Covenant Military Tactics

I have recently come to the conclusion that the Covenant was a poorly led military. The reason I say this is the fact that they use land invasion prior to orbital bombardment.

My reasoning is such: If the eradication of the Human Race is the order of the day for the Covenant military, then they would use any and all tools to achieve this end without risking the lives of their troops. The best tactic would be to render orbital defenses useless and then glass the planet form orbit.

What we have seen are headlong infantry invasions that serve little military purpose, and then retreats to ships in orbit that subsequently blanket the area in plasma. The main exceptions are Sigma Octanus and Reach, These two had significant Foreunner artifacts that were priority targets for the Covenant.

Every other planetary conquest ended in the inevitable retreat and glassing.

Had a human commander been in charge, he or she would have eliminated any orbital threats, scanned the planet for Forerunner artifacts, and once he or she determined that there were none, commenced to glass the planets from orbit. Invasion makes little sense if you don’t need the resources.

And before any of you question whether the Covenant need the resources, they do, and they are just as available from a dead glassed planet as an alive one. And dead planets don’t shoot at you.

So my conclusion is that the Covenant military leaders, the Sangheili, are poor military leaders that got thousands of their own kind killed for a sense of honor.

Their technological advantage with plasma weaponry and shields, along with vehicles that do not actually touch the terrain, should allow them to dominate on the ground time and time again. Yet apparently they do not. On the ground the UNSC pulls regular victories, which the Covenant only responds to with glassing. Their naval tactics are fairly uninspired as well, like with Reach, it was a case of bull rushing the defence grid rather than waiting for the Energy Projector to snipe them. The result was two thirds of their fleet destroyed.

I think that they are too complacent and arrogant, which is ultimately what leads to their downfall. They don’t learn from their mistakes either. If their opponents gain a victory, the Covenant would not analyse what their opponent did, but instead would just shrug it off as their enemy getting lucky; a fluke essentially. That makes them quite incompetent as commanders.

> I have recently come to the conclusion that the Covenant was a poorly led military. The reason I say this is the fact that they use land invasion prior to orbital bombardment.
>
> My reasoning is such: If the eradication of the Human Race is the order of the day for the Covenant military, then they would use any and all tools to achieve this end without risking the lives of their troops. The best tactic would be to render orbital defenses useless and then glass the planet form orbit.
>
> What we have seen are headlong infantry invasions that serve little military purpose, and then retreats to ships in orbit that subsequently blanket the area in plasma. The main exceptions are Sigma Octanus and Reach, These two had significant Foreunner artifacts that were priority targets for the Covenant.
>
> Every other planetary conquest ended in the inevitable retreat and glassing.
>
> Had a human commander been in charge, he or she would have eliminated any orbital threats, scanned the planet for Forerunner artifacts, and once he or she determined that there were none, commenced to glass the planets from orbit. Invasion makes little sense if you don’t need the resources.
>
> And before any of you question whether the Covenant need the resources, they do, and they are just as available from a dead glassed planet as an alive one. And dead planets don’t shoot at you.
>
> So my conclusion is that the Covenant military leaders, the Sangheili, are poor military leaders that got thousands of their own kind killed for a sense of honor.

Nah the Sangheili are good leaders, the prophets on the other hand gave them crap.

What proof do you have that they don’t analyze?

> Their technological advantage with plasma weaponry and shields, along with vehicles that do not actually touch the terrain, should allow them to dominate on the ground time and time again. Yet apparently they do not. On the ground the UNSC pulls regular victories, which the Covenant only responds to with glassing. Their naval tactics are fairly uninspired as well, like with Reach, it was a case of bull rushing the defence grid rather than waiting for the Energy Projector to snipe them. The result was two thirds of their fleet destroyed.
>
> I think that they are too complacent and arrogant, which is ultimately what leads to their downfall. They don’t learn from their mistakes either. If their opponents gain a victory, the Covenant would not analyse what their opponent did, but instead would just shrug it off as their enemy getting lucky; a fluke essentially. That makes them quite incompetent as commanders.

I think you hit it right on with the complacency and arrogance. I think everyone has been there a time or two. However, I think the blame ultimately lies not with the Sangheili, but the San’Shyuum (the Prophets). It’s the same kind of situation you see everywhere IRL: the administrative pencil-pushers who are in charge have not seen battle firsthand in many years (and more often than not, never have at all), and yet they are the ones making the big military decisions. And we keep appointing them to these positions because they went to Officer Training School or War College (this is an actual thing) and learned about military tactics from books, and secondhand accounts from actual combat veterans. They have little to no experience. If the Sangheili truly were in charge, all those colonies would have fallen much faster.

The ODP’s are basically invincible from space, so they send ground troops to take down their generators before proceeding with the glassing.

> What proof do you have that they don’t analyze?

It fits with the Covenant’s modus operandi: Imitate. They do the same thing over and over again almost without thinking. Too often have they fallen into traps, often the same ones. If Cole’s last stand at Psi Serpentis should have taught them anything, it should have been patience and caution. If the Covenant was not so brash and impatient, and had taken the time to study and reflect on Humanity’s tactics then they would have realised that something was perhaps wrong when Cole took his fleet so close to a Brown Dwarf. However they did not and as a result they lost 300 ships because of it. Patterson exploited the same weaknesses at Onyx by luring them into a nuclear minefield. So if Cole’s last stand was the first time they had seen Humanity use deception in warfare then they just failed at Onyx and blundered in again, getting slaughtered in the process. On a smaller scale, it was the under-estimation of his foes’ tenacity that was the reason why Ripa was nailed as well.

The Ascendant Justice was taken due to the life support’s security encryption systems being overcome by a Human AI, allowing the atmosphere to be drained from the ship. About a month or two after this event, Blue Team was able to use the exact same procedure to capture the Bloodied Spirit, indicating that the loss of the Ascendant Justice was not properly investigated with no new counter-intrusion measures being put in place and the Fleet wide security protocols remaining unchanged. (The method by which the Spartans got into Unyielding Hierophant was the same as the one used to get on Bloodied Spirit: Stowing away on a Dropship - no extra precautions seen there either.)

It does not even take an explicit statement for one to come to this conclusion.

But here is one anyway: Helljumper comic. Issue 4 page 14. Mickey is a career ODST with plenty of battlefield experience with the Covenant.

> > What proof do you have that they don’t analyze?
>
> It fits with the Covenant’s modus operandi: Imitate. They do the same thing over and over again almost without thinking. Too often have they fallen into traps, often the same ones. If Cole’s last stand at Psi Serpentis should have taught them anything, it should have been patience and caution. If the Covenant was not so brash and impatient, and had taken the time to study and reflect on Humanity’s tactics then they would have realised that something was perhaps wrong when Cole took his fleet so close to a Brown Dwarf. However they did not and as a result they lost 300 ships because of it. Patterson exploited the same weaknesses at Onyx by luring them into a nuclear minefield. So if Cole’s last stand was the first time they had seen Humanity use deception in warfare then they just failed at Onyx and blundered in again, getting slaughtered in the process. On a smaller scale, it was the under-estimation of his foes’ tenacity that was the reason why Ripa was nailed as well.
>
> The Ascendant Justice was taken due to the life support’s security encryption systems being overcome by a Human AI, allowing the atmosphere to be drained from the ship. About a month or two after this event, Blue Team was able to use the exact same procedure to capture the Bloodied Spirit, indicating that the loss of the Ascendant Justice was not properly investigated with no new counter-intrusion measures being put in place and the Fleet wide security protocols remaining unchanged. (The method by which the Spartans got into Unyielding Hierophant was the same as the one used to get on Bloodied Spirit: Stowing away on a Dropship - no extra precautions seen there either.)
>
> It does not even take an explicit statement for one to come to this conclusion.
>
> But here is one anyway: Helljumper comic. Issue 4 page 14. Mickey is a career ODST with plenty of battlefield experience with the Covenant.

I like this reply, you are definitely well-read on the assorted canon. But please try to remember that not everyone reads the canon. Keep posting replies like this.

> > Their technological advantage with plasma weaponry and shields, along with vehicles that do not actually touch the terrain, should allow them to dominate on the ground time and time again. Yet apparently they do not. On the ground the UNSC pulls regular victories, which the Covenant only responds to with glassing. Their naval tactics are fairly uninspired as well, like with Reach, it was a case of bull rushing the defence grid rather than waiting for the Energy Projector to snipe them. The result was two thirds of their fleet destroyed.
> >
> > I think that they are too complacent and arrogant, which is ultimately what leads to their downfall. They don’t learn from their mistakes either. If their opponents gain a victory, the Covenant would not analyse what their opponent did, but instead would just shrug it off as their enemy getting lucky; a fluke essentially. That makes them quite incompetent as commanders.
>
> I think you hit it right on with the complacency and arrogance. I think everyone has been there a time or two. However, I think the blame ultimately lies not with the Sangheili, but the San’Shyuum (the Prophets). It’s the same kind of situation you see everywhere IRL: the administrative pencil-pushers who are in charge have not seen battle firsthand in many years (and more often than not, never have at all), and yet they are the ones making the big military decisions. And we keep appointing them to these positions because they went to Officer Training School or War College (this is an actual thing) and learned about military tactics from books, and secondhand accounts from actual combat veterans. They have little to no experience. If the Sangheili truly were in charge, all those colonies would have fallen much faster.

Do you have any evidence to suggest what you are saying? The writ of Union was very clear about the two species roles with respect to each other: The Sangheili deal with all military matters, conquering for the Prophets and bringing the Prophets Forerunner technology whilst the Prophets in return transform that Forerunner technology into weaponry and useful technology that the Sangheili can use to find more Forerunner technology with, conquer more with and ultimately further the Covenant with. It is a pretty circular deal, and I do not recall any indication of the Prophets interfering directly with military concerns. The Prophets essentially tell the Sangheili Where, What and Why, but it is left to the Sangheili to determine How.

Going from my last post, it necessitates that the Prophets are essentially telling the Sangheili to ignore their defeats, and continue ignoring continued defeats by not analysing exactly what is causing said defeats. In essence, them giving Humanity a chance by not doing that. If the Sangheili are unwilling to question that, then they are not pro-active and not really commanders at all, but puppets.

Well yes the prophets led the covinent in every way. Had an elite been in charge (like they should be) The needless loss of live would be avoided as the elites are very good warriors and tacticians.

> > What proof do you have that they don’t analyze?
>
> It fits with the Covenant’s modus operandi: Imitate. They do the same thing over and over again almost without thinking. Too often have they fallen into traps, often the same ones. If Cole’s last stand at Psi Serpentis should have taught them anything, it should have been patience and caution. If the Covenant was not so brash and impatient, and had taken the time to study and reflect on Humanity’s tactics then they would have realised that something was perhaps wrong when Cole took his fleet so close to a Brown Dwarf. However they did not and as a result they lost 300 ships because of it. Patterson exploited the same weaknesses at Onyx by luring them into a nuclear minefield. So if Cole’s last stand was the first time they had seen Humanity use deception in warfare then they just failed at Onyx and blundered in again, getting slaughtered in the process. On a smaller scale, it was the under-estimation of his foes’ tenacity that was the reason why Ripa was nailed as well.
>
> The Ascendant Justice was taken due to the life support’s security encryption systems being overcome by a Human AI, allowing the atmosphere to be drained from the ship. About a month or two after this event, Blue Team was able to use the exact same procedure to capture the Bloodied Spirit, indicating that the loss of the Ascendant Justice was not properly investigated with no new counter-intrusion measures being put in place and the Fleet wide security protocols remaining unchanged. (The method by which the Spartans got into Unyielding Hierophant was the same as the one used to get on Bloodied Spirit: Stowing away on a Dropship - no extra precautions seen there either.)
>
> It does not even take an explicit statement for one to come to this conclusion.
>
> But here is one anyway: Helljumper comic. Issue 4 page 14. Mickey is a career ODST with plenty of battlefield experience with the Covenant.

It’s been a while since I read the books, but that makes sense. I’ll have to go back to them soon.

> > > Their technological advantage with plasma weaponry and shields, along with vehicles that do not actually touch the terrain, should allow them to dominate on the ground time and time again. Yet apparently they do not. On the ground the UNSC pulls regular victories, which the Covenant only responds to with glassing. Their naval tactics are fairly uninspired as well, like with Reach, it was a case of bull rushing the defence grid rather than waiting for the Energy Projector to snipe them. The result was two thirds of their fleet destroyed.
> > >
> > > I think that they are too complacent and arrogant, which is ultimately what leads to their downfall. They don’t learn from their mistakes either. If their opponents gain a victory, the Covenant would not analyse what their opponent did, but instead would just shrug it off as their enemy getting lucky; a fluke essentially. That makes them quite incompetent as commanders.
> >
> > I think you hit it right on with the complacency and arrogance. I think everyone has been there a time or two. However, I think the blame ultimately lies not with the Sangheili, but the San’Shyuum (the Prophets). It’s the same kind of situation you see everywhere IRL: the administrative pencil-pushers who are in charge have not seen battle firsthand in many years (and more often than not, never have at all), and yet they are the ones making the big military decisions. And we keep appointing them to these positions because they went to Officer Training School or War College (this is an actual thing) and learned about military tactics from books, and secondhand accounts from actual combat veterans. They have little to no experience. If the Sangheili truly were in charge, all those colonies would have fallen much faster.
>
> Do you have any evidence to suggest what you are saying? The writ of Union was very clear about the two species roles with respect to each other: The Sangheili deal with all military matters, conquering for the Prophets and bringing the Prophets Forerunner technology whilst the Prophets in return transform that Forerunner technology into weaponry and useful technology that the Sangheili can use to find more Forerunner technology with, conquer more with and ultimately further the Covenant with. It is a pretty circular deal, and I do not recall any indication of the Prophets interfering directly with military concerns. The Prophets essentially tell the Sangheili Where, What and Why, but it is left to the Sangheili to determine How.
>
> Going from my last post, it necessitates that the Prophets are essentially telling the Sangheili to ignore their defeats, and continue ignoring continued defeats by not analysing exactly what is causing said defeats. In essence, them giving Humanity a chance by not doing that. If the Sangheili are unwilling to question that, then they are not pro-active and not really commanders at all, but puppets.

If you play halo 2 after you defeat regret
truth: a hirach is dead commander
shipmaster/halfjaw: our ships were in range if you had not withdrawn our phantoms
truth: are you questioning my authority?
shipmaster/half jaw: no holy one i simply wish to express my concern about the brutes…

The prophets interfered with the military

> Do you have any evidence to suggest what you are saying? The writ of Union was very clear about the two species roles with respect to each other: The Sangheili deal with all military matters, conquering for the Prophets and bringing the Prophets Forerunner technology whilst the Prophets in return transform that Forerunner technology into weaponry and useful technology that the Sangheili can use to find more Forerunner technology with, conquer more with and ultimately further the Covenant with. It is a pretty circular deal, and I do not recall any indication of the Prophets interfering directly with military concerns. The Prophets essentially tell the Sangheili Where, What and Why, but it is left to the Sangheili to determine How.
>
> Going from my last post, it necessitates that the Prophets are essentially telling the Sangheili to ignore their defeats, and continue ignoring continued defeats by not analysing exactly what is causing said defeats. In essence, them giving Humanity a chance by not doing that. If the Sangheili are unwilling to question that, then they are not pro-active and not really commanders at all, but puppets.

Can you link me to your source material? I don’t doubt you but I’d like to see it anyway. Also, it looks like no matter which of us is ultimately right, the Sangheili are puppets either way. It just doesn’t seem right to me that figures of such obvious leadership and authority would be such poor tacticians. But that does lead me to my next point: if the Covenant took out ODP’s and then glassed the planet–without committing ground troops–then there wouldn’t be any reason for the games to exist, would there?

> If you play halo 2 after you defeat regret
> truth: a hirach is dead commander
> shipmaster/halfjaw: our ships were in range if you had not withdrawn our phantoms
> truth: are you questioning my authority?
> shipmaster/half jaw: no holy one i simply wish to express my concern about the brutes…
>
> The prophets interfered with the military

Good point, and I just played that last night and didn’t remember. It was pretty much because Truth decided the Sangheili were starting to screw up too consistently, and that’s why he replaced them with Brute guards and ground troops. But he did ultimately meddle unnecessarily in military affairs. Just like leaders of today: far from the battlefield, but they’re in charge of the military, d@mm!7, so they clearly know best.

> If you play halo 2 after you defeat regret
> truth: a hirach is dead commander
> shipmaster/halfjaw: our ships were in range if you had not withdrawn our phantoms
> truth: are you questioning my authority?
> shipmaster/half jaw: no holy one i simply wish to express my concern about the brutes…
>
> The prophets interfered with the military

Good point, and I just played that last night and didn’t remember. It was pretty much because Truth decided the Sangheili were starting to screw up too consistently, and that’s why he replaced them with Brute guards and ground troops. But he did ultimately meddle unnecessarily in military affairs. Just like leaders of today: far from the battlefield, but they’re in charge of the military, d@mm!7, so they clearly know best.

Sorry for the double post, I don’t know what happened and I can’t delete it.

> My reasoning is such: If the eradication of the Human Race is the order of the day for the Covenant military,

It is not. Finding Forerunner artifacts, particularly those that might lead them to a Halo, is. So that goal takes precedence over more effective military strategy.

> then they would use any and all tools to achieve this end without risking the lives of their troops.

The troops whose lives they don’t care about…

> The best tactic would be to render orbital defenses useless and then glass the planet form orbit.

Which is precisely what happens once they finish searching the planet for Forerunner technology.

> What we have seen are headlong infantry invasions that serve little military purpose,

This serves many other purposes even apart from the task of finding Forerunner artifacts, such as appeasing the Sangheili’s sense of honor, helping keep the Unggoy population in check (which, as Contact Harvest tells us, only casualties of war are truly capable of doing), providing the San 'Shyuum opportunities to give the Jiralhanae missions in the field (which subsequently gives them an excuse to grant the Jiralhanae more power), and allowing the discovery of data that may lead the Covenant to other human worlds.

> and then retreats to ships in orbit that subsequently blanket the area in plasma.

Which, at that point, is the most efficient military action available.

> The main exceptions are Sigma Octanus and Reach, These two had significant Foreunner artifacts that were priority targets for the Covenant. Every other planetary conquest ended in the inevitable retreat and glassing.

The only difference between Sigma Octanus IV and any other invasion was that the Covenant didn’t bother glassing it afterwards. And Reach’s invasion wasn’t atypical at all. It began with the deployment of ground troops through the Long Night of Solace, which lasted a month. During this time, the Covenant searched for Forerunner artifacts as well as human data. Then, after the Fleet of Particular Justice overwhelmed the orbital defenses on August 31, the remaining Covenant ships glassed the majority of the planet.

> Had a human commander been in charge, he or she would have eliminated any orbital threats, scanned the planet for Forerunner artifacts, and once he or she determined that there were none, commenced to glass the planets from orbit.

Do you really think finding Forerunner artifacts is that simple? It took five years for the Covenant to find the Relic at Harvest’s northern pole, after which they promptly left for Arcadia.

> Invasion makes little sense if you don’t need the resources.
>
> And before any of you question whether the Covenant need the resources, they do,

Except that they don’t.

> and they are just as available from a dead glassed planet as an alive one.

…What?

> > and they are just as available from a dead glassed planet as an alive one.
>
> …What?

It might not be as improbable as it sounds. The term “glassing” just refers to the Energy Projectors causing massive damage over a wide area, it’s not a coverage of literally every square acre. There’s a lot of essays written on this that include examples and math and stuff, and most of them make sense. So since they don’t actually destroy the entire planetary surface, it stands to reason that resources could still be obtained, should the Covenant choose to.

> > > and they are just as available from a dead glassed planet as an alive one.
> >
> > …What?
>
> It might not be as improbable as it sounds. The term “glassing” just refers to the Energy Projectors causing massive damage over a wide area, it’s not a coverage of literally every square acre. There’s a lot of essays written on this that include examples and math and stuff, and most of them make sense. So since they don’t actually destroy the entire planetary surface, it stands to reason that resources could still be obtained, should the Covenant choose to.

That’s not what he said, though. He referred to a “dead glassed planet,” which implies one that has been completely glassed. It’s been established that although the Covenant only partially glass more planets than previously thought, complete glassing still does happen (such as with Arcadia or Kholo). At that point, the entirety of the planet’s surface is reduced to jagged fields of glass, and there are no resources left to gather.

> > Going from my last post, it necessitates that the Prophets are essentially telling the Sangheili to ignore their defeats, and continue ignoring continued defeats by not analysing exactly what is causing said defeats. In essence, them giving Humanity a chance by not doing that. If the Sangheili are unwilling to question that, then they are not pro-active and not really commanders at all, but puppets.
>
> If you play halo 2 after you defeat regret
> truth: a hirach is dead commander
> shipmaster/halfjaw: our ships were in range if you had not withdrawn our phantoms
> truth: are you questioning my authority?
> shipmaster/half jaw: no holy one i simply wish to express my concern about the brutes…
>
> The prophets interfered with the military

Re-read my last paragraph there because you did not grasp the implications of the Prophets interfering to the extent required to explain the Covenant’s poor decisions throughout the war. Your example does not address it, because Truth acted to kill Regret which is completely unrelated to Humans. Why would he make decisions that would ultimately benefit Humanity by not allowing the Sangheili, if they do indeed possess the ability, to conduct the war far more quickly and efficiently? Truth wants Humanity gone and fast due to the threat they pose to the Covenant ideology. Purposefully allowing the war to drag on, and for losses to be inflicted is illogical.

> Can you link me to your source material? I don’t doubt you but I’d like to see it anyway.

Page 148 of Contact Harvest. It refers to a clear division of labour between the two founding races. The Writ itself is there too.

Page 114 of the Encyclopaedia describes the cyclic nature of their agreement as well.

> Also, it looks like no matter which of us is ultimately right, the Sangheili are puppets either way. It just doesn’t seem right to me that figures of such obvious leadership and authority would be such poor tacticians. But that does lead me to my next point: if the Covenant took out ODP’s and then glassed the planet–without committing ground troops–then there wouldn’t be any reason for the games to exist, would there?

Not all leaders are competent. Just because they are in a position of leadership does not make them competent. The Brutes were elevated to a position of leadership yet no one takes issue to them being referred to as brazen and thoughtless in their tactics.

And as for the games, we are talking about the implications of that from an in-universe perspective. Again, just because the Halo games necessitate something does not automatically make it any less valid in the fiction.

If you look at any essay on the subject of glassing, you’ll see that it takes 30 years (more or less) to completely glass a planet (if it’s just one ship). Even with 2000 ships, it’s still a question of years. Have the Covenant ever spent that amount of time above a planet? But you are right–fields of glass are hard to gather resources from.