tWars have been fought for, as long as we can remember. Tactics were slow to change, there was hardly a need for the tried and true open field charge to diversify. The glory of storming a wide open field head on to the enemy lines, sword met sword and armor clashed against steel. There was honor, skill, and above all else the notion that you and your enemy would meet face to face. The whites of their eyes.
Then The Great War happened.
Rapid fire death across no mans land, trench combat and aerial assaults. Iron beasts slowly roared across the cratered landscape. There was no longer honor, no longer would foe meet face to face. The war became a standstill. New tactics were needed, better men. Germany was the first to train and create these better men. They were ferociously loyal, dawned in gas masks, trench coats and the latest technology. Germany call them the "Stoßtruppen" or "Storm Troopers." They slowly walked forward through poison gas and barbed wire; wielding flame throwers and the first modern automatic weapons. They were brutally effective, and were responsible for hundreds of ally positions destroyed or captured.
Now imagine, hundreds of years in the future, wars are being fought not across fields, but entire solar systems. The tactics have once again changed and you need, better men. These men are trained to drop from miles above a planet's surface in titanium/ceramic coffins which are design to breach the atmosphere. Screaming through the skies faster than the speed of a bullet, these brave men and women plunge into the middle of combat. As the coffin lands, the door explodes open and what emerges is the apex of combat effectiveness. They are not biologically altered in any way, they are simply human.
Before there were the Spartans, there was the Orbital Drop Shock Troopers. The ODST.
Prepare to drop.
When the United Nations Space Command (UNSC) was formed, there was much backlash. Many of the colonies who had once been independent throughout the Sol System found that their freedom would be stripped away by the UNSC. This led to the Insurrection Wars, which are still in effect by the year 2556. However when they first began in the 2100s, the concept of fighting on a planetary scale was still foreign to most generals. It was ineffective to land troops by dropship into heavily fortified zones, as they would be shot down almost immediately by heavy anti-air fire. A new tactic was needed to penetrate heavily defended areas and place boots on the ground.
The ODST were formed in 2115 and headquartered in the Martian city of Tanais, Kenosha, with their primary training facility located on the planet Reach. The concept was that instead of utilizing a dropship, the ODST would instead use orbital insertion pods dropped by orbiting spacecraft. The technology needed to keep the occupant soldier safe, while at the safe time being able to withstand re-entry and the intense heat and pressure, was ground breaking. The initial concept was called the "Single Occupant Exoatmospheric Insertion Vehicle" or SOEIV.
The first drop pod was created sometime in 2115, and utilized a four pillar stabilization system near the top of the pod to funnel incoming air into the center, stabilizing the pod itself during descent. The pod was armored with titanium/ceramic panels, and heat shielding sub-systems which monitored the outside friction. The interior was filled with electronic systems such as combat screens, weapon holsters, tactical feeds and pod controls. If a pod needed to divert course, the occupant only need to use two joysticks near the bottom left and right on the pod to steer it in a new direction via exterior ailerons. During descent, the pod would deploy a nylon-kevlar parachute to slow itself, then activate four retro-thrusters to stop the pod entirely a few feet above the ground. Once the pod reached the surface, small blast caps would blow the door off and the ODST would storm out. Current iterations of the SOEIV include an upgraded electronic suite, battle net display, enhanced thrust controls, improved heat-resistant materials and ablative armor to absorb incoming anti-air fire.
The ODST did not just receive their own vehicles, but also a personalized variant of the standard UNSC Marine combat gear. The chassis itself has been in use since the 2100s and is manufactured by Misriah Armory. In the 2100s the armor was merely a simple upgrade to standard marine armor. However, the current iteration is the pinnacle of personnel protection. The current ODST BDU personal combat chassis is in a class all its own. Featuring neo-ablative plating to absorb ballistic, plasma and energy weapons fire, a completely new heads up display system known as "VISR" which highlights threats, friendly units and feeds tactical information to the wearer and the ability to safely preform EVA for up to twenty minutes. The chassis comes in several variants, such as assault, sharpshooter, CQB and urban storm. To wear the ODST armor, is to be recognized as the best of the best.
ODST are trained in all UNSC weaponry, but often favor the M7 SMG caseless suppressed and scoped variant, and the M6C/SOCOM suppressed and scoped pistol.
ODST are trained in conditions which only the Spartan program rivals in terms of sheer brutality. Upon admission into the ODST, a recruit is beaten down in every way a person can be. From drill instructors firing live ammunition near trainees faces as they navigate barbed wire obstacle courses, to having recruits fight each other to the brink of death. New candidates must also learn to work in a cohesive unit, often times spending days constantly awake in stressful situations until their unit has perfected the art of combat. In addition, candidates must also preform live drops in SOEIVs while continuously navigating their pod through choppy weather, or preform split second course corrections. This regime makes the ODST one of the highest admittance to drop-out ratio units in the UNSC military. Truly, if the ODST were any better, they would be Spartans.
The Orbital Drop Shock Troopers were first deployed at the tail end of the Insurrection Wars, sometime in the 2170s. Their ability to deploy from orbiting ships and land directly into hostile emplacements on moons such as Io, Europa and Titan were invaluable. They were able to plummet to the surface behind enemy lines and wreak havoc before the enemy knew what was happening. This directly influenced the UNSC's victory less than a year later. From 2170 to the 2500s, the ODST were the elite fighting force of the UNSC and only deployed under the most dire of circumstances. During the second insurrection wars, which lasted until 2525, the ODST were deployed in force across several worlds to great effect.
ODST became more than just a group of elite soldiers following the insurrection, as that same year the Covenant began their conquest of human occupied systems. When The Covenant first hit the colonies of Harvest and Circinius IV, ODST were the first major force to respond to the incident. At the time, the UNSC were in the proverbial dark as to the nature of the threat. When the ODST forces arrived on both colonies, they were met with with massive and technologically superior alien firepower. Although both colonies were eventually lost, and subsequently glassed, the ODST deployed to the surface inflicted numerous Covenant casualties. On Harvest, during the battle of Battle of Hat Yai, ODST forces held back wave after wave of Covenant forces across the entire continent of Hat Yai. Intense urban fighting ensued, and the ODST forces fought street to street and in close quarters situations. Perhaps for the first time in The Covenant's entire history, they had faced a foe whose resolve and determination were unbreakable.
The ODST saw action in all major theaters of the war. Not long after the Harvest campaign, ODST participated in the Battle of Arcadia, where they assisted Marine forces and SPARTAN-II Red Team in defending the capital city from Covenant ground forces. Having successfully kept Covenant forces from occupying the city, ODST began launching multiple assaults on the Covenant's bases of operations to reclaim the planet. Several platoons joined the Spirit of Fire's rescue operation after retaking the planet and soon participated in Battle of Shield 0459, where ODST would be some of the first humans to witness and battle the parasite known as "The Flood."
ODST were the first responders to an enactment of the Cole Protocol. An example of this was when a squad of ODST defeated a Kig-Yar plan to trick the inhabitants of the Rubble, a massive asteroid colony, out of their navigation data, which could compromise the location of Earth. The ODST fought in every major decisive battle of The Covenant war including the Battle of Jericho VII, Heian, the Battle of Skopje, the Battle of Sigma Octanus IV, the Battle of New Jerusalem, the Battle of Tribute, and the Battle of Ariel. During these campaigns the ODST were either dropped directly into enemy positions, or directly onto enemy vehicles. The tactic of dropping the ODST's protective SOEIV onto enemy hardware was an effective tactic, as the occupant usually survived the impact while at the same time destroying valuable enemy equipment. There are several instances where a single ODST would sacrifice themselves by intentionally steering their pods into enemy ships or vehicles at suicidal angles. During The Fall of Reach, ODST helped evacuate major cities such as New Alexandria and also held off Covenant Forces from key strategic locations. ODST were present at Installation 04, 05 and 00 as well as the Onyx Shield Installation.
Perhaps the most daring, successful and heroic stand of the ODST was during the Battle of Earth in 2552, when a squad of ODST led by Gunnery Sergeant Edward Buck would struggle for two days to evade Covenant patrols across the occupied mega-city of New Mombasa, Africa. Troopers, Micky, Dutch, Romeo, Rookie and Buck would spend an entire day and night attempting to regroup, while completing their mission under directive from ONI operative Veronica Dare. Surviving the rainy night, the ODST squad eventually regrouped and discovered vital Covenant intelligence which would directly lead to the discovery of the Earth-Ark portal. This single act was quite possibly the defining moment of the war, and what lead to humanity's victory. Not by a Spartan, but a single squad of ODST.
Post war, ODST have seen major combat at Forerunner shield world, Requiem and subsequent newly instigated insurrection attacks. The UNSC's flagship, the UNSC Infinity, has several battalions of ODST on-board.
With the introduction of the Spartans during The Covenant war, the ODST found themselves being replaced as the elite arm of the UNSC. The biologically augmented Spartans, coupled with their Mjolnir power armor, the Spartans were superior in every way. This led to intense rivalries between the two branches, one that continues to linger long after the Human Covenant War. However, most ODST and Spartans have a great deal of respect for one another and often times find themselves fighting alongside one another.
Such partnerships have formed the basis for research into ODST tactics and gear being moved over into the Spartan branch. This includes a variant of the Mjolnir power armor which mimics the ODST chassis. This armor variant is famously equipped by Edward Buck, who became a Spartan IV after The Covenant war operating with Fireteam Osiris.
With the threat of The Created now pervading over the galaxy, the ODST are likely to once more be called into action and drop from the skies into battle. And once again, they will distinguish themselves as the only combat force within the UNSC which is hardened, lethal and crazy enough to deploy into near hopeless situations and return victorious.
The ODST wouldn't have it any other way.
"We had a damn hard job, and we did it better than anyone." - Edward Buck
A Halo fan since the beginning, 2001. Also a games industry consultant, writer, and educator. These are my thoughts, praise and advice concerning the past, present and future narrative of the Halo franchise.
Halo, all assets within, characters and merchandise are property of the Microsoft Corporation and is developed by its subsidiary 343 Industries.
I do not own, claim to own or retain any rights to the Halo franchise. This is a fan based work, and is strictly non-profit.
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