It is the year 2003.
In response to the growing use of sophisticated digital encryption to conceal potential threats to the national security of the United States, the NSA (National Security Agency) has ushered forth a new dawn of intelligence- gathering techniques. This top- secret initiative, dubbed Third Echelon, marks a return to classical methods of espionage, enhanced with leading- edge surveilance and combat technology for the aggressive collection of stored data in hostile territories. When intelligence deemed critical to national security cannot be obtained by traditional means, Third Echelon is granted clearance to conduct physical operations.
Denied to exist by the U.S. government, Third Echelon deploys units known as Splinter Cells: elite intelligence- gathering forces consisting of a lone field operative supported by a remote team. Like a sliver of glass, a Splinter Cell is small, sharp, and nearly invisible.
March 10, 2004: The CIA contacted NSA officials regarding the loss of contact with Agents Alison Madison and Robert Blaustein, CIA operatives monitoring widespread communication shortages plaguing the former Soviet republic of Georgia. Fearing for the lives of American agents compromised at the hands of a suspected terrorist effort, Third Echelon has activated Splinter Cell operative Sam Fisher to locate the missing agents and evaluate the situation.
You are Sam Fisher. You must leave no trace on the physical or political map. Remember: Although killing may compromise secrecy, the choice between leaving a witness or a corpse is no choice at all. You do not exist. You are a Splinter Cell.