For other uses, see Overwatch (disambiguation).
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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
Combine Overwatch is the self-titled name of the Combine's military presence on Earth. It is used as the suffix designation for the military and police forces in various sectors, such as Sector 17 Overwatch for City 17 and its surrounding wastelands. The name also explicitly refers to the Combine's automated Command and Control System on Earth, encountered in the form of the Overwatch Voice.
The forces of the Combine Overwatch are assigned to distinct "sectors" designated around an urban center, though no other than the Sector 17 Overwatch is directly encountered in-game. The majority of troops garrisoning sectors are made up of Combine Soldiers, with Synths and mechanical units to assist them in a variety of tasks. They are overseen by the Overwatch Voice which acts as their immediate commander, issuing them orders and instructions to fulfill objectives on the field.
The Overwatch established many strongholds to carry out their tasks. Its main bases of operations are the Citadels located at the heart of each City, which house legions of soldiers, the Overwatch Voice's systems, as well as manufacturing and maintenance plants for Synths like Gunships. Additionally, buildings such as the Nexus act as administrative and commanding hubs for the Overwatch, while detainment facilities like Nova Prospekt and the Depot perform Transhuman operations on captured humans to transform them into soldiers or Stalkers.
At the time of Half-Life 2, the Combine Overwatch controls nearly all of Earth, corralling most of the human survivors into the few remaining cities where they are strictly controlled, surveilled and put to work for the Combine's own ends. Most of the quotidian details of work is overseen by Civil Protection, with the Transhuman arm only called in to deal with heavy resistance while guarding Outland areas beyond city borders. The road along the coast from City 17 to Nova Prospekt is heavily patrolled by Dropships and Gunships, and Force Field checkpoints manned by squads of soldiers are placed at regular intervals to restrict access.
In Nova Prospekt, specially assigned forces designated as Nova Prospekt Prison Guards who defend the complex are encountered; later on during the Uprising, more Overwatch troops and Synths such as Striders are deployed into urban areas to suppress the critical citizen insurrection taking place. They failed to stem the fierce Resistance offensive, however, and began to get disordered as most of their important bases are overrun. Inside the Citadel, both soldiers and Elites are seen, acting as personal guards for the Interim Administrator and the Advisors.
Due to Gordon Freeman's sabotage of the Citadel and the subsequent death of Administrator Breen, the Combine Overwatch in Half-Life 2: Episode One is now acephalous and in a state of disorganization. The soldiers encountered inside the unstable Citadel apparently didn't follow orders from the defunct Overwatch Voice anymore, and are trying to accelerate the meltdown of the reactor core in order to transmit a distress call to the Combine Multiverse using the power of the explosion. Some Elites are seen directly taking orders from Advisors on holographic screens.
Outside of the Citadel, the remaining ground troops of the Overwatch are still desperately fighting the Resistance forces in an effort to hamper their plan to evacuate surviving citizens out of City 17. They also face a threat from hostile wildlife such as Antlions which have breached the city after the failure of perimeter defenses. Apart from transhuman soldiers, a few Metrocops, in their zeal to "protect the city", also participated in the street battle.
In Half-Life 2: Episode Two, the Citadel, along with City 17, is completely obliterated, rendering the Overwatch forces even more scrambled. Many squads are apparently operating on their own, referred to as "autonomous units", and are in a process of being subsumed into larger troops. The incorporated soldiers and synths are predominantly engaged in the task of retrieving and escorting Advisors in their escape pods, and later they are seen marching towards White Forest in large numbers to stop the Resistance from firing their rocket. At this period they are again under the command of a new Overwatch Voice, which seems to be an incarnation of the Advisors' will.
The Overwatch in the events of Half-Life: Alyx features a greatly different operating hierarchy. The Civil Protection at this time is affiliated to a bureau called the "Ministry of Civil Protection", and a committee known as the "City 17 Security Council" is also referred to on propaganda posters. Metrocops hold regular lockdowns and raids on residential blocks, and Transhuman soldiers also participate in manhunts at times. The military forces of the Overwatch are divided into four classes, each equipped with distinct gears and weaponry. They usually operate in squads and are deployed by Combine Dropships, their main objective being to exterminate Xen creatures in the Quarantine Zone and to hunt down Alyx Vance.
The Sector 17 Overwatch is the Combine's strong-arm garrisoned within City 17 and its outlining regions including The Coast and Nova Prospekt. They are believed to be the largest and most well trained of the Combine's garrisons on Earth, sporting a colorful mix of human, Transhuman and Synth units at its disposal to combat the Resistance movement.
The Civil Protection of the Sector 17 Overwatch is the official law enforcement organization stationed in City 17. Composed of recruited human officers, 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 seemingly encouraged to utilize severe beatings as a means of coercing the population into submission, often seen 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 for the first four chapters of the game, after which their role becomes absorbed by the other branches.
The Transhuman arm of the Sector 17 Overwatch becomes the bulk of the player's opposition by the end of the chapter We Don't Go to Ravenholm.... This branch is the division utilized by the Combine as a military ground force. Transhumans, in a more specific stance, are humans modified with combine technology to become cybernetically enhanced super-soldiers. Trained in unit tactics and armed to the teeth, the soldiers of the Transhuman forces are encountered throughout the game as the main faction of opposition. Additionally, a special class called the Combine Elites, who are the crème de la crème of Transhuman units, are deployed either as squad leaders, special escorts or in squads of their own as shock troopers. A small number of them are garrisoned at the Nova Prospekt prison and the Depot to protect the central teleportation chamber. This branch sports a much larger arsenal than the Civil Protection, ranging from conventional human designs to Combine pulse weaponry.
Although the Transhuman soldiers are completely stripped of their human memories and empathy, they still demonstrate a degree of understanding to emotions and morale. For example, following Gordon Freeman's breach of Nova Prospekt, Wallace Breen addresses the Transhuman Arm of the Sector 17 Overwatch directly via Breencast, announcing his dissatisfaction at their continuous failure to apprehend Gordon. Breen then further admits to the Combine's growing concerns of his adequacy and states that "if the transhuman forces are to prove themselves an indispensable augmentation to the Combine Overwatch", they must complete their assigned objectives with greater success. The Overwatch Voice also threatens them with "Off-World Reassignment" from time to time, requesting them to sacrifice their own lives to complete missions.
In Half-Life: Alyx, set five years before Half-Life 2, a different composition of units is encountered. The Overwatch at this time seem to mostly consist of low-ranking Combine Grunts, with squads sometimes being led by high-ranking Combine Ordinals along with specialized Combine Suppressors and Combine Chargers operating as complements to the squads with their respective roles. While Overwatch forces made their first appearance in a raid at the start of the game, they are first encountered as combatants at Fairview Junction.
The Synthetic arm of the Combine Overwatch are composed of Synth units. As their name implies, Synths are synthetic mechanical creatures recreated from scanned alien species into war machines for the Combine's 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 Overwatch's most versatile augmentations and is capable of tackling a variety of different operations. Whether they are acting as support units for the Transhuman forces or the spearhead of assaults against the Resistance, the Synth units are a fearsome sight to behold that will become a serious threat to the player in later chapters.
The Overwatch Voice often makes references to something called Airwatch in its broadcasts. It is clear that Airwatch is a subdivision of the Overwatch from the following communication during the Nova Prospekt breach, shortly before a pair of gunships attack: "Overwatch acknowledges critical exogen breach. Airwatch augmentation force dispatched and inbound. Hold for reinforcement". This clearly indicates that Overwatch has the authority to dispatch Airwatch forces for air support. Combine radio chatter also mentions something called "Skyshield" or "Ghost drop" at times, which most likely refers to Airwatch forces. Gunships are known to be part of the Airwatch, but Dropships, City Scanners and Hunter-Choppers could also be members of it.
When the Combine 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 flush out 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 field 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 a Combine soldier they will say what is recognizable as "Shit!" or "Watch it!" just before the grenade explodes, which is a reused Civil Protection voiceline. This most commonly happens with Combine Snipers.
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