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Third Echelon
3E seal
The official seal of Third Echelon.
Agency overview
Formed 2003[1]
(or 1990s[2])
Dissolved 2011[3]
Jurisdiction United States / Worldwide
Headquarters Third Echelon Headquarters
Agency executive(s) Tom Reed
Employees See Personnel
Parent agency National Security Agency
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell series information
Appears in See Appearances in Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell media
"Let Vigilance Be Our Sword"
― Third Echelon's motto.

Third Echelon (sometimes spelled 3rd Echelon, abbreviated as 3ECH and 3E) was a top-secret sub-branch within the various intelligence branches of the National Security Agency (NSA) established in 2003[1] (or the 1990s according to the novels and Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Essentials). Its position within the U.S. intelligence community was at the forefront in the War on Information.

In 2012, following widespread corruption under Tom Reed following Irving Lambert's death, it was succeeded by Fourth Echelon.

OverviewEdit

Third

Third Echelon's original seal.

"Third Echelon was founded on the principles of covert information gathering through physical infiltration."
Irving Lambert discusses Third Echelon's inception and mandate.

Third Echelon was a top-secret directorate tasked with spearheading the American information warfare initiative. Its primary goal was to serve as the equivalent of Special Forces in the modern age of information warfare. Its most significant initiative was the "Splinter Cell" program in which lone operatives, called "Splinter Cells", did field work in sensitive areas around the world. Their work was the darkest of black ops, retrieving the most vital intelligence and acting on it in ways that other operatives cannot. Unlike the CIA's field operatives, their identities were kept secret, even from other government agencies. Initiated with a single operative, Sam Fisher, the "Splinter Cell" program was expanded under the direction of the organization's final director, Tom Reed, and after Third Echelon was shut down, the "Splinter Cell" program also comes to an end.

BackgroundEdit

The National Security Agency is the signals intelligence (SIGINT) and cryptologic establishment of the United States. Primarily tasked with the conduct of SIGINT in all its forms, the NSA can and does intercept and analyze every form of communication known to man, from cellphone signals and e-mail messages, to microwave emissions, to ELF (Extremely Low Frequency) burst transmissions from submarines thousands of feet beneath the surface of the ocean. It coordinates, directs and performs highly specialized activities to protect U.S. information systems and produce foreign intelligence reports. Since it's on the edge of communications and data processing, the National Security Agency is naturally a very high-tech operation. For decades, the NSA has engaged in the 'passive' collection of moving data by intercepting communications en route.

The First Echelon was a worldwide network of international intelligence agencies and interceptors that seized communications signals and routed them back to the NSA for analysis. It was a network vital to the United States' efforts during the Cold War. As the Soviet Union disintegrated and communications evolved, high technology became the name of the game.[4]

The National Security Agency created Second Echelon, which focused entirely on this new breed of communications technology. Unfortunately, the immense volume of information combined with the accelerated pace of developing technology and encryption overwhelmed Second Echelon. NSA experienced its first system-wide crash.[5]

As communications became more digital and sophisticated encryption became more expansive, passive collection simply was rendered inefficient. To address this, the NSA launched a top-secret initiative in 2003. Hoping to bridge the chasm between simply gathering actionable intelligence and acting on that intelligence, the NSA was directed by special Presidential charter to form Third Echelon, its own in-house covert operations unit created specifically to physically obtain intelligence in locations where all other means were exhausted.[6]

Third Echelon had weapon dead-drops around the world. One in Grozny was raided by civilians and sold.[7]

Splinter Cell programEdit

Ultimate Soldiers

Third Echelon's Splinter Cell field agents: Sam Fisher, Agent One and Agent Two.

The Splinter Cell program was a black-ops training program created by the National Security Agency's top-secret sub-branch Third Echelon. It was also the codename for an operational unit composed of lone field operatives called "Splinter Cells". The program produced and deployed units of highly-trained forward operators as the ultimate intelligence gathering force, with the support of a cutting edge technological team to retrieve information through traditional espionage techniques, but with 21st century military technology. Sam Fisher was the first person selected into the program to operate in this role.

When critical intelligence could not be obtained by passive means, Third Echelon resolved the situation by conducting so-called "physical operations" — a euphemism for direct action. To do so, they introduced the "Splinter Cell" program, which was created to produce an elite recon-type unit comprised of highly-trained covert soldiers, who were then deployed to areas deemed either too sensitive or too risky for traditional entities such as the CIA or standard Special Forces. These agents then assessed and accessed information vital to the security of the United States.

These units, individually known as "Splinter Cells", were small, elite intelligence-gathering forces consisting of a lone field operative supported by a high-tech remote team. They were used in situations where more than one operative — even though highly secret — would arouse too much attention. They infiltrated secure installations, seized critical intelligence, destroyed dangerous data or equipment and neutralized the enemy as needed, without leaving a trace. The doctrine of Third Echelon was that although killing may compromise secrecy, "the choice between leaving a witness or a corpse is no choice at all".

The field operatives of the Splinter Cell program were very unusual people, even when compared with "ordinary" special operators or "ordinary" spies without official cover. They had extraordinary training and skill, were mind-numbingly precise, they dealt with grave stress and risk and were aware that a single mistake could be fatal to them. Due to the complexities of their operations, they underwent rigorous and very extensive additional training, beyond their special forces background. Stealth skills and hand-to-hand combat skills were stressed, due to the fact that they must remain invisible while conducting extremely close quarters covert operations. Splinter Cell operatives were capable of moving through areas completely undetected, by both human and electronic means.

Due to political concerns, sometimes triggering a single alarm could mean mission failure, depending on the importance of the particular mission at hand. When an enemy was encountered, these agents needed to be able to silence them quickly and quietly. They received excellent hand-to-hand combat training, which was vital when snatching specific targets or seeking to extract intel from guards. In close combat situations, Splinter Cells expressed great control and skill when applying such techniques. Their combat training was centered around remaining silent while engaging.

The original Splinter Cell program was conceived with a single field agent, although as of 2007, an NSA official indicated that at least two-man squads were being used. These agents have the ability to operate in a manner that is referred to as "Fifth Freedom" — the freedom to do whatever is deemed necessary to protect the Four Freedoms, seen as cornerstones of American moral thought, as defined in one of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's famous speeches. Roosevelt articulated these as "Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want and freedom from fear." Under the (unofficial) Fifth Freedom, an operative could disregard any law, agreement or framework of ethical behavior in order to protect the previous four. For example, the operative could kill in combat or by assassination, torture or kidnap people, deploy on U.S. soil, spy on other U.S. government agencies, et cetera. The downside was that if an operative were captured or killed, the U.S. government would disavow them — either by claiming that the person has gone rogue or by denying that they even existed.

Mission objectives and locations varied, but a Splinter Cell's basic goal was to infiltrate the area of operations (AO), complete any objectives assigned and then extract without being detected. Special Reconnaissance (SR) was their core competency.

Third Echelon's Splinter Cell agents were sent to physically infiltrate dangerous and sensitive hostile locations to collect the required intelligence by whatever means necessary. Their prime directive was to conduct their operations while remaining invisible to the public eye. They were authorized to work outside the boundaries of international treaties, but the United States would neither acknowledge nor support their operations. Officially, Third Echelon and its agents did not exist.

Third Echelon's methods made use of "classical" methods of espionage powered by the latest technology for the aggressive collection of information. Splinter Cell operatives were recruited from the U.S. Special Forces communities of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force. They were then shaped into the "ultimate covert soldiers": specially-trained individuals capable of not only working alone in hostile environments, but of doing so without leaving a trace. Like a sliver of glass, a Splinter Cell was small, sharp, and nearly invisible. Thus, Third Echelon, a sub-agency of the NSA, consisted of an elite team of strategists, hackers, and field operatives that worked together as a team to respond to crises of information warfare with the highest degree of secrecy humanly possible.

OverviewEdit

When intelligence deemed critical to national security could not be obtained by traditional means, Third Echelon was granted clearance to conduct physical operations. Its existence denied by the U.S. government, Third Echelon deployed units of Splinter Cells. Like a sliver of glass, a Splinter Cell was small, sharp, and nearly invisible. These units operated while remaining completely undetected, from human and electronic means. Splinter Cells were the NSA's "boots on the ground" tasked with collecting intelligence for the sake of national security. In some cases, Splinter Cells were given the "Fifth Freedom" - essentially allowing them to complete operations by any means necessary (lethal or otherwise). These elite soldiers were America's best equipped and most highly-trained covert operatives, sent alone into politically-sensitive areas as well as crisis flashpoints all over the world to gather intelligence where electronic intrusion by the NSA is not possible. Relying on the most advanced espionage tools, amazing physical abilities and support from Third Echelon's elite team of technical specialists, these agents executed sensitive operations that the U.S. government could not officially acknowledge.

BackgroundEdit

The Splinter Cell program was an initiative developed as part of Third Echelon's formation in response to ever improving digital protection of information. As cyber security became increasingly advanced, there came a recurring need for traditional espionage methods to physically recover intelligence otherwise unobtainable. The purpose of the program was to acquire information critical to the national security of the United States by combining highly-trained individuals, ranging from field operators to support and intelligence personnel, as singular units. It recruits special operators from the U.S. Special Operations Forces communities of the Navy, Army, Marine Corps and Air Force, and turns them into the "ultimate covert soldiers" by teaching them how to move through areas completely undetected, both from human eyes and ears and from technological detection methods. Colonel Irving Lambert, Third Echelon's Operations Coordinator, selected Sam Fisher as a candidate for the prototype position (Splinter Cell) of this experimental program. Fisher's successful completion of the training, coupled with his ability to utilize his extensive skills in the field, gave Lambert the reasoning to expand upon the program for further operations in the future. From his first mission during the Georgian Information Crisis in 2004, Fisher and his support team's accomplishments were invaluable in maintaining the national security of the U.S. and it was inferred that his recommendation to Lambert about the "Splinter Cell" program was a positive one.

In 2011, the Splinter Cell program was extended under the management of Third Echelon's final director Tom Reed into areas that exceeded the mandate for which it was originally conceived.

Recruitment and trainingEdit

Third-echelonl-training-facility

Third Echelon training facility at Fort Meade, Maryland, shown in Chaos Theory.

Due to the highly classified and extremely secretive nature of Third Echelon, potential candidates could not apply to join the Splinter Cell program, as they were unaware of its existence. Instead, they were selected by Third Echelon and had to go through an evaluation before they were given the green light to be fielded as the program's forward operatives. It was unknown what exactly this evaluation consists of, but it is suggested that candidates had to have an impressive background in their field, with the operators requiring extensive experience in special clandestine operations. Just as special forces units recruit from regular infantry, the field operators of the program were generally recruited from U.S. Special Operations Forces units. The case of Archer may suggest that NSA analysts with no military training or field experience could also become Splinter Cells, though his high level of intelligence obviously played to his advantage along with the Splinter Cell training he received before being deployed into the field. Other support and technical staff were also selected specifically for their role within the program and had to have been deemed "elite" within their field to be considered for the role.

21

Fisher resisting interrogation from the Japanese officer.

Third Echelon selected specific individuals for the program based on their service merits and capabilities. Afterwards, a recruit went through extremely rigorous and very extensive training necessary in their conditioning to serve in covert Information Warfare. From hand-to-hand combat, interrogation resistance, explosives handling and defusal, advanced computer hacking (cryptography), covert intelligence gathering (special recon), advanced stealth tactics (i.e. concealment, infiltration techniques, exfiltration, silent movement, and silent combat on a solo operating scale), combat diving, to advanced escape and evasion (SERE) methods, among many other useful skills vital to their survival in the field during the war. Having completed the initial training program, a recruit could be joined with a partner where they learned further co-operative infiltration techniques. One such instance was when rookie John Hodge paired up with veteran operator Sam Fisher during the operation in Iceland in Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent (Version 1), which ended tragically for Hodge, who was not trained for such a mission. These teams were deployed to high-risk areas. They were also known to assist other Splinter Cell field operations in the same AO (Area of Operations). Agent One and Agent Two operated as one such team during the Korean conflict, when they assisted Sam Fisher during his mission in the South Korean capital of Seoul.

Splinter Cell training also incorporated uncoventional warfare techniques borrowed from the U.S. Special Forces as well as hand-to-hand combat techniques like Krav Maga, borrowed from the Israelis.[8] Parkour is also studied as a way to get over obstacles, and newer, more controversial training from Chinese acrobats.

Under Reed's administration, Third Echelon recruiters could flag the personnel files of analysts at Fort Meade for potential field duty, with Anna Grímsdóttir approving admissions to the group's gruelling eighteen-month training program. Upon completion, graduates were assigned call signs.

WeaponsEdit

Sam's Equipment

Standard-issue Third Echelon equipment.

While working for Third Echelon, Sam Fisher used both a SC-20K M.A.W.S. and SC Pistol tactical model as his primary and secondary weapons respectively.

The SC-20K (modeled after the FN F2000) held 30 rounds per magazine and was equipped with an integral 1.6× magnified telescopic sight, flash/sound suppressor, and grenade launcher which was modified to launch non-lethal devices such as ring airfoil projectiles, sticky cameras, sticky shockers, gas grenades, and EMP ammunition. The SC-20K rifle was eventually replaced by SC3000 in 2011. 

Splinter Cells

A Splinter Cell in 2011 with the new standard assault rifle, the SC3000, described as, "The staple assault rifle of Splinter Cells".

The SC Pistol tactical model (modeled after the FN Five-seveN) was a handgun with a single-action trigger and 20-round magazine equipped with a silencer/flash suppressor. Its 20 5.7×28mm SS190 rounds offered good penetration against modern body armor, while keeping the weapon's weight, dimensions, and recoil at reasonable levels.

Beginning with Chaos Theory Sam carried a combat knife called the SC Protector on his missions. In Chaos Theory it was modeled after the Gerber Guardian Back Up and in Double Agent it was modeled after the Master of Defense Keating Hornet, giving a slightly longer length of the knife and a single-edge blade instead of the double-edge bladed knife.

In Blacklist, Sam conspicuously carries a curved, claw-like blade known as a karambit, a combat blade that originated in the Phillipines as a peasant's farming tool.  The karambit evolved into a versatile weapon as its use was adopted throughout southeast Asia.  While the karambit now exists in many variations, especially after finding increasing popularity in the west, there are certain characteristics that remain consistent in a true karambit.  These are:  a curved, claw-like blade that is typically approximately 2 inches in length;  a curved grip that includes one or two ring guards (depending on how the knife is gripped - blade up or blade down, the rings will protect the index finger, little finger or both, but typically not the middle two);  a cutting edge on the inside of the claw blade;  a highly penetrative blade point.  Blades may or may not be double-edged;  Sam's karambit in Blacklist is definitely double-edged, allowing him his versatile attacks from all directed arm swings.  The karambit is an exceptional blade for attacks to the neck and throat, as ably demonstrated by Sam during all of his lethal melee attacks in the game.  This is due in part to the blade's typical design and also in the way it is therefore gripped:  the blade is always held point-out, either blade-up (protruding between thumb and index finger) or blade-down (protruding from the blade of the hand).  The blade-up style will enable attacks to an opponent's extremities with ease, as the blade-down style will easily accomodate stealthy attacks from what is apparently a fist that can gouge the face and other sensitive areas.  During stealth attacks against the throat or neck, either style will work as long as one possesses a double-edged karambit.

The karambit becomes something of an iconic symbol for Sam, in addition to the three green lights of his iconic night-vision goggles, throughout the game.  It is found on him by Sadiq when he is captured and interrogated after inhaling VX Nerve Gas, whereupon he remarks to Sam "...picked up some training abroad, I see."  Briggs recovers the knife for him but still has it when Sadiq captures him in the COG bunker and, because Sadiq finds it in Brigg's possession, remarks "...you are very tenacious," mistaking him for Sam.  He later returns it to Sam on the Paladin.

UniformsEdit

Bodysuit

Sam in his signature black stealth suit.

Sam's stealth suit was a specially designed outfit that helped him out on a number of missions. In the first three games, Version 2 of Double Agent and Essentials, there were a series of photocells in his suit wired into a heads-up display (HUD) that included a light meter to provide real-time visibility data. In Chaos Theory a sound sensitivity/ambient noise meter was added.

The novels go further in-depth into discussing the suit's technical information. They explain that the suit is equipped with a thermo-regulation system which Sam can control his body temperature. It was also outfitted with water packs within the skin of the suit which help keep Sam sustained for up to twelve hours. The body armor of the suit is made of Kevlar, RhinoPlate, a DARPA-invented version of Dragon Skin, and seventh-generation Gore-Tex, which helped prevent bullets from penetrating within Sam from long range. However, the suit's body armor is ineffective at very close range. In addition to his standard stealth suit, Sam's suit comes in different colors and camouflages to fit the mission profile for certain conditions, such as white for winter conditions, green for jungle conditions, etc. He sometimes wears a Nomex balaclava, other times he wears some other headwear.

Equipment and gadgetsEdit

PersonnelEdit

Third Echelon's specialists were recruited from every branch of intelligence and the armed forces, some even culled from civilian life. They were the elite of America's strategists, hackers, and operatives.

DirectorEdit

The Third Echelon Director was in charge of all field operations and answered only to "one man". Irving Lambert became Third Echelon Director in 2007 after the East Asian Crisis and New York City Cyber Attacks, and held it until his death in 2008. In the wake of Lambert's death there was a "revolving door of Directors" that included Lawrence Williams.[9] That ended when Tom Reed obtained evidence of Williams' personal and petty corruption — largely driven by envy of the Fisher/Lambert duo — and used it to sideline him.[9] Rather than risk exposure, Williams took a "promotion" to head a signals interception project based out of Bozeman, MT.[9]

Known DirectorsEdit

Director of OperationsEdit

The Third Echelon Director of Operations was in charge of all Third Echelon field operations and answered only to the Third Echelon Director. Irving Lambert held the title in 2007 during the East Asian Crisis and New York City Cyber Attacks until he became Third Echelon Director later that year. After Lambert's death in 2008, Lawrence Williams was named acting Director of Operations.

Known Directors of OperationsEdit

Support TeamEdit

Each field operative worked with a remote support team of roughly a dozen members, headed by three primary members.

Operations CoordinatorEdit

The Operations Coordinator was the link between the field agent(s) and Third Echelon's team of researchers, hackers, strategists, and commanders. While field operatives are in the field they are in constant contact with the Operations Coordinator via subdermal microchips and a cochlear implant.

Irving Lambert was Sam Fisher's Operations Coordinator from 2004 to 2008.

Known Operations CoordinatorsEdit

Communications LeadEdit

The Communications Lead headed a small team of programmers responsible for providing technological, cryptographic, and data support for the field operative. They assisted in interfacing field operatives with the high-tech components of their missions.

Anna Grímsdóttir was Sam Fisher's Communications Lead from 2004 to 2007. She was promoted to Chief Technical Advisor sometime between then and 2011.

Known Communications LeadsEdit

Field RunnerEdit

Field Runners were mainly responsible for coordinating the transportation and equipment for Splinter Cells. Transportation was usually procured (stolen) from an area of operations (AO) and abandoned afterwards. They were also responsible for maintaining an operative's equipment and munitions. Field Runners debriefed field operatives on any new equipment or weaponry as it became available.

Sam Fisher had three Field Runners from 2004 to 2007, Vernon Wilkes, Jr., Frances Coen and William Redding. Wilkes was killed in action during the Georgian Information Crisis of 2004 while Redding was forced out by Tom Reed, who replaced most of Lambert's appointees in Third Echelon with his own people.

Known Field RunnersEdit

Splinter CellEdit

Field operatives – Third Echelon’s scalpels – use the latest high-technology and espionage techniques to infiltrate sensitive locations, retrieve information, and execute operations the U.S. government cannot acknowledge.

Known Splinter CellsEdit
  • Sam Fisher was recruited to spearhead the operational arm of the National Security Agency's Third Echelon initiative. He left Third Echelon after Irving Lambert's death in 2008. Three years later he went to Malta to investigate a rumor that his daughter's death hadn't been an accident, which later led him to uncover a conspiracy within Third Echelon and thwart an assassination attempt against the President of the United States.
  • Dan Lee was a Splinter Cell stationed in China. He was killed while tracking illegal arms sales conducted by The Shop. Lee was mentioned by Sam Fisher during his mission in Macau in Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell (novel).
  • Rick Benton was a Splinter Cell stationed in Iraq. He asked Lieutenant Colonel Dirk Verbaken to give him a file on Gerald Bull but was murdered along with Verbaken by Vlad and Yuri in his hotel room in Brussels. He appeared in the beginning of Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell (novel).
  • Marcus Blaine was a Splinter Cell stationed in Israel (presumably). Blaine was killed by members of The Shop (most likely Vlad and Yuri). He was briefly mentioned by Andrei Zdrok in Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell (novel).
  • Agent One and Agent Two were two "Splinter Cells-in-training" who formed the program's first Splinter Cell team. They assisted Sam Fisher during the East Asian Crisis in 2007 and the JBA Crisis in 2008.
  • John Hodge was a Splinter Cell who accompanied Sam Fisher in Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent (Version 1) during a mission to investigate a geothermal plant in Iceland. Hodge was shot to death by Islamic terrorists after he alerted them to his presence.
  • Ben Hansen first appeared in Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction (novel) as one of the agents assigned to hunt down Sam Fisher. He was Archer and Kestrel's handler in Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction during the takedown of Valentin Lesovsky.
  • Kimberly Gillespie appeared in Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction (novel) as one of the agents assigned to hunt down Sam Fisher.
  • Nathan Noboru was a Splinter Cell who appeared in Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction (novel).
  • Maya Valentina was a Splinter Cell who first appeared in Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction (novel). She also appeared in Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Conviction as Archer and Kestrel's handler in Moscow after Hansen was reassigned.
  • Allen Ames was one of the agents trained by Sam Fisher who later turned rogue and became a fugitive. He appeared in Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction (novel).
  • Daniel Sloane-Suarez (callsign Archer) was initially an NSA intelligence analyst when he his personnel file was flagged for potential field duty by recruiters for Third Echelon. His admission to the Splinter Cell program's training program was approved by Anna Grímsdóttir. Sloane-Suarez was later assigned with tracking down four stolen Russian EMP warheads with Voron field operative Mikhail Loskov (callsign Kestrel) two months prior to the events in the singleplayer campaign of Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction. Archer has been killed by Voron Agent Kestrel.
  • Leon Coltrane was a Splinter Cell who appeared in the short story crossover "The End Begins: Splinter Cell".
  • George and Thomas Voeckler were two twin sibling Splinter Cells featured in the novel EndWar: The Hunted. They are depicted as working with a Ghost Recon team. George was killed during an operation in the United Kingdom.

Other Third Echelon personnelEdit

Base of operationsEdit

Third Echelon HQ interior

Third Echelon Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Main article: Third Echelon Headquarters


Third Echelon had at least two headquarters; the original was an ultra-secure command bunker-type facility located in a subterranean area deep within the confines of the National Security Agency Headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland.[16][17]

The second was a nondescript building located somewhere near the National Mall and White House in Washington, D.C. (the location was routinely moved around every few years for security reasons).[18] However, Third Echelon often utilized the NSA's headquarters to station its employees (usually signals intelligence analysts). The reason for this separation was because technically Third Echelon did not exist and most NSA employees would have never heard of Third Echelon.[19] As one of the most classified, top-secret organizations in the U.S. government, only those on a "need to know" basis were aware of the agency. In 2011, Third Echelon's main headquarters in D.C. was destroyed by a self-destruct mechanism known as "Protocol 2319" after Sam Fisher breached its security.

TrainingEdit

Main article: Third Echelon Training Facility

In 2007, Third Echelon utilized computer-based simulation programs for testing the skills of (as well as training) Splinter Cell agents at the National Security Agency Headquarters.

TransportationEdit

Main article: V-22 Osprey
V-22 Osprey scda

V-22 Osprey inserts Splinter Cells Sam Fisher and John Hodge in Iceland.

Billed as both a VTOL (vertical-takeoff and landing) and STOL (short-takeoff and landing) craft, the V-22 Osprey was not only Third Echelon's workhorse, used for quick insertion and extraction missions in "denied areas".

OperationsEdit

1999: NATO bombings of YugoslaviaEdit

Note: The date of founding of Third Echelon is 2003 in Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell and the 1990s in Splinter Cell: Essentials[20] and novels. No explanation from Ubisoft has been given (see Notes).

In February 1999, during NATO bombing campaign in Yugoslavia, Sam Fisher was sent on a mission for Third Echelon[21] to Belgrave City, Yugoslavia, to destroy SAM missiles being supplied to the Serbs. His first objective from Irving Lambert[22] was infiltrate a cargo ship, and destroy several missiles on board. After destroying the missiles he infiltrated the hideout where the launcher was being kept. His next objective, from Anna Grímsdóttir, was to find evidence showing how the Russians were supplying the weapons.

2004: Georgian Information CrisisEdit

The CIA contacted NSA officials regarding the loss of contact with Agent Alison Madison, a CIA operative monitoring widespread communication shortages plaguing the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. A second operative, Agent Blaustein, was inserted into the Georgian capital T’bilisi to locate Agent Madison, only to drop from contact seven days later. Fearing for the lives of American agents compromised at the hands of a suspected terrorist effort, Third Echelon activated Splinter Cell operative Sam Fisher to locate the missing agents and evaluate the situation.

Through this investigation, they found out that Kombayn Nikoladze, the President of Georgia, was behind the attacks. Third Echelon continued operations as they tried to stop more attacks on U.S. soil. However, much political red tape prevented the U.S. government from gaining the proper intelligence about these attacks. This caused Third Echelon to send Fisher within the CIA to find out about Nikoladze's plan for America. It soon led Third Echelon to the Masse Kernels and eventually to Nikoladze's palace where he was assassinated to end the information attacks. The success of the operation prompted the NSA to continue the Third Echelon initiative.

2006: Indonesia Crisis/Biological WarfareEdit

Third Echelon sends in Sam Fisher to East Timor to prevent Darah Dan Doa leader Suhadi Sadono from gaining access to private information. It leads them to Israel to track down the ND133 and eventually surprising everyone that a biological attack was underway on U.S. soil with the use of smallpox.

2007Edit

NYC Cyber Attacks/East Asian CrisisEdit

Third Echelon is once again needed to prevent further attacks from the Masse Kernels that are now being used by Displace International. World War III was nearly on the brink as the USS Clarence E. Walsh was destroyed by an anti-ship missile. Blackouts were in New York and Japan as Third Echelon further finds out about the I-SDF situation. Third Echelon was successful from preventing further attacks as they eliminated "Chaos Theory".

Hallucinogenic ExperimentsEdit

In the fall of 2007, Sam Fisher had been somehow "kidnapped and detained in a old German bunker in Normandy, France". Since CIA agent Hisham Hamza and Third Echelon had managed to "track Fisher's position" and contact him via his subdermal implant, they monitored Agent Fisher while he was on an unknown hallucingenic drug for one week. During that time, he barely escaped his captors and saw Agent Hamza. In reality, Agent Fisher was still at Third Echelon Headquarters in Fort Meade undergoing an hallucingenic/drug resistance testing after he had signed himself up a few days before, even thoug Lambert had tried to persuade him not to take part in the experimental exercise. Agent Fisher claimed that he had no memories about that but hoped that his memory would come back.

2008: JBA Crisis/Red Mercury IncidentEdit

As Sam Fisher heads into a downward spiral of destruction after the death of his daughter, Third Echelon demotes its most veteran Splinter Cell and sends him undercover as a double agent within a homegrown terrorist organization known as John Brown's Army (JBA). They prevented a nuclear attack on U.S. soil but at the same time, losing both Agent Fisher and Director Lambert to the cause. Fisher abruptly leaves the NSA and goes into hiding.

2009: The Fisher InvestigationEdit

On January 3, former Third Echelon agent Sam Fisher visited his daughter's gravesite at Elysian Fields in Washington, D.C. before being apprehended by NSA officials. He was then taken back to Third Echelon Headquarters at Fort Meade and interrogated. Sam was forced to explain himself over several key points of career before and during his time in the Splinter Cell program which didn't seem to match up with Third Echelon's records. With Anna Grímsdóttir's help, Sam learns that his records had been tampered with by Lawrence Williams, Third Echelon's acting Director of Operations, in order to frame as a rogue agent, with each of the aforementioned events being rewritten to make Sam appear as if he had completely disobeyed orders or was involved in committing treason against the United States. Williams discovered that his hacks to the record had been discovered, and stole the evidence from Grímsdóttir. Sam escaped his captors by hiding in Redding's office and then snuck into Williams' office and recovered the evidence. He confronted Williams, explaining he would expose him, and then escaped, taking the evidence with him.

2011: Third Echelon ConspiracyEdit

Somehow after Lambert's death, Tom Reed was soon appointed as the new director of Third Echelon. However he had expanded the duties of his agency, even more than the one conceived from his predecessor.

When President Patricia Caldwell was about to shut down the agency, because she felt the agency wasn't justifying its funding anymore, Reed eventually retaliated by working with the PMC Black Arrow to unleashed a series of EMP's in Washington DC in a plan to assassinate her using the splinter cells and have Megiddo's pocket Calvin Samson to take her place.

Unfortunately, the plan was foiled thanks to the interference of the former Third Echelon agent Sam Fisher and chief technical analyst Anna Grímsdóttir who was actually working for President Caldwell by acting as a mole inside Third Echelon. Just as Reed was about to kill and frame Sam for the President's assassination, he and Grim eventually sprung into action by disarming Reed and killing all the other splinter cells in the office. After the president is saved, Sam then interrogates him about a mysterious group called Megiddo, and although he revealed a little, Director Reed eventually admitted to being the mole Lambert was looking for, and was then killed by Grim.[23]

2013: Termination of Third EchelonEdit

"Gentlemen, the Blacklist is real. Rogue intel agencies like Third Echelon are the problem here, not the solution. I want every single operation related to them grounded and gutted, now! I'm shutting Third Echelon down, effective immediately."
― President Caldwell gives the order to terminate Third Echelon.

After the conspiracy was exposed, investigation showed that the agency had completely gone rogue. And because of that, Third Echelon was officially shut down by President Patricia Caldwell for good, leading to the formation of Fourth Echelon under command of Sam Fisher.

Gone Dark: Catching Big FishEdit

  • Gone Dark
  • Ft. Benning, GA
  • Catching Big Fish
  • Report ID 5.1

Grimsdottir: The SMI pulled a picture off the web that's a good match for a missing former 3rd Echelon agent. The picture shows him cage-diving with a great white shark, and the caption reads, "Hai!" The agent's name is Timothy Gose. He was one of Tom Reed's people, working Southeast Asia. I don't think we want him running around loose.

  • Gone Dark
  • Cape Town, South Africa
  • Catching Big Fish
  • Report ID 5.2

Grimsdottir: Gose got word we were coming and ran. Someone's feeding him intel, which means he's part of something bigger. The good news is, one of his old passports got a hit last night; the bad news is that someone scrubbed the hit from the system before we could get a complete record. All we have are three letters: YXY.

  • Gone Dark
  • Whitehorse, Yukon
  • Catching Big Fish
  • Report ID 5.3

Charlie: Whitehorse was almost wild goose chase. SMI used the RFID tracker in the passport to hunt it down, but the guy holding it was a drug mule. Said his boss bought it from a guy matching Gose's description in Cape Town, but that the guy insisted on being paid cash in BND. Got any idea what that is?

  • Gone Dark
  • Begawan, Brunei
  • Catching Big Fish
  • Report ID 5.4

Grimsdottir: Surveillance cams in Bandar Seri picked up Gose with a couple of unknowns. SMI turned the unknowns into knowns - they're ex UTO. Gose must have been working for them, maybe trading them intel for cash and protection. Now that we're on his tail, he's running to them for cover. This could be a chance to smoke him out.

  • Gone Dark
  • Dushanbe, Tajikistan
  • Catching Big Fish
  • Report ID 5.5

Grimsdottir: State Department just passed along word that Gose is applying for asylum in Tajikstan. He's holed up in a SCNS building under heavy guard. We've got two plays here: go in and dig him out, or pass along an offer that beats the Tajiks'. One risks a bloodbath, the other risks loosing him. What's the plan?

(Bribe: $10000)(Extract: $10000)

Bribe - Mission Success - Briggs: It's kinda sad when a guy won't stay bribed. Our man on the inside passed an offer to Gose - cash, clean new passport, immunity, and plenty of other goodies - and he bit. We pulled him out around 2 AM without damaging any of the locals, and now he's on his way back to the States for debrief. Nice call, Sam.

Bribe - Mission Failure - [Please fill in corresponding entry and delete this note.]

Operations (novels)Edit

Third Echelon operations that took place in the novel series.

2003: CheckmateEdit

While preparing to test a new DARPA product, code-named the Goshawk, Splinter Cell agent Sam Fisher is called to intercept a cargo freighter speeding towards the eastern seaboard. The freighter, named the Trego is loaded down with radioactive material. Fisher boards the ship and quickly reaches the bridge to find one Middle-Eastern crew member. Fisher attempts to disable the man and does so, but not before the man enters the command to speed the boat up further. Fisher proceeds to slow the ship by disabling her engines. Meanwhile the residents of Slipstone, New Mexico begin showing the symptoms of and then dying from radiation poisoning.

2005: Babylon Phoenix CrisisEdit

An Iranian terrorist group known as "The Shadows". Led by Nasir Tarighian, planned to use a weapon of mass destruction codenamed "The Babylon Phoenix" against the city of Baghdad as revenge for the actions taken by Iraq against Iran during the 1980s. While there really isn't much benefit to the group today, Tarighian attempts to sell the scheme to his organization by claiming that it would also create further disorder in Iraq and in the Middle East, which would inevitably cause the people to turn against the "West", namely the United States since Iraq is currently under their watch. Tarighian, a former "great warrior" during the Iran-Iraq War and often proclaimed hero in Iran, hoped that by doing this the Iranian people would rejoice and urge the Iranian government to invade and conquer Iraq after the U.S. is forced out of the region. Most of the members of the Shadows disagree with the course of action, feeling that the result is extremely unlikely and that the scheme is nothing more than a 20-year-old vendetta by Tarighian to get back at Iraq for the death of his wife and children during the war. These members feel the same effect of destabilization in the region can be achieved by attacking either Tel Aviv or Jerusalem in Israel.

Meanwhile an arms dealing organization known as "The Shop" has taken the liberty of assassinating Splinter Cells whenever possible thus to increase their profit margin by keeping the shipment of arms from falling into unwanted hands. The Shop is one of the few organizations in the world that is aware of Third Echelon, who deploys Sam Fisher to the Middle East to uncover the truth about the murder of a Splinter Cell and track down the source of a shipment of arms seized by the Iraqi police. There he surveys and infiltrates numerous locations relating to both the Shop and the Shadows, all the while unaware that the Shop has targeted him and his daughter, Sarah.

2006: MRUUV IncidentEdit

Taking place almost a year after the Babylon Phoenix Crisis, the plot picks up with Third Echelon attempting to search and bring to justice the members of The Shop, an international arms dealing ring that played a large part during the crisis. While Sam Fisher is working to collect information on The Shop in Ukraine and Russia, Third Echelon is continuing its investigation into how The Shop had previously managed to gain the identity of a number of Splinter Cells and assassinate them as well. However, when a German scientist named Jeinsen, who defected to the United States from East Germany long ago, goes missing and then reappears dead in Hong Kong, heads begin to turn. Jeinsen had developed a new submarine vehicle for the United States Navy, that could theoretically carry a nuclear weapon. Sam Fisher is sent to learn why the scientist was in Hong Kong and who killed him; it is suspected that a local group of Triads named "the Lucky Dragons" had involvement. What Third Echelon does not yet realize is that Jeinsen, the Lucky Dragons, The Shop, and a traitor inside their own government are all part of a much larger picture involving a rogue Chinese general named Lan Tun, with ambitions to invade and conquer Taiwan. With Fisher not even aware that he is the world's only hope of stopping an international crisis, he has to balance his job and a new romantic relationship that he is hoping will finally bring happiness to his life. Ultimately, General Tun threatens to use the submarine vehicle to detonate a nuclear weapon off the coast of California, destroying Los Angeles. with a massive tsunami, unless America abandons Taiwan when it is invaded by China. Fisher manages to foil the plot, and all the conspirators involved including the traitor, the general, and The Shop are killed. However, no one realizes that the true mastermind behind the entire plot to weaken America was none other than the head of the Senate Oversight Committee, Senator Janice Coldwater.

2008: FalloutEdit

Soon after undergoing unfamiliar espionage techniques training in the streets of San Francisco in a joint exercise between the CIA and Third Echelon, Sam Fisher is summoned to Maryland by Lambert. Turns out, Sam's estranged brother, Peter (real name Pyotr Limonovich), has been found barely alive off the coast of Greenland. Sam is told that Peter has developed a strange disease and has few days to live. It is soon revealed that Sam's brother died of poisoning caused by plutonium hydride-19, or PuH-19. This deadly powder is 1,000x finer than flour and is capable of wiping out New York's entire population with just a cup's worth of the chemical.

Although driven at first solely by vengeance, Sam soon realizes that Peter's death should be the least of his worries as a network of Kyrgyz Islamic fundamentalists have toppled the moderate government of Kyrgyztan and, with the help of the North Korean government, have devised the ultimate antidote against the pervasive influence of the West and its technology: they will try to mutate a species of petroleum-eating Chytridiomycota fungus into a strain capable of making the whole world's oil supply disappear, a threat Fisher and Lambert continually refer to as Manas, in reference to the Kyrgyz epic poem. In order to do this, the terrorists snatch some of the world's leading scientists and force them to cooperate. Sam gets his final lead by tracking one of the abducted scientists in a search that will lead him to a place such as the streets of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, an isolated Kyrgyz community in Cape Breton Island, the Great Rift Valley in Kenya, Pyongyang, North Korea and a Kyrgyz complex hidden in the Tian Shan mountain range.

2009/10: The Search for Sam FisherEdit

Operations in other Tom Clancy franchisesEdit

  • Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2: Third Echelon gives intelligence to the US Army that the rebel-controlled Pakistani missiles could hit any target in the US from Ciudad Juarez.
  • In "The End Begins: Splinter Cell", taking place in 2015, Grimsdottir is the director of Third Echelon and commands Splinter Cell Leon Coltrane on a mission to find information about Snegurochka.
  • Tom Clancy's EndWar: The Hunted: Director Grimsdottir sends two Splinter Cells on a mission with a Ghost Recon team to find the "Snow Maiden" in 2021.
  • Tom Clancy's EndWar: The Missing: Third Echelon assists the Joint Strike Force in the war effort. Two Splinter Cells are stationed at Spetznaz HQ at Fort Levski, and are fed false information. SC Thomas Voeckler is stationed in Chechnya to find stolen weapons and assists a downed pilot. After Ganjin sleeper agent Major Dennison was activated, 11 Splinter Cells in England and four in Moscow went missing. Voeckler later helped arrest Christopher Theron.
  • Tom Clancy's HAWX: Third Echelon confirms the location of the secret base Artemis Global Security is using, which is then destroyed by pilot David Crenshaw of HAWX squadron.

Appearances in Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell mediaEdit

GamesEdit

NovelsEdit

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  • The founding of Third Echelon as seen in Essentials in the 1990s seems to follow the chronology of Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell (novel) and Operation Barracuda. Checkmate implies that Third Echelon had been around quite a bit longer than 2003 (although Sam Fisher was still the original Splinter Cell). The Field Runner program was new plans to expand upon the previous program within the 2005/2006 era (previously most missions were completed by lone agents). Third Echelon's headquarters had been moved around D.C. previously (every couple of years) to 2005 – 2006's location near the White House. Sam Fisher and Irving Lambert had known Anna Grímsdóttir for years (from the time she was brought into Third Echelon).
  • A Splinter Cell appears in the fourth generation version of Splinter Cell: Double Agent. He kills Enrica Villablanca on Director William's orders, and is then killed by Fisher in revenge.

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell PC manual, pp 2
  2. Splinter Cell novels and Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Essentials.
  3. Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist
  4. Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Operation Barracuda, page 53
  5. Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Operation Barracuda, pages 53–54
  6. Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Operation Barracuda, page 54
  7. Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist Aftermath
  8. Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Endgame, page 51.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 http://splintercell.wikia.com/wiki/File:8778555.jpg
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell (novel)
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Operation Barracuda
  12. Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction (novel)
  13. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Endgame
  14. Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Checkmate
  15. Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Fallout
  16. Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow, "East Timor" level
  17. Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, Intro Cinematic "...National Security Agency, Fort Meade, Maryland...Third Echelon..."
  18. Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction, "Third Echelon HQ" level
  19. Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell novel, page 230
    Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Operation Barracuda, pages 2 and 88
  20. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Essentials
  21. Mission 3: Belgrade City, Yugoslavia, February 15, 1999, 23:20
  22. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GixfIpN-zps
  23. SMI database in Blacklist

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