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The Combine Overwatch, also known simply as Overwatch, is the general self-titled name of the Combine's military and law enforcement on Earth. Overwatch is the suffix designation of the military forces in the various sectors. Various sectors include Sector 17 Overwatch for City 17, Quarantine Zone, Nova Prospekt, the wasteland, and other parts of the world.

Overwatch also explicitly refers to the Combine's automated Command System on Earth encountered as the Overwatch Voice. Although primarily made for garrisoning Earth, there is a suggestion that Overwatch soldiers are throughout Combine controlled worlds on various off-world assignments in other territories.

Overview

The Combine Overwatch primarily consists mainly of a wide variety of unit types, such as the Combine Soldiers, supported by many Synth forces as support. Overwatch forces divide into distinct "sectors" designated to them depending on their general location, such as Sector 17 Overwatch focus around an urban center forces other than Sector 17 Overwatch are not directly encountered in the games.

Artificial intelligence that acts as command known as The Overwatch voice oversees Day-to-day military activities and operations. The Overwatch Voice issues orders, instructions, and relaying information to the Overwatch forces to assist and fulfill objectives. Overwatch has a command structure from squad leaders leading whole squads to an entire Sector led by a sector leader.

As seen at Nova Prospekt, a high-ranking Combine officer inquires the status of several groups along the coast on the radio and field promotes one of them to command the rest when the previous one fell to Gordon Freeman's hands. During the events of Half-Life: Alyx, Overwatch Command were inquiring damage assessments from a Combine grunt stationed on the ground beneath The Vault before needing to send reinforcements into the Quarantine Zone.

The Citadel, located in City 17, acts as the main base of operations for the Combine Overwatch on Earth, with multiple sites, garrisons, and other strongholds throughout the many cities and other territories. The Combine forces on Earth are under the administration of Dr. Wallace Breen, who serves as Earth's Administrator, with the Advisors, a race of aliens responsible for overseeing all activities and communications between Earth and the rest of the Combine.

Role

In the aftermath of the Seven-hour war, the Combine, having defeated all of Earth's Military, established its presence on Earth. Dr. Breen, the former administrator of Black Mesa, was appointed Earth's Administrator. The establishment of the transhuman arm was to enforce law and order on the newly occupied world, to fulfill the role of the enforcer for the Combine.

At the beginning of Half-Life 2, the Overwatch control most of the Earth, corralling most human survivors into the remaining cities where citizens are, commanded, watched, and put to work for the Combine's ends. Most of the day-to-day details of this work are overseen by Civil Protection, with Overwatch forces usually only assisting to deal with heavy resistance while occupying outposts and checkpoints beyond the city limits. The patrolled road along the coast to Nova Prospekt uses aerial Dropships, Gunships, force fields, and outposts to restrict access.

The main base of power for Overwatch is the Citadel located at the heart of the City. The Citadel houses legions of soldiers, manufacturing, and repairs support Synths like the Gunship. The Overwatch Voice is also stored inside. On the other hand, it isn't clear if Stalkers themselves are 'upgraded' from the human population inside the Citadel itself as that task seemed mainly performed in Nova Prospekt during Half-Life 2.

The Sector 17 Overwatch is the Combine's strong-arm garrisoned within City 17 and its outlining regions including, the coast and Nova Prospekt.

The Citadel is headquarters for Dr. Breen and the Combine. The Sector 17 Overwatch contains the most troops and synths for deployment against resistance in the Citidel.

The Civil Protection forces of the Sector 17 Overwatch are the official law enforcement stationed in the urban areas under Combine control. Civil protection police the cities for anti-civil activity, oversee work operations, and generally keep citizens in a permanent state of fear of their overlords.

Officers 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 beating citizens for noncompliance.

Civil Protection officers are the sector of Overwatch that the player will encounter for the first four chapters of the game. After which, their role becoming absorbed by the other branches of Overwatch.

Sector 17 Overwatch

The Sector 17 Overwatch is the Combine's strong-arm garrisoned within City 17 and its outlining regions including, the coast and Nova Prospekt. As being headquarters for Dr. Breen and the Combine, the Sector 17 Overwatch contains the most troops and Synths, sporting a colorful mix of human, transhuman, and Synth units for deployment against the resistance.

Civil Protection

The Civil Protection forces of the Sector 17 Overwatch are the official law enforcement stationed in the urban areas under Combine control. Civil protection police the cities for anti-civil activity, oversee work operations, and generally keep citizens in a permanent state of fear of their overlords.

Officers 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 beating citizens for noncompliance.

Civil Protection officers are the sector of Overwatch that the player will encounter for the first four chapters of the game. After which, their role becoming absorbed by the other branches of Overwatch.

Transhuman

This branch is the primary division utilized by the Combine as the general military ground force. "Transhumans" are people modified on the brain, neck, and body with the Combine technology, which leads to obedience, emotional suppression, and enhanced fighting skills.

Trained in unit tactics and armed to the teeth, the transhuman forces represent 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 of Overwatch soldiers are garrisoned at the Nova Prospekt prison and the Depot, sporting different colored uniforms but similar capabilities. This branch has a much larger variety of equipment than Civil Protection, with firearms utilizing pulse technology over typical human designs.

The Combine Grunt, Combine Suppressor, Combine Ordinal, and Combine Charger seen in Half-Life: Alyx is not seen again by the events of Half-Life 2 and its episodes. These units were possibly no longer needed and replaced by the Overwatch soldiers and Elites. A reason for that could be the failure to contain The G-Man in The Vault. The Combine possibly modified the following units more to prevent similar events from happening again. These soldiers have modified humans, too but still have a bit of personality left, especially the Combine Grunts.

As the most recently-added branch of the Combine Overwatch, the transhuman branch's operations are under constant evaluation by the Combine itself. Dr. Wallace Breen is heard at one point berating the soldiers stationed at Nova Prospekt for failing to capture Freeman, angrily reminding them that to become an indispensable part of the Combine Overwatch, they must "earn the privilege."

Synth

The Synth arm of the Combine Overwatch is composed of Synths such as Striders, Dropships, and Gunships. Synths are bio-mechanical war machines, apparently derived from alien species previously conquered by the Combine and augmented with Combine technology. With a variety of Synth creatures at its disposal, this arm is versatile and capable of tackling a variety of different operations.

Airwatch

During the course of Half-Life 2, the Overwatch Voice refers to something called Airwatch during Gordon's attack on the outside perimeter of Nova Prospekt. Shortly afterward, 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."

Airwatch is known to include gunships and may also include Dropships and Hunter-Choppers, and possibly City Scanners and Shield Scanners.

Tactics

When the Overwatch forces deploy 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. If the opposition is fortified and alerts any incoming attack, Overwatch will call artillery strikes using Headcrab Shells. The shells 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. Heavy weapons such as Striders and Gunships blow the target's cover away if the opposition continues to resist the Overwatch strategy if called in.

In less accessible locations such as the coast or White Forest, ground forces deploy using Dropships with support from Hunter-Choppers or Gunships to suppress resistance while reinforcements land. Such areas are usually not in range of Headcrab Shell Launchers battles tend to be more evenly matched if the resistance forces are well-armed. Interestingly, the Combine doesn't seem to like deploying Striders in this way despite being able to carry them on Dropships, though the terrain of the coast may be unsuitable or too far from the Citadel for them to deploy in time.

Trivia

  • There is a chance that when throwing a grenade at an Overwatch Soldier, they will scream "AH!" just before the grenade explodes.
  • Civil Protection is the only Overwatch unit to not punch with their weapons unless armed with a Stun Baton.

List of appearances

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