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|This article, Office of Naval Intelligence (Labyrinth Canon), was written by Specops306 and The All-knowing Sith'ari. Please do not edit this fiction without the writers' permission.|
- "Spies are a key element in warfare. On them depends an army's every move."
- ―Sun Tzu, The Art of War
For as long as warfare has existed, city-states, nations and empires have employed people to gather as much valuable intelligence on their enemies as possible, to process and analyse this intelligence, and to feed their enemies false information. In this regard, ONI is currently humanity's oldest continuous intelligence agency, originally founded by the United States Navy in 1882 and being incorporated into the UNSC, along with a considerable amount of former US and other world military assets, in 2164. Part of the larger Military Intelligence Division, with counterparts run by the UNSC Army and Air Force, the Office of Naval Intelligence is nevertheless the largest, best funded, and most well known (some would say feared) branch of the UNSC's intelligence community, and encompasses a wide range of covert operations.
Originally, the Office of Naval Intelligence was founded as a part of the United States Navy by Secretary of the Navy William H. Hunt on March 23rd, 1882:
- "An “Office of Intelligence” is hereby established in the Bureau of Navigation for the purpose of collecting and recording such naval information as may be useful to the Department in time of war, as well as in peace.
To facilitate this work, the Department Library will be combined with the “Office of Intelligence,” and placed under the direction of the Chief of the Bureau of Navigation.
Commanding and all other officers are directed to avail themselves of all opportunities which may arise to collect and to forward to the “Office of Intelligence” professional matters likely to serve the object in view."
- ―General Order 292
Afterwards, the organisation rose to prominence during the Spanish-American War of 1898, in response to the sinking of the United States battleship USS Maine in the harbour of Havana, Cuba, with ONI's powers growing as it became responsible for the "protection of Navy Personnel, censorship and the ferreting out of spies and saboteurs." In 1929, the Chief of Naval Operations made these functions the permanent duties of ONI. During World War II, Naval Intelligence became responsible for the translation, evaluation and dissemination of intercepted Japanese communications, and its budget and staff grew significantly. While other parts of the Navy were downsized after the war, Fleet Admiral Nimitz ensured ONI's continued strength, which was to prove important during the Cold War, and continued to play a part in the War on Terror and the rising tensions among the global powers during the 21st and early 22nd Centuries.
Surviving the Second American Civil War and the reorganisation of the continent into the United Republic of North America, ONI survived as part of the newly founded URNA Armed Forces, and would become a major part of the URNA's intelligence community after a series of controversies saw the CIA fall from grace. It would never take the place of the CIA on a national level, but it proved its effectiveness during the Russian-American War of 2069, providing real-time intelligence to field units and conducting intelligence gathering and personnel assassination operations against high-profile Russian targets. ONI would prove itself further during the Caucasus War, which the URNA officially remained neutral in - unofficially, ONI would provide assistance to various secessionist, independence, and isolationist factions to weaken Russian aggression in the region, eventually paving the way for the URNA Armed Forces, as well as UN Peacekeepers, entering the conflict in 2112. As the conflict came to a close, with Russia forced to withdraw and downsize its military presence in the region, ONI would monitor the rise of Neocommunist hardliner Vladimir Koslov with growing alarm, eventually providing the Russian Federation with valuable assistance as he attempted to stage a coup and declare war on "the Imperialist American pigs who have stained the honour of Mother-Russia".
Koslov's fledgling Koslovic movement would become a rallying point to thousands of offworld colonists who sought to break free from the control of Earth, and ONI would prove a crucial ally to the UN as it attempted to gather intelligence on these potential enemies, with additional funding provided in exchange for close cooperation. When the Interplanetary War eventually flared up among the Jovian Moons, German troops would rely heavily on ONI operators in orbit for real time enemy troop movements, defence against surface-launched missile threats, and enemy dropships or gunships. Throughout the course of the war, the UN would come to rely more and more on the capabilities of ONI as a military intelligence agency in its campaign to pacify the hostile Frieden-controlled Jovian colonies, respond to threats on Earth, and stage its assault against the Koslovic strongholds on Mars. Operation: NVEOMBER BLACK, concieved by ONI as an orbital assault, would prove a stunning success, and would eventually see the UN adopt the Marine Corps as its primary offensive arm, at the expense of the UN Army.
After the conclusion of the war, the strengthened UNSC would be reformatted as a global military, drawing upon assets from the combined militaries of the nations of Earth. Given the level of involvement from the URNA, UK and other "western" nations, the UNSC would a modified version of the British and American rank and chain of command systems for efficiency and effectiveness, despite protests from Russia, China, and other "eastern" nations who percieved this as an insult. As part of this major reshuffling, ONI was merged with a number of other smaller agencies as part of the UNSC's Military Intelligence Division, becoming the UNSCDF Navy's Office of Naval Intelligence. During this reorganisation, ONI would implement the November Black security status - SECRET or TOP SECRET material deemed too sensitive to ever allow declassified, either because it would damage the UNSC or because it would provide enemy forces with material that could be used to destroy it.
Colonial Age and Insurrection
The collapse of the Koslovics and Frieden movements may have robbed the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps of a visible, tangible enemy to fight, but the various intelligence agencies of the UNSC have never seen a "quiet" period of activity. During the early decades of the Colonisation Age, ONI would conduct operations against various terrorist cells and secessionist movements - no threats on the scale of the Frieden or Koslovics ever emerged during this time, and declassified documents show that this was due to the efforts of MID agencies, especially ONI, in weakening their infrastructure, capturing or assassinating key personnel, or waging successful propaganda campaigns to erode the support base of these groups. This period also saw the expansion of ONI into military research and development - military officials had become concerned at the uses to which private corporations had put technology originally developed for the UNSC to use, including the selling of prototype THOR Kinetic Bombardment Sattellites to newly founded colonies, the cost-cutting measures they implemented on civilian colony ships, and other examples of corporate bureacracy. Undergoing a reformatting, ONI was split into the four recognisable divisions that has remained a key feature of its organisation - Sections One, Two, Three and Zero, each handling a different aspect of military intelligence with their own semi-autonymous chains of command.
Initially, the number of threats to the UNSC's control remained small, and ONI was hesitant to involve itself in these cases, preferring to allow the Colonial Military Authority to exercise its prerogative. Field agents assisted in capture and interrogation of individuals, research and development continued, and ONI's propaganda campaigns tried to recall a time of unity for humanity, where national boundaries were torn down and the people of Earth and her colonies became Human rather than American, or Chinese, or Russian. Initially, its efforts were successful, but as the CMA proved itself unable to deal with the growing number of dissident groups, ONI was forced to step in more frequently and to a greater extent. Further complicating matters was the utter incompetence of the Colonial Administration Authority, the agency meant to govern the day-to-day running of Earth's colonies - increasingly out of touch with the colonies it was meant to be governing, increasingly bureaucratic, and catering to special interest groups with stakes in these colonies, the CAA would exacerbate the situation well beyond what any intelligence agency would be able to deal with. As independent and unaffiliated groups continued to spring up on dozens of colonies, discovering the existence of each other and uniting to forma collective and united front, the Insurrection would begin in earnest.
Gradually eroding the CMA's authority, transferring key equipment and personnel to UNICOM/NAVCOM chain of command, ONI would prove instrumental in the eventual dismantling of the CMA and its replacement as a colonial military force by the UNSCDF, formerly restricted to the Solar System and its colonies. In this post-CMA void, ONI's propaganda and disinformation campaigns would help the public overcome the notion that this was a setback for Earth control, and would assume total oversight of counter-terrorism operations, recruiting members from the CMA as members of Naval Special Warfare. During this time, ONI would loosen its restrictions on services from which it recruited - people from the CMA and UNSC Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy would all be offered positions within NavSpecWar, NavSpecWep, and other internal divisions.
The Great War
While the Insurrection still raged through the Outer Colonies, spreading through the Inner Colonies at a slower rate, the UNSC suddenly found itself faced with an entirely new and unexpected enemy - a collection of alien races, technologically advanced and numerically vast, zealous, and totally bent on humanity's destruction, calling itself the Covenant. In these early days, ONI would frantically scrape together whatever materials it could to face this threat, diverting funding from less vital projects to studying this enemy - their language, their social structure, and their reasons for wanting to slaughter every human man, woman and child. As part of this, Project TEMERITY, a former CMA project dedicated to studying the odd alien ruins occasionally found on colonies, was repurposed to study all alien technology, expanded with civilian and military staff and given funds and personnel to recover high value enemy assets from the combat theatre, analyse them at secure research facilities distributes throughout the colonies, and reverse-engineer whatever technology could be understood. Gains in the fields of artificial gravity, directed energy weaponry, slipspace navigation and energy shield are all linked to the TEMERITY work in some way, but the actual introduction of this material into service was the task of Project EXCALIBUR, which designed and produced a variety of weapons, vehicles, starships, and other pieces of equipment that either incorporated these innovations or were designed to counter it with off-the-shelf technology. Both of these projects were classified November Black, not because they might damage the UNSC's morale (the knowledge that scientific staff were studying the enemy's gear would have been a comfort) but because ONI still feared the Insurrection and its influence, hoping to prevent these innovations leaking to rebel forces. Breaches of the November Black security status would be investigated in Operation: VORAUSSICHT.
ONI would try hundreds of ways to try and halt the Covenant's advance - attempts to negotiate would prove futile, with Covenant ships ignoring all communications from would-be diplomats and shrugging off all suggestions at a cease-fire, rejecting all opportunities to take prisoners, even for intelligence reasons. At the same time, though, the Covenant had begun to use colonial databases to find other targets, using the navigation data to pinpoint other human worlds and invade them. Putting in place the Cole Protocol, ONI managed to cut the Covenant off from all sources of human navigational data, protecting the locations of whatever Outer Colonies were left, the Inner Colonies, and Earth - through the next sixteen years, the Covenant would be forced to hunt down UNSC worlds on their own, a slow, laborious and inaccurate process given the expanse of territory humanity had spread across.
The Cole Protocol was not the only ONI project that would save the lives of billions - the CMA's Spartan-I Program (Project ORION) had proved a success during the Insurrection, but the SPARTAN-II and SPARTAN-III Programs would produce the best soldiers humanity had ever fielded - genetically superior, biologically and cybernetically augmented beyond normal human capabilities, trained since childhood in all aspects of warfare, these Spartans would prove the most potent defence the UNSC could field against the Covenant threat. Despite the limited numbers of official Spartans the UNSC could field (only ever thirty S-II's, and three hundred S-III's at a time), Spartans would be the base on which ONI's propaganda campaigns to boost flagging colonial morale were built - the myth of hundreds of supersoldiers, humanity's elite warfighters, fighting the Covenant to a standstill, would be an invaluable tool to ONI, and Directive 930 would keep the image of the Spartans as immortal heroes. Disturbingly, though, a number of illegal projects were also undertaken to boost this number - these too would be investigated by Operation: VORAUSSICHT.
ONI would undertake a variety of other initiatives - infiltration of enemy locations, assassination of high-value political and military targets, research on alien technologies (both Covenant and other), as well as counter-terror operations. While the Insurrection virtually collapsed after 2536 in the face of massive Covenant offensives, hardliners remained in place among the Inner Colonies, and would remain there even after the war. All the resources at ONI's disposal were being diverted to fight the Covenant, but aother groups would continue the anti-Insurrectionist operations.
As the war drew on, it became obvious to ONI that the strange ruins it had been finding were central to the war, and the Covenant's reasons for attacking humanity. More resources were spent trying to find and study these ruins, but were never satisfactory. By the end of the war, a considerable amount was discovered by ONI - that they were built by a race of ancient alien creatures called the Forerunners, that they waged a war against another species called the Flood, and that the Flood was dangerous enough to force the Forerunners to activate the Halo Array. ONI would study the Flood to a limited degree, also investigated by VORAUSSICHT for gross misconduct, but after 2552 these research efforts were halted by the Director of ONI.
After nearly thirty years of constant war, and genocide not seen on such a scale since the end of the Forerunner-Flood War, ONI would be forced to catch up to the other factions in the galaxy. Technology from EXCALIBUR was accelerated into production, TEMERITY was expanded and reallocated to the Military Intelligence Division, and the recent alliance of the UNSC with the Sangheili was consolidated via an exchange of information - Covenant technology for UNSC intelligence on Covenant Remnant worlds. ONI would be instrumental in a number of Sangheili raids on Kig-Yar Privateer bases and the crushing of rival Sangheili warlords, and the proposal of Operation: TACK HAMMER was due almost entirely to ONI intelligence, logistics and planning.
War of Vengeance
Second Great War
UNSC-USE Cold War
Third Great War
- Section One: ONI S-I is the espionage and counter-espionage branch, and typically handles operations to acquire or retrieve high-value intelligence of most types, the processing and analysis of this intelligence, and counter-espionage operations to prevent enemy agencies from gaining intelligence on the UNSC, UEG or, in the case of the Covenant, humanity in general, especially in the enforcement of the Cole Protocol. Section One also incorporates both the Signal Corps, responsible for interstellar communications via FTL COMSAT or COM Launcher, and the Prowler Corps, which works with the "regular" Navy and NavSpecWar/NavSpecWep or on its own. Section One also includes the Counter-Insurgency Division, which works closely with NavSpecWar in tracking down valuable Insurrectionist personnel in assassination or abduction operations.
- Section Two: ONI S-II is the purblic relations branch, and deals with the disemination of information through strictly regulated access of communications systems. In this regard, it also deals with information propaganda, and the distribution of disinformation, through attaching liaisons with media outlets and broadcasting services to ensure accuracy of details and a consistent message presented to the civilian populace.
- Section Three: ONI S-III is the largest and most well known branch, dealing mostly with military intelligence, and is mainly comprised of Naval Special Weapons (NavSpecWep), which includes most military research and analysis projects, and Naval Special Warfare (NavSpecWar), which controls the deployment of UNSC Navy and Marine Corps special forces, including the Orbital Drop Shock Troopers. These roles are not strict - NavSpecWep, for example, conducts its own special operations through its SPARTAN-II and SPARTAN-III projects under Beta 5 Division, while NavSpecWar has instigated its own research projects - the two subdivisions have traditionally had a fierce rivalry, and each each remains as independent as they can.
- Section Zero: ONI S-ZERO serves as an internal affairs branch, investigating allegations of lawbreaking and misconduct by ONI personnel, ensuring that unethical and illegal projects are shut down. Given the independence most ONI groups try to exercise, and the secrecy that surrounds anything to do with ONI, Section Zero has had to work hard to uncover such incidents, capture and prosecute the involved personnel, and ensure that these events cannot damage the reputation of ONI and the UNSC in general.
- Project: ORION/SPARTAN-I
- Project: SPARTAN-II
- Project: SPARTAN-III
- Project: HYPODERMIC
- Operation: HOT GATES
- Project TEMERITY
- Project EXCALIBUR
- Operation: VORAUSSICHT
- "Never trust a spook. I don't care what section they're with, or what they're doing, or even why they do it - you just can't trust anything that comes out of ONI. This is a group that is willing to lie to its people, kidnap and torture, and needs to keep dedicated ODST and Spartan hit squads to take down rogue members of itself. Not someone you'd trust your kids with."
- "I remember the fallout of VORAUSSICHT - that there were dozens of groups within ONI that had gone rogue, doing horrific things in the name of survival. It's a testament to ONI Section Two's skill that they managed to deflect most of the bad attention to Smithson's incompetent handling of it, and the fact that ONI was trying to clean it up - some good PR can rehabilitate the worst images."
- "These humans creep about in the shadows, striking those who cannot see them and denying their enemies honourable combat. I cannot respect what they do, even if I acknowledge that it earns results."
- "Did the Covenant have its own version of ONI? Were there Covie groups ferreting out traitors, researching our tech, waging a war of information right back at us? If there was, there's no trace of it now in the Blood Covenant or the New Covenant - though with the latter, it might just be because they're good at staying "dark"."