‘Halo’: What Is Winter Contingency? Explained

Halo What is Winter Contingency

‘Halo’ Season 2 started off with a bang, we’re about to be immersed into a full-scale invasion of the Reach by the Covenant and there’s seemingly nothing that the UNSC and humanity can do about it. As soon as Jacob Keyes realized what was about to happen he proposed to the Ackerson that the Winter Contingency go into effect, the protocol seems important, so let’s see what it is.

  • Article Breakdown:
  • Winter Contingency is a standard UNSC emergency plan that goes into effect as soon as Covenant becomes aware, identifies, or is present in a human colony world.
  • It’s one of the most serious emergency plans and typically has the highest priority.
  • Winter Contingency included everything from evacuation plans to direct attacks on Covenant Forces.

How did Covenant manage to locate the Reach?

In the first two episodes of ‘Halo’ season 2 it’s become increasingly apparent that the season will adapt “The Fall of the Reach,” and that humanity will lose one of its mightiest strongholds. Back on Sanctuary, Master Chief noticed that Covenant forces were disabling comm relays despite the fact that they were about to glass the planet, and concluded that they were practicing for something.

Then, while he was attempting to save Marine Lopez he was surrounded by Covenant forces and just as they were about to kill them, the Covenant disappeared into thin air being teleported back to their ship. This made Master Chief suspicious, but Ackerson head of ONI assured him that it was his PTSD and paranoia and that there was nothing to worry about. Then, the Master Chief noticed that the Cobalt Team was dispatched on a mission but weren’t warned that they might encounter The Covenant, after a few days he saw on their dashboard that they were on standby.

Worrying about his fellow Spartans he saw that they were dispatched to Visegrad and took his Silver Team to investigate. There, they were met with UNSC forces and arrested, brought before Ackerson and Keyes. Ackerson once again utilized the PTSD card against Master Chief, pointing out his unstable emotional condition. What’s worse his own squad members started to doubt him, most notably Kai. Master Chief pointed out that the Cobalt Team’s flight path was changed and asked where they were, but no one could give him a clear answer.


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Then, later in the episode we see the Cobalt Team being pushed into the morgue, the entire squad of Spartans fell to Covenant Forces and Ackerson is forced to admit what Master Chief, ONI, and the higher-ups and UNSC knew for a long time now, the Covenant was on Reach and there was nothing they could do about it.

dead spartans

Keyes proposed activating the so-called Winter Contingency and players of Halo games might be familiar with the term, but fans of the series who didn’t read the books or played through the games might not be familiar with the term. So, what is it?

Winter Contingency holds the highest precedence in the OPREP-Γ reporting structure

Winter Contingency is a UNSC emergency plan designed to address situations involving Covenant forces at human colony worlds. It was introduced in the UNSCDF Instruction EM-277 on March 10, 2526. The conditions triggering Winter Contingency include intercepted Covenant communications mentioning a UNSC colony, finding physical evidence like abandoned matériel or energy weapon damage, detecting slipstream space rupture events, and engagement with Covenant forces in combat.

The standard includes evacuation plans and direct attack plans depending on the situation, and it’s something of utmost importance. This is why Keyes wanted to invoke it but Ackerson stopped him telling him that they can attack and fight against the Covenant, but they can’t win, at least according to Cortana’s calculations.

What happened to the Reach in the source material?

We know that the show deviates quite a lot from games and books in terms of the plots and this specific event was retold in both media. In both the book (‘Fall of the Reach’) and the game (Halo: Reach) The Covenant manages to invade the colony successfully and partially glass the planet.

Master chief and lopez in church

It’s one of the most devastating events in the Halo franchise overall. Considering the last scene that we’ve seen in episode 3, Master Chief and Lopez being blown apart by the explosion inside the church, we can expect the same outcome.

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