XCOM Shield Logo
Vigilo, Confido.

–XCOM's motto. meaning "I am watchful, I am relied upon."

XCOM (Extraterrestrial Combat Unit[1]) 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.

Established in 1962 as the The United States Bureau of Strategic Emergency Command, a Unified Combatant Command paramilitary and intelligence centre. Its operational "areas of responsibility" has since globally expanded to include all Council Nations. Despite decades of ever-evolving enemies, tactics and technology; its broad and continuing mission directives remain unchanged: "Survive. Adapt. Win.".


20th CenturyEdit

Survive. Adapt. Win.

–XCOM's mission directive.

TheBureau CreatingXCOM

The United States Bureau of Strategic Emergency Command (USSECOM), 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 plausible event of a sustained Soviet Union invasion and entrenched occupation 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 effective insurgency.

Zudjari-Invasion incidentEdit

Following the alien attack on Groom Range, Director Myron Faulke regroups at Site X with the remaining agents and personnel of the Bureau of Strategic Emergency Command. Unable to contact the President or anyone else in Washington D.C., Director Faulke realizes his people maybe the last remaining element of the United States' continuity of government capable of resisting the alien invasion. Director Faulke renames the organization "XCOM" and reassigns all assets to focus on finding ways to fight the alien invaders.

Following the closure and cover-up of the Outsider invasion, the organization had stopped working for any single government, and answered instead to a multi-national collective, hinted to be 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 CenturyEdit

"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


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.

Invasion operationsEdit

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

Insurgency operationsEdit

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.

Base and facilitiesEdit

The Bureau: XCOM DeclassifiedEdit

Site XEdit


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 RangeEdit

Main article: Groom Range

Hangar 6Edit

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XCOM: Enemy UnknownEdit

XCOM headquartersEdit

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 2Edit

The AvengerEdit

Main article: Avenger (XCOM 2)

In an alternate timeline, 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, Reaper operatives, acting on intel gained from 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[2] 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[3] 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.


  1. Enemy Unknown background on UFOpaedia
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