Due to unforeseen circumstances, our Dutch counterpart Wilc0 cannot publish this week's Halo 101 blog. Instead I'm filling in for him. This week's topic was originally intended to be Blue Team but instead I thought I'd cover the Cole Protocol and allow Wilc0 to cover Blue Team in the next instalment of this blog series.
The Cole Protocol
United Nations Space Command Emergency Priority Order 098831A-1, colloquially known as the Cole Protocol, was enacted by Admiral Cole Preston following first contact with the Covenant on Harvest as a means of perturbing the Covenants effort to locate Earth and the inner colonies. The Cole Protocol detailed procedures to enact in the event of engaging with or retreating from Covenant forces. The protocol was revised multiple times during the Human-Covenant war in adaptation to changing Covenant strategies; such as placing bombs or tracking devices within Covenant weapons, vehicles and ships as a means of mapping Human locations of interest.In accordance with the Cole Protocol (detailed below), all ships were orders to destroy all navigational data and artificial intelligence in the event of imminent capture and/or defeat by Covenant forces in order to prevent Covenant forces gaining details of any Human settlement, stations or stronghold locations. It also ordered any retreating forces to make a Slipspace jump to a randomised location in any direction away from the inner colonies and Earth, and wait for any Covenant forces to arrive before making any jumps to any Human settlements.
- United Nations Space Command Emergency Priority Order 098831A-1
- Encryption Code: Red
- Public Key: file/ First light/
- From: UNSC/NAVCOM Fleet H.T. Ward
- To: ALL UNSC PERSONNEL
- Subject: General Order 098831A-1 ("The Cole Protocol")
- Classification: RESTRICTED (BGX Directive)
- The Cole Protocol
- To safeguard and protect the Inner Colonies and Earth, all UNSC vessels or stations must not be captured with intact navigation databases that may lead Covenant forces to human civilian population centers.
- If any Covenant forces are detected:
- 1. Activate selective purge of databases on all ship-based and planetary data networks.
- 2. Initiate triple-screen check to ensure all data has been erased and all backups neutralized.
- 3. Execute viral data scavengers (Download from UNSCTTP://EPWW:COLEPROTOCOL/Virtualscav/fbr.091)
- 4. If retreating from Covenant forces, all ships must enter Slipstream space with randomized vectors NOT directed toward Earth, the Inner Colonies, or any other human population center.
- 5. In case of imminent capture by Covenant forces and boarders, all UNSC ships MUST self-destruct.
- Violation of this directive will be considered an act of TREASON and pursuant to UNSC Military law articles JAG 845-P and JAG 7556-L, such violations are punishable by life imprisonment or execution.
Success and Dangers
Due to an almost unanimous adherence to the protocol within the UNSC, the Cole Protocol had successfully prevented the Covenant from gaining intelligence on the location of Earth or any of the inner colonies. Earth's location was instead revealed to the Covenant by accident when Truth followed coordinates to The Ark detailed in Forerunner artefacts. The Rubble and The Heart of Midlothian are two examples of where the Cole Protocol had a significant impact in preventing the Covenant from gathering key data on Human settlements through destruction of sensitive navigational data.
Pillar of Autumn
Despite it's relative underplay in the Halo series, the Cole Protocol played a significant role in the events leading to the Halo Array discovery and the events which followed. Upon leaving Reach following it's fall to the Covenant, the UNSC Pillar of Autumn (captained by Captain Jacob Keyes and piloted by Cortana) adhered to the Cole Protocol by performing a slip space jump to a randomised vector generated by Cortana. The vector generated by Cortana was selected using data retrieved from Dr. Halsey's study of the Forerunner artefacts on Reach. The coordinates selected lead the Pillar of Autumn and pursing Covenant forces to Installation 04, initiating the events of the Halo trilogy.