Vigilo confido!

–XCOM's motto, roughly translated as "Always vigilant"

XCOM is the main playable faction and titular protagonists of the Xcom franchise. XCOM have thwarted at least one confirmed hostile attempt at global domination by extra-terrestrial forces.

The organization's predecessor, established in 1962 as the Bureau of Operations and Command, a stay-behind military and intelligence network to organize resistance in case of a communist takeover. The Bureau expanded into an internationally supported organization. Its operational "areas of responsibility" has since globally expanded to include all Council Nations, and enjoyed the unequivocal support of the United Nations, with the freedom to act across the world, even during the height of the Cold War. Despite decades of ever-evolving enemies, tactics and technology; its broad and continuing mission directives remain unchanged: "Survive. Adapt. Win.".


20th Century[]

Survive. Adapt. Win.

–XCOM's mission directive.

Bureau of Strategic Emergency Command flag

The Bureau of Operations and Command or the Bureau, was created by President John F. Kennedy during the Cold War. Its original mission directive was to sustain Continuity of Operations in the event of a sustained invasion and entrenched occupation by the Soviet Union on American soil. It was intended to provide effective "command and control" to remnants of the United States Armed Forces, and if necessary, coordinate them into an insurgency.

Director Myron Faulke creatively interpreted his mandate and used agency funds to identify threats to the United States beyond the Soviets. This put him at odds with General Deems, responsible for funding the Bureau, who considered this line of inquiry pointless and wanted to slash funding and redirect it to other projects.

It would have been a mistake.

Zudjari Invasion[]

Director Faulke activates XCOM, following the loss of Groom Range.

The Bureau was activated following the alien attack on Groom Range, which devastated the base and wiped out its staff and garrison within half an hour. There were six survivors, including Director Myron Faulke, who rallied all available assets at Site X and assumed command over military forces at his disposal. The activation of the Bureau was necessary, as the alien invasion was preceded by a global communications blackout (and unintentionally preventing a global panic). Site X became the temporarily center of US strategic command, as Faulke was unable to contact the President or anyone else in Washington D.C.

As one of the last remaining elements of the United States' continuity of government capable of resisting the alien invasion, Faulke directed the activation of people pre-flagged for XCOM recruitment. The lengthy list included the military, clandestine services, DIA, even regular civilians. What they had in common was that they weren't even aware of XCOM's existence until the call came. The valiant defensive effort against the Zudjari and ultimately the revelation of the real motives behind their invasion allowed XCOM to stall and eventually defeat the invasion through surgical strikes using captured and reverse-engineered alien weapons.

XCOM followed the Zudjari defeat with an extensive cover-up, destroying all evidence of an alien invasion and paving the way for the formation of a global, successor organization known as the XCOM proper. The organization had stopped working for just the United States, and answered instead to a multi-national collective, which would come to be known as The Council. The secondary protagonist can be heard reporting to an unseen figure at the end of the game's campaign, whom the subtitles refers to only as "The Councilor".

21st Century[]

"Hello Commander,

In light of the recent extraterrestrial incursion, this council of nations has convened to approve the activation of the XCOM Project. You have been chosen to lead this initiative. To oversee our first... and last line of defense. Your efforts will have considerable influence on this planet's future. We urge you to keep that in mind as you proceed. Good luck, Commander."

–Council Spokesman, Game Intro

XCOM EW EXALT NewThreat.png

In XCOM 2, while looking at the XCOM Project History in the Archive, it is established that the current incarnation of the organization known as XCOM was formed in 1993, when multiple countries came together to discuss the theoretical scenarios of future alien contact. Contingency plans were to be implemented in the event of hostilities. This led them to form the council, which would fund and support projects attempting to combat the alien invaders, with the name "XCOM". There would be a lead representative from one of the countries, which would head the council. This representative had a list of personnel for the project who could be called up if the time came.


In XCOM: Enemy Unknown, the Council activated the top-secret XCOM Project contingency in response to First Contact reports as confirmed "hostile." Previously, XCOM operated on limited materials and skeleton crew to maintain and operate all vital facilities. Comprised of some of the best military, engineering, and scientific personnel the member nations have to offer, XCOM worked to defend Earth from the extraterrestrial threat.

In XCOM: Enemy Within, a transhumanist-separatist organization, known as EXALT, worked to hinder and undermine XCOM's efforts of resisting the extraterrestrial invasion. In response, the Council tasked XCOM with eliminating the traitors.

The player is the supreme commander of XCOM who controls all of its operations against alien invasion. The player can engage in many tasks as the Commander, from research and base management, to emergency response and the command of soldiers in the field. By studying the captured alien life forms and their technology, XCOM was able to reveal both weaknesses and reverse-engineering opportunities; they allow the respective creation of cybernetic augmentations and genetic modifications for its soldiers.

"Hello Commander,

A new enemy now threatens the future of mankind. Intelligence sources indicate a rogue organization -- with a separate, misguided agenda -- is undermining XCOM field operations. These acts cannot go unpunished. Your previous directive, to preserve all human lives on Earth, has been rescinded. You are to use all available resources to locate and eliminate these traitors."

–Council Spokesman, "Security Breach" trailer


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In XCOM 2, the world's leaders have offered unconditional surrender to an occupying alien force during the early events of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, leaving XCOM to fare for itself as a fourth-generation warfare resistance movement based aboard a converted alien transport known as the Avenger twenty years later.

Post-invasion operations[]

After years of alien rule, humanity won the war for Earth. But when the ADVENT Overlords fled the planet, they abandoned their former soldiers behind. Now, five years after the events of XCOM 2, humans and alien refugees are working together to forge a civilization of mutual cooperation and coexistence. However, not all of Earth's inhabitants support interspecies alliance. With all pre-invasion government institutions being non-existent, XCOM transitioned into gendarmerie operations to enforce law and peace.

They form the Reclamation Agency, a peacekeeping force that deploys squads to locales. The first of these squads is Chimera Squad, an experimental elite force of human and alien agents, tasked with the investigation, infiltration and destruction of all underground threats that seek to promote chaos and anarchy in City 31.

Base and facilities[]

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified[]

Site X[]

The Bureau in 1962.

Site X, XCOM's first ever base, was established in 1962, with its location undisclosed to any non-XCOM personnel. The base, or at least what's explorable of it, is somewhat small and lacking advanced facilities compared to its later incarnation, but still consisted of a Medical Bay, Hangar, Armory, Science and Engineering quarters, offices and a main area of operation with a large screen displaying available missions and dispatches. It was destroyed at the end of XCOM Declassified, and most of its staff were killed.

Groom Range[]

Main article: Groom Range

Hangar 6[]

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XCOM: Enemy Unknown[]

XCOM headquarters[]

Main article: XCOM headquarters

The XCOM Headquarters is the main command and control base for all of XCOM's anti-Alien/anti-EXALT operations, and serves as the player's primary interface for managing the strategic elements of XCOM: Enemy Unknown. It is located on one of five continents. Nicknamed the "ant farm" by the game developers, it is here the player must manage resources, research projects, facilities, and various other undertakings throughout the game.

XCOM 2[]

The Avenger[]

Main article: Avenger (XCOM 2)

Following the fall of XCOM and the subsequent alien occupation of Earth, XCOM 2 finds the eponymous organization leading the fight against the aliens, not as a globally backed military organization, but as a resistance movement. When the aliens arrived on Earth, XCOM fought back against the extraterrestrial threat, but the aliens overpowered Earth's defenses and brought the full might of their forces down on XCOM. As flashbacks in the prologue, Central Officer Bradford's recollections and Doctor Raymond Shen's video messages indicate, XCOM Headquarters was located and stormed by alien forces, who devastated the base and kidnapped the Commander, effectively destroying XCOM.

Unknown to the aliens, some XCOM operatives, Bradford, Vahlen and Shen among them, manage to survive the fall of the organization. Operating in the shadows, they continue the fight against their alien oppressors, eventually recovering the Avenger, an alien ship they repurpose for their own needs. The recovered alien vessel becomes the new headquarters of the reborn XCOM, acting as the command center through which anti-alien operations are coordinated. Over the course of their attempts to survive, the original generation of XCOM's leadership is slowly fragmented. Raymond Shen perishes due to injuries in the course of seizing the Avenger from alien forces, while Vahlen goes missing after her location is compromised by alien forces.

At some point, a new generation of XCOM operatives rise up to take up the fight from their forebearers. Lily Shen, daughter of senior XCOM member Raymond, joins the fledgling resistance movement, becoming the head of engineering, like her father before her, while Richard Tygan takes over for Doctor Vahlen as the group's science officer. The Council Spokesman, now operating as a high-level member within the alien-controlled ADVENT organization, acts as a double agent, aiding XCOM from within, providing intelligence and material support where possible. Despite these gains, XCOM remains unable to drive the aliens off their world, bereft of support and personnel necessary to properly fight a war with their occupiers.

Twenty years into the occupation of Earth, one Reaper operative, acting on intel provided by the Skirmishers, manage to locate the Commander within an ADVENT gene clinic, prompting Bradford to lead a team of soldiers into battle in hopes of rescuing the Commander. Succeeding in rescuing their leader, the Commander returns to the mantle of leading XCOM into battle against the aliens, taking charge of the Avenger and the overall war against the aliens. Through their leadership, XCOM finally has a chance to rise up and fight for the survival of humanity, with the ultimate goal of overthrowing the Elders and freeing Earth, once and for all.


  • Based on the world state seen in the revealed footages of XCOM 2, it is fair to assume that the defeat "ending"/scenario in Enemy Unknown was at least partly canon. Because XCOM had likely failed to prevent alien cells from spreading panic across the globe, many countries have canonically withdrawn their support, resulting in their leaders being easily influenced by alien manipulation, which in turn surrendered unconditionally to subjugation and domination, and XCOM being disavowed.
    • It had since been confirmed in interviews[1] for XCOM 2 that XCOM was defeated within the early stages of the war with the aliens, though unexplained was the presence and friendly disposition of the Council Spokesman in XCOM 2's trailer, despite having fallen under alien Mind Control at the end of the "defeat" ending in Enemy Unknown. It is likely that he was never possessed in XCOM 2's timeline, explaining why he was able to act as a double agent for the organization.
    • It was said on the official XCOM site[2] that Bradford had escaped an assault on XCOM HQ, implying that a Base Defense had occurred and failed early into Enemy Unknown. The Tactical Legacy Pack indicates that this is true, as Bradford notes that the mountain housing XCOM headquarters is the final resting place of many XCOM operatives.