The Inside Story Behind the UNSC's Most Disastrous Special Forces Program was a comprehensive yet controversial exposé published in the aftermath of the Galactic War that described the special operations- and paramilitary-centered approach that the United Nations Space Command took in combating terrorism prior to the onset of the Galactic War. Although this unconventional warfare posture was initially promising, it was eventually ruinous and was proven to be ineffectual.
The book, authored by Command Sergeant Major Redmond-M094 (Ret.), a former special operator within the 1st Marine Expeditionary Reconnaissance Company who was at the centerpiece of this UNSC counterterrorism strategy, elicited fury amongst UNSC Special Operations Command and UNSC Office of Naval Intelligence personnel. Both Special Forces and Naval Intelligence personnel alike claimed that the exposé's claims were simply untrue, and that they constituted a serious security breach, fatally compromising the operational security of special access programs that had been running covertly for nearly twenty years. The book was written with contributions from Admiral Kawika Ichida Son (Ret.) (who was formerly Commander-in-Chief, UNSC Naval Special Warfare Command), Lieutenant Commander Simon-G294 (Ret.), and Captain Richard Gregory Ives, all of whom were Special Forces personnel extensively involved with the UNSC's counterinsurgency campaigns.
"The Inside Story Behind the UNSC's Most Disastrous Special Forces Program" is an eyewitness account of the UNSC's extensive and covert counterinsurgency campaign that was waged in the aftermath of the Great War. This novel is the first exposé that details the UNSC's most prized and sensitive special access programs ("black projects") — such as Project PATRIOT, Project MYRMIDON, and Project SABER TALENT — that have never been heard before by the UNSC public. Written with clinical attention to detail from the perspective of a former UNSC special operator who was actively engaged with such special access programs for over twenty years, this novel recounts the initial promise elicited by such programs; and how such draconian and subversive methods eventually utterly failed.
Chapter Five — Saber Talent
Project SABER TALENT was a highly-classified special access program instated by the UNSC Office of Naval Intelligence in circa August 2559. Based on analysis of ONI pseudonyms, the "Talent" designation testified that SABER TALENT was at the highest echelons of Naval Intelligence classification, and the "Saber" designation testified that it was associated with special operations forces of the Special Operations Command.
SABER TALENT was instated by Naval Intelligence in response to the remarkable success that Admiral Kawika Son's JTF-452 (Joint Task Force 452) was enjoying in antagonizing the civil unrest and insurgency frothing in the lawless Outer Rim Colonies. It was credit to Admiral Son that he recognized that terrorists and insurgents couldn't be fought by "pure" military means such as "selective prosecution" (read: assassination) and orbital bombardments. Instead, many military scholars, and I myself, attribute Admiral Son's incredible success to the fact that he realized that extremely accurate intelligence was required to combat terrorists: though the UNSC undoubtedly had the most powerful military in the galaxy, all its warships, fighters, and commandos were useless without intelligence to direct them to their targets. What Son instituted with JTF-452 was that its Special Forces personnel could not merely be "door-kickers" and fighters, but rather that they needed to: (1) cultivate relationships with the civilian population and (2) convert enemy insurgents into informants.
By these means, Admiral Son managed to turn civilian opinion against the insurgents, and left the terrorists bereft of the civilians that normally supported them, depriving them of a base of operations and also critical supplies such as food and ammunition. Furthermore, by converting terrorists into agents to spy on their own organizations and their leaders for the UNSC, Son managed to obtain unparalleled high-resolution intelligence on rebel camps, movements, and commanders, allowing for his highly-trained Special Forces personnel to interdict the enemy's hideouts and formations, and to hunt down and capture rebel commanders and terrorist leaders.
Once JTF-452 had operated sufficiently and had managed to create a massive apparatus of informants that were spying on nearly all terrorist groups in the Outer Rim, admittedly its intelligence collection apparatus had become too large to manage efficiently. Afterall, JTF-452 was a unit of the Advanced Special Operations Command, and was not a Naval Intelligence unit, and its members were thus not trained as intelligence officers but rather as direct action and special reconnaissance operators. Therefore, as JTF-452's own informant network became too large for it to utilize efficiently, at ONI's bequest, Son allowed the Office of Naval Intelligence to take control part of the informant apparatus, which became known as Project COSMIC TALENT (the "Cosmic" designation indicated that the program was handling high-priority intelligence). At that point, COSMIC TALENT became cooperatively run by both Naval Intelligence and JTF-452.
Under Naval Intelligence guidance, COSMIC TALENT attained gruesome efficiency. Though Son's JTF-452 soldiers were surprisingly skilled at cultivating intelligence sources within their enemies' organizations, Naval Intelligence brought its own draconian practices to manage COSMIC TALENT. Naval Intelligence agents at JTF-452 forward operating bases used chemical compounds to horrifically break prisoners of war they'd captured, first inducing near-death experiences and immeasurable pain, then they used psychoactive drugs to warp and distend the prisoners' personalities until they'd been totally reprogrammed and indoctrinated as sleeper agents in the employ of Naval Intelligence. These indoctrinated terrorists were sent back to their parent organizations, where they spied on their parent organizations without question and reported back to COSMIC TALENT.
At that point, JTF-452 had three principal components: SACRED SABER (Command & Control, SOCOM), ABSOLUTE SABER (Field Operations, SOCOM), and COSMIC TALENT (Intelligence Collection, ONI-SOCOM). However, Naval Intelligence soon activated a fourth component: Project SABER TALENT.
Project SABER TALENT was initiated to handle "special activities" conducted by JTF-452. Although JTF-452 often operated far beyond galactic law and military regulations, condoning operations such as assassination, certain Naval Intelligence officials believed that a "gloves off" approach was needed to more quickly prosecute the Special Forces' campaign against the Outer Rim terrorists. Reasoning that the terrorists fought with no civility when they bombed schools and hospitals, ONI believed that the only method to retaliate was in kind. Recruiting from elite members of the Special Forces and the ONI Special Clandestine Activities Regiment, SABER TALENT operators were authorized to operate without restriction, even going as far as to condone hostage-taking and extreme torture to wage a "dirty war" against the terrorists. Officially, SABER TALENT was known as the "Unconventional Warfare Group (Airborne), Joint Special Operations Task Force 452".
This all changed when UNSC leadership learned of the existence of the "Patriots", a shadowy Illumanti-like organization that could possibly be the orchestrator behind all the Outer Rim insurgencies and attacks. If the Patriots were truly the dark coordinators behind the Outer Rim's civil war, they were a true and utter threat to the UNSC, and obviously had sinister intent, perhaps on a galactic level. Project SABER TALENT was re-tasked from the special activities mission instead to selectively take down the Patriots, and became a joint Special Operations Command and Naval Intelligence initiative. Once SABER TALENT was refolded into the Special Operations Command authority structure, Admiral Son saw to it that it was "cleaned up" and legitimized, and he outlawed the extremely dubious methods that SABER TALENT had used previously, and recruited highly-educated Special Forces officers such as Captain Jeffery G. Ives to lead it, hoping that would bring some measure of stability to the once-shadowy ONI unit.
SABER TALENT's new secret war against the Patriots enjoyed far less success than the rest of JTF-452's campaign against the Outer Rim's petty terrorists and criminals. Progress against the clandestine Patriots was difficult to measure: on his first mission (a special reconnaissance mission targeting Kimberly Blackburn, a putative Patriot officer), Captain Ives's team was compromised and Captain Ives went Missing in Action and was not recovered even after an all-hands CSAR (Combat Search and Rescue) rescue. After years of fighting their unknown enemy, of which they had no definition, SABER TALENT secured only marginal victories, but losing countless highly trained Special Forces personnel, such as Captain Ives, in the process. SABER TALENT's campaign against the Patriots began in 2568, the same year Captain Ives was recruited and shortly lost thereafter, but by 2575, it was acknowledged even by Admiral Son that SABER TALENT had gained little insight into even understanding who the Patriots were or what their intentions were.
After nearly a decade free of any galactic apocalypse or mass coup that the UNSC feared that the Patriots might instigate, Project SABER TALENT was mostly deactivated, and many of its personnel, such as SPARTAN-IIIs, were reassigned to more prominent projects, such as Program MYRMIDON, the special access program to train the 1st Myrmidon Company from 2570-2580.
It was only in 2582 when Bellerophon was bombed and over twenty thousand UNSC servicemen and servicewomen lost their lives did the UNSC and JTF-452 acknowledge that the Patriots were a potent threat: they were now emerging from the shadows, and appeared to have the possess to strike at the UNSC with utter impunity, even in the Middle Rim, which was a terrifying fact. All SPARTAN-IIIs and Myrmidons were reassigned to Project SABER TALENT, and the program regained its past seniority and importance.
Project SABER TALENT, that is, the Unconventional Warfare Group (Airborne), came under direct command of Admiral Kawika I. Son, who then was the Commander-in-Chief of the Naval Special Warfare Command and the Deputy Commander of the Special Operations Command. Under Son's supervision, SABER TALENT acted as a rapid deployment force, and Son authorized Operation: NOBLE RESOLVE for SABER TALENT operators to infiltrate Outer Rim Colonies in search for Ives, who was believed to be responsible for the Bellerophon catastrophe. Under NOBLE RESOLVE, the SPARTAN-IIIs and Myrmidons, along with other selected Special Forces and Naval Intelligence personnel, were divided into small undercover teams to autonomously deploy into the Outer Rim and attempt to infiltrate and subvert criminal and terrorist organizations, especially the notorious Powell Syndicate, in the all-hands effort "to close with Jeffery Ives and the enemy by means of fire and maneuver in order to destroy or capture him".
Of course, with the revelation of who was actually orchestrating the Patriots, Task Force 452's and Project SABER TALENT's mission became entirely petty in retrospect.