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“I do get the feeling that Ackerson would gladly assign members of his own family to a suicide mission if he could find an appropriately high value target to send them against.”
Kurt-051 in a communique to Franklin Mendez.[1]

James Ackerson was a Colonel in the UNSC Army and ONI during the time of the Human-Covenant war. His Career Service Vitae was impressive, as he had survived at least three battles against the Covenant. Early on in the Human-Covenant war, he received a promotion and subsequently volunteered for a dozen clandestine operations. Ackerson was employed in ONI as a liaison officer, likely being the one maintaining the relationship between ONI and the UNSC Army.[2]



During his childhood, Ackerson used to play with his brother Ruwan Ackerson. They often imagined that they were fighting a dragon. Together, they created the imaginary Key of Osanalan whenever they imagined fighting the dragon.[3]


During his time at boot camp, Ackerson trained on Cyrus VII alongside Twyker. Twyker would later maintain that Ackerson owed him money.


“You want to trade lives for time...”
— Admiral Parangosky
“Yes, ma'am. Isn't that the job of a soldier?”
— Colonel Ackerson

In 2531, he presented the concept of the SPARTAN-III Program to the ONI senior brass Captain Aaron G. Gibson, Rear Admiral Ned Rich, and Vice Admiral Margaret Parangosky. They approved and Ackerson went from field officer to a desk job. At first he was upset by this, but apparently grew to prefer it as opposed to his dangerous but more exciting job as a field officer.[4] It was Ackerson who chose Kurt-051 to serve as the commanding officer of the remaining SPARTAN-IIIs.


With the concurrent project underway, he focused all of his efforts on political maneuvers, rather than battlefield tactics. He was arrogant and condescending to most other people in ONI, even top-ranking brass such as Major General Nicolas Strauss.

Ackerson headed several high-profile projects at ONI. Because his projects were often competing with Dr. Catherine Halsey's projects for funds, he had a long-standing rivalry with Halsey and her SPARTAN-IIs. He was also a part of the UNSC Security Committee and Special Weapons Development at HIGHCOM. He had a private AI named Araqiel, whom he tasked with spying on Dr. Halsey and her supposed-to-be-confidential SPARTAN-II project.[5]

During the test of John-117's Mjolnir Armor, he tried to make the SPARTAN fail by authorizing the use of Lotus anti-tank mines, a squad of ODSTs, three 30mm chain-guns, and even an air strike with a AV-19 SkyHawk against the SPARTAN, severely jeopardizing his life and causing him moderate injury. Ackerson's purpose was to either disgrace the SPARTAN-IIs and Dr. Halsey, or to kill off the most well-known Spartan alive. Nevertheless, John succeeded, and Cortana, who was also part of the exercise, sought revenge by wreaking havoc in Ackerson's private files, hacking into his personal computer and sending a note requesting reassignment to front line service, and sending a large amount of money from his account to a brothel on Gilgamesh and then sending the bill to his home, where his wife would find it.[6] However, he managed to exonerate himself.

On his computer in CASTLE Base, Dr. Halsey found extensive records of the SPARTAN-IIIs in a folder called S-III. One file was labeled CPOMZ and contained star charts. This suggested to Halsey that Chief Petty Officer Franklin Mendez was involved.

The S-III file contained a folder titled "KING UNDER THE MOUNTAIN." It contained the records of the CASTLE Base and a complete survey of Menachite Mountain, where the original mineral mines were located before they were taken over by ONI. Menachite Mountain was an extinct volcano where Dr. Halsey found the Forerunner Crystal artifact. Halsey used this to locate the SPARTAN-IIIs on Onyx.

In 2552, Ackerson was scheduled to operate on a front-line post. However, due to unknown reasons, he didn't follow the assignment and remained one of the members of the UNSC Security Committee.[7]

The Battle of Mare Erythraeum[]

Ackerson apparently left his post in the UNSC Security Committee and was assigned to Mars, where he continued working as a combat officer. In the Battle of Mare Erythraeum his UNSC Forces fought valiantly against the Covenant Loyalist Army, but were eventually routed and defeated. He was captured during the battle and interrogated by Jiralhanae Commander Lepidus of the Covenant Cruiser Triumphant Declaration in the Fleet of Furious Redemption.

During this interrogation, Ackerson told Lepidus of the Key of Osanalan, stating it was a Forerunner object located somewhere in Cleveland, Ohio. He told them this to ensure Cleveland's survival because the Covenant would invade rather than destroy it, and Ruwan's knowledge of the Key of Osanalan (that it was a fake) would help others escape the city. Additionally, it would stall the Covenant's Earth campaign.

When the Covenant finally realized (at the cost of CCS-class battlecruiser Harbinger of Piety and the Minister of Inquisition, thanks to his brother's Ruwan's sacrifice) that the Key of Osanalan was not real, Ackerson used the last moments of his life to mock the Covenant, saying that the Key of Osanalan was just one example of how their pompous arrogance would cost them the war, before being beheaded.


It was said, after Ackerson's death, that besides his brother, only Admiral Parangosky missed him, and she said to have been planing to give Ackerson the command of the future SPARTAN-IV program, making Dr. Halsey work under his orders.[8]


Ackerson is a cunning but shortsighted character who often mixes personal glory with more humanitarian goals. His creation of the SPARTAN-III Project, for example, was an effort to "Trade lives for time," but also an attempt to out-do his rival, Catherine Halsey. He can also be savage at times, even eager to put his own petty revenge before the betterment of mankind. During the initial field test of the MJOLNIR Mk. V armor with Cortana and John-117, the Colonel went above and beyond the testing parameters, nearly causing the death of the Spartan and AI, through use of auto-turrets, ODST squads, anti-tank mines and even an airstrike.

However, Ackerson is not a completely unsympathetic person and when he was finally captured by Brute Commander Lepidus, he invented a story about a mythic object to send the Covenant on a wild goose chase to save his brother from being glassed, giving him a chance at life.


  • In 2552, during Cortana's capture on High Charity, she would later regret her failure to have Ackerson killed, after the Gravemind repeatedly brought him up.[9]
  • Perhaps the reason Ackerson would not allow a scout to check for survivors on Reach was because, he had a feeling the SPARTAN-II's would have survived, and as stated he was against the II's, even going to length to attempt to kill John-117 whilst testing the Mjolnir Powered Assault Armor/Mark V with Cortana.
  • After the destruction of the SPARTAN-III Beta Company, Ackerson tried to convince Kurt-051 to reassign Tom-B292 to his personal command to head his own Special Warfare team. Instead, due to Admiral Parangosky's orders, he reluctantly agreed to have the Spartan reassigned to Camp Currahee, to train Gamma Company.
  • Ackerson's rank dictates that his desk job had kept him at Colonel for almost 20 years.
  • His telling the Covenant about the Key of Osanalan actually ensured his brother, Ruwan's death albeit for a greater good, the saving of the people of Cleveland.
  • Ironically, in a conversation between Kurt-051 and Franklin Mendez, it is said that he would "…gladly assign members of his own family to a suicide mission if he could find an appropriately high value target to send them against." Which he did with his brother during the Battle of Cleveland to take out a San'Shyuum Minister and a CCS-class battlecruiser.
  • As stated in Halo: Glasslands, his death did not go public until after the war along with Lieutenant Commander Miranda Keyes, likely due to the fact he was on the UNSCDF Security council, and halting morale loss.




  2. Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 59
  3. Halo: Uprising, Issue 3
  4. Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 43
  5. Halo: First Strike, page 127: Facets and hard shimmering planes fit together into curled horns, an elongated jaw, and over-sized eyes that flickered with holographic fire. It turned and smiled at Dr. Halsey, baring razor jags of teeth. "Civilian consultant 409871," it said in a deep bass rumble that contained a crackle of thunder. "Doctor Catherine Halsey." "Araquiel," she muttered. "Did your master leave you behind when he was reassigned? Don't you have anything better to do than steal data from my SPARTAN program?"
  6. Halo: The Fall of Reach, pages 266-268
  7. Halo: First Strike, page 101, Wagner thought Ackerson had been reassigned to a front-line post. Apparently he'd squirmed out of it.
  8. 'Halo: Glasslands - p.147
  9. Halo: Evolutions - Essential Tales of the Halo Universe, Human Weakness