21 August 2016

Military Organization Profiles: The Imperial Military of the Empire from Star Wars

There is few fictional military organizations as iconic and well-known as the Galactic Empire Military from the Holy Trilogy Star Wars films. Since 1977, the Empire that Lucas laid down by mining 3rd Reich iconography, has been an prime example of the entire Star Wars universe, ranking alongside the Droids, Jedi, Sith, the space fighters, and the Lightsabers. Despite the years that the Imperial Military has existed in popular culture, there are lingering questions about the organization itself, its relationship with the Sith, and its relationship with non-human alien races. In this installment of the Military Organization Profiles, FWS will be putting the Imperial Military under the lens.

What is the Imperial Military?
The Galactic Empire was formed by the Sith Lord Palpatine in 19 BBY during a critical junction in galactic history: the Jedi Order was wiped out by Order 66, the Clone Wars were over, and disorder was running wild has the Old Republic collapsed. Stepping into this storm was the strong hand of the Empire to established law and order. This met with favor by the former citizens of the Old Republic who watched their old government and old ways of life die out. At first, at very first, the Empire was a unifying force...then it turned dark and twisted as the power of the Dark Side of the Force cast its shadow across the galaxy. The true power of the Empire was not in economics or politics, but rather in their impressive massive military machine that could wiped out star systems and inflict much pain and suffering even prior to the construction of the Death Stars . At its heart was the Imperial Navy with its power to project the iron rule of Imperial law and land thousands of white armored Stormtroopers onto the troublesome planet.
Its mission was to project power and Imperial control over 75%-80% of the galaxy in terms of population, star systems, and inhabited worlds. It greatest test would come from a ragtag alliance of rebellious groups and species that would destroy both Death Star space stations and shatter the Imperial military as well as the Empire. The remains of the Imperial Military would reform into the New Order after the Battle of Jakku in 5 ABY. At its apex, the Galactic Empire Military had power over trillions of sentient beings, commanded thousands of warships, controlled 75%-80% of the galaxy, and could bully anyone it wanted due to a lack of an natural competitor or predator until the emerge of the Rebel Alliance.

The Relationship Between the Empire and the Military
As with any authoritarian regime, the power lays in the loyalty of the military to the leader and their cult of personality. Originally, the true power of the Old Republic was the Galactic Senate and the Jedi Order. During Star Wars IV: An New Hope, the Emperor was finally able dissolves the Imperial Senate at 0 BBY using the treason of Senator Leia Organa to justify the extreme act of decapitating of that ancient governmental institution This allowing Sector Governors, known as Moffs, who were more loyal to the Emperor, to control star systems...similar in some ways to the Tokugawa Shotgune of Japan had Daimyo that were loyal to the military government and controlled Hans.
Watching over the loyalty of the Moffs was Lord Vader, the loyal executioner  and enforcer of the Emperor's will. This makes the Imperial Military the real spine behind the government, especially after the 0 BBY dissolving of the Imperial Senate. However, this interconnectiveness was a major weakness. as exemplified when the military were dealt serious blows at the Battles of Yavin, Endor, and Jakku. Once the military lost its power, image, and foundation, so did the Imperial government.

Lord Vader's Relationship to the Military
In the original trilogy time period, Lord Darth Vader is an enigmatic figure that serves his master with a readied Lightsaber, but is also seen on the frontlines of the war against the Rebel Alliance and as well as the representative of the Emperor Palpatine; going as far as instilling fear among the Sector Moffs. Palpatine also used Vader on highly sensitive missions for the Empire, such as the recovery of the Death Star plans, and the hunting down of the escaped Jedi. Lord Vader is also involved in the affairs of the Imperial government and military, But, what is the relationship between Lord Vader and the Imperial Military?
After the Battle of Yavin and the destruction of the 1st Death Star, the Emperor gives his student one of the largest warships in the Imperial naval inventory, the Super Star Destroyer class Carrier/Space Control vessel and instructs Lord Vader to hunt down the rebels and Luke Skywalker, empowering him to use the full might of the Empire do so. Given the structure of the Empire and the Sith being the true power behind the office of Emperor, the military role of Lord Vader is hard to classify, but his power is not. With Lord Vader being the right hand of Palpatine, he wields vast power and fear among all, even without the 501st and his Executioner warship. In that way, Lord Vader might be the ultimate "fixer" and "special consultant"in the Imperial Military.

The Composition of the Imperial Military (circa 0 BBY-2 ABY)

Figures wildly vary for the size of the Imperial Navy; ranging from tens of thousands of warships to millions. There is no hard number on the size of their fleet, but it is likely not millions. Unlike Starfleet or the Alliance Navy from Mass Effect, the Empire does not face a mirror image enemy that possess a hostile fleet, like the Klingons or Romulans. For the most part, the Imperial Navy's role is to project fear and power to keep the systems in line, preventing any loss of cohesion in the Empire, as seen during the Clone Wars.  
While the Republic navy engaged in many desperate space battles with the Separatists, the Empire was void of any enemy that could field enough combat starships to offer any major resistance. Still, this did not prevent the Empire from pouring credits into the construction of the Star Destroyer and the Super Star Destroyer classes of power-projection carrier warships. At the apex of the Empire, it is estimated that 25,000 Imperial class Star Destroyer carriers were in service. Even when the Rebel Alliance did form a fleet of ragtag alien warships and converted civilian spaceships, ship-to-ship engagements were rare, due to the Empire being able to rapidly deploy naval reinforcements to outmatch the Rebel ships during a pitched battle.
This lack of natural enemy is why the Star Destroyer class is multi-role warship that best fits under the carrier classification than an standard capital ship and is the backbone of the Imperial Navy. After the Empire was established in 19 BBY, one of the its jobs to present a "unified national front", and the navy was the best way to show the flag and the might of the new government. The older Republic warships were still used, but the Empire embarked on a massive construction boom to field new ships that were unified under the Imperial banner in both design and crew.
The Grand Army of the Republic Venator class Star Destroyer carriers were repainted and remodeled. By the time of the Battle of Yavin, much of the old Republic ships had been scrapped to make way for the new Imperial navy. Contrary to the Imperial Navy's most iconic class of warship, the Imperial Navy was composed of dozens of other classes of warships and non-combat support vessels. After the fall of the Empire, the First Order would rise, taking the bulk of the surviving Imperial warships into their fold that did not pledge loyalty to the New Republic.  

The Old Republic lacked an system of military instillation to the degree that the Empire maintained. In the short history of the Empire, the Imperial Military constructed a number of permit and portable garrison bases to show the flag, project power, and to provide the rebels with targets. Imperial class Star Destroyer carriers were outfitted with materials to construction bases and outposts to allow for long-term operations.
When it comes to formal, large construction bases they vary greatly. Some bases are well-staffed, well-organized, and vital to operations in the system or sector where they were located. Bases in vital systems are a buzz with activity and staff, other bases that are off the beaten path are often less professional and boring assignments. Then there are the bases that are little more than supply depots that are laying in wait for a call to action and usefulness. These are targets of the rebellion to rearm themselves and gather supplies. The ultimate expression of the Imperial base is the Death Stars and later, the Starkiller Base.

Ground Forces
Prior to the Clone Wars, the Old Republic was mainly reliant on local systems' law enforcement and planetary defense organization along with the Jedi Order to solve planetary surface issues. There were few dirt-side battles and issues, all were handled by the Jedi and some specialized police units. When the Separatists withdrew and the galaxy erupted into full-scale war, the Republic was in no way ready to wage a conflict on that scale. The answer was the Grand Army of the Republic, and it was an combined arms fighting force. Those war machines designed for planetary warfare were the template for which the planetary forces of the Imperial Army were based on. Many of the old Republic Grand Army vehicles were reused and modified for the Imperial Army.
The most iconic planetary war machine was the armored walker mechs, the AT-AT and the AT-ST that were the most frequently used due to their mobility and portability. Most Imperial class Star Destroyer carriers carried AT-STs and Stormtoopers for putting out Rebel flare ups, however, the Imperial Army did have a great number of vehicles and mechs to utilize. Repulsor tanks, armored vehicles, CAS modified TIE fighters, even modified endoatompsheric shuttles all make up the Imperial Army. Two elements of the Imperial Army are misunderstood: the Stormtroopers and the Imperial Infantry troopers.
Some wrongly operate under the assumption that the Stormtrooper Corps is the only planetary infantry force of the Empire. When in fact, the Stormtroopers are an elite special mission force designed for psychological effect and hammering assault tactics. There are not enough Stormtroopers to be used in wide scale planetary operations against the Rebel forces and planetary rebellions. The Imperial Infantry Corps is the ground based troopers that are the classical infantry of the Imperial Military and are designed for seizing and hold planetary real estate in most mechanized units.
While they are not as well skilled or outfitted as the Stormtroopers, they do have the numbers to overwhelm any enemy force...temporarily. Given the racial requirements for Imperial service, the Imperial Armed Forces suffered from some manpower issues through its exist, and the Empire shifted recruits into the Navy to man the ships and the TIE fighters undercutting the Imperial Army needs. Helping out the Imperial Army was the "marines" of the Imperial Navy: the Naval Troopers, that can and did operate during planetary operations. With these manpower issues, the amount of territory needing to be covered, and economics, the Imperial military joint chiefs focused their resources on shaping the Imperial Army as an hammer to deliver a killer blow to resistance. It could not or would be the Grand Army of the Republic during the Clone Wars.

The Aero Force
Swarming the skies and stars is the iconic Imperial fighter design: the TIE (Twin Ion Engines) fighter. While the Rebel Alliance and the Grand Army of the Republic invested in larger, more complex starfighters...quality over quantity, while the Imperial Military wanted quantity over quality. The TIE fighter platform was the answer. Modulability was the hallmark of the main aerofighter of the Empire, allowing dozens of configurations to be fashioned and developed.
Another element of the TIE fighter was its easy of use and cheaper price per unit than the Rebel Alliance frontline starfighers. Along with the many variations of the base TIE fighter serving as the primary starfighter, the Empire had shuttles and other smaller vehicles for transport and gunship duties. With the clear and present threat from the Rebel starfighters, the Empire attempted to counter the threat with greater training and more advanced fighters, like the TIE Advanced.

Special Forces
There is some debate about the nature and identity of the Imperial Military Special Forces units; especially when it is considering the role of the iconic Stormtroopers. The foundation of the Stormtroopers is traced back to the Clonetrooper legions of the Grand Republic Army during the Clone Wars. The iconic white armor and fierce loyalty were hallmarks passed from the Clonetroopers to the Stormtroopers. While the Clonetroopers were the standard infantry during the Clone Wars, the Stormtroopers are not. In practice, the Stormtroopers are special direct action assault units that are known for their skill, bravery, brutality, and loyalty. Stormtroopers are the boot of the New Order and arm of the Emperor, allowing them to become a symbol for the Empire and the war against the Rebel Alliance.
During that intergalactic civil war, the Stormtroopers were used more frequently against the rebels due to their loyalty and psychological effect. With the attack-and-fade tactics of the Rebels against the Empire, the Stormtroopers were mobilized in greater numbers onboard Imperial class Star Destroyer taskforces assigned to rapid response to Rebel incursions. Stormtroopers were also assigned to protect and reinforce sensitive bases and installations, as seen with the Stormtrooper units onboard the Death Stars and the Endor Moon installation.
Helping the flexibility of the Stormtrooper corps was the specially trained environmental units and an scout/sniper regiment that allowed for Imperial Military to possess all-strike units with a unit that could recon the battlefield, gathering on-the-ground intel with precision fire support. Another specialized unit drawn from the the ranks of the Stormtrooper corps was the Emperor's Royal Guard. This very elite close protection unit of the Emperor Palpatine and other Imperial inner circle was designed to impress and be a symbol of the office of the Emperor. To keep themselves in top combat shape, Royal Guardsmen were rotated into combat units.    

Intelligence Services
Any authoritarian regime is naturally paranoid and its deepest desire is to maintain power. That being said, gathering intelligence on the goings and comings of your population is critical to controlling and planning. The Empire possessed several intelligence services, both civilian and military, that monitored their citizens for signs of Rebel support, terrorism, and Force abilities. Several intelligence agencies overlapped and even spied on one another. There was nothing private in the Empire, and you had to have friends to watch your back and dig up dirt. During the height of the Empire, there was money to be made turning in people for the bounty and build up your own power and influence. The best real-world comparison for the Imperial Intelligence Hydra is the Soviet Union, Baathist Iraq, and Nazi Germany.

Service Personnel
According to the novelization of the first Star Wars film, the Galactic Empire controlled one million star systems across an estimated diameter of 12,000 LYs of the galaxy, and this seems to be reusing a line about the size of the Empire from Isaac Asimov's Foundation. That being said, the Empire is an imperial power bend on control and conquest, resulting in the need for a large military to dominate. A military projecting itself over thousands of Lightyears and trillions of citizens would need millions in service. Some estimates place the size of the Imperial Fleet at 25,000 capital warships with over 100 million bodies needed to crew these vessels. That is the Imperial Navy along and that is not even estimating the manpower needs for the ground forces, administration, logistics, and the Stormtroopers.
Feeding that machine is several pathways into Imperial military service. One is the classical route of enlisting into Imperial Service as an enlisted personnel with a recruiter for reason of patriotism, vocation, adventure, and aimlessness. Another is through the various Imperial Military academies. Main characters of the SW universe, like Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Biggs Darklighter either attended or wanted to attend the Imperial Academy.
The Imperial Academy was seen as receiving one of the best educations in the galaxy as well as granting you access to the inner circle of Imperial society after graduation. Then there is a third method of entering into Imperial military service: forced conscription. With the massive manpower demands of the Empire, every star system was required to fill a quota for Imperial recruits, and local Moffs were heavily lended on by the central Imperial government to fulfill those quotas by any means necessary. It is often said that getting drunk in the central systems of the Empire is a bad idea, because you might wake up inside a shuttle headed to basic Imperial training.    

Race and the Empire (COMPNOR)
The Star Wars galaxy is populated with thousands of intelligent species of every shape, color, and size, however, you would not know but examining the racial makeup of the Empire or their military. For the most part, nonhuman species are blocked from service in the main cogs of the Empire and its military. That racist "humanocentric" policy is based the central ideology of the Empire: the Commission for the Preservation of the New Order (COMPNOR). According to the COMPNOR view of the galaxy, human species are the primary glue and motivators of forwarding the progress of galactic society, culture, and development. As the Empire was forming in 19 BBY, the first COMPNOR rallies were held. Policies shaping the new Empire into a homo sapiens only club strongly affected the makeup of the Imperial Military and its pool of recruitment.
While the homo sapiens species of the galaxy were many and were a strong percentage of the galactic population, they were not in the majority when compared to the "alien" species that were members of the Old Republic. This entire ideology directly affected the military in many ways along with the civil war. When COMPNOR and its policies took full effect into the new government, this not only limited the pool of recruits, causing chronic manpower shortages, but it pushed legions of alien species into the waiting arms of the Rebel Alliance. It created an air of distrust and suspicion between the Empire and its alien subjects. The fairness and level playing field of the Old Republic was brutally replaced by draconian laws and favoritism towards human-owned companies.
Much of the major defense contractors for the military were human owned companies, limiting the influx of innovation and development to the Imperial military-industrial complex. This also fostered a relationship between alien owned defense companies and the Rebel Alliance, allowing for a steady supply of machines to wage the civil war. An prime example being the Mon Calamari shipyards being the primary generator of fresh-of-the-line combat starships. After the civil war and the establishment of the New Republic, historians often cite the policies under the umbra of COMPNOR as one of the key reasons for the Empire being defeated by the Rebel Alliance.
One another help but wonder when watching the original Holy Trilogy that there are alot of humans up in the Empire, and when I read the West End Games Star Wars Empire RPG manual, I learned about COMPNOR. However, there are several behind-the-scenes reasons for the majority of humans seen in the original films. There is utilization for Nazi iconography and policy to form the core of the Empire, allowing the audience to more instantly understand the relationships and structure of this spaceborne Empire in a faraway galaxy. This was a deliberate effort by Lucas and it worked, causing some fans to label the Empire "the Space Nazis".
Then there is the more down-to-earth reason: money. The first 1977 Star Wars film was made on a limited budget and the aliens featured in the film were condensed to several key scenes on Tatooine and the walking carpet. Human actors for the Imperial personnel onboard the Star Destroyer and the Death Star relaxed the overall budget along with conveying the difference between the outer rim territories and the Empire. This is also why Star Trek is packed with bumpy forehead aliens.

Ranking System
One of the more interesting costuming choices for the Imperial Military is the ranking system insignia. These colorful blocks arranged on a sliver plaque inform instantly and clearly the ranks of the Imperial Military. Given that this is fictional military organization mostly seen on-screen, the ranking system is limited, much like Starfleet. Familiar military ranking titles are used to instantly connect to the audience...save for the title of "Moff" and "Grand Moff". There are commissioned officer ranks that run from Lieutenant to Admiral to Moff. Moff is a high rank that is not easily translated into real-world military ranks. It is basically an military governorship over sectors and regions that I guess can command military units on a grand scale...like the Death Star. The word "Moff" is rumored to originate from an Arabic title of "Grand Mufti" that is the highest official of religious law in Sunni nations. There are non-comm ranks as well and it is believed that the Stormtrooper corps maintains a closed-system ranking system. Existing outside the standard Imperial Military ranking system is Lord Vader and other shadowy entries that are only known to a few.    

The History of the Imperial Military
The official date of the founding of the Galactic Empire and its military organization is 19 standard years Before the Battle of Yavin. In less than 20 years, the Empire rose and were at the apex of their power...but how it all start? At some point prior the Trade Federation blockade of Naboo, Darth Sidious developed the master Machiavellian plan to allow the Sith to rise to the position of ultimate authority in the galaxy and achieve their old held goal of revenge against the Jedi. To accomplish this goal, the Old Republic would have to be replaced with Sith-based empire. In mainstream history, the beginning point of the genesis of the Empire and the dissolving of the Old Republic is the Clone Wars.
Seemingly overnight, the Old Republic was beset with issues, conflicts, and serious political division that cracked the foundation of the government. The crisis on Naboo, the formation of the Separatists alliance, the weakness of the Jedi Order to maintain law and order all added to the restlessness in the member worlds. With the election of Naboo Senator Palpatine, the ball was rolling. Using his Sith apprentice, Count Dooku, Palpatine was able to form an enemy force for the Republic and the Jedi to fight, but with the limited military capability of both the Jedi and the Republic at large, there was a need for a true army...and as an happy accident, there was an cloned army waiting in the wings...funny how things work out! For three years, the Grand Army of the Republic with the Jedi, combated the Separatists across the galaxy, tearing at the fabric of Republican society, economy, and government.
In 19 BBY, the Sith plan came to the moment that they had been waiting for thousands of years: the organized slaughter of the Jedi by the Cloned army under Order 66. Palpatine framed the Jedi as a threat to the galaxy, and secured the citizenry's support via "law and order". By the end of the Clone Wars in 19 BBY, the Empire was formed, most of the Jedi were dead, and the shadow of the Dark Side of the Force loomed over the entire galaxy. For nearly 20 years, the Empire constructed a vast Imperial army and navy, began building of the first Death Star, and hunting down the last of the Jedi that had escaped Order 66. In seemed that law and order had finally come to the galaxy after the Clone Wars.
But not all were happy with the Imperial rule and its liberal use of military force via their new Stormtrooper corps and the Imperial class Star Destroyer carrier. The Rebel Alliance soon formed from former Senators, political exiles, aliens, and troublemakers. It was in these moments that the Empire and its military truly came into their iconic conflict: the Galactic Civil War. While the Rebel Alliance was gathering strength and resources, they learned of the massive new battle station that was rumored to have the power to destroy entire planets. Rebel intelligence was able to obtain the plans and attempt to courier them via Senator Leia Organa.
It was during these events that the greatest defeat in Imperial history occurred. On the heels of the destruction of Aldreen, the Death Star moved to attack the hidden Rebel base on Yavin 4, deciding to dismiss its escort ships and boldly attack the base on its own. It was a decision that cost the base and everyone onboard their lives. That rebel victory rocked the Imperial Military not only in the amount of lives and material lost, but also by a loss of honor. For much of the Rebellion, it had hit-and-run before the full might of the Empire could be applied...and now, they had taken out the largest military engineering of all time. Payback was the order of the day, and Imperial forces rushed to Yavin to deliver that revenge and catch the Rebels before they had time to bug out. For years, the full might of the Imperial armed forces was delivered onto the galaxy during their obsessive hunt for the rebels and their supporters.
Three years after the destruction of the Death Star, the Empire was ready with another battle station and a trap to pull in the main Rebel fleet to end the primary threat once and for all. In addition, the Sith Lords were wanting to pull in Luke Skywalker to either convert him to the Dark Side (they have cookies!) or kill him. This climatic battle between portions of the Rebel and Imperial fleet was one of the two end battles of the galactic civil war. This is where the remains of the Imperial armed forces were shattered and overwhelmed by the riots and revolts. In this chaos, the rebels attempted to stabilize by founding the New Republic. By the time of the end battle of Jakku, the Empire forces were now outlaws to the New Republic. After the peace accords were signed, what remained of the Imperial Military withdrew to unknown territories to await the right time and JJ Abrams.  

The Effect of the Destruction of the 1st Death Star
When the first Death Star was designed by a relatively weak rebel force of X-Wings and Y-Wings at Yavin 4, it sent shockwaves through the galaxy and the Imperial government. Their massively expensive engineer project that was seen as the very symbol of their power and ability to terrify and bully was gone so shortly after its launch. There was deep concern throughout all levels of the government that this defeat would see an increase in open support for the rebels and the challenging of Imperial authority.
The Empire responded with Lord Vader being sent on a special mission to hunt down the rebels at their major base of operations after the base on Yavin 4 was crushed with his new flagship. While the Dark Lord of the Sith was hunting down the rebels and the Force user who launched the fatal shot. the rest of the Empire was attempting to regain law and order while mounting a serious PR campaign. Every division of the military and government were involved in reestablishing authority while preventing new recruits to the Rebel Alliance. Not helping matters was the dissolution of the Senate and the destruction of Alderaan. In the inner circles of power, it was decided to create an elaborate trap deny too tempting for the Rebels to ignore. That was the 2nd Death Star in orbit around the Forest Moon of Endor.

The Effect of the Battles of Endor and Jakku
Construction of a second Death Star space station was never intended to fulfill the role of the first Death Star, it was intended to be an trap of unrepeatable magnitude of force. Conceptually, the plan was to suck in the Rebel main fleet, trap them between the 2nd Death Star and a major Imperial Naval taskforce. It did not work according to plan, and the 2nd Death Star was destroyed, Vader and the Emperor were both dead, and the Empire was badly weakened after riots and revolts across the Core Worlds of the galaxy.
The final end of the Empire came one standard year after the Battle of Endor at the Battle of Jakku. Here is where the last bulk of the Empire was about to mount a defense of the desert world. Jakku that housed a key Imperial Weapons R&D site. It was here that the New Republic and the remains of the Imperial Military squared off in one last battle of the galactic civil war. Thus, with the Empire defeated, the peace accords were signed and the shattered bits of the Empire hid themselves to reorganize as the New Order.

The Enemies of the Empire

The Rebel Alliance
During the formation of the Empire during the events of Revenge of the Sith, there was the founding of the Rebel Alliance with Senators unhappy about the new government back on Coruscant. For years, the underground agents of the nascent alliance gathered support and converts to the cause. This eroded the hold the Empire had on the majority of the galaxy, and gave an organization outlet for the disenfranchised, As we all know, the Rebels scored their first major victory against the Empire at Yavin 4, hardened the Empire to find and destroy the major Rebel base. Leading this mission of hunting down the rebel scum was Lord  Vader, the Emperor's right hand, in his massive Super Star Destroyer class carrier/space control vessel.
Only a few years after the critical victory at Yavin, the Rebels would gain further major victories at Endor and the final battle of Jakku, causing the peace treaty, and the formation of the New Republic. Despite its small stature, the Rebel Alliance was the thorn-in-the-side of the Empire with its hit-and-fade tactics, ability to scrap together machines, and wrestle victory in the face of defeat. The Empire could wiped out a major base, like Hoth or Yavin, and the Rebellion would have several other bases in hiding. That was the power of the Rebels, their ability to be cellular and not to be tied down one fixed location. As the Empire cracked down after the destruction of the first Death Star, it drove more into the arms of the Rebellion.

Darth Vader?!
The Dark Side of the Force is at the heart of the Lords of the Sith, but it also a weakness in the very heart of the Empire. The Emperor rules over both the Sith and the galaxy, with this loyal student, Lord Vader at his side, ready enforce the will of his master...or is he? In The Empire Strikes Back, Lord Vader tells Luke to join and depose the Emperor, and they can rule the galaxy as father and son. This shows that there was something rotten in Denmark and that one of the greatest weakness in the Empire was the plotting of the Emperor and Vader. During the key battle of Endor, while the 2nd Death Star was fighting for survival, the senior most Imperial leadership is in the middle of Lightsaber power struggle. Once again, the course of the galaxy comes down to the struggle between the Sith and the Jedi...when is the rest of the galaxy going to learn?

The Hutt Cartel
In between the Empire and the Rebellion was other major galactic force: the Hutts. For the most part, the Hutts were a major player in the wider economic forces in the galaxy, they were part of the economics of both and funded projects for both. The Hutts were playing both sides, while controlling their share of the rim territories. Without the Hutts and their various business, the Death Star would not have been constructed, nor would the Rebellion have access to material and lines of credit. If they so desired, the Hutts could have cut off their financial support (in the clear and in the shadows) of either side or both, and inflected much hardship. If the Empire had been successful in wiping out the Rebellion and gone after the Hutts, the hidden hand of their economic power would reached out. Wisely, the Empire played by the rules and left the Hutts alone.

The Future of the Empire: The First Order
From the ashes of the Empire came the phoenix organization that took over the mantle for the Empire: the First Order. Originally, the First Order was an political party in the New Republic Senate, but was no tolerated for its views being aligned with old doctrine from the Empire and it and its members were booted out. Out in the rim, they located the remains of the Empire, combined with the Dark Side Force user Snoke. This allowed the military junta of the First Order to be formed some 30 years after the Battle of Endor.
The primary goal was simple: destroy the New Republic, crush the Resistance, and become the dominate power in the galaxy. Central to their dark desires for oppression and control was the Starkiller super weapon along with hunting down the last major Light Side Force user: Luke Skywalker. Given the surplus and iconography of the Empire, the First Order borrowed liberally and much like the Empire before it, there was too much investment into an ultimate weapon that was defeated by a collection of starfighters and spunky rebels. After the destruction of the Starkiller Base and the New Republic capitol world, the galaxy is again in flux as the two sides of the Force battle for harmony and control.    

The Final Assessment of the Empire
What kind of grade would the Imperial Military get if it was being ranked to real-world military organizations? Let us consider the case. Holding power of 75%-80% of the galaxy gives Imperial Military an impressive and difficult mission to accomplish, but its racial policy via COMPNOR causing chronic issues with recruitment and driving "aliens" into the hands of the Rebel Alliance, which is the rotten center of the Empire.
In addition, there is serious leadership issues that pull focus from core issues and pours money into vastly expensive planet-killers that are more or less easily killed by space fighters, despite this vast advanced knowledge of engineering and construction. The actual military organization is also weak from heavily investing in an expensive class of warship (The Star Destroyer), a cheap starfighter, and a small core of loyalist shocktroopers that cannot project power in enough places to prevent the Rebellion from spreading like a cancer.  In the final assessment of the Imperial Military, FWS grades them an solid "D" on the cusp of an "C".

Next Time on FWS...
Wanting something new to read during the last month of summer? Join us next time when FWS will review a very fine Military Sci-Fi novel Salvage Marines by Sean-Michael Argo along with an interview with the author.


  1. Good article!
    As to the evaluation of imperial military of SW I'll add the poor gunnery skill of the Stormtroopers (supposedly the elite forces of the empire)… I mean how could they expect to win wars with soldiers who can't aim?

    1. Its worth remembering that the Stormtroopers on the Death Star were under orders to miss to permit the rebels to escape and thus lead the Empire to the Rebel base on Yavin. It actually takes a special kind of discipline to miss on purpose when taking fire yourselves.

      As for the Battle of Endor well thats harder to defend but its possible that the IFF system the Stormtroopers were using where simple unable to identify the Ewoks, of course the Stormtroopers should have been able to ether update the IFF or override it.

  2. Okay, this is a solid article and it is well researched, but you seem to have made a slight mistake - You've given it a metric ton of stuff from the Expanded Universe. Look, I know Disney took the rape and pillage approach to the old lore, and is basically making suspiciously similar copies to damn near everything it can't just loot for itself, but a lot of this stuff still belongs to the EU.

    The variety of stormtrooper forces, the presence of COMPNOR, and quite a few other things are a level of deeper detail Disney have omitted in favour of its shallow mimicry approach. Sorry, don't get me wrong, I do like the analysis and details, but I do think it's wrong you've given one new setting credit for half the things the old one did, especially after it murdered it.

  3. One unintended advantage to only having human actors on both sides of the conflict is that they avoided the western style “us vs the Indians” confrontation. The story was able to concentrate on the political reasons for the war, rather than a clash of civilizations.

  4. A solid, solid article. Liked it very much.

  5. I concluded TIE fighters evolve from a one man Technician Inspection Environment pod...on account of needing to fly down exaust ports to examine damage and oversee droid repairs.