Following the Arm of Orion's crushing defeat on planet New Madrid in Operation: Liberation, Arm forces withdrew to more fortified worlds in order to defend their conquests against the US Empire's counterattack.
Intelligence acquired from the Arm planetary HQ on New Madrid led the 8th Armored Infantry Division to the temperate world of Atlas. The USIF quickly identified the Arm to have many planetary defense guns like those found on New Madrid stationed on Atlas. In an effort to avoid the near-disastrous assault landings from New Madrid, the 8th Armored dispatched its elite 1st Recon Platoon to destroy the generators powering the massive planetary defense guns to pave the way for a full planetary assault.
Ultimately, Operation: Spearhead was a success as 1st Recon managed to disable the planetary defenses, allowing 8th Armored troops to establish a firm foothold on Atlas and begin the world's liberation in earnest. To aid in the planet's liberation, the USIF devised a plan designed to destroy the Arm of Orion space fleet and render it nearly insignificant. The USIF chose the elite 1st Recon Platoon to carry out this plan, code-named Operation: Cipher.