For other uses, see Overwatch (disambiguation).
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|Head of Government|
See Combine weapons
|Date of establishment||
Shortly after the Seven Hour War
|Date of fragmentation||
Partially during the events of the uprising
|Date of reorganization||
Shortly after City 17's meltdown
Overwatch is the general self-titled name of the Combine's military forces on Earth. It is used as the suffix designation of the forces in the various sectors such as Sector 17 Overwatch for City 17 and the surrounding wasteland. The name also explicitly refers to the Combine's automated Command and Control System on Earth, often encountered in the form of the Overwatch Voice.
The Forces of the Overwatch consist mainly of Combine Soldiers supported by Synths and divided into distinct "sectors" designated around an urban center, though forces other than Sector 17 Overwatch are not directly encountered in the games. They are overseen by the Overwatch Voice as their immediate commander which issues orders and instructions to fulfill its objectives on behalf of the Combine government.
At the beginning of Half-Life 2, the Overwatch apparently control most of Earth, corralling most of the human survivors into the few remaining cities where they are strictly controlled, watched and put to work for the Combine's own ends. Most of the day to day details of this work is overseen by Civil Protection with the Overwatch forces usually only being called in to deal with heavy resistance whilst manning outposts and checkpoints beyond the city limits. The road along the coast to Nova Prospekt is heavily patrolled using aerial dropships, gunships, force shields and outposts to restrict access for example.
The main base of power for the Overwatch are the Citadels located at the heart of each City. The Citadels house legions of soldiers as well as manufacturing and repairing support Synths like the Gunship. On the other hand, it isn't clear if the Combine Soldiers and Stalkers themselves are 'upgraded' from the human population inside the Citadel itself as that task seemed mainly to be performed in Nova Prospekt during Half-Life 2. The Overwatch Voice is also known to have been housed in the Citadel as well.
 Sector 17 Overwatch
The Sector 17 Overwatch is the Combine's strong arm garrisoned within City 17 and it's outlining regions including The Coast and Nova Prospekt. They are believed to supposedly be the largest and most well trained of the Combine's garrisons on Earth, sporting a colorful mix of human, transhuman and Synth units for deployment against the resistance.
The Metropolice forces of the Sector 17 Overwatch are the official police organization stationed in City 17. Their jobs include policing the city for anti-civil activity, overseeing work operations, and generally keeping the citizens in a permanent state of fear of their overlords. They are permitted and almost seemingly encouraged to utilize severe beatings as a means of coercing the population into submission, initiating raids of individual apartments to search for contraband material at random intervals, and summarily executing citizens for malcompliance. They are the face of the Overwatch that the player will encounter strongly for the first four chapters of the game, after which their role becoming absorbed by the other branches of the Overwatch.
The Transhuman forces of the Overwatch become the bulk of the players opposition by the end of Chapter 6 in Half-Life 2. This branch is the primary division utilized by the Combine as the general military ground force. Transhumans in a more specific stance, are humans modified with combine technology to become something reminiscent of super soldiers. Trained in unit tactics and armed to the teeth, the transhuman forces are often represented by the basic Overwatch Soldier unit that the player encounters throughout the game. Variety does exist to a degree with the introduction of the Overwatch Elite soldiers, transhuman units deployed either as squad leaders over regular soldiers, or in squads of their own as shock troopers. A small number have been garrisoned at the Nova Prospekt prison and the Depot, sporting different colored uniforms but similar capabilities. This branch sports a much larger variety of equipment than Metropolice with distinct firearms utilizing pulse technology over typical human designs.
The Synthetic arm of the Combine Overwatch are composed of the Synths garrisoned on Earth. In species in question is a race of seemingly synthetic mechanical aliens turned into war machines for the Combine's personal application. Stationed on Earth in large numbers, they are the arm of the Overwatch used as a 'show of force' for either intimidation or genuine need for destruction. With a variety of Synth creatures at its disposal, this arm is one of the most versatile and capable of tackling a variety of different operations. Whether they be acting as support units for the transhuman forces or the spearhead of an assault against the resistance during the Combine occupation of Earth, the Synth units are a fearsome sight to behold that will become a serious threat to the player in later chapters.
During the course of Half-Life 2, the Overwatch Voice makes a reference to something called Airwatch during Gordon's attack on the outside perimeter of Nova Prospekt. Shortly afterwards, a pair of gunships attack. It is clear that Airwatch is a subdivision of Overwatch from the following communication: "Overwatch acknowledges critical exogen breach. Airwatch augmentation force dispatched and inbound. Hold for reinforcement". This clearly indicates that, in the Combine hierarchy, Overwatch has the authority to dispatch Airwatch forces for air support.
When the Overwatch forces are deployed against a target near one of their power bases like the Citadel or Nova Prospekt, they prefer to employ blitz tactics to take their opponents by surprise and overpower them. Scanners locate potential targets and Manhacks distract any forces located in narrow spaces underground or indoors. However, if the opposition is well fortified and alert to any incoming attack then they will call in artillery strikes using Headcrab Shells to spread panic and confusion before pushing forwards with ground troops, attempting to flank resistance fighters as they fall back.
In indoor urban environments, a favored tactic is to destroy the doors to a room using the Combine door lock's self destruct function to create a smokescreen of flying wood and splinters then catch their opponents in a crossfire from all sides before they regain their senses. Soldiers may also set up heavy equipment like force shield projectors, sealing doorways and securing areas so that only they can pass through them.
In less accessible locations such as the coast or White Forest, ground forces are usually deployed using Dropships with support from Hunter-Choppers or Gunships to suppress resistance while reinforcements land. Such locations are usually not in range of Headcrab Shell Launchers so battles tend to be more evenly matched if the resistance forces are well armed. Interestingly, the Combine don't seem to like deploying Striders in this way despite being able to carry them on Dropships, though the terrain of the coast may simply be unsuitable or too far from the Citadel for them to be deployed in time.
There is a small chance that when a grenade is thrown at an Overwatch soldier they will say what is recognizable as "Shit!" just before the grenade explodes.