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Operation: HOT GATES

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UNSC WARNING: This document, Operation: HOT GATES, is property of the UNSC and is Classified [NOVEMBER BLACK], protected under Office of Naval Intelligence Security Protocol 1A. Disclosure of its contents to, or access or alteration by, personnel with a clearance level lower than GAMMA THREE is an offense punishable by court(s) martial and imprisonment or execution for treasonous acts. Failure to disclose confirmed or suspected breaches of security will be treated as complicity, and is punishable by dishonourable discharge and/or imprisonment.
Lieutenant Commander Michael Pomare, Office of Naval Intelligence, UNSCDF Navy
ONI Seal 1
PT2401Fanon of the Month


ENCRYPTION CODE: RED MERCURY                                             



SENT: 18.09.2549 / ε Eridani FTL-COMSAT 1132267/ALPHA

RECEIVED: 24.10.2549 / Sol FTL-COMSAT 4786493/FOXTROT

SUBJECT: Operation: HOT GATES (proposal)

DOCUMENTATION: Project TEMERITY; Project EXCALIBUR; Project NOVA; Operation HELLSCAPE; CAA File ALPHA CANIS MINORIS/MINORCA; {Excerpt} UNSC UniCom/NavCom Field Manual (2548 edition); Recommended Personnel Roster.







Please forgive the additional security measures. It’s a little something we’ve borrowed from EXCALIBUR to prevent unauthorised access. From what TEMERITY have been able to scrape together, we’ve been able to assemble a limited look at potential Covenant electronic warfare capability, and while the Covenant seem to have hardware that’s well advanced beyond ours their software is, frankly, less than impressive. Their understanding of logarithms in particular leaves much to be desired. For the present, it seems, the greatest threats to UNSC security are the internal ones, like this Ackerson, and even his pettiness isn’t enough to jeopardise our projects. I dare say he’ll eventually find a way around our security measures, but by then we’ll have BLACK WIDOW online. I’ve been told it is unbreakable, but if it isn’t then it comes damn close. I don’t recommend pressing charges – Section Zero is running at least three separate investigations on the man, all for much worse offences. Besides, his Special Warfare projects are too valuable…for the moment.

I understand why my initial proposal for THERMOPYLAE was denied, but this submission differs substantially in many places from the previous draft, and I’ve had the resources and time of TEMERITY to help me with accuracy and content. Likewise, I have no doubt it will require at least some alterations in the future, and have taken pains to accommodate any modifications that are necessary, making it compatible with the overall intent of the operation. For background reading purposes, I have enclosed relevant files on subjects that I have limited time to go into, such as outlines of TEMRITY and EXCALIBUR, a status update from [ULYSSES] at NOVA, and background information on the Procyon system. These will be deleted after viewing this document, so please do so while reading this document first. As per standard procedure, they have been edited for brevity and relevance – full reports are available from ONI Section III at your request if needed.




Since the beginning of this war against the Covenant for the survival of the human race, the UNSC has faced an enemy that is both technologically and numerically superior. On the ground, military victories are made possible by our superior grasp and implementation of tactical and strategic manoeuvres, as well as intimate understanding of the local terrain and infrastructure. In orbit, victories have been made possible only by overwhelming numbers, and have been the deciding factor in nearly every UNSC-Covenant engagement throughout this war. With the Covenant’s offensive and defensive superiority in space combat, the UNSC has been unable to hold onto the Outer Colonies, the last of which was conquered in 2531, and has been steadily losing ground among the Inner Colonies since then, despite attempts to confuse and misdirect the Covenant. Victories have been small and rare, and defeats all too common.

These events have, in turn, had a devastating impact on morale, among both the military and civilian populations, exacerbated by the UNSC’s strict control of interstellar communications channels and news outlets. While the general populace believes the situation for the UNSC is bad, they have no idea just how dire the situation is for humanity as a whole. At the same time, the Covenant is slowly conquering and glassing the remaining colonies left to humanity. Projects TEMERITY, EXCALIBUR and NOVA are developing equipment intended to at least level the playing field in combat against the Covenant, but the implementation of this equipment will not be fast, and time must be bought, time which we may not have, during which the UNSC will lose civilian and military personnel to the Covenant. The last chance the UNSC – and humanity – has is a victory, stalling the Covenant long enough for some of these technologies to be introduced among the defence forces and to have an effect. Such a victory can also be used as a major propaganda victory by the Office of Naval Intelligence.

To achieve these goals, I propose Operation HOT GATES.

While the Covenant attacked Arcadia in 2531, and then returned to finally conquer the planet in 2542, intercepted communications transmissions from the time indicate a total ignorance of the existence of Minorca, the second colony in the star system. This ignorance has persisted until earlier this year, when the Covenant invaded the Delta Pavonis system, attacking the asteroid colonies and establishing several dig sites. During the UNSC counter-offensive (Operation: HELLSCAPE), a number of alien artefacts of non-Covenant origin were recovered from these dig sites, with astrological locations inscribed on them. Many of the locations have been previously visited by the Covenant, either in Covenant territory or during their conquest of the Outer Colonies. Alpha Canis Minoris is among these locations, and it is reasonable to assume that, since the Covenant found nothing on Arcadia during 2531 and 2542, they will return to the star system to conduct a more thorough search for whatever artefacts they are searching for. Recently intercepted communications, courtesy of Operation HYPODERMIC, have confirmed Covenant interest in the system, and indications are that a small fleet is being assembled to spearhead the investigation. Preliminary projections ONI estimate force readiness within the next year, during either the second or third quarters.

I propose that Minorca is the ideal ambush location against a Covenant invading force. It possesses all factors necessary for such an operation; we know that the Covenant intends to deploy a force there, and we know approximately when; we have the advantage of local navigational data that is unavailable to the Covenant, detailing the astrography for exploitation; the location itself prohibits effective Covenant assault, forcing them into a position of vulnerability; and the position is sufficiently important enough to the Covenant that they will persist in their assault, allowing prolonged exploitation.

Minorca is surrounded by an asteroid belt, mostly consisting of magnetised ferrous material, emitting an electromagnetic field that interferes with electronic systems. Access to Minorca is enabled only by a narrow tunnel, the Juno Corridor, passing through the debris of the asteroid belt - it was this corridor that initially prevented large-scale colonisation. This tunnel serves two major advantages for a UNSC defending force: firstly, it forces the Covenant through this electromagnetic field, interfering with their slipstream drives, energy shields and weaponry; secondly, it forces the Covenant force into a tight bottleneck, limiting the number of warships they can present at a time regardless of total force strength. These forces, rendered vulnerable by their of temporary lack of shields and weaponry, can be quickly dispatched by a UNSC ambush force located well outside of the EM field for as long as personnel and equipment are available. ONI estimates more than 34% casualties for the Covenant in the initial salvo, with more ships able to be destroyed as they enter our firing range. It is likely that at least some Covenant warships will be able to break through, raising their shields and activating their weapons once out of range of the Juno Corridor, but these can be dealt with by the UNSC’s overwhelming numerical superiority.

ONI also estimates that the Covenant will be able to deploy a significant planetary invasion force via dropship or insertion pod, in order to secure whatever relics they believe to be located on Minorca. Even these forces serve to further draw the Covenant into HOT GATES – committing a sizeable ground force to a potentially lucrative discovery, the Covenant will be obliged to support this effort with further materiel and personnel, sending a follow-up force to reinforce their Minorca attack force within a few weeks or months. Efforts must thus be taken to reinforce our own position, with additional ships and personnel – while the Covenant will be expecting the ambush, they will have no way to gauge our force strength. This pattern of reinforcement and engagement can be repeated ad infinitum – the Juno Corridor ensures that the Covenant force will always be vulnerable, and tightly concentrated enough for UNSC firepower to wreak devastating damage.

There are other factors that will allow a UNSC force an unprecedented advantage, not least of which are the products of Projects TEMERITY, EXCALIBUR and NOVA. TEMERITY has experience in recovering and studying Covenant equipment, an opportunity that HOT GATES is not intended to produce but is nevertheless a beneficial by-product. At the same time, developments by EXCALIBUR are intended to begin to enter military service within the next three years, and initial production models and prototypes have proven effective, especially the improvements it has produced for UNSC Navy warships, especially the range of electronic warfare, conventional and nuclear missiles that have already been introduced in a limited capacity. Their deployment at Minorca should both improve the UNSC’s effectiveness in combat, and be an unexpected obstacle to the Covenant.

This campaign is imagined as a primarily naval one, perhaps necessarily, but the battle for the planet’s surface is also an integral factor in its success. Firstly, committing ground forces to the campaign obliges the Covenant to resupply, support and/or recover these forces, forcing them to send a second force to be engaged by the naval force stationed around the exit of the Juno Corridor. Secondly, Covenant forces possess detection technology used in the recovery of alien artefacts that are not available to the UNSC. While ONI knows that there are valuable relics on Minorca, all geological, topographic, and other studies have produced no evidence as to their locations. With the ground force pinpointing the location of the relics, an interception force can be sent to eliminate the Covenant occupiers and recover these relics for the UNSC. Presumably, these relics will then be examined and studied by Project TEMERITY for any further advantage that can be gained.

2.1.    Aims:

HOT GATES is intended to achieve a number of high-impact objectives designed to weaken the Covenant military offensive against the UNSC and to strengthen the UNSC’s defensive position, buying further time.

1.)     To force the Covenant into a long-term engagement, that will divert vital resources and personnel from their conquest of other colonies, slowing their rate of conquest.

2.)     To force the Covenant into a combat theatre where the UNSC forces are in a highly defensible position, and in which the attacking Covenant forces are sufficiently weakened to bring the two sides to at least combat parity.

3.)     To deploy technologies co-developed by Projects TEMERITY and EXCALIBUR on the battlefield, demonstrating their effectiveness in combat.

4.)     To provide an effective psychological blow against the Covenant’s morale with a major military defeat, and to boost the morale of humanity with a major military victory.

Each of these aims, on its own, is sufficient reason to warrant at least consideration. The advance of the Covenant has been slowed by the implementation of the Cole Protocol, and the introduction of EXCALIBUR equipment will hopefully improve the UNSC’s ability to fight the Covenant, but it will still take time that we do not have. By forcing the Covenant to commit to a prolonged campaign at Minorca, we force them to divert resources, materiel and personnel that would otherwise be spent searching for our remaining Inner Colonies. The situation of Minorca means that the planet allows a defending force an overwhelming advantage, regardless of the Covenant’s technological superiority, giving the UNSC better odds in one battle than it has had at any point throughout this war. Such a victory, on such a scale, would be a significant propaganda victory, improving morale not only on the home front but among the rank and file as well, and if we are lucky it will have a debilitating effect on Covenant morale as well.

The exact method this operation will take has been expressly designed for modularity and flexibility, able to accommodate new occurrences and new mission parameters.

2.2.    Method:

Phase Zero: Operation: PUNCTURE - Phase Zero consists of a number of Prowler-type ships deployed into Shaw-Fujikawa Space and Covenant territory, broadcasting semi-encrypted transmissions near points known to be near Covenant interception outposts. These broadcasts are to contain falsified stellar cartography details, troop movements, and increase in what the Covenant considers to be “relics”. All of these are to give the false impression that the UNSC has discovered a significant xenoarcheological site on a world that is easily accessible, and is present only in limited numbers. With such false information, the initial Covenant force will expect to run into a small protection force and plan accordingly.

Phase One: FORTIFICATION – the establishment of a defence group over and on Minorca prior to the arrival of the Covenant is paramount. Orbital element possessed positional advantages that can be exploited – the bottleneck created by the Juno Corridor, as well as the orbit of Juno itself providing cover directly in front of the corridor opening, or even serving as a base of fire for Orbital Defence Platforms and moon-based mass drivers, coilguns and railguns. Orbital element is recommended to consist predominantly of heavy warships, with a number of support ships to assist the ground engagement as needed. Ground element is recommended to consist of several divisions of combined UNCC Army and Marine Corps infantry and cavalry units, Air Force aerial support, and Naval logistical support units. Introduction of EXCALIBUR equipment among ground forces, and refitting of naval element with improvements, to improve the effectiveness of the units and field-test the equipment.

Phase Two: CONFRONTATION – initial engagement with the Covenant. Using the element of surprise, local astrological hazards, and newly deployed technologies, victory is calculated to be 78% likely, far higher than any other campaign.

Phase Three: ENGAGEMENT – prolonged engagement. Covenant forces must be permitted to land on the planet, in order for the Covenant to committing itself to supporting them. By drawing their military attention to Minorca, where UNSC defenders hold a defensible position better than any other in past battles, the Covenant should expend supplies, equipment and personnel that would otherwise be used elsewhere. This phase consists of both orbital and planetary theatres of combat, and with the latter will consist of infantry, armoured and aerial engagements with Covenant planetary forces. Established colonial infrastructure should prove relatively easy to militarise, including establishment of firebases and command posts. The planet’s only city, New London, can serve as the UNSC’s link to orbital forces, serving as both headquarters for regional commanding officers and as a spaceport. Space Elevator may still function. This phase obviously cannot be kept up indefinitely, but leads to Phase IV.

Phase IV: SCORCHED EARTH – withdrawal. This stage of Operation: HOT GATES is to be enacted in the event of a UNSC withdrawal from the planet, either due to overwhelming Covenant forces or because FLEETCOM has ordered a withdrawal for some other reason. After the planet has been evacuated and the fleet deployed to Earth, a NOVA Bomb is to be launched and detonated to destroy the planet. The launch of the NOVA bomb serves three purposes – firstly, it denies the Covenant a potentially valuable resource, the relics beneath Minorca’s surface. Secondly, it annihilates any remaining Covenant forces, including orbiting warships.

The destruction of a planet to deny it to the enemy may seem like an extreme measure, but it is no less than what the Covenant are doing to our own worlds. It is true that the worlds themselves still remain, but the orbital plasma bombardment has destroyed their surfaces and allowed their atmosphere to escape into space, rendering them uninhabitable and unable to be terraformed. For all intents and purposes, they may as well have been destroyed. My discussions with ULYSSES have informed me that ONI had intended to deploy the NOVA against Covenant targets, using it to bring the Covenant to the negotiating table – I have always expressed my reservations of such a plan, especially in the implementation phase and in its effects. The defence networks of past targets, like 51 Pegasi d, or Sierra/Juliet-Echo-72627664b, preclude the NOVA even reaching the planet unless through a massive invasion to support it. Even if a successful detonation can be achieved, and a Covenant world destroyed, there is no guarantee that they will recognise it as a threat – our early assassination operations against Prophet targets was meant to make them more cautious, and instead enraged them, accelerating their push into the colonies. The destruction of a planet may only have a similar effect. I feel that using the NOVA in a “scorched earth” capacity is a more likely and beneficial use of such firepower. ULYSSES assured me that his department is about to conduct a test detonation at the OSIRIS-II Test Site, and a full demonstration of the weapon’s effectiveness will be proven.



3.1.    SECRECY

Security for an operation on this scale is paramount, and must be maintained at all costs. We’ve already noted leaks within some of the upper echelons of CENTCOM and HIGHCOM, resulting in Insurrectionist sympathisers transmitting classified material to insurrectionist paramilitary groups or even the civilian media. In the latter case, the PR disaster we had trying to fix the damage they did on the Coral Incident tied up ONI Section II for months, a successful distraction tactic. In the former, it resulted in Covenant forces intercepting coordinates for no less than four Outer Colonies, and the deaths of seven millions, most of whom were ironically pro-Insurrectionist. I don’t know if the Insurrection is still a force to be reckoned with anymore – I leave that to others. We haven’t been back to Minorca since 2542, though, and there is the possibility that an Insurrectionist force has used it, or is still using it. It may even have been resettled by rogue colonists, who have historically not taken kindly to the arrival of UNSC management.

Personnel rosters for UNSC Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps personnel involved should be deemed CLASSIFIED, codeword clearance “CHIHUAHUA FIFTEEN.” Material on Projects TEMERITY and EXCALIBUR is already classified TOP SECRET – NOVEMBER BLACK, a state that I have no intention of altering, but material on the Procyon system, Arcadia, Minorca, and other planets, planetoids and satellites in the system should also be classified TOP SECRET. We cannot afford for this information to reach the Covenant – even if they only had a rough overview of the tactical situation, it would still change the probability of victory drastically. At worst, they might devise calculations to bypass the Juno Corridor entirely, removing any advantage that would be gained by using the bottleneck.

MIL.VIR.3442A “WIDOW-MAKER” has proven its ability to safely, securely, and secretly delete relevant files, removing all links and erasing   . MIL.VIR.4425X “BLACK-WIDOW” is scheduled to come online soon, using a semi-sapient matrix to prevent remote infiltration and provide dynamic and adaptive responses to threats. Naturally, I recommend that these two programs be implemented to ensure the security of Operation: HOT GATES, working in tandem.


o    Space Forces

§  Combat Element: Given the average number of Covenant ships deployed in attacks on low-priority targets, a force of approximately a dozen warships should be sufficient to deal with the initial exploratory element. A second combat element will be deployed, probably within a few weeks, but more likely between one and two months after this to respond, ready to engage the original force – by which point we must have quadrupled our defence fleet. After this point, the number of ships the Covenant sends is irrelevant – as long as the UNSC defence fleet maintains a steady supply of ammunition, fuel, and supplies for personnel, we can hold them off indefinitely, exploiting the Juno Corridor as a bottleneck rendering them vulnerable. If available, I would recommend the 30th Fleet – they just had the Aeneas assigned to them from EXCALIBUR, and VOLUND’s boys have wanted to introduce their improvements on a larger scale. Using them in HOT GATES will not only improve our combat effectiveness (VOLUND tells me by 300%), but will also serve as a field test for further introduction throughout the fleet.

§  Orbital Support Element: Providing the ground combat element with fire support from orbit, I recommend THORWS equipped ships and at least two Prowlers to establish an intelligence gathering satellite network and to coordinate its dissemination. The ONI presence will also be used if UNSC forces manage to discover anything of interest on the planet – if we can capture it, ONI can analyse it. If we can’t, then it should be destroyed by orbital bombardment. If it can be arranged, and if they can be spared, I would also ask for at least a pair of Orbital Defence Platforms, equipped with the new Mk. XX “Super” MAC systems that the Reach Orbital Defence Grid is using.

§  Resupply Element: For such a long-term campaign, the supply chain for involved personnel will be long and complex – ammunition, fuel, food and water for the ships and ground forces. The Juno Corridor will be blocked off, but measures can be taken – Admiral Cole left a lot behind when he disappeared, and his Slipspace calculations. Tinuviel tells me she can reverse-extrapolate a set of high-precision Slipspace jumps, bringing the supply convoy within the asteroid belt, completely bypassing the Juno Corridor – she also tells me that it will take some time for a ship to enter Slipspace this way. I also recommend stockpiling as many supplies as we can before hand, in the event that this method should fail, at least enough to supply an evacuation and withdrawal. See below for further details.

o    Planetary Forces

§  Infantry/Cavalry: engaging Covenant forces, occupying strategic points and recapturing those captured by the enemy. I recommend the 427th to take part – I had some good experienced with them during my days in VAJRA-I. Given the size of the planet, the sparse colonial infrastructure, and the density of the jungle, I recommend seven Army or Marine Corps divisions, with perhaps another two on standby on Reach if needed.

§  Marine: with the extensive orbital presence, I doubt that any terrestrial “wet” Navy forces are needed. Perhaps a handful of aircraft carriers, or some amphibious assault craft, but no battleships or destroyers – if the Covenant wants to take the fight to the water, then we can use our aerial forces. If that fails, then orbital bombardment is always available.

§  Aerial: I recommend at least three divisions of Army or Air Force gunships and close attack aircraft, a division of dropships or utility helicopters (I would very much like to see the Falcon in action), two divisions of Naval dropships for logistics support, as well as another division of reconnaissance aircraft. While the SPYSAT network laid by the Prowlers will be useful, getting a close-in look at anything of interest will provide us with better intelligence.

§  Special Forces: I don’t know about the Army, but Marine Special Forces would be an asset in this theatre – given the unpredictable nature of the ground campaign compared to the orbital campaign, its best to plan ahead before you need it. ODST forces should also be available from orbital launch platforms, either via troopship or frigate, further improving our flexible response options. There’s also the 506th ODST Force Recon Battalion – besides being an independent and self-sufficient force, they have experience in artefact recovery, either Covenant wreckage and debris or “other” kinds of valuable field assets. ORPHEUS tells me that he can have a few S-II and III teams ready if we require them, and I would certainly feel safer with them available – I’m not entirely sure about the quality of the III’s, but the II’s, I am assured, are fully operational and equipped. VOLUND over in TEMERITY tells me he’s worked with Indigo Team before, so that is always a plus.


Given the sheer number of personnel required to take part, as well as the duration this operation is intended to extend through, keeping our ground and orbital forces fully supplied will be a monumental task. Naturally, the difficulties presented by Minorca – namely the Juno Corridor – are as much a hindrance to our own forces as they are to the Covenant – keeping a supply route through the Corridor would render our own weaknesses vulnerable to Covenant exploitation. At the same time, however, VOLUND informs me that improvements to the Shaw-Fujikawa drives are scheduled to be introduced soon, dramatically improving both transit duration through, and accuracy of entry and exit into, Shaw-Fujikawa Space. If we are to make full use of this opportunity, then these improvements may need to be hastened and introduced to our fleet sooner than previously scheduled – with such accuracy, it may be possible to make an in-system jump within the asteroid field, bypassing the Corridor completely. Naturally, this is precisely what we want to prevent the Covenant from achieving, but they do not have the advantage of quantum sensor outposts in the system, or detailed astrographical charts to plot courses. With the constant interaction of the debris field, making a jump would more likely than not simply land a ship between two colliding asteroids, or in a shower of shrapnel inflicting catastrophic damage. Our own ships, however, can enter the system at the points I have indicated on the PROCYON starchart attached to the Minorca file.

o    Orbital: at least fifty medium- or heavy-tonnage freighters for external resupply, with frigate or destroyer escorts in the event of Covenant attack during resupply. These resupply operations can be staggered to minimise the risk of Covenant attack while they are present, but combat elements should be on alert during their presence nevertheless. I would also recommend keeping at least one Repair Ship close, allowing local forces to restore combat effectiveness relatively quickly after repelling a Covenant attack.

o    Planetary: supply storage facilities should be constructed months in advance, with significant stockpiles present already. If the resupply element is compromised in any way, the ground forces will need supplies enough for a planetary evacuation effort. Additional hydroponics and water refinery facilities should be established as well, to minimise our dependence on resupply efforts and to bolster our ability to remain semi-autonomous. Ammunition storehouses for the warships in orbit, as well as maintenance staff for mechanised cavalry, aircraft, and starship repair and upkeep should be present as well.


The importance of HOT GATES' success will require the cooperation of a number of necessary projects, in terms of equipment and personnel. Naturally, I have asked the individual Project leaders their thoughts – their discretion, I believe, is beyond doubt. Project outlines are available at the start of the brief, and I trust that you have already read them. HEPHAESTUS has assured me that mutual cooperation is in both of our best interests, and is eager to use the resources at my disposal to implement his upgrades. The Aeneas has been a successful test case, and he’d like to have a lot more successes. Wouldn’t we all? VOLUND also assures me that his cooperation will be total – the opportunity to study unprecedented amounts of alien technology was quite a tempting lure. I have already been able to make extensive use of his resources in setting out this mission brief, especially in terms of logistics and astrography. ULYSSES has proven more troublesome – I think he has doubts about our chances of success. I only had time (and information available) to provide a rough outline, and from that even I wouldn’t give us a snowballs chance. But once I can show him the proper mission brief, I think he’ll come around – it means accelerating his own project, something that everyone wants. Even if the Covenant manage to eventually break through our defences and glass the planet, it may prove a tactical defeat but a strategic victory – accelerating the introduction of so much equipment and testing them in the field will still buy us months, perhaps years if Section III has its calculations correct.


// END FILE //

















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