This article isn’t a hate marathon of the prequels, or even a critique of the films at all. No, this article addresses some very specific issues I’ve always questioned about the Star Wars universe at large. I could probably write an entire article on the ineptitude of the empire, or even the ridiculousness of the rebellion, however, I’ll avoid the weeds and just focus on the few things that have always stuck out as blaring issues with both sides. Also to note, these lessons and issues identified can work throughout the entire star wars story, including prequels, the orig-trig, and the newer movies, I’m not much of a non-cannon expert so please excuse this if it doesn’t hold true to the novels or comic books. Basically, both sides and all of the characters make the same basic mistakes that would get you killed and/or fired in the real world when leading an empire/rebellion/army/or weapons manufacturer.
***Warning, this article explores some pretty nerdy territory***
The Tactics are an absolute travesty.
Let me ask you a quick question, if someone started shooting at you with any firearm, what is your immediate reaction? If you said find cover and assess the situation, congratulations you may be in the military, police force, or you at least have more sense than the common star wars grunt. If you said, you’d stand there presenting the largest target possible, blankly staring at the threat while shooting wildly from the hip and remaining as stationary as possible, congratulations your bantha fodder.
Throughout the universe rebel Soldiers and Storm troopers alike enjoy casual firefights in the open, making no attempt to maneuver on the enemy (using one element to suppress while another advances to a more advantageous position), or even use cover or concealment to increase their survivability. This is most evident in their ship boarding battles, but is even shown to a great extent in The Force Awakens, and Rouge One where storm troopers and rebel fighters go toe to toe in an open arena, shooting the shit out of each other while hardly even taking a knee. Doing this on the modern day battle field is absolute suicide, if you would like an example, look up any “stupid terrorist” video on the internet and feast your eyes as the lone jack wagon firing wildly from the hip like Rambo in the middle of the street gets mowed down in a hail of gunfire.
They’ve never heard of the fatal funnel
Additionally, the Empire wields a slew of tools, mainly numerical superiority, or mass, that they can and should throw down the rebellions throats at every encounter, but never do. In the military, we call these tools the principles of warfare (Maneuver, Objective, Offensive, Simplicity, Economy of Force, Mass, Unity of Command, Surprise, and Security) and we base offensive operations on them. One can quickly draw parallels between any modern military with the empire/rebellion and quickly realize why the galactic civil war is at an absolute stand still.
where the hell are these guys when you need them? maybe a few less formations and a few more patrols.
Some questions to ask of the leadership of both sides… Where is the close air support (Unity of Effort)? We see a little of it in The Force Awakens, meaning, ONE storm trooper calls for ONE air support mission, ONE time. That air support mentioned, by the way, gets blown up by a “squadron of X-wings” (No Security/Air Defense), but that’s it. Where do you see the air and ground integration so vital to the success of the US Army in the Gulf War and the Invasion of Iraq? Did the empire forget they often occupy the entire planet any battle is taking place cause well…. they own the damn galaxy? Isn’t there a quick reaction force, or even heavy gunship support from one of the star destroyers, why do they just sit back and watch their elements get slaughtered? Where is the emphasis on artillery, or even small mortar strikes to break up those rebel/storm trooper teams of Soldiers standing in the open? Why the hell don’t they have machine gun teams, or better yet, armored vehicles that can carry Troops, equipment, supplies, or out maneuver their opponents.
they work together, I promise.
Instead, both armies line up on opposite sides of the field, go minuteman on each other, and wait until a resulting melee breaks out. Don’t go pointing out how the empire brings out AT-ATs or AT-STs randomly to turn the tide. These vehicles show up on the scene randomly, don’t integrate into any kind of command structure or plan, and just aimlessly wander around the battlefield like they’re playing it as a free-for-all. In real life we call this a “shit show” and can often end up with the commitment of fratricide.
Shit shows come in all shapes and sizes, be weary
The only battle I can really give the Empire credit for dominating is the attack on Echo base on the planet of Hoth. This battle in the very least showcases how a naval blockade supporting a ground assault via armored platform to penetrate a defense and invade a strongpoint was sound, but again, where the hell are the tie bombers and tie fighters to provide air support during the invasion? Tie fighters could have been used to easily out maneuver the rebel snow speeders, with tie bombers brought in afterwards to target the heavy weapons and ion cannon, followed by artillery strikes to obscure the AT-AT advance (as well as suppress the infantry) THEN drop storm troopers. That’s how big daddy America does it, when the hell did that go out of style in military tactics? You better use more than the force if I have air superiority, coupled with heavy artillery and armored warfare.
Why the hell do they even bother with armor?
yup, this armor sucks.
This one has a heavy emphasis on the empire with their clunky storm trooper armor, but the same can be said about the ridiculous helmets and bullshit that the rebels try to pawn off as protection. I haven’t seen a single piece of armor in the star wars universe stop, deflect, or even dampen the effect of blaster fire. Hell, even when the characters set their weapons to stun. Not even the goddamn droids, who could literally be made from armor, take more than a shot to any part of their body, without falling to shit like a 90’s era puzzle ball. Say what you will about storm trooper marksmanship, at least when they hit a rebel it’s always fatal (unless your Leia, but then again she’s royalty, both in the universe and our hearts).
Yup, that bikini is the only piece of armor she ever needed.
So, lets look at your standard Storm trooper and do a basic cost benefit analysis. The situation; he is covered from head to toe in the brightest “armor” money can buy, that encases his whole head, limits his view, restricts his movement, and deprives every sense he has as a human being.
Benefits, he’s somewhat protected from the environment, but not anymore so than say, a regular uniform, aside from that… nothing, no other benefits, he doesn’t even blend in with his surroundings, unless they are fighting in a giant toilet bowl or a snow storm.
Risks, well, he’s a poster boy for sensory deprivation, he’s also probably pissing off every civilian and non hostile person on the battle field cause he looks like an embodiment of a fascist regime with no human features. The awkward shape of the blaster combined with the aforementioned sensory deprivation means his aim is worse than a hung-over college kid after an orgy trying to take a forced and very dehydrated piss. If injured, there is no way to quickly triage, or patch up the trooper because he’s encased in a giant exoskeleton, good luck putting on a tourniquet or applying pressure to a wound.
Alternatives, clothes… yup, just a regular uniform like the officers wear, or just regular body armor, hardened in areas with vital organs, seems pretty reasonable. If you do nothing, you continue to get your ass handed to you. There you have it…. solved, Evan has given the empire the simplest of solutions that could potentially cost less and protect their storm troopers, and it took all of four minutes.
Intuition, yup, my gut tells me to go with something less bulky, costly, and more effective.
No action taken, you continue to get your ass handed to you by damn carnivorous teddy bears.
the armor…. it does nothing!
The Logistics and manufacturing are obviously tools of a large military industrial complex.
Stalin is quoted as saying something akin to “wars are won in the factories”, I’d like to think there’s a little more to it than that, but he’s got a great point nonetheless. So, lets dive in, where the hell does the rebellion get all of these weapons to arm their troops, uniforms to give their Soldiers, fuel and ammunition to continue the fight, and parts and maintenance to sustain their ability to project power? I know these are very boring questions for you arm chair generals out there, but guess what, it’s why America is so damn good at warfare.
boring but necessary pretty much sums up life in the Army
Case in point, why was WWII such a remarkable feat by the US? Cause we managed to project an army across a damn ocean to sustain a rapid push East into Europe, while simultaneously rebuilding a navy and projecting a similar sized army West into the Pacific that’s why. Russia had a huge part in the victory, however, our unique capability to both produce and sustain a very long logistical train far outweighed Russia’s ability to conduct warfare along their internal lines. That’s what makes a superpower mother fucker.
So, back to the empire and rebellion, how the hell is the rebellion able to do this across multiple planets when a majority of the planets are owned / blown up by the empire? Why do they have so much trouble squashing a centrally controlled rebellion that has to rely on bouncing from base to base and garnishing support from the local population?
I’ve seen bigger
My recommendation for the empire is simple, taxes and sanctions. That’s right, tax the shit out of the corporations actively selling the rebellion weapons of warfare. Also embargo and impose sanctions on systems that supply the rebellion in terrorist activities. Ultimately the loyalty of a system will go to whoever takes care of it, so why even target the rebellion kinetically, why not just go for a smear campaign and focus on cutting out the financial support like modern day armies target insurgencies? Follow the money, and kill it at the source.
The empire owns the media too, why not just put out propaganda while slowly crushing the industrial support of the rebellion, and watch them crumble? These solutions wouldn’t even take long, it takes a lot of resources and knowhow to get supplies through the vacuum of space onto another planet, just cut of the resources, or target the suppliers. Then build roads and hospitals and shit and ask what the empire can do for you. Bam, now cruise control your way to a fat empire retirement on a sunny system in the outer rim.
The rank structure makes absolutely no sense.
Who the hell is in charge? Please, someone, point to the most junior Soldier on any star wars battlefield, then show me his team leader, squad leader, and NCO or Officer in charge. The best example you can find is in the Clone Wars animated series where they at least try to give the storm troopers some kind of chain of command, but then for some reason it jumps from a sergeant, to a captain, to a damn general. Also Jedi and rich folk are Generals too. Don’t believe me? Ask Lando “General for no goddamn reason” Calrision.
Not my general…
It’s not like he’s a General of a Cloud City detachment or something, he’s just a damn General, that’s it, no questions asked. What exactly is he a general of? At least Solo and Skywalker have some experience in leadership before they earn the title, and hell I’ll buy it from Leia cause she was royalty, but what the hell is up with these other generals coming out of the woodwork? Even Han asks about this when he was thawed out of his carbon ice nap saying how everyone was having delusions of grander. He’s abso-fucking-lutely right.
It also seems like every battle is led by these so-called generals, with no plan, or semblance of any kind of command structure. Gangs of New York had more organized fighting than any of the battles in the star wars universe. The movie avatar, laid a better campaign plan than any battle of star wars… Fucking unobtainium, ponytail sex, the Tree is alive! Avatar. I HATE Avatar, but dammit, at least their military action made more sense to me than whatever the hell the ewoks did on the forest moon of Endor.
Communication has got to be a pain in the ass.
Look, I’ll make this one very easy; just make one part in any star wars franchise where they explain what the fuck R2-D2 is saying. Just one part where they say something stupid like “thanks to this nifty techno-ear implant, I can understand all languages instantly” I don’t care how campy and stupid it is, at least then it makes sense. If not, you expect me to believe that Luke can have a full on conversation with R2 fucking beeping. No. Chewbacca, shut the hell up until you can explain what your growls and screams mean. It makes no sense, and I hate having to sit there and pretend to know what “oom tee-dee” means every time someone wants to buy a droid from a space-gypsy. Just lie to me, give me a reason to believe they can magically understand each other, shit, just say it’s the midichlorians, I don’t care, give me something to work with.
They get it.
Star fighter design, or rather, the shitty star fighter design.
Modern fighter aircraft are built around giving the pilot situational awareness. That can be through a slew of things like, radar, sensors, interfaces, and cockpit design. Take the F-16, whose bubble canopy sophisticated electronics, and radar allow it to be one of the premier aircraft in our arsenal. Hell, check out the A-10, whose hardy cockpit is built around a kickass mini gun that is made for close air support, allowing it to go all Leroy Jenkins and come home safely.
times up, lets do this…
Notice how the canopy is one of the higher points of the hull allowing the pilot to see all around his position on the aircraft.
In the star wars universe, I couldn’t begin to tell you what the hell any of the fighters had in mind when building their spacecraft. Hands down, the dumbest of all designs is the TIE fighter. What the hell is going on here? What asshole thought about a star fighter then said “yeah, give it a tiny view port only looking forward, then slap huge solar panels on each side”. If you don’t understand why that’s a problem go ahead and black out all your car windows except for your windshield, then tape on two refrigerator boxes on the sides of your hood and drive around for awhile.
let’s hope those rebel scum are coming straight at you there Ace.
The rebels don’t fair any better, I can’t point out more than about two or three fighters that can actively see anything behind them, let alone more than direct left or right. Hell, look at the damn millennium falcon, it’s cockpit is on one side of the craft, how the hell can you get a sense of the 98% of the craft you have to your left side? Any design/engineering team making these crafts for a government or rebel faction would be fired instantly.
clear on the left? clear on the left? fuck it… it’ll buff
The A-Wing and Y-Wing are probably the best designed star craft, however one is too small and lacks the protection to let it go toe to toe with even the most basic of TIE fighters, and one is to large and slow to let it take on an active fighter role. This leaves us with the X-Wing, which seems awesome until you realize you have about 180 degrees to work with… in space, where anything can kill you from any direction.
Dammit Carl, you told me you had my six.
This leads me to my next point, what the hell is up with the rebel radar, you know that display that looks like a jacked up tie fighter with the “asteroid” arrow that skirts around the screen that some how lets our good guys know where a TIE fighter is floating around? That gives absolutely no situational awareness to the pilot or gunner, and doesn’t give any other info aside from, well, an arbitrary arrow. The other award winning design is the TIE fighter’s interface that gives you four big stupid crosshairs and a line/wire depiction of your target that floats back and forth until you get a lock like a damn hand held side scroller from the 80s.
I have you now…
What exactly is it locking on to? To my knowledge the pilot has to move the craft, or a gunner has to move the lasers to fire on a target, meaning there is no lock… it’s a dumb laser that you have to move to your target, not the other way around. Why not invest in giving your pilots a heads up display, or in helmet display to more accurately place blaster fire. Even Kiowa (helicopter) pilots mark the cockpit window to anticipate the impacts of their guns; you can at least give the poor bastards a sharpie.
My last complaint about this boils down to resourcing (yes again), why waste resources developing and implementing different variants of star craft if you are going to use them the same way. For example, explain how the rebels use the X-Wing, A-Wing, and Y-Wing differently. The nerdy ones out there will at least point out that Y-wings have Ion cannons and can act as bombers for the most part with better shield generation, while the X-wing and A-wings serve as air (space) superiority craft. Now nerdy ones, point out an example in the star wars cannon where they do this in the slightest. I’ll wait.
Stay on target? how bout some god damn backup!?
That’s right they don’t. The damn wings are always all mixed up doing the same damn thing. So why waste all those resources, training, and tailoring to have a bunch of different fighters, when you can just have a multi role that does the same thing. Hell, an X-Wing was responsible for blowing up both death stars, with a little help from the falcon each time, but the crushing blow was always dealt via proton torpedoes (which an X-wing can carry). The empire is just as guilty, why invest in making fleets upon fleets of your shitty TIE fighter, then reserve a few “elite” squadrons of advanced fighters? Why not invest that survivability and experience throughout your fleets and allow younger pilots to fall in behind the more experienced more protected ones? That’s a lot easier on your logistical footprint, and manufacturing needs. Even training is easier, when you just have to worry about one kind of cockpit, and one set of weapons and communication.
Look, I still love these movies, and I still enjoy watching the endless conflict between these two loveably inept factions, but I think fixing some of these errors and making the empire something truly terrifying would help the series immensely. Imagine a battle unfolding where a sudden and violent ambush from a rebel company decimates a supply run, but then has to react to reinforcements of storm troopers with TIE bomber support and a massive artillery barrage. They attack not because it fits conveniently into the action arch of a movie, but because they are cut off from supply, trying desperately to fund their war effort or stop the empire from threatening and exploiting innocent people. It adds drama and suspense far greater than two sides that appear equal in footing and abilities simply exchanging blows based on loose and ambiguous ideals. That is infinitely more of a reality of a conflict worthy of our emotional investment than say some teddy bears that make traps out of logs.