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The Survey Corps (調査兵団 Chōsa Heidan?) was the branch of the Military most actively involved in direct Titan combat, Titan study, human expansion, and outside exploration. They had the best soldiers who are the most skilled in using vertical maneuvering equipment. Despite having little success, they still symbolized the "hope of mankind" with their insignia being known as the "Wings of Freedom." They hoped that someday, their efforts will change the world and they will be able to recover what has been taken away from humanity.

After the truth about the Titans is revealed, the Survey Corps turned its attention to fighting Marley and the outside world. After the Battle of Heaven and Earth had ended, the Survey Corps were then merged together with the other military branches under the control of the Yeagerists into one unified army branch.


The Survey Corps abandons a base outside Wall Maria

This Military division was in charge of the exploration and the eventual reclamation of human territory from Titan-infested lands through the act of setting up small bases, camps, resupply stations, and extra fortifications in available areas outside the Walls. This branch of the military had by far the highest death rate. Prior to the breach of Wall Maria by the Colossus Titan, they explored the land outside of the Wall, though they could never get far due to the heavy casualties suffered from Titan attacks.

After the fall of Wall Maria, they began laying down supplies from Wall Rose's Trost District to Wall Maria's Shiganshina District in preparation to seal the breach and reclaim Wall Maria. This ultimate goal was finally reached two months after the crowning of Historia Reiss, though at the price of nearly all soldiers of the Survey Corps.[1][2]

A more recent (yet unofficial) duty was Titan observation and research. Given the safer nature of exploring within Wall territory (since Titans could only enter the Wall at one point), a wealth of information was revealed, such as their pain tolerance, sunlight dependence, and intelligence.[3] Upon learning that Eren Yeager had the power to transform into a Titan, research was conducted to uncover the extent of his Titan abilities.[4] This would grant the Survey Corps vital information when dealing with enemies that also have this power.

After his admission into the Survey Corps, protecting Eren became an objective of paramount importance. On numerous occasions, soldiers had been made to risk and lay down their lives in order to defend or recover him.[5][6][7][8][9]

After learning the truth about their world, the Survey Corps then served as infiltrators and special forces in the fight against Marley and other countries that viewed them as threats.[10][11]


The Survey Corps leave Trost District for an expedition

The Survey Corps was the smallest branch of the Military in terms of membership, originally with an overall size of around 300 soldiers.[12] This already-limited number of volunteers was made less and less by commonplace deaths and an infamy surrounding the body count that frightens most away from joining. While 300 is a common headcount for membership in the Survey Corps, there had been several occasions where expeditions took place with around only 100 soldiers.[13][14]

Armin Arlert was the 15th Commander of the Survey Corps, with Captain Levi Ackerman serving directly beneath him. Under the former Commander's leadership, Erwin Smith, before being wiped out by the Beast Titan were four squad leaders, one senior team leader, 8 team leaders, 6 medics, 5 equine veterinarians, and 5 payroll staff soldiers (also team leaders), and 270 soldiers. The Survey Corps was divided into 10 teams, each led by a team leader. Each team leader answers to the squad leaders, who in turn answer to the commander. Team 1, led by the senior team leader, is in charge of reconnaissance on expeditions, while Teams 8 through 10 act as logistics units who carry supplies for the expedition.[12]

Their stables also include a total of 600 specially-bred horses, including reserves.[15] These horses are noted to be exceptionally valuable and bred for great speed, stamina, and calm temperament.

The Survey Corps was almost wiped out once again following the Battle of Shiganshina District, with only nine soldiers surviving the fight.[16] However, over the course of the following four years, there was a surge in recruitment, including transfers from other branches.[17] By the time they attack Liberio in Marley, there are enough soldiers for them to field multiple squads.[18]


Apprehensive recruits join the Survey Corps

Since the Survey Corps were constantly on the front lines fighting Titans, its high fatality, and low success rate discouraged most people from enrolling, as seen when only 10% of the 104th Training Corps joins them.[19] Thus, the Survey Corps was known to suffer a constant personnel shortage and the only soldiers who entered the Survey Corps were completely dedicated to the cause of humanity, usually at the cost of their own lives. In stark contrast to the Military Police, there is no laziness or incompetence in the Survey Corps and no corruption. Whether at their headquarters or in battle, members of the Survey Corps have no one to depend on but each other. This has built a strong atmosphere of trust in the Survey Corps and a general no-nonsense form of honesty among its personnel. Survey Corps members tell and expect to be told the truth, no matter how good or bad it might be.

Feelings of pride of the individual soldiers were also very high, as they were aware of not only being the bravest of the three Military branches but whatever victories mankind gains against Titans are gained at the cost of the soldiers' lives. They realized this as they boldly go into the realm where most humanity dares not their pride is rightfully justified.

Eren follows a plan he does not fully understand

Trust between leaders and subordinates was absolute. As Gunther Schultz told Eren Yeager, if Erwin does not tell his men everything, there is most likely a reason for doing so; therefore, Eren should trust Erwin. Even Levi, with his prickly personality, informed his crew that Erwin was always a few steps ahead of others and followed his judgment unconditionally. Oluo Bozado chastised Eren during the 57th expedition for questioning Levi, and Eren raised Petra Ral's animosity when he raises the possibility of Levi not trusting the Special Operations Squad.[20] Subordinates had absolute trust and admiration for Levi even as they were dying; in return, Levi would renew and confirm his determination to eradicate Titans to his men. This level of trust was necessary for a Corps that has no one to rely on but each other.

While most soldiers did not survive their first expedition, each successive expedition exponentially increased their chances of survival. The Survey Corps' most hardened veterans each had numerous Titan kills to their name and, far beyond any members of the Garrison or Military Police Brigade, were the most skilled soldiers in the entire military. With its frequent expeditions outside the safety of the Walls and regular combat engagements with the Titans, however, membership in the Survey Corps was extremely dangerous. Each and every officer and enlisted man, from highest to lowest in rank, lived with the fatalistic knowledge that their next encounter with the Titans could very well be their last.

Hange and their squad take on the Colossus Titan

Despite their small numbers, the discipline and fighting prowess of the Survey Corps was regarded as the best out of the three military branches. There was no class-based segregation between officers and enlisted men, with all ranks sharing equally in the work and dangers. The Survey Corps had a well-earned reputation for toughness and cool-headed courage in the face of extreme hardship; members would fight on even in the smallest, most isolated of groups. Survey Corps members were physically and mentally tough, highly adaptable, and could be counted on not to panic even when the Garrison and Military Police personnel around them have broken ranks.

Unfortunately, this branch was also in the most uncomfortable position, politically and financially, despite being the best out of the three military branches in terms of the overall quality of its officers and enlisted men. The bureaucrats, rich conservatives, and many Military Police members disliked the Survey Corps and viewed it as a waste of money and resources, due to the Survey Corps' lack of definite, decisive successes and high losses of lives. Only from the support of the King did the Survey Corps still remain intact and protected from the greedy bureaucrats and hostile conservatives. Membership thus involves little glory, and Survey Corps members are thus arguably humanity's finest and most sincere soldiers - not after money, glory or promotions, but truly committed to buying humanity a better tomorrow, whatever the cost may be. Any graduate from the Training Corps could join the Survey Corps for that it does not have a certain requirement, unlike the Military Police branch.

The Survey Coup asks Garrison soldiers to join them

After the coup d'état when Historia Reiss is crowned Queen, the Survey Corps experienced a recruitment boost through transfers from other branches of the military.[21] This increases their numbers, only for the majority of them to be wiped out during the Battle of Shiganshina District. Regardless of the horrific numbers lost during the operation, the battle ended in their victory. The Survey Corps ultimately reclaiming Wall Maria from the Titans and as a result, obtained many truths about humanity's situation within the Walls and who their enemy truly was.

Strategy and tactics

Due to the constant horrific losses suffered at the hands of Titans, the Survey Corps was forced to fight smarter to achieve their goals. The Survey Corps used horses as one of the main resources to explore an area with no grappling sources, such as trees or buildings.

Long-Distance Enemy Scouting Formation

Basic outline of Long Distance Enemy Detection

Developed by former Commander Erwin Smith, the key to this formation is Titan avoidance. Because the Survey Corps cannot afford to fight every Titan out in the open, the entire Survey Corps is spread out over a large area, maximizing visibility. Upon encountering a Titan, a red flare indicated the danger and all soldiers who saw the flare, fire a red flare of their own, allowing Erwin to quickly be alerted to the Titan's presence. He would then fire a green flare in the desired direction to avoid this Titan with all members firing a green flare as well to allow the information to spread quickly.[22]

However, there were on occasion Abnormal Titans that would break it apart by ignoring soldiers on the perimeter and instead, attack the middle of the formation. In this case, a black flare indicates the danger, and the Titan is disposed of as quickly as possible.[23]

The entire formation was in the rough shape of a semicircle, and was composed of the following sections:

  • Forward Scouts - Presumably the most reliable soldiers, they were spread out along the front rank of the entire formation. They were the members of the Survey Corps who came into contact with the Titans more frequently, alerting the rest of the formation to the presence of Titans using red smoke rounds.
  • Scout support teams - They were one position deeper into the formation than the forward Scouts, whom they helped in combat if need be. It was possible that these soldiers were responsible for holding back the Titan attack on the formation's right flank during the 57th Expedition Outside the Walls.
  • Command - The Commander of the Survey Corps was at the front of the formation, right behind the frontal Scout teams. It was the Commander's job to judge the situation of the expedition, taking into account the flares fired by the rest of the formation and firing green signal flares to inform the Survey Corps of new trajectories. The Commander was accompanied by a small number of men whose job it is to relay verbal messages to the rest of the formation.
  • Relay teams - Comprised chiefly of new recruits, it was their job to fire smoke rounds bidirectionally: both to inform Command of Titan sightings (red and black flares) and to inform the rest of the formation about a change of course (green flares). All the members of the 104th Training Corps who chose to join the Survey Corps were part of the relay teams. It was a relatively well-protected area of the formation (after all, here are the most inexperienced soldiers), as it is not directly in contact with oncoming Titans, and it is difficult to stray from the formation from this position. Dita Ness and Luke Siss were among the relay teams during the 57th expedition. The relay teams also ride along spare horses.
  • Cart guard teams - They were located between the relay teams and the carts, and it was their job to protect said carts. Abel was part of the cart guard teams in the 57th Expedition.
  • Carts - This unit was comprised of wooden carts with a special suspension system, each pulled by two horses and manned by two soldiers. Their job is to carry the supplies necessary for the expedition (food, gas, medical supplies, extra vertical maneuvering equipment, etc.). They are very vulnerable to Titan attacks, so they are in the deepest place in the formation, riding single file behind the Command team. The carts played a pivotal role during the 57th Expedition, as they secretly carried the artillery pieces that were going to be used to capture the Female Titan.
  • Standby - This group was in the most protected part of the formation: the center-rear, behind the cart line. This position was occupied by Squad Levi during the 57th expedition. It was their job to protect Eren and to serve as bait so as to lure the Female Titan into the Titan Forest.
  • Rear guard - These were the soldiers who ride at the very back of the formation, protecting it from Titan pursuit. It was a job which conceivably entails some risk, as it is possible to fall behind the rest of the formation.

This formation had lowered the Survey Corps losses by 30%. However, it could be rendered ineffective by bad weather, especially rain, when flares will become useless. This, combined with the drop in visibility from said rain or fog would reduce the ability of the formation to remain in communication and spot Titans. It is worth noting however that such weather conditions are likely to be accompanied by less sunlight, causing a significant drop in Titan activity.[24]


The Female Titan is ambushed

Although not a 'true' tactic in the sense of common battle doctrine, the Survey Corps had been involved in two attempts at capture and are worthy of note given their similar procedures.

Survey Corps Ambush follows this pattern:

  1. Target is lured into an area where Survey Corps forces have the maximum advantage. i.e. Leading target into a forest (where vertical equipment is most effective) or underground (where Titans cannot move).
  2. Target is incapacitated with the special target restraining weapon.
  3. Vertical equipment soldiers surround target area and prevent escape.
  4. If target breaks free (e.g. Female Titan), soldiers were to try and prevent its escape and to incapacitate or regroup.

Urban warfare

The Survey Corps' attack in Liberio

In preparation for the Raid on Liberio, the Survey Corps trained its soldiers in subterfuge, allowing them to infiltrate Marley with minimal detection.[10] For this purpose, the Survey Corps used a modified version of anti-personnel vertical maneuvering equipment that allowed up to four Thunder Spears to be mounted on the forearm. The Survey Corps also replaced the Anti-Personnel Control Squad's single-shot shotguns with semi-automatic pistols. Such modifications enabled the Survey Corp to engage in anti-infantry and anti-fortification warfare while still enabling them to engage Titans in combat.[11] The Survey Corps had also begun using bolt action rifles and hand-thrown explosives in their fight against Marley by either clearing out enemies in buildings or ambushing enemy convoys going down narrow urban streets.[25]


Survey Corps


Survey Corps Logo.png Commanders Survey Corps Logo.png

Survey Corps Logo.png Squad leaders Survey Corps Logo.png

Survey Corps Logo.png Squad vice captains Survey Corps Logo.png

Survey Corps Logo.png Squad captains Survey Corps Logo.png

Survey Corps Logo.png Commanding officers Survey Corps Logo.png

Survey Corps Logo.png Team leaders Survey Corps Logo.png

Survey Corps Logo.png Officers Survey Corps Logo.png

Survey Corps Logo.png Ranking officers Survey Corps Logo.png

Keiji character image.png

Survey Corps Logo.png Squad members Survey Corps Logo.png

Survey Corps Logo.png Horses Survey Corps Logo.png

Charlotte character image.png


  • It has been noted that even normal soldiers from the Survey Corps are, on average, stronger than those from different branches.[citation needed]
  • 22 graduates of the 104th Training Corps southern division joined the Survey Corps, including Eren Yeager, Mikasa Ackerman, and Armin Arlert.[26]
  • It is stated that recently the Survey Corps usually goes on an expedition outside the Walls about once a month. So from the 34th expedition to the 57th expedition, it has been a total of 2 years, which would come to about one expedition outside the Walls a month.[27]
  • When not on an expedition, Survey Corps soldiers spend their time training and maintaining their equipment. Depending on a soldier's position they may also need to attend meetings. If time allows, they might be given permission go home.[28]
  • There are no records of more than two Survey Corps ever being active at one time.[12]