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Special Operations Elite
Species and equipment information



Phantom, Orbital Insertion Pod

Political and military information
Mission types

Special Operations


Infantry, Commander

Notable members

The Special Operations Elite, or SpecOps for short, is a Covenant Sangheili rank.



Special Operations Elites in a Phantom before an operation.

Elites of this rank are extremely skilled warriors and will stop at nothing to complete their task. These commandos are sent in by the Covenant, to accomplish some of the most dangerous and difficult missions. They are believed to rank higher than the Major Domo Elites and the Ranger Elites, but lower than Ultra Elites. In Halo: Combat Evolved, they are clad in jet-black, and they wear purple/steel armor in Halo 2 and Halo 3.

Special Operations Elites are similar to Stealth Elites, as they both possess Active Camouflage technology.

However, the two are different and should not be confused: Stealth Elites have grey/brown armor that is shielded, and they are permanently cloaked until they are killed. Special Operations Elites have purple/black armor that is shielded, but their Active Camouflage is only active for as long as the Elite doesn't fire or get hit by enemy fire.

Special Operations Elites are all personnel of the Covenant Special Operations branch of the Covenant Special Warfare Group. Given that only one Ultra is believed to be in charge of all Spec Ops forces within the Covenant, it is highly probable the Spec Ops branch is smaller and more elite than the Honor Guard branch of the Covenant military (who have at least several Ultras in their ranks). A squad of Spec Ops Elites escorted the Arbiter into the Heretic Gas Mine on Threshold as well as the Quarantine Zone on Installation 05. Some survived to aid him against the Brutes after their betrayal. Others, stationed on High Charity, joined their fellow Elites and a Hunter Pair in fighting against the Brutes and their allies there. Spec Ops Elites would later arrive with the Shadow of Intent and assist the Master Chief and the Arbiter in destroying Earth's Flood infestation.[1]


A Special Operations Officer throwing a plasma grenade in Halo CE.

Special Operations Commander

Main article: Special Operations Commander

The title of Special Operations Commander[2] is the highest office attainable by an Elite in the Covenant Special Operations division. They wear white armor similar to an Ultra Elite's armor and are extremely skilled in combat. They also are placed in command of all the personnel and material of a special operation: the only known Special Operations Commander, Rtas 'Vadum (formerly known as Rtas 'Vadumee before the Great Schism) led dozens of Special Operations Elites and Special Operations Grunts in the Battle of the Gas Mine and also the Battle of the Quarantine Zone.

They are also given the honor of speaking directly to the High Prophets and relaying their messages to the High Council.

Special Operations Officer

Main article: Special Operations Officer

Special Operations Officers[3] command "teams"[4] of Special Operations forces, and also are sufficiently high-ranked to have appointed "assistants"[5]. They possess a fairly large amount of political and military authority, able to acquisition personnel to their own units, and can speak to the Minor Prophets. They are also tasked with executing special operations, as seen in the Battle of Alpha Base[6], although not entire military operations[7]. They are clad in black or blackish-blue armor, like standard Special Operations Elites, and possess Active Camouflage technology[8].

The only definitive known Elites of the rank are Zuka 'Zamamee and Huki 'Umamee, although Kusovai is suspected to be one as well.

Special Operations Elite

Special Operations Elites are the "standard" rank-and-file Elites in the Covenant Special Operations branch. They wear dark purple armor, and can activate Active Camouflage for a short duration of time, making them practically invisible for some time. This is useful in infiltration operations[9].

Special Operations Elites, alongside Special Operations Grunts played prominent roles in the Battle of the Gas Mine and the subsequent Battle of Installation 05, aiding the Arbiter in his mission to retrieve the Index and then later aiding the Arbiter in retaking the Brute Encampment on Delta Halo. They then greatly helped in killing Tartarus in the Control Room, but with heavy casualties. When they arrived on Earth via a Covenant Separatist fleet, they were deployed along with many other Elites to clear the Flood out of Voi, also assisting the UNSC forces including Spartan 117 and the Arbiter.



Special Operations Commanders are clad in pearly white armor, while Special Operations Officers are clad in blackish blue armor and "standard" Spec Ops Sangheili wear dark purple. Some bear a Forerunner symbol on their back, this however is only in Halo: CE. Additionally upon close inspection, you can find Forerunner symbols on their gauntlets in Halo 3.

In Halo: CE and Halo 2 they have the standard combat harnesses. In Halo 3, Special Operations Elites wear an indigo/violet Assault Harness and they can be seen in the level Floodgate. Through the Halo trilogy, they have worn dark colors, such as:

  • Jet Black (Halo: CE)
  • Navy Blue, Purple and Black (Halo 2)
  • Violet (Halo 3)


In Halo: Combat Evolved, a Special Operations or Spec-Ops Elite's shields are twice as strong as those of a blue Minor Elite, and slightly stronger than those of a red Major Elite (200% for a Spec Ops Elite, compared to 150% for a red Major Elite). For example, it takes 10 headshots with the M6D pistol to kill a fully shielded Spec Ops Elite, while it only takes eight to kill a Major.

In Halo 2, their shields are the same strength as most other Elite types, including the red Major Elite, Elite Honor Guards, and Gold Zealots. On Legendary difficulty, their shields are extremely potent and strong, and the fastest way to kill one is to stick a Plasma Grenade.

In Halo 3, just as in Halo 2, their shields and health are identical to the red Major Elites.


Special Operations Elites, befitted with their perilous mission assignments, are given a diversity of Covenant weaponry, mainly the Plasma Rifle and the Energy Sword. They are also armed with Beam Rifles, Needlers, Carbines, and are the only Elite rank that use the Plasma Grenade. However they can be given any wieldable weapon when they are your allies during Halo 2 and Halo 3 campaigns.


Like the high-ranking Zealots and Ultras, the Special Operations Elites are extremely intelligent in combat situations, and have a knack for being extremely proficient with the Energy Sword. As clever warriors, Special Operations Elites consistently strafe, are constantly on the move, and never stand still to avoid being exposed or vulnerable to explosions. They also have superior accuracy, fire in longer bursts, and, as mentioned earlier, have stronger shielding than regular Elites, making them harder to kill, fitting with their high rank.

They are also not imperiously impulsive; they do not "berserk" when seriously injured, unlike many other Elites. Most notably, they operate in squads and are extremely skilled and accurate grenade throwers. They have a habit of throwing plasma grenades when you shoot them, and shoot at you when you throw grenades. A smart tactic is to shoot at the Elite, and when he rears back to throw a grenade try to stick him with a plasma grenade.

The black armored Elites are slightly more tactical-minded and are more difficult to kill. It is also noted that because of their stealthy nature, they work very well in a small group ranging from two-four. A team of three Spec-Ops Elites can accomplish a perilous and difficult mission with ease because of their collective tactics as a squad. They also use their Active Camouflage quite effectively, killing many enemies from behind or surprising them from close range.

The Carbine and Fuel Rod Cannon are especially effective against them, and as always, go for headshots.


A Special Ops Elite on the Pillar of Autumn.

In Halo, they are the Covenant's Elite shock troops, similar to the role played by the UNSC's Orbital Drop Shock Troopers, or Helljumpers. These Elites sport black or white armor and three-pronged helmets. They are the only Elites that throw plasma grenades (by side-arming them) and are very proficient with them, able to throw them accurately for more than three times the distance that a Grunt can.

Halo 2

A Halo 2 Special Operations Elite.
Main article: Halo 2
  • The Arbiter & The Oracle - A squad of Special Operations Elites under the Special Operations Commander Rtas 'Vadumee accompanied the Arbiter to the Threshold Gas Mine to eliminate the Heretics, but were besieged by Flood. Some of them survived.
  • Sacred Icon - Special Operations Elites once again under the command of Rtas 'Vadumee held a Covenant reinforcement point armed with Plasma Turrets, Energy Sword, and Plasma Rifle for the Arbiter to join them in the strike to retrieve the Sacred Icon from the Library. They held out long enough for a Phantom with further Special Operations Elites and several vehicles, including a Spectre and two Ghosts.
  • Quarantine Zone - Special Operations Elites assisted the Arbiter in forging a path to the Library. About at the two-thirds mark, Rtas 'Vadumee sent a Phantom with another Spectre and more Special Operations Elites to assist. When the Covenant force reached the gondolas, further Special Operations Elites defended the gondola from Flood attacks. When the gondola halted, Special Operations Elites awaited on the gondola to protect their sole exfiltration craft as the Arbiter retrieved the Sacred Icon. It is possible that the Brutes slaughtered the remaining commandos that were defending the Gondola, one of the first acts of the Covenant Civil War.
  • Gravemind - Special Operations Elites comprise the majority of the Elites encountered by the Master Chief while fighting through the Covenant orbital city, with a handful wielding fearsome Energy Swords at the first Hanging Garden[10] and the second Valley of Tears.[11] Two Spec-Ops Elites using Active Camouflage are also seen at the end of the level, they rush through the same doors that the Honor Guard Councilor does to aid the battle of the Mausoleum.
  • Uprising - A Special Operations Elite wielding a sword aided the Arbiter for preparing a landing zone for Orbital Insertion Pods with three Elite allies against the Brutes in the fore of the level.
  • The Great Journey - Numerous Special Operations Elites fought against Tartarus and his Brute allies. Many were slain in battle by the fearsome, titanic Fist of Rukt.

Another Day at the Beach

Main article: Another Day at the Beach

A Special Operations Elite in dark blue armor (similar to an Elite Minor's) wielding an Energy Sword is spotted in Another Day at the Beach. However, he could have belonged to the Special Warfare Group like N’tho ‘Sraom, which might help explain his armor color.

Halo 3

A Spec Op Elite wearing Assault armor in the city of Voi.
Main article: Halo 3
  • Floodgate - Numerous Special Operation Elite teams are deployed in drop pods with other Elite ranks to help the Arbiter and Spartan-117 exterminate the Flood out of an infected Voi, with barefaced success. After cleansing a portion of the city, The Elites stayed by the ship to secure a way out, whilst Spartan-117 headed into the crashed Flood Cruiser to save Cortana. Then the Arbiter led the remaining survivors to clear up anymore Flood forms amid the city. After the Master Chief retrieved Cortana's message, the Arbiter, along with the SpecOps Elites, board Rtas 'Vadum carrier, Shadow of Intent.
  • Cortana (Level) - Multiple Spec-ops bodies are seen throughout the level (there is a glitch where some bodies are floating).

Halo 3: ODST

Main article: Halo 3: ODST
  • Tayari Plaza - A dead Spec Ops Elite can be found in the second group of dead Elites.


  1. Halo 3 "Floodgate"
  2. The Official Halo 2 Strategy Guide, page 121
  3. Halo: The Flood, page 210
  4. Halo: The Flood, page 62
  5. Halo: The Flood, page 62
  6. Halo: The Flood, page 210
  7. Halo: The Flood, page 217
  8. Halo: The Flood, page 216
  9. Halo 2, The Heretic (Level)
  10. The Official Halo 2 Strategy Guide
  11. The Official Halo 2 Strategy Guide
Sangheili Ranks
High Council Councilor
Temporary/Prominent OssoonaArbiter
Fleet Commander Fleet MasterSupreme CommanderImperial Admiral
Zealot Officers Field MasterShipmasterFleet MasterSupreme Commander
Special Operations Spec-OpsSpec-Ops OfficerSpec-Ops Commander of the Covenant
Honor Guard Sangheili Honor GuardsmanHonor Guard UltraLight of Sanghelios
Specialists StealthRangerAscetics
Regular AristocratMinorMajorUltra
Civilian KaidonOracle Master
Heretic Heretic Sangheili MinorHeretic Sangheili MajorHeretic Leader

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


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