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- “Winter contingency has been declared. All units are mobilized and ready.”— UNSC operator
WINTER CONTINGENCY is an official United Nations Space Command emergency plan that deals with situations where Covenant forces have become aware of or are invading a UEG colony. It was first mentioned in the UNSCDF Instruction EM-277 on March 10, 2526. On Reach, WINTER CONTINGENCY was supplemented by the WINTER CONTINGENCY Declaration Supplemental Orders, a series of additional directives for ONI agents. Civilian interference with a Spartan deployment during the WINTER CONTINGENCY and the war itself appears to be punishable with at the least imprisonment (Carter insinuates this to Doctor Halsey when she threatens to have Kat imprisoned for trying to access Professor Sorvad's Data Module at the end of ONI: Sword Base).
Events which may be classified as WINTER CONTINGENCY include:
- Intercepted Covenant communications that refer to a UEG colony by name.
- Discovery of hard physical evidence of Covenant activity.
- Abandoned or discarded material.
- Residue and/or damage consistent with directed energy weapon usage.
- Detection of multiple in-system Slipspace rupture events.
- Engagement in combat with Covenant forces.
WINTER CONTINGENCY holds the highest precedence in the Operational Reports-Γ Reporting Structure. All other reporting terms such as GOOSE CHASE, SNAKE PIT, etc., while very important, are considered secondary to a WINTER CONTINGENCY report.