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"Spartans never die."
Kurt-051's last words in Halo: Ghosts of Onyx

The SPARTAN Programs are a series of UNSC projects designed to create physically, genetically, technologically, and mentally superior "supersoldiers" as a special fighting force within the UNSC Military.



The basic concept for the SPARTAN program has been around since the late 22nd century when the first bioengineering protocols were developed for interplanetary war.[1] Since the establishment of these protocols humans have been using performance enhancing equipment and augmentations to make them stronger and faster then previously thought. These super soldiers have been deployed numerous times throughout human conflict, leading up to and during the Human-Covenant War. The SPARTAN program first arose as a brilliant plan to enhance normal human soldiers into powerfully augmented special operations commandos. Initially the three separate programs were humanity's various attempts to create the perfect soldiers, in order to patrol the colonies, protect civilian and government populations, crush uprisings in their infancy and ensure others don't rise up as a result.

The SPARTAN soldiers of the UNSC are closely related to the ancient Spartans of Greece, specifically during the time of the Persian invasion led by Xerxes I. The wars between invading Persians and defending Greeks would be known as the Greco-Persian Wars, and lasted from 499-448 BC. During this war, the Battle of Thermopylae occurred, in which 300 Spartan soldiers leading 5000 other Greeks under the command of Leonidas I, held back a force of approximately 1 million Persian soldiers. All of the Spartans were eventually killed, but they successfully killed 75,000 Persians, and bought the Greeks time to prepare a better phalanx and defense. The Spartans' formidable resilience resulted from their rigorous training in Pankration, which started when they reached the age of 7.




The SPARTAN program begins in 2321 A.D[2] with the activation of the ORION project. Launched by the Office of Naval Intelligence the project is named after the Orion Arm of the Milky Way Galaxy. The aim of ORION was to build on bioengineering protocols established in 2164 and create a soldier stronger and better than anything before it. The initial beginnings of ORION were merely a test to see what could be accomplished with the advancements of that time, and candidates of the ORION project were all volunteers from the armed forces of the military - these handful of candidates went through numerous testing and augmentations throughout the duration of the project. However the results were far less than expected and eventually the candidates were seeded into the regular chain of command after the project was declared ineffective and terminated.

The Relaunch of ORION

In 2491 A.D the Colonial Military Administration relaunches ORION in secrecy, the new goal of ORION is to learn from the mistakes of the previous attempt, and create a soldier unlike anything before it - and to deploy these soldiers behind enemy lines and quell insurgences in their infancy, or destroy established insurgences by destroying their chain of command and expand outward. The Project is headquartered in one of the many orbital docks on Reach, the candidates are, once again, selected volunteers from all Special Force branches of the military. This iteration of the project used more advanced indoctrination and biological augmentation techniques - after a grueling series of physical and mental tests the first batch of soldiers, 165 in total successfully passed and moved on to the next phase. In 2496 A.D the UNSC launched Operation: CHARLEMAGNE in response to the Secessionist Union who executed a series of attacks on Eridanus II, which resulted in numerous deaths and kidnappings of civilian and government officials in 2494 A.D - this marked the first operational deployment of the ORION soldiers, now codenamed SPARTAN-Is, they scored a decisive victory and emerged from the battle with only a single casualty. The Spartans were able to complete the mission without even being seen, thereby fueling a range of conspiracy theories and media speculation, this proved to be very helpful to ONI's propaganda efforts in the coming decades. Though the Spartans were effective; their abilities fell short of the scientists' hopes, and they cost far too much to develop and field - in 2506 A.D the project was deactivated and the soldiers were reassigned to various special operation units.[3]

The SPARTAN-II Project

In the years following the deactivation of the ORION Project in 2506 the effectiveness of small special forces combating the insurrectionists became too large for the UNSC to manage. As the Insurrectionist attacks were becoming more effective and the military's responses heavier; the need for large scale military campaigns were becoming more and more necessary. The SPARTAN-II project, was conceived by Dr. Catherine Halsey of ONI's Section 3, as the successor to the original ORION project and the best possible solution to end the conflict with the Insurrectionists. In 2517 A.D the project begins although viewed as unethical and filled with controversy the program produces results, and more importantly the SPARTAN-II soldiers proved to be the most effective weapon in the battle against insurgents - however in 2525 A.D the Human-Covenant War proves to be the most challenging and daunting yet, the SPARTAN-IIs are outfitted with the most advanced mechanized armor in human history. While the war with the Covenant Empire continued to progress and the insurrection effectively cut off, the SPARTAN-IIs continued to engage Insurrectionist factions who remained strong enough to require SPARTAN-II activity. The S-IIs continued to perform their missions effectively and ruthlessly killing off Rebel leaders, and engaging Covenant forces - continuing a seemingly endless series of battles in the ongoing war against the Covenant, and in the interests of the UNSC.


As the Human-Covenant War progressed and casualties mounted exponentially, ONI activated another program that was even more morally questionable than the SPARTAN-II program. Spearheaded by a prominent opposition to Halsey's SPARTAN-II program, Colonel James Ackerson, establishes the SPARTAN-III Program using the previous program as a proof of concept. Designed to be produced more quickly, at a lower cost, and with a lower life expectancy, the S-III program is intended for extreme high risk operations conducted in the highest level of secrecy. The SPARTAN-III candidates are once again children, this time taken from orphanages as a result of the loss of their home and family from the Covenant invasion - the S-III candidates are taken to the planet Onyx and are under the leadership of Lieutenant Commander Kurt Ambrose. Throughout the Human-Covenant War three companies of SPARTAN-IIIs are trained, deployed and killed. The first company of S-IIIs Alpha Company is successful in destroying Covenant and Rebel forces during the battles of Mamore, New Constantinople and in the Bonanza Asteroid Belt - their last mission Operation: PROMETHEUS in 2537 A.D is deemed a success, however all of the Spartans of Alpha Company are killed in action. The second company Beta Company, is trained soon after the loss of Alpha Company, their first mission Operation: TORPEDO in 2545 A.D is also deemed a success, however only two, Tom-B292 and Lucy-B091 survive out of the 300 that take part in the operation. Tom and Lucy become trainers for the third company of S-IIIs Gamma Company, the third company of SPARTAN-IIIs complete their augmentation and many are deployed on missions elsewhere during the final years of the war when the Shield World on Onyx was activated.[4] Several teams of S-IIIs survived the Battle of Onyx and are currently trapped in the Shield World with the other remaining SPARTAN-II survivors.

Subordinate Units

ORION Project

Main article: ORION Project

The ORION project or the SPARTAN-I program was first phase of the SPARTAN program.[5] Initiated in 2491, as an element of the ORION project.[6] The original Spartan project was created to test genetic enhancements on volunteers from the armed forces.[7] Despite a high mortality rate, the ORION project was successful enough to eventually warrant a SPARTAN-II program.


Main article: SPARTAN-II Program

The SPARTAN-II Program was the continuing effort to produce super-soldiers and would be highlighted by being the first in the series to mix an Advanced Powered Exoskeleton System with the subjects' superior physiques. The SPARTAN-IIs were heavily engaged in the Human-Covenant War. Since the end of the Human-Covenant War, survivors of this group include SPARTAN-058, SPARTAN-087, and SPARTAN-104 in the Micro Dyson Sphere in Onyx and SPARTAN-117 trapped in deep space. The SPARTAN-II Program's official symbol is an eagle posed with its talons forward, ready to strike holding a lightning bolt in its left talon and arrows in its right.


Main article: Spartan-III Program

Outfitted and engineered by James Ackerson and the Office of Naval Intelligence, the SPARTAN-III program was the next generation of Spartan super soldiers, perfecting and rectifying all that the SPARTAN-II program could not. While they are inferior to the Spartan-IIs in terms of general strength, speed, etc, they were designed to be more numerous, better trained, cheaper, and expendable.


  • Spartans are viewed by the Marines as an encouraging and intimidating force when in the presence of one or many. They are also propagated by ONI Section 2 to boost morale among soldiers. It is known that the presence of a SPARTAN-II on the battlefield causes infantry forces to perform better in heighten states of stress during combat. Despite the perceived invincibility of the Spartans there is a known rivalry with the ODSTs.
  • The UNSC, in order to keep morale high, enforced the unreal concept that SPARTANs cannot be killed. This is why all dead SPARTANs are listed Missing in Action or Wounded in Action.


Halopedia has a collection of quotes related to SPARTAN Program on its quotes page.
  1. Halo Encyclopedia chapter 2, page 44
  2. Halo Encyclopedia chapter 2, page 44
  3. Halo Encyclopedia chapter 2, page 44 and 45
  4. Halo Encyclopedia chapter 3, page 85
  5. page 122
  6. Halo: The Flood, page 16
  7. Jan - Axon Clips Chapter 5
SPARTAN Related Topics
SPARTAN-II MIA ProtocolSpartan-II TrainingSpartan Neural InterfaceSpartan SignalsOly Oly Oxen Free

This article uses material from the "SPARTAN Program" article on the Halo wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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