The Phantom Eagles is the name of the elite cadre of metahuman students at the United States Academy of Extranormal Studies at Evansville, Indiana, and are generally recognized as the best students at the Academy. They are recognized for their jet-black versions of the basic cadet uniform, and for their unflinching adherence to acting as a group. (In one example, when one Phantom Eagle was found to have committed an infraction of the rules, the entire cadre accepted punishment in the form of extra calisthenics.)
Founded in 1984 and named for both the national symbol of the United States of America and the secretive nature that metahuman soldiers and special agents hold in the ranks of Federal Service, the Phantom Eagles have a strict adherence of only accepting 107 cadets into the cadre at any given moment (plus the leader). Competition to become an Eagle is fierce, and the choices for new Eagles occurs at the end of the school year on the day after Commencement, in keeping with the policy that there can only be 108 Phantom Eagles at one time. Also, while there are (extremely rare) circumstances to the contrary, the majority of Phantom Eagles are cadets who have given verbal or written commitments for service in the Unites States Marine Corps.
(Those incredibly rare exceptions have been found to be in the pursuit of equally difficult career opportunities; in the year Carolyn Field is serving as a Phantom Eagle, only three members of the cadre (who are of U.S. citizenship) are not planning on USMC careers; one is pursuing a career in the United States Secret Service and has already served her internship year on the Presidential Detail, while the others (one being Cadet Second Year Alison Cockrum) have already made written commitments to active duty as members of DELPHI P.O.G.O. teams.)
The Phantom Eagles have the option to reside in Covell Hall, the eight-floor dormitory/facility set aside for the cadre. Female Eagles live on the second, third and fourth floors, while male Eagles live on the fifth, sixth and seventh floors. (Because of the small number of Phantom Eagles, there are always extra rooms available; these are reserved for honored guests, including potential cadets that USAES wishes to make a very strong impression upon, and some family members.) The Eagles quarters also has their own personal cafeteria and full-service exercise facility (including an Olympic-style pool and diving pool), as well as a small auditorium/theater where films and television programs can be shown on a 400-inch, ultra-thin plasma-screen television, and a shielded subterranean bunker for emergencies (tornadoes, etc.), and it's own dedicated power generator.
(In an unusual and extraordinary circumstance, Phantom Eagle Carolyn Field chose not to reside in Covell Hall, but instead in Swedlund Hall, where the other female members of The Alliance are housed. This was discussed amongst the cadets when Carolyn was considered for the cadre, and it was decided that her loyalty to The Alliance was not a barrier to her being a loyal member of their cadre, as well.)
On those occasions where an USAES presence is requested or when the Academy wishes to do so, the Phantom Eagles are usually sent to represent the school. The Eagles are exquisitely skilled in color guard activities, and perform regularly in national and international competitions. In addition, it is a standing tradition that in any year where cadets are in a position in the cadre to take advantage of the opportunity (specifically in the USSS), two Phantom Eagles who have declared their written intention to select Federal Service are allowed to serve their internship year as members of the United States Secret Service Presidential Detail. This is also traditionally reserved for female Cadets Third Class who have no marks on their record (although if no female cadets apply, a male cadet may apply for the position).
In times of emergency, the Phantom Eagles are seconded to the Marine Corps security detail as additional security forces. Because of this, Phantom Eagles are authorized to carry weapons (usually PFT-M2 pistols), but usually do only in cases of emergency.
One surprising tradition that has developed at the Academy is that if a cadet is accepted as a Phantom Eagle, he or she can never be considered for the posts of Cadet Commander or Deputy Cadet Commander of Corps. It is also tradition that a Phantom Eagle is automatically selected for whatever service billet or Federal Service position he or she requests upon graduation.
The current Cadre Commander (also known at 'war chief') of the Phantom Eagles is Jason Todd; after his graduation, Amorette Molyneux became Cadre Commander. Other Phantom Eagles of note include Tainn Reynolds, Alison Cockrum, Yaniv Ernet, and Carolyn Field of The Alliance.