The Special Operatives Unit is a military unit formed of Huntsmen and Huntresses from the Kingdom of Atlas. Members of the unit are given the title "Special Operative", which can be shortened to either "Operative", or "Specialist".
The Atlesian Military is known to recruit graduate Huntsmen and Huntresses from Atlas Academy, especially to join the unit. This practice has drawn criticism, as Huntsmen were initially intended to be free from allegiance to a specific Kingdom, and the practice also involved pressuring of the graduates and trainees into joining.
The Ace Operatives is a team comprised of the most elite Special Operatives.
After the Fall of Beacon, several Special Operatives were stationed in various kingdoms to locate and report threats to General Ironwood. After several months, Ironwood closes the Kingdom's borders, calling back the vast majority of his forces to Atlas. Sometime after the Battle of Haven, Ruby's Group were forced to steal one and fought Cordovin's Colossus and Adam Taurus.
After arrival at Mantle, the group was briefly arrested by the Ace Operatives, a team comprised of the most elite Special Operatives, and taken to Atlas Academy. There, they learned and later began to work alongside James Ironwood and his group in preparing the Amity Communications Tower to tell the world about Salem.
During this time, Clover Ebi is ordered to investigate a series of killings across Mantle, which seem to be framing Ironwood as a tyrannical dictator. Clover and Winter Schnee discover the person behind this to be Tyrian Callows, confirming Salem's forces had infiltrated the kingdom.
Winter and the Ace Operatives are called as additional witness during Ironwood's trial to determine his claim to an Atlesian Council seat. They play a major role in the Battle of Mantle, aiding in the capture of Tyrian in an ambush. After Ironwood learns of Cinder Fall's infiltration into Atlas Academy, he recalculates his plans to raise Atlas, and the Ace Operatives are tasked with detaining Ruby's Group, during which Clover is killed in an encounter with Tyrian and Qrow, and the others are rendered unconscious.
During this, Ironwood had ordered Winter Schnee and Penny Polendina to claim the powers of the Winter Maiden from Fria. Their process is interrupted by Cinder, who is after the powers for herself. Winter and Penny battle Cinder, the battle resulting in Winter being severely injured as Penny takes the Maidens powers and Cinder flees. Winter gives Ruby's Group a head start to flee as she calls on reinforcements to help her, to weakened to continue fighting.