The Sangheili (also known as Elites) are a saurian species of fierce, proud, strong, agile and Intelligent warriors, as well as being skilled combat tacticians. Due to their skill in combat, the Elites have became the backbone of the Covenant military for almost entirety of its existence. They had a very strong rivalry with the Jiralhanae (Brutes).
The Sangheili are promoted to their next rank based on their skills, abilities and the number of casualties they inflict upon their enemy. This is usually measured in scalps. A high-ranking Elite may have personally massacred hundreds and thousands of enemies through the military career. The armor of Elites becomes more complex when they are promoted and the armor's color changes such as blue, red and gold.
All who walk the blessed path will find salvation...even in death.
~ Minor Mantra
The physically and pragmatically least experienced warriors of the Sangheili, having only the standard issue weaponry and the lowest grade of energy shielding. Since the Sangheili are high up in the Covenant; even Elite Minors are higher than the highest-ranking Grunts, Jackals and Drones. They are roughly equivalent to UNSC Marine Sergeants. When a Minor is killed, his subordinates will flee from their enemy. When a Minor is neither promoted nor killed during their first campaign, they will commit suicide to regain their lost honor.
Medium-low ranked warriors in the Covenant military. They command Minor Elites and lower castes such as Grunts and Jackals. In addition to commanding ground forces, Majors can also occupy the position "second master" on a Starship, effectively acting as the Shipmaster's second in command.
On the blood of our fathers. On the blood of our sons. We swore to uphold the Covenant!
~ Ultra Mantra
Officers who command specific operations and are direct subordinates to Zealots. Ultra Elites gain much more stronger shielding and gain more heavy and powerful weaponry such as Concussion Rifles, Energy Swords, Fuel Rod Cannons and Plasma Launchers. They are deployed on high-priority missions such as the invasion on Reach and defending the Scarab on New Mombasa.
Victory is secured, not from the throne, but from the front lines.
~ General Mantra
The highest ranking infantry soldiers for the Sangheili race within the Covenant Empire. Each General is charged with leading hundreds and sometimes thousands of soldiers into battle. They often fight on the front lines and personally lead their soldiers. Generals are usually seen overseeing an important tactical location or leading large groups of Covenant soldiers into battle. They report directly to a Field Marshal or even sometimes a Supreme Commander.
I still have nightmares about the Stealth Elites...they would come out of nowhere. You had to look very, very closely; you could see the air move just before they jump you. But then it was usually already too late...
The protectors of the Covenant High Council. They are the most skilled Elites and are hand picked for the duty of guarding the prophets. They mainly wield Energy Staves but during gameplay they will not use Staves and instead fight with Plasma Rifles, Covenant Carbines and Energy Swords.
With this sacrament of blood we journey into the Divine Beyond.
~ Field Marshal mantra
Despite falling under the Zealot Class,they outrank regular Zealots. Field Marshals command large scale operations and lead small strike teams of Zealot Officers into battle. They also command Covenant Task Forces.
The Taming of the Hunters, the Grunt Rebellion. Were it not for the Arbiters, the Covenant would have broken long ago.
~ Prophet of Mercy
Bestowed upon an Elite by the Prophet Hierarchs during a time of great need. Arbiter is possibly the highest known title for an Elite to achieve. It is said that the Arbiters appear to be the will of the Hierarchs as well as their blade. The current Arbiter is Thel 'Vadam.