- "It turns out the Empire doesn't take too kindly to desertion."
- ―Gregor, to Echo
Desertion was the act of abandoning one's role within a military organization without permission. People who deserted from such forces were known as deserters. Notable deserters included Cut Lawquane, Clone Force 99, Thane Kyrell, and Han Solo. Desertion was generally considered an act of treason.
Desertion to an opposing or enemy force was specifically known as defection, with those who defected to other factions known as defectors. However, the definition of defection included both military and civilian personnel, such as Senators like Lux Bonteri.
Desertion was when a member of a military organization abandoned their role without permission. When someone deserted to an opposing or enemy force, it was known as defection. Individuals who committed desertion were known as deserters, and those who defected were called defectors. Unlike desertion, which applied only to military personnel, defection could also be done by civilians. Desertion was considered an act of treason by governments such as the Galactic Empire.
High Republic Era
During the conflict which encompassed the planet Soika, the father of Velko Jahen defected from the Livtak Union to the Gagic Alliance after discovering the Union was planning something he disapproved of. This was how he met the woman who became Jahen's mother.
The Clone Wars
Shortly after the First Battle of Geonosis which kickstarted the Clone Wars between the Galactic Republic and Confederacy of Independent Systems, a Republic troop transport was attacked by Separatist forces. The sole Republic survivor was a clone trooper who eventually became known as Cut Lawquane, who deserted in the aftermath as he felt his life had no meaning since his team was dead. Cut married Suu Lawquane and became a farmer on Saleucami. During the Battle of Saleucami, he met Clone Captain Rex of the 501st Legion after Rex was injured and his men left him at the Lawquane farm to recover. Rex considered reporting Cut, but eventually chose not to after they fought off a commando droid attack on the farm together.
On the waterworld Mon Cala, divided between the Mon Calamari and Quarren species, support for the opposing sides in the Clone Wars fell along species lines. Quarren chieftain Nossor Ri led his people to join the Separatists after the murder of King Yos Kolina, feeling that Kolina's son, the Mon Calamari Prince Lee-Char, was unprepared to lead. Lee-Char eventually deduced that Separatist ambassador and invader Riff Tamson had murdered his father, accusing Tamson in front of Ri, who had developed doubts as Tamson's forces occupied the planet. Ri turned against the Separatists for good during Tamson's attempted execution of Lee-Char, as the prince had suspected he would, assisting in fighting off the invaders. In the aftermath, Ri swore loyalty to Lee-Char at his coronation.
Order 66 and the aftermath
In 19 BBY, the Clone Wars came to an abrupt end when Republic Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, truly the Dark Lord of the Sith, issued Order 66, a secret command which compelled the clone troopers of the Grand Army of the Republic to turn on and execute their Jedi commanding officers. The order was enforced through secretly implanted inhibitor chips which controlled the clones' behavior against their will, giving them no choice in their actions. A few clones were immune to the chips or otherwise free of the brainwashing, however, and many of them chose to desert from Palpatine's new Galactic Empire rather than serve it.
Rex, who had by that time been promoted to Clone Commander, was en route to Coruscant with former Padawan Ahsoka Tano onboard the Tribunal, intending to deliver the captured renegade Sith Lord Maul to the Jedi High Council. When the order was issued, he was able to resist his chip's effects briefly, having learned of their existence from the ARC trooper Fives, who had been silenced after finding out the truth about what the chips were for and that Palpatine was behind it. Rex had not understood Fives' warning at the time, as Fives had been drugged into incoherency, but he realized what was happening and was able to tell Tano to "find Fives" before the chip took him over. With the help of three astromech droids, she found a grievance report Rex had filed about Fives' death in which he mentioned the chips, and was able to capture him and surgically remove it, freeing him from the mind control. The 332nd Division turned on Rex when they realized he was no longer attempting to kill Tano, but she and Rex escaped from the crashing Venator-class Star Destroyer. With everyone onboard the Tribunal dead in the aftermath, Tano and Rex parted ways and separately went into hiding from the Empire.
Most of the members of the irregular clone commando squad Clone Force 99—nicknamed the "Bad Batch"—were immune to Order 66 due to either their status as genetically defective clones or, in Echo's case, cybernetics implanted while he was a prisoner of the Techno Union. The sole exception was the team's sniper: CT-9904 "Crosshair's" chip did work, but was less active than those of standard clones due to his genetic mutations. With their loyalty in question after the rise of the Empire, Admiral Wilhuff Tarkin dispatched them on a mission to test their obedience, which they refused to carry out after finding out that their targets included civilians and former Republic fighters. After returning to Kamino as team leader Hunter wanted to rescue Omega, a unique modified clone the squad had met earlier, they were arrested, and Crosshair was taken away on Tarkin's orders to have the effects of his chip enhanced, making him totally loyal to the Empire. The rest of the Batch escaped imprisonment with Omega, forced to leave their brainwashed former comrade behind.
Some time after the formation of the Empire, as the new government moved forward with plans to phase out the clones in favor of recruited soldiers, some clone commandos were tasked with training the new "TK troopers" at secret facilities like one located on the otherwise-uninhabited planet Daro. It did not take long for one of the instructors there, Captain Gregor, to decide he did not want to be involved in what the Empire was doing, and he attempted to desert. He made it out of the base while being chased by Imperial troopers, but was only able to plant a distress beacon before being recaptured. The beacon sent a signal to Rex, who was a friend of Gregor's, but as he was unable to go himself, Rex tasked the Bad Batch with rescuing Gregor. The squad successfully infiltrated the base and freed Gregor, but Hunter was captured after being separated from his team, ordering the others to escape without him. The Batch subsequently regrouped and set out to rescue him from the Empire.
During the reign of the Galactic Empire, the Empire conducted a brutal campaign to conquer the peaceful planet Mimban for its abundant natural resources. Han Solo served as an infantry corporal in the Imperial Army during that campaign, where he noted that "we're the invaders" against the native Mimbanese. After his commander Staz was killed, Solo retreated and encountered Tobias Beckett and his gang of thieves. Solo realized they were impersonating Imperial military personnel and asked them to take him with them, but instead Beckett reported Solo to his superiors for insubordination. Han was to be executed for his alleged insubordination by being fed to "the beast" whom the Empire kept prisoner on Mimban. Han used his knowledge of Shyriiwook to convince Chewbacca to work with him to free themselves, and the pair joined Beckett's crew. Thus, Solo became a deserter.
Imperial Minister Maketh Tua of Lothal sought to defect from Imperial service after discovering the true reason for the Empire's interest in the backwater Outer Rim planet. To that end, she contacted the Spectres, a local rebel cell, asking them for their help extracting her in exchange for the Imperial secret. However, Darth Vader used Tua to set a trap for the rebels, and Tua was killed in a bombing which the rebels were blamed for before she could properly defect or give them her information.
Imperial Security Bureau Agent Alexsandr Kallus began to doubt his loyalty to the Empire after an encounter with the rebel Garazeb Orrelios on the ice moon of Bahryn. This doubt eventually drove him to become a Fulcrum agent for the rebellion, leaking information to the Phoenix Cell about the Empire's doings in the Lothal sector. He covertly aided the rebel Sabine Wren when she infiltrated Skystrike Academy to assist in the defection of cadets Wedge Antilles, Derek Klivian, and Rake Gahree, although Gahree was killed during the first, unsuccessful attempt at escape. Wren was highly skeptical of Kallus' motives, but let him live as she, Antilles, and Klivian fled. The Phoenix rebels, who included the Spectres, eventually found out that Kallus was Fulcrum. Kallus stayed inside the Empire as long as he could, but was eventually discovered to be a rebel spy by Grand Admiral Thrawn, and arrested after he attempted to alert the rebels to an attack on their base. During the battle, Kallus escaped the Chimaera by goading Governor Arihnda Pryce into ordering him thrown out an airlock, being picked up in an escape pod by the Ghost.
Several months after the destruction of the planet Alderaan, Imperial Navy lieutenant Thane Kyrell deserted the Empire after witnessing the enslavement of the Bodach'i, having been developing doubts. Kyrell invited his childhood friend Ciena Ree to join him, but, bound by the First Waver belief in never breaking a vow under any circumstances, she stayed with the Empire, choosing only to fake Kyrell's death on their homeworld Jelucan as a favor to him. Nine months after his desertion, Kyrell met members of the Rebel Alliance on Oulanne, led by Wedge Antilles, and accepted an offer to join the rebellion.
Around the time of the Battle of Hoth, Imperial soldier Kendy Idele and her entire unit mutinied against the Empire on Miriatin. Only a third of the mutineers, including Idele, survived, and they went on to join the Rebel Alliance. In the process, Idele was reunited with Kyrell, who had been a classmate of hers at the Royal Imperial Academy on Coruscant, and was both surprised and happy to see him as she had assumed him dead.
- Star Wars: Scum and Villainy: Case Files on the Galaxy's Most Notorious
- "Imperial Troops" – Star Wars Encyclopedia
- "Crime and Punishment" – Star Wars Insider 209
Notes and references
- Star Wars: The Bad Batch – "War-Mantle"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "The Deserter"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Tipping Points"
- "Starlight: First Duty" – Star Wars Insider 201–202
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Water War"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Prisoners"
- Star Wars: Galactic Atlas
- Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Orders"
- Star Wars: The Bad Batch – "Battle Scars"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Shattered"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Character Encyclopedia - Join the Battle!
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Victory and Death"
- Star Wars: The Bad Batch – "Aftermath"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "A Distant Echo"
- Star Wars: The Bad Batch – "Return to Kamino"
- Solo: A Star Wars Story
- Star Wars Rebels: The Siege of Lothal
- Star Wars Rebels – "The Honorable Ones"
- Star Wars Rebels – "An Inside Man"
- Star Wars Rebels – "The Antilles Extraction"
- Star Wars Rebels – "Zero Hour"
- Lost Stars