The SPARTAN-II Program, originally known as the ORION Project Generation II, was part of the SPARTAN Program, an effort to produce elite soldiers through mechanical and biological augmentation. The SPARTAN-II program would be the first in the series to meld advanced exoskeleton technology with the soldiers' superior physiques.
In the years following the deactivation of the ORION Project in 2506 the effectiveness of small special forces combating the insurrectionists became too large for the UNSC to manage. As insurrectionist became more effective and the military's responses consequently become more forceful, the need for large scale military campaigns became more and more obvious. In 2517 the Office of Naval Intelligence began to reexamine the Carver Findings, which had warned of instability in the Outer Colonies years earlier. The report rationalized that the instability would continue to escalate, and unless drastic military measures were taken, would result in a massive war between the inner colonies and the outer colonies. ONI's own projections at that time and up to 2525 concluded the same as Dr. Carver's findings. The SPARTAN-II project was conceived by Dr. Catherine Halsey of ONI Section III's Special Projects Division as the successor to the ORION Project and the best possible solution to end the widespread insurgency that raged throughout UNSC space. The project was created with several goals in mind. The first goal was to create a group of elite soldiers meant to subdue insurrections in their infancy, without substantial military casualties. The second goal was to minimize civilian casualties and avert civil war. The third goal was to substantially reduce the cost of conventional means of pacification.
Halsey's proposal for the project detailed radical changes in many different fields. The first and most controversial was the subjects themselves, who were selected by a gene-candidate pool, and must fit into a certain age restriction protocol. They must also have possessed superior physical and mental attributes. The trainees must be instilled with military value, and the understanding of war; something that cannot be taught to enlisted soldiers. This narrowed the candidates down to children who would be raised and taught in the art of warfare and military values, from a young age. Using such controversial means of creating a soldier meant that the project would have to be carried out in the highest form of secrecy.
Though conventional body armor had protected soldiers for centuries, the SPARTAN-II project's second radical change involved integrating the subject with a new powered exoskeleton device, designed to help keep its user safe and provide a powerful means of combating enemy forces. The drawback of this new armor is its requirement for augmenting the subject, effectively turning the SPARTANs into human guinea pigs.
Despite the tremendous risk and the unethical means of creating new soldiers, the SPARTAN-II project was greenlit by the top brass within the Office of Naval Intelligence, who concluded that the lives that could be saved far outweighed the risks involved. The project was initially granted funding for 300 candidates, though funding was later reduced to half this number. By 2517, 150 suitable candidates had been identified through DNA gathered from the UNSC's civilian vaccination program, though funding had been further reduced to support only half that number. Seventy-five children, all six years old and of both sexes, were kidnapped. In order to preserve the program's secrecy, the children were replaced by flash clones which would die soon thereafter due to numerous medical complications associated with flash-cloning an entire human being.
Main article: SPARTAN-II Training History
The SPARTAN-II candidates after being sedated were taken to the colony world Reach, and began their training under Chief Petty Officer Mendez. To marginalize the civilian lives they had once led, their names became a combination of their given names and a number, with family names being discarded. The SPARTANs endured a great deal of hardship during their first years of training: they were placed into situations and drills that pushed their abilities to their very limit and beyond. Their hard training was complemented with high-level education, which included mathematics, science, reading, writing, and military tactics. Although his training methodology was tough, even brutal in some regards, Chief Petty Officer Mendez always instilled discipline, honor, and respect into the SPARTANs. He taught the SPARTANs how to kill, but at the same time he taught them the difference between right and wrong. Mendez trained the SPARTANs until 2525 when, at the age of fourteen, the they would go through the toughest part of their training: the biological augmentation procedures, which would kill 30 of the 75 conscripted children and cripple 12 others who would "wash out" of the SPARTAN-II program, going on to join the Office of Naval Intelligence; only 33 survived the procedures without physiological deformities. The bodies of those candidates who died were placed in cryo-suspension, in the hope that they could some day be resuscitated. At least some of the candidates who were crippled were eventually rehabilitated. Several elements of the candidates' training were kept secret from Halsey that only Professor Agnes and Professor Mike (who worked on the project with her) knew about.
The Human-Covenant War marked a change in objectives for the program; originally intended to quell rebellions, the SPARTANs were now forced into battle against a superior opponent to the insurrectionists: the Covenant. This new threat accelerated the SPARTANs' training to its final phase: Project MJOLNIR. With the MJOLNIR armor, the SPARTANs would be the first major UNSC response to the alien threat. The SPARTANs continuously proved highly effective against all threats; their heroic rearguard and delaying actions saved countless human lives from the genocidal Covenant onslaught. Their prowess was well known among the Covenant, who came to fear the SPARTANs as Demons. In 2547, the SPARTAN-II program was revealed to the public in an effort to boost morale among the UNSC.
Inevitably the small number of SPARTAN-IIs dwindled as casualties were sustained. As the exploits of the SPARTANs were a major propaganda boom to the UNSC, Section II of the Office of Naval Intelligence issued Directive 930, which stated that SPARTANs killed or wounded would be listed as "Missing in Action" (MIA) or "Wounded in Action" (WIA), thus maintaining the illusion of the SPARTANs' invincibility. In late 2552, all except three of the remaining active SPARTANs rendezvoused at Reach to receive new orders for Operation: RED FLAG, an operation that HIGHCOM hoped would end the war. They would commandeer a Covenant vessel, locate the Covenant homeworld, and return with captured Covenant leadership to force a ceasefire. The artificial intelligence construct Cortana, carried within John-117's Mark V MJOLNIR armor, would serve as the strike force's hacker and technology specialist.
However, all preparations were interrupted and subsequently canceled by the Covenant's invasion of Reach. In the ensuing disaster, most of the SPARTAN-IIs were killed, although some took shelter in ONI's CASTLE Base. Two escaped aboard the UNSC Pillar of Autumn, one of whom was place in cryostasis aboard the ship after sustaining life-threatening injuries during the battle on Gamma Station. The Pillar of Autumn soon arrived at Halo Installation 04, which John-117 ultimately destroyed to prevent the spread of the Flood. Following the Battle of Installation 04, the survivors returned to Reach and were able to rendezvous with the remaining SPARTANs. The survivors then carried out a raid that resulted in the destruction of a Covenant fleet anchorage, stalling a Covenant plan to invade Earth. SPARTAN-IIs would go on to play pivotal roles in the Battle of Earth, the Battle of Installation 05, the Battle of Onyx, and the Battle of Installation 00.
The identities of the Spartans' full names have been deleted from all military records. Only Dr. Halsey has secret files that contains the full names of all the Spartans on Reach; unfortunately, the records were destroyed after the the planet was Glassed. Publicly, only their first names and service tags are known with their current status.
he following is the list of all currently known SPARTAN-II subjects conscripted in 2517.
SPARTAN-006: Jai - Missing in action with the rest of Gray Team.
SPARTAN-008: Li - Listed as MIA during Slipspace anomaly battle. Assumed KIA due to nearby plasma torpedo detonation.
SPARTAN-023: Daisy - Listed as MIA, confirmed KIA after being impaled by Needler rounds while trying to save a Pelican and its occupants from enemy fire on Harvest.
SPARTAN-029: Joshua - Listed as MIA, though assumed KIA during the Fall of Reach due to a direct hit from a Covenant cruiser's plasma weaponry.
SPARTAN-030: Vinh - Listed as MIA, though assumed KIA after the Fall of Reach.
SPARTAN-034: Samuel - Listed as MIA, though confirmed KIA due to destruction of the Covenant ship they had boarded. First to destroy a Covenant ship in a non-ship to ship battle.
SPARTAN-039: Isaac - Listed as MIA, though assumed KIA after the Fall of Reach.
SPARTAN-042: Douglas - Last seen aboard Spirit of Fire in 2531. Listed as MIA.
SPARTAN-043: William - Listed as MIA, though confirmed KIA by Hunter pair during the Battle of Onyx
SPARTAN-044: Anton - MIA during Slipspace anomaly battle, though assumed KIA due to nearby plasma torpedo detonation.
SPARTAN-047: Keiichi - Presumably listed as MIA at Reach. Last seen during the Harvest Campaign.
SPARTAN-051: Kurt - Listed as MIA, though confirmed KIA after the detonation of two FENRIS nuclear warheads at the core of Onyx.
SPARTAN-052: Jorge - Listed as MIA. Officially KIA after initiating a Slipstream bomb during the Fall of Reach.
SPARTAN-058: Linda - Active in Onyx Shield World. Clinically KIA during the Fall of Reach but later resuscitated after the Battle of Installation 04. Listed as MIA by the UNSC.
SPARTAN-059: Malcolm - Listed as MIA, though confirmed KIA during the Fall of Reach.
SPARTAN-062: Maria - Retired.
SPARTAN-069: Solomon - Listed as MIA. Confirmed KIA by Covenant antimatter charge decoy during a SPARTAN mission to rescue Dr. Catherine Halsey.
SPARTAN-079: Arthur - Listed as MIA. Confirmed KIA by Seraph-class starfighters during SPARTAN mission to rescue Dr. Catherine Halsey.
SPARTAN-087: Kelly - Active in Onyx Shield World. Listed as MIA by the UNSC.
SPARTAN-092: Jerome - Last seen aboard Spirit of Fire in 2531. Listed as MIA.
SPARTAN-093: Grace - Listed as MIA. Confirmed KIA during Operation: First Strike on Unyielding Hierophant.
SPARTAN-101: Victor - Active as of August 2552.
SPARTAN-104: Frederic - Active in Onyx Shield World. Listed as MIA by the UNSC.
SPARTAN-111: Adriana - MIA with the rest of Gray Team.
SPARTAN-117: John - MIA. Last seen in cryosleep aboard severed aft section of the UNSC Frigate Forward Unto Dawn, drifting toward an unknown planet.
SPARTAN-122: Joseph - Status unknown, last seen in 2525. Assumed KIA during Fall of Reach.
SPARTAN-130: Alice - Last seen aboard Spirit of Fire in 2531. Listed as MIA.
SPARTAN-137: Carris - Status unknown. Presumably KIA during the Fall of Reach.
SPARTAN-141: Cal - Listed as MIA, though confirmed KIA during an assassination operation.
James - MIA. Most likely KIA during the Fall of Reach.
Mike - MIA with the rest of Gray Team.
Randall - MIA.
Sheila - Listed as MIA, though confirmed KIA during the Battle of Miridem.
"Beta Red Actual" - Listed as MIA. Confirmed KIA during the Fall of Reach.
"Black-One" - Active as of August 2552.
"Black-Two" - Active as of August 2552.
"Black-Three" - Active as of August 2552.
"Red-Fifteen" - Listed as MIA. Confirmed KIA during the Fall of Reach.
Unnamed Spartan (Harvest) - Listed as MIA. Confirmed KIA during the Harvest Campaign.
These were Spartans who became too wounded to continue active service after failed augmentation procedures. They have been permanently reassigned within the Office of Naval Intelligence, although Dr. Halsey stated that some might make a full recovery with rehab and re-enter service as fully functional SPARTANs.
SPARTAN-005: René - Discharged. Possible rehab mentioned by Halsey
SPARTAN-018: Kirk - Discharged. Possible rehab mentioned by Halsey.
SPARTAN-066: Soren - Discharged due to failures in augmentation process Listed as Missing in Action on Reach after being shot down in a Longsword interceptor.
SPARTAN-075: Cassandra - Discharged due to failures in augmentation procedures, currently residing in the M25L Recovery Station.
SPARTAN-084: Fhajad - Discharged, sent to work for ONI. Suffered uncontrollable muscle spasms due to failures in augmentation, current status unknown. Image shown in Halsey's Journal for rehab.
SPARTAN-303: Ralph - Unknown if listed as MIA, confirmed KIA in the Harvest Campaign.