The 506th Orbital Drop Shock Trooper Force Reconnaissance Battalion is one of the UNSCDF's top military units, and is one of the few ODST units that have been allowed public attention, even if limited. Their actions in the Outer and Inner Colonies have been PR coups for the UNSC, boosting public confidence in the UNSC's capabilities, and are infamous among other UNSC Marine units for their efficiency and effectiveness, earning a far higher kill-death ratio than many other UNSC special forces units.
Formation And Early Battles
Following the attack on Harvest, the UNSC was practically inundated with volunteers, eager to pay back this new menace for the destruction of a human world, and the slaughter of thousands of unarmed colonists. While the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force were all bolstered, the ODST divisions were still selecting their candidates with the same rigour as always - specially trained members of regional Special Forces units. And while the rest of the UNSC was mobilised and deployed rapidly, the ODST's were still dealing with the backlog of volunteers. While most were rejected as unqualified, the remaining candidates were still considerable in number. One solution to this was the formation of new ODST units to accommodate the recruits; and the first of these units was the 506th ODST Force Recon Battalion.
Originally consisting of a company-sized force of veteran Helljumpers, the 506th's ranks were swelled by the large numbers of volunteer ODST's. A year was spent on training and equipping the new members, and field exercises to test the quality of its leadership, the efficiency of its structure, and the mettle of its members, before it was deployed to join other UNSC forces in the Epsilon Indi Theatre of Combat, fighting there until redeployed to Victoria, in the 111 Tauri System, to deal with a United Rebel Front attempt to overthrow the colonial governor.
Originally tasked with preventing it, the URF put their plan into motion as soon as they arrived. Defending the parliamentary compound from a force of paramilitary commandoes, they managed to hold their position and protect the colonial leadership until reinforcements arrived, dropped from orbit by the UNSC Aeneas. After the battle fot he planet's capital city was over, with enemy forces successfully routed, the 506th would spend the next three years hunting down the remnants of the URF on Victoria, crushing attempted counter-attacks, neutralising terrorist training camps and explosive manufacturing plants, and capturing URF leaders.
It was in the aftermath of the Victoria Campaign that they gained attention in the media. ODST forces usually operate by secrecy, with their actions kept a closely guarded secret. However, given the UNSC's desperation for morale-raising propaganda, and ONI's continued reluctance to disclose the existence of the SPARTAN-II Program, it was decided that profiles on successful military units would suffice - and in this capacity, the 506th was embraced wholeheartedly by the UNSC as an example to follow.
Over the next ten years, the 506th would fight on half a dozen worlds, fighting both local militants and Covenant invaders. And while its efforts on Eridanus II and Jericho VII were unsuccessful in retaining the colonies, they were nonetheless lauded for their selfless actions and heroism. Their actions on Paris IV were especially praised by the media, and UNSC Special Forces began recruiting its members for training new ODST units. The core of the unit, however, remained with the 506th, and it was deployed again to Delta Pavonis.
Attacked by a small group of Covenant ships, the asteroid colony had been bombarded from space, its limited local defences obliterated by plasma and laser fire. As ground forces were deployed to the colony to round up and slaughter the colonists and secure the site for further Covenant occupation, the UNSC 13th Battlegroup arrived, engaging and destroying the four Covenant cruisers, and deploying the 506th, and the 88th and 427th Marine Rifle Battalions to retake the colony. The 506th managed to retake the asteroids largest settlement, as well as capture intact Covenant dropships, communications uplink crates and weapons, and a single Seraph fighter, which were sent to Reach for reverse-engineering. The rest of the Covenant force in the system was destroyed by the UNSC ground forces, with a small number attempting to regroup - their position was bombarded from orbit by the UNSC Hunters Arrow.
Their stunning success at Delta Pavonis was not, however, their crowning achievement. The 506th was a part of Operation: HOT GATES, a diversionary trap set by the UNSC to draw the Covenant into attacking the Minorca II colony when the UNSC had the best possible defensible position possible, superior numbers, and a new emergency weapon - a NOVA prototype warhead, capable of destroying the whole planet if need be. Between 2551 and 2552, the 506th would wage a brutal jungle war against the few Covenant forces that managed to land on the planet, and converging on the equator to excavate an unknown structure. Intelligence gained firsthand from the 506th, as well as captured prisoners and excavatyed dig sites, would prove invaluable in ONI's understanding of the ancient race known as the "Forerunners," but it is the daring raid on the captured capital city, New London, that was heralded as the most significant point in the war - detonating seven HAVOC nuclear warheads, the losses incurred by the Covenant were total. The planet was later evacuated and abandoned before a second Covenant fleet arrived, which was destroyed by the detonation of the NOVA.
Arriving at Earth prior to the Covenant attack, the 506th assisted other UNSC forces in protecting the Orbital Defence Platforms from Covenant boarding parties, and managed to stop an attempt to capture the UNSC Aeneas. When the Bringer of Holy Light, a Covenant Assault Carrier, made an emergency slipspace jump, they were still aboard the Aeneas, which was pulled along in its wake. Their current whereabouts and status are unknown.
The 506th distinguishes itself from other ODST units in that, rather than being a small but highly trained unit of commandoes, performing covert operations, they are a dedicated combat battalion, structured more similarly to traditional UNSC Marine Corps units, instead. Members of the 506th retain their high proficiency, flexibility and skill, but the focus of missions the 506th undertake is overt; the defeat or capture of enemy forces, the destruction of enemy positions, and performing forward reconnaissance in enemy-occupied territory.
Structurally, the 506th retains the same system as the UNSC Marines. Squads of thirteen are organised into platoons of three squads, further organised into companies of five platoons. The entire battalion encompasses five companies: a Headquarters and Service Company; a Weapons Company; and three Rifle Companies, Alpha, Bravo and Charlie, making for4 a total of over 1,200 personnel. Individual squads retain their independence and proficiency with multiple functions, able to perform a wide variety of missions, rather than relying on separate units for support.
In combat, the 506th has historically specialised in aerial insertions into enemy territory, taking and holding it until other UNSC forces can consolidate it, and then moving forward. Typically, this consists of SOEIV orbital drops, HALO aerial insertions, or via Air Cavalry. Once ground has been consolidated, the 506th redeploys to capture other territory, or digs in to repel counter-attacks, stage attacks of their own against remaining regional enemy forces.
Logistically, the 506th has relied more on specialised support units to provide what it needs, in terms of armaments, transportation, supplies, etc. Without having to worry about supply lines, combat commanders are free to engage their full attentions on locating, engaging, and defeating enemy forces.
- "These aren't the guys you send in when rebels take hostages. These are the guys you send in when your outnumbered and outgunned, to eradicate the Covie SOB's."
- "I met a couple of them a few weeks ago. You wouldn't have known they were Helljumpers - they were friendly, they were talkative, and they openly admitted that the Spartans were the best fighting force the UNSC has. Then they broke a guys arm for calling them wusses, but other than that..."
- "I'm a Helljumper and, to be perfectly honest, they're not. They aren't as professional or as specialised as other units. They're better than regular Marines, sure, but when your back's up against the wall you want a real Helljumper to save your ass."
- "You see a lot of supposedly "real" Helljumpers gripe and complain about their structure, their function, their training, and so on. They went through all the same training they did - they just get to put it to more effective use."