of both sexes, were kidnapped. In order to preserve the program's secrecy, the children were replaced by flash clones which would die soon thereafter due to numerous medical complications associated with flash-cloning an entire human being.
The SPARTAN-II candidates after being sedated were taken to the colony world Reach, and began their training under Chief Petty Officer Mendez. To marginalize the civilian lives they had once led, their names became a combination of their given names and a number, with family names being discarded. The SPARTANs endured a great deal of hardship during their first years of training: they were placed into situations and drills that pushed their abilities to their very limit and beyond. Their hard training was complemented with high-level education, which included mathematics, science, reading, writing, and military tactics. Although his training methodology was tough, even brutal in some regards, Chief Petty Officer Mendez always instilled discipline, honor, and respect into the SPARTANs. He taught the SPARTANs how to kill, but at the same time he taught them the difference between right and wrong. Mendez trained the SPARTANs until 2525 when, at the age of fourteen, they would go through the toughest part of their training: the biological augmentation procedures, which would kill 30 of the 75 conscripted children and cripple 12 others who would "wash out" of the SPARTAN-II program, going on to join the Office of Naval Intelligence; only 33 survived the procedures without physiological deformities. The bodies of those candidates who died were placed in cryo-suspension, in the hope that they could some day be resuscitated. At least some of the candidates who were crippled were eventually rehabilitated. Several elements of the candidates' training were kept secret from Halsey that only Professor Agnes and Professor Mike (who worked on the project with her) knew about.
The Human-Covenant war marked a change in objectives for the program; originally intended to quell rebellions, the SPARTANs were now forced into battle against a superior opponent to the insurrectionists: the Covenant. This new threat accelerated the SPARTANs' training to its final phase: Project MJOLNIR. With the MJOLNIR armor, the SPARTANs would be the first major UNSC response to the alien threat. The SPARTANs continuously proved highly effective against all threats; their heroic rearguard and delaying actions saved countless human lives from the genocidal Covenant onslaught. Their prowess was well known among the Covenant, who came to fear the SPARTANs as Demons. In 2547, the SPARTAN-II program was revealed to the public in an effort to boost morale among the UNSC.
Inevitably the small number of SPARTAN-IIs dwindled as casualties were sustained. As the exploits of the SPARTANs were a major propaganda boom to the UNSC, Section II of the Office of Naval Intelligence issued Directive 930, which stated that SPARTANs killed or wounded would be listed as "Missing in action" (MIA) or "Wounded in action" (WIA), thus maintaining the illusion of the SPARTANs' invincibility. In late 2552, all except three of the remaining active SPARTANs rendezvoused at Reach to receive new orders for Operation: RED FLAG, an operation that HIGHCOM hoped would end the war. They would commandeer a Covenant vessel, locate the Covenant homeworld, and return with captured Covenant leadership to force a ceasefire. The Artificial intelligence construct Cortana, carried within John-117's Mark V MJOLNIR armor, would serve as the strike force's hacker and technology specialist.
However, all preparations were interrupted and subsequently canceled by the Covenant's invasion of Reach. In the ensuing disaster, most of the SPARTAN-IIs were killed, although some took shelter in ONI's CASTLE Base. Two escaped aboard the UNSC Pillar of Autumn, one of whom was place in cryostasis aboard the ship after sustaining life-threatening injuries during the battle on Gamma Station. The Pillar of Autumn soon arrived at Halo Installation 04, which John-117 ultimately destroyed to prevent the spread of the Flood. Following the Battle of Installation 04, the survivors returned to Reach and were able to rendezvous with the remaining SPARTANs. The survivors then carried out a raid that resulted in the destruction of a Covenant fleet anchorage, stalling a Covenant plan to invade Earth. SPARTAN-IIs would go on to play pivotal roles in the Battle of Earth, the Battle of Installation 05, the Battle of Onyx, and the Battle of Installation 00.
"Die? Don't you know? Spartans never die."
— Kurt-051 upon his death.
The identities of the Spartans' full names have been deleted from all military records. Only Dr. Halsey has secret files that contains the full names of all the Spartans on Reach; unfortunately, the records were destroyed after the the planet was Glassed. Publicly, only their first names and service tags are known with their current status.
The following is the list of all currently known SPARTAN-II subjects conscripted in 2517.
SPARTAN-005: James - MIA. Most likely KIA during the Fall of Reach.
SPARTAN-006: Jai - Missing in action with the rest of Gray Team.
SPARTAN-008: Li - Listed as MIA during Slipspace anomaly battle. Assumed KIA due to nearby plasma torpedo detonation.
SPARTAN-010: Naomi - Serving in ONI's Kilo Five.
SPARTAN-023: Daisy - Listed as MIA, confirmed KIA after being impaled by Needler rounds while trying to save a Pelican and its occupants from enemy fire on Harvest.
SPARTAN-029: Joshua - Listed as MIA, though assumed KIA during the Fall of Reach due to a direct hit from a Covenant cruiser's plasma weaponry.
SPARTAN-030: Vinh - Listed as MIA, though assumed KIA after the Fall of Reach.
SPARTAN-034: Samuel - Listed as MIA, though confirmed KIA due to destruction of the Covenant ship they had boarded. First to destroy a Covenant ship in a non-ship to ship battle.
SPARTAN-039: Isaac - Listed as MIA, though assumed KIA after the Fall of Reach.
SPARTAN-042: Douglas - Last seen aboard UNSC Spirit of Fire after the Battle of Shield 0459 in 2531. Listed as MIA.
SPARTAN-043: William - Listed as MIA, though confirmed KIA by Hunter pair during the Battle of Onyx
SPARTAN-044: Anton - MIA during Slipspace anomaly battle, though assumed KIA due to nearby plasma torpedo detonation.
SPARTAN-047: Keiichi - Presumably listed as MIA at Reach. Last seen during the Harvest Campaign.
SPARTAN-051: Kurt - Listed as MIA, though confirmed KIA after the detonation of two FENRIS nuclear warheads at the core of Onyx.
SPARTAN-052: Jorge - Listed as MIA, though confirmed KIA after initiating a Slipstream bomb during the Fall of Reach.
SPARTAN-058: Linda - Active as of March 2553. Clinically KIA during the Fall of Reach but later resuscitated after the Battle of Installation 04.
SPARTAN-059: Malcolm - Listed as MIA, though confirmed KIA during the Fall of Reach.
SPARTAN-062: Maria - Retired.
SPARTAN-069: Solomon - Listed as MIA. Confirmed KIA by Covenant antimatter charge decoy during a SPARTAN mission to rescue Dr. Catherine Halsey.
SPARTAN-079: Arthur - Listed as MIA. Confirmed KIA by Seraph-class starfighters during SPARTAN mission to rescue Dr. Catherine Halsey.
SPARTAN-087: Kelly - Active as of March 2553
SPARTAN-092: Jerome - Last seen aboard UNSC Spirit of Fire after the Battle of Shield 0459 in 2531. Listed as MIA.
SPARTAN-093: Grace - Listed as MIA. Confirmed KIA during Operation: FIRST STRIKE on Unyielding Hierophant.
SPARTAN-101: Victor - Active as of August 2552.
SPARTAN-104: Frederic - Active as of March 2553
SPARTAN-111: Adriana - MIA with the rest of Gray Team.
SPARTAN-117: John - MIA. Last seen aboard the severed aft section of the Charon-class light frigate UNSC Forward Unto Dawn, drifting toward a mysterious planet.
SPARTAN-122: Joseph - Status unknown, last seen in 2525. Assumed KIA during Fall of Reach.
SPARTAN-130: Alice - Last seen aboard UNSC Spirit of Fire after the Battle of Shield 0459 in 2531. Listed as MIA.
SPARTAN-137: Carris - Status unknown. Presumably KIA during the Fall of Reach.
SPARTAN-141: Cal - Listed as MIA, though confirmed KIA during an assassination operation.
Mike - MIA with the rest of Gray Team.
Randall - MIA.
Sheila - Listed as MIA, though confirmed KIA during the Battle of Miridem.
"Beta Red Actual" - Listed as MIA. Confirmed KIA during the Fall of Reach.
"Black-One" - Active as of August 2552.
"Black-Two" - Active as of August 2552.
"Black-Three" - Active as of August 2552.
"Red-Fifteen" - Listed as MIA. Confirmed KIA during the Fall of Reach.
Unnamed Spartan (Harvest) - Listed as MIA. Confirmed KIA during the Harvest Campaign.
(Caleb-095 was available for being a Spartan, but was never conscripted.)
These were Spartans who became too wounded to continue active service after failed augmentation procedures. They have been permanently reassigned within the Office of Naval Intelligence, although Dr. Halsey stated that some might make a full recovery with rehab and re-enter service as fully functional SPARTANs.
SPARTAN-018: Kirk - Discharged. Possible rehab mentioned by Halsey.
SPARTAN-019: Serin - Protege to Admiral Margaret Parangosky, head of the Office of Naval Intelligence. Did not accept augmentations, ONI operative as of March 2553 in Kilo Five
SPARTAN-066: Soren - Discharged due to failures in augmentation process Listed as Missing in action on Reach after being shot down in a GA-TL1 Longsword-class Interceptor.
SPARTAN-075: Cassandra - Discharged due to failures in augmentation procedures, currently residing in the M25L Recovery Station.
SPARTAN-081: René - Discharged. Possible rehab mentioned by Halsey.
SPARTAN-084: Fhajad - Discharged, sent to work for ONI. Suffered uncontrollable muscle spasms due to failures in augmentation, current status unknown. Image shown in Halsey's Journal for rehab.
SPARTAN-303: Ralph - Unknown if listed as MIA, confirmed KIA in the Harvest Campaign.
After the graduation of the first class of SPARTAN-IIs in 2525, Dr. Halsey began planning for the next wave of Spartans; her efforts, however, ran into problems. There were too few candidates that were in sync with her age restriction protocol and a majority of her funding was going towards MJOLNIR maintenance and construction; leaving little room for continued training efforts. By 2531, the majority of her funds had been diverted and she was forced to postpone the effort indefinitely.
Around six years later, however, it seems that enough candidates within the right age were numerous enough to begin a second class. Six year old Yasmine Zaman was abducted and replaced by a flash clone just like the Class-Is, and taught in a similar way. She however, died during augmentations.
Another girl, Janissary James, was selected as a suitable candidate for training. However, her father, an ORION Project member known now as "James James", killed the to-be kidnapper.
There is some confusion concerning the number of SPARTAN-IIs throughout the series. For example, in Halo: The Fall of Reach, it is cited on page 46 that there are 75 children on board a pelican for a training mission; however, on page 47, it states that there were 67 children on the training mission out of 75 that were originally on board. No mention is made of the whereabouts of the missing eight. After the augmentation process all 75 reappear, with 33 surviving, 12 surviving but crippled, and 30 being killed as a result of the procedures.
In Halo: The Fall of Reach, it is stated that all of the 33 surviving SPARTAN-IIs, with the exception of Gray Team, who had been "...on a mission far outside the confines of UNSC space, now missing for over a year.", were gathered at Reach. Dr. Halsey states that in the last decade, prior to 2552, only three SPARTAN-IIs had been confirmed KIA between 2542 and 2552, and one had been wounded too severely to continue active duty. This ostensibly places the number of surviving SPARTAN-IIs at 28, with only 25 assumed present at Reach. However, this assumption does not take into account possible KIAs, MIAs, or WIAs for the time between Samuel-034's death in 2525 and 2552. In Halo: First Strike, three SPARTAN-IIs were diverted from defending Reach's Orbital Defense Generators to destroying the navigation database of the UNSC Circumference while the rest of the SPARTAN-IIs proceeded to Reach's surface. Later in the book, it is revealed that a total of 27 SPARTAN-IIs headed for Reach's surface. This puts the number of SPARTAN-IIs present at Reach at 30. This is consistent with Halo: Fall of Reach's number of active SPARTAN-IIs that were said to be present on Reach but does not take into account of the KIAs, MIAs, or WIAs that occurred between 2525 and 2552. The status of SPARTAN-IIs is muddied further in the later novels. For example, Kurt-051 is listed as missing in action presumed dead in 2531 when, in reality, he was recruited into the SPARTAN-III program until his actual death in 2552 on Onyx. Three SPARTAN-IIs designated Gray Team were said to have been on "fields of battle too distant to be easily recalled" and apparently had made no contact with the UNSC prior to the Fall of Reach.
Halo Wars' timeline mentions that a total of 25 out of 28 surviving SPARTAN-IIs were present at Reach. The three absent SPARTAN-IIs are the members of Gray Team. This timeline also confirms that five SPARTAN-IIs were no longer in active duty since the augmentation of the SPARTAN-IIs. Samuel-034, Kurt-051, Randall, Sheila, and another SPARTAN-II mentioned to be "too wounded to continue active duty" are part of this count. The wounded SPARTAN-II could be Maria-062, who, by the Battle of Earth, had "retired" with the intent of starting a family. It should be noted that Samuel-034 died in 2525, and Kurt-051 and Randall went missing in 2531 and 2532, respectively. This does not line up with Halsey's statements about the SPARTAN-IIs that no longer serve because of events between the years of 2542 and 2552. Although the Halo Wars timeline feature appears to clear up the confusion, the plot of the game causes a new discrepancy, as three new SPARTAN-IIs are introduced: Douglas-042, Jerome-092, and Alice-130. These SPARTAN-IIs were aboard the UNSC Spirit of Fire, which was declared lost with all hands in 2531. To maintain the number given in the timeline, all three of these SPARTAN-IIs would have had to have made their way back to Reach by the time of the battle.
The status of the SPARTAN-IIs is even further skewed by Halo Legends. In the anime series, seven (excluding Ralph, who was discharged from the program) SPARTAN-IIs are introduced: Cal-141, Solomon-069, Arthur-079, Daisy-023,Joseph-122, and two unnamed SPARTANs. Seven of the eight SPARTAN-IIs are killed in their respective episodes: Cal-141 is killed by a Jiralhanae chieftain in The Babysitter, putting her death between 2540 and late 2551. Solomon-069 and Arthur-079 are killed in a mission that takes place in 2544, as seen in The Package. The two unnamed escapees from the SPARTAN-II Program commit suicide in 2525. Daisy-023 and Ralph-303 are killed during the Harvest Campaign between 2526 and 2531, but at this time Ralph was no longer a SPARTAN. Joseph-122 is recaptured into UNSC custody, although he is not mentioned again during the episode. This completely contradicts Halsey's statements about about three SPARTAN-IIs being KIA between 2542 and 2552, and it further skews the total number of SPARTAN-IIs present at Reach.
If Samuel-034, Randall, Sheila, Kurt-051, Maria-062, Douglas-042, Jerome-092, Alice-130, Cal-141, Solomon-069, Arthur-079, Daisy-023, the two unnamed SPARTANs who committed suicide, and the three members of Gray Team are removed from the count of 33 surviving SPARTAN-IIs mentioned in The Fall of Reach, only sixteen SPARTAN-IIs could have been present at the Fall of Reach. Furthermore, because Jorge-052 served with Noble Team during the Fall of Reach, the Pillar of Autumn could have deployed no more than fifteen SPARTAN-IIs: three to Gamma Station and the remaining twelve to the surface of Reach.
Bungie, along with Eric S. Trautmann, have said that these discrepancies only seem to be errors and that everything will be made clear in time.
In her personal journal, Dr. Halsey there notes, "That lie about all the Spartans gathered here, save for Gray - will that come back to haunt me?" This strongly hints to the existence of SPARTAN-IIs not deployed to Reach. In addition, she notes that the candidates who were killed by the augmentations were cryonically frozen and may have later been resuscitated. She expresses her fear for what the Office of Naval Intelligence might do with their own "secret" SPARTANs, seemingly suggesting the origins of Team Black. She also notes that some of the SPARTANs who were crippled later had their injuries healed, enabling them to return to active duty, possibly fixing the "Reach" discrepancy. In Halo: Reach and Halo: First Strike, 11 unnamed Spartans of Team Beta are killed during the Fall of Reach. It is unknown if these 11 Spartans make up currently known Spartans or previously unknown Spartans. If so, this would bring the number of SPARTAN-IIs on Reach to 27.
Main article: MJOLNIR Powered Assault Armor
The MJOLNIR Armor was created in parallel to the SPARTAN-II project and is the most technologically advanced piece of hardware in human hands; it can provide a SPARTAN-II with an incredible amount of protection and strength. The on-board computer system relays basic tactical information including IFF tags, a Motion Tracker, weapons information and health and energy shield level readouts. The MJOLNIR system is capable of carrying a starship grade A.I which can provide tactical data on the fly. While MJOLNIR Armor has all these advantages, only SPARTANS are capable of controlling it. The speed and power behind it is to great for a normal marine. during the testing stages on Chi Ceti IV a number of scientists were injured or killed, testing the armor.
Specialized Neural InterfaceEdit
Main article: Spartan Neural Interface
A specialized version of the Neural Interface is implanted into the skull of a SPARTAN-II. This allows a ship grade A.I to be carried on board the MJOLNIR armor. The standard Neural Interface along with the newer specialized version also provide the neural link between the SPARTAN-II and the MJOLNIR armor.
Spartan Augmentation ProceduresEdit
Main article: SPARTAN-II augmentation procedures
One of the essential and most dangerous aspects of the SPARTAN-II Program is the augmentation procedure that a Spartan must endure. The process consists of many injections and surgeries. Only a small percentage of subjects survive the process and fully recover.
UNSC Marines often refer to Navy personnel as 'swabbies', including SPARTANs. However, this has only been observed with John-117.
The SPARTAN-IIs are based on the ancient Greeks from Sparta, known for their military might and extreme training regiments. They were, at the time, the greatest infantry fighting force in the world. Similarly, it is also reminiscent of the Turkish Jannisary Corps, where sons of Christian families were taken and trained under strict discipline and in practically monastic conditions. They became the elite fighting force of the Ottoman Empire.
In Sparta, to become a warrior the child had to have no mental or physical disabilities. Training also began at an early age, usually at the age of 7. This is much like the SPARTAN-IIs' augmentations and training.
The SPARTAN-II Program was incorrectly referred to as the first group of supersoldiers ever made by Humanity on the back cover of Halo: The Fall of Reach. The SPARTAN-I Program was an element of Project: ORION, which occurred decades earlier.
In Halo Wars, if a SPARTAN is killed in front of other units of the same team, one may say "They can die!" showing that those units were told the Spartans were invincible, and sometimes if a Marine squad sees a SPARTAN die, one will shout "Spartan is MIA!" Additionally, some Spartans will say "Yippe-ki-yay" after killing an enemy, which is a reference to the Die Hard series (Bruce Willis' character, John McClane, says this after killing the antagonist in each film). Sometimes Spartans will shout, "For Samuel!" during combat in Halo Wars, as a reference to Samuel-034's death on the Covenant ship during the Battle of Chi Ceti IV.
The SPARTAN-II seal resembles the Presidential Seal of the modern day United States. It also has the Marathon symbol above the eagle, which was later changed to a star. The Halo 3 achievements "UNSC Spartan" and "Spartan Officer" are represented by the SPARTAN-II seal.
Although Dr. Halsey has no military rank, it is noted that she is very influential among her SPARTANs, let alone pull them out of their missions as noted by Fred for kidnapping Kelly during the Battle of Onyx.
The multiplayer Spartan gender models in Halo 3 are the same, but in Halo: Reach the models are different, as the female has more distinct features than the male Spartan.