- "...So don't just dream about applying for the Academy, make it come true! You can find a career in space: Exploration, Starfleet, or Merchant Service. If you have the right stuff to take on the universe, dispatch your application and join the ranks of the proud!"
- ―Advertisement from an Imperial Space Academy Recruitment tape
An Imperial Academy, also known as the Imperial Space Academy or Imperial Service Academy, was a military training program managed by the Galactic Empire, and primarily focused on training both the enlisted and officer corps of the Imperial Military.
Following the decentralisation of the Galactic Republic's military after the Ruusan Reformation, the Republic had no official military academy. However, the Planetary Security Forces had maintained the ancient schools on Prefsbelt IV and Anaxes and kept their traditions alive. After the outbreak of the Clone Wars, it was this system that the restored Republic Military drew on to train its officers, rather than the less-esteemed Judicial Academy of the Judicial Forces.
By the end of the Clone Wars, the Academy was an elite educational institution that trained youths to become members of the Exploration, Military, and Merchant Services. Under Palpatine's direction the Empire reformed the Academy and incorporated other institutions used by planetary defense forces and the Judicial Department. It established campuses on many planets throughout the galaxy, producing stormtroopers for the Stormtrooper Corps and officers for both the Imperial Navy and the Imperial Army.
Following the Battle of Endor and the Declaration of a New Republic, many planets associated with the Academy fell under New Republic control. The loss of the prestigious Core World of Anaxes and the Navy War College in 9 ABY badly-damaged Imperial hopes of reconquest. Thereafter the quality of Imperial recruits declined, and the Imperial Navy was forced to make increasing use of recruits trained on the job, and were even forced to order conscription raids to press men into service. The New Republic, meanwhile, took over the Anaxes War College and also established its own Fleet Academy on Coruscant.
The Academy of Carida, a major stormtrooper training facility, ceased to exist in 11 ABY when Carida was destroyed by the renegade Jedi Kyp Durron with the Sun Crusher. Even before then, however, the New Republic was unable to conquer the planet, with General Carlist Rieekan informing Mon Mothma that the best case scenario, albeit difficult, for their plan to weaken the Empire's military infrastructure was containment, and even that was "very long term." The Imperial Naval Academy on Prefsbelt IV, however, remained under the control of the Imperial Remnant after the Pellaeon–Gavrisom Treaty.
Prospective cadets for the Navy or Army without the wealth or connections for a highly-placed reference that could fast-track their career began their applications at the system level, attending regional military schools, pilot institutes, or training academies maintained by an individual planetary or system government. Among these was the Syndaar Military Prep School. These schools varied in quality across the galaxy, with some schools' qualifications being considered highly impressive, other distinctly less so. The requirements were very stringent, as very few managed to gain entry level due to the high standards, and even fewer managed to pass the intensive physical and mental challenges in basic training, with desired qualities including bravery, loyalty, intellect, and toughness.
Cadets who did well in such schools or began with family connections then attended regional sector service academies. A number of these schools were accredited by the Empire, and the facilities for the two arms of the military were known respectively as Sector Naval Academies and Army Officer Training Academies. Here they completed basic training, including tasks such as an AT-ST pilot testing procedure, learned military history and theory, and took examinations aimed at determining what military career might suit them best.
After passing out, cadets were required to dispatch their application to a Screening Officer of the Imperial Recruitment Office in their sector. These officers would assign cadets to a specific academy and would recommend the duration and nature of their initial training programme. Once assigned to a service academy, some cadets were graduated, commissioned, and posted to active duty after a minimum term, while others might be transferred repeatedly among academies and assigned different courses of study. Some of the academies were so classified that only members of Imperial High Command knew of their existence, while others were renowned names dating back centuries.
The reasons for Screening Officers' decisions and the convoluted nature of the whole system were subject to many conspiracy theories by cadets, but more often than not these decisions reflected a genuine desire to get the most out of the Empire's considerable investment in a cadet. According to Admiral Wullf Yularen of the Imperial Security Bureau, the academy system was responsible for creating superior officers in the Imperial Military, although Han Solo, himself a former graduate of the academy system, disputed that claim. Solo's own Academy progression was atypical: despite his humble background, Solo received a direct referral from Renn Tharen, a Corellian shipping magnate, which qualified him for entrance exams without a Sector Naval Academy credential. Clearly a superb pilot, Solo's scores saw him referred directly to flight school on Carida for two years rather than the three-year posting to officer training on Prefsbelt.
Cadets with top scores were invited to take entrance exams for the main service academies, where the Empire trained its most promising Officer Candidates. Each service had its own main academy, supported by a number of schools for specialists, cross-commission training, research and development, and investigations into strategic analysis and theory.
The Raithal Academy was the Imperial Army's most prestigious Army training institution, located on Raithal in the Colonies. It taught a one-year training programme that included both simulations and live-fire drills on drop camps across a variety of planets. After completing training, most graduates of Raithal would be assigned to the Corulag Academy, though the most promising or those seeking specialized Army careers might be assigned to the Academy of Carida.
The Imperial Naval Academy was the premier center for training for the fleet. Based on Prefsbelt IV, its location was officially classified, and taught Midshipmen tactical simulations and leadership before assigning them to active service rotations as Ensigns. Courses included navigation, medicine, engineering, computers, and pilot training in both large and small craft, among others. Most cadets entered Naval service after a three-year course at Prefsbelt, but some did shorter courses before shifting to flight school or continuing their studies at one of the three advanced academies. In addition, those who had both taken at least five years of training and already began showing the desired leadership qualities will be enrolled in Officer Candidacy Training, which allowed the prospect of becoming part of the Imperial Navy's elite. This also allowed for the potential of commanding a strategic military outpost, a TIE squadron, or even a Star Destroyer.
The three specialized military schools were the Corulag Academy, the Academy of Carida, and the Anaxes War College. Corulag was ranked second behind Raithal in prestige by some, and provided additional training to Navy Midshipmen, Army Cadets, flight school pilots, and specialists from all Imperial services, with an emphasis on active training. The War College, based at Anaxes Citadel, had been considered the embodiment of naval tradition for centuries, and offered active training and combat simulations. It also served as a think tank for promising cadets and active-duty Imperial officers, and tested new warships and equipment for the Imperial Navy in training cruises. Finally, the Academy of Carida was a major Stormtrooper training facility, which used the planet's high gravity to build tougher, more resilient troopers. Numerous Army, Navy and flight school cadets also spent semesters there. Carida also housed the Officer's Candidate School and the Imperial Engineers Academy. Although Carida was primarily a Stormtrooper academy, those who didn't make the Stormtrooper program were nonetheless allowed admittance into the Army and Navy branches of the Imperial Military as consolation.
Training for TIE pilots occurred separately, and subsequent to the Academy, at a flight school, typically located aboard a Star Destroyer. Flight training was reserved for the top graduates of the Sector Naval Academies and Prefsbelt, and was rarely done in a fixed location. The most prestigious was the Flight Academy housed aboard the Venator-class Star Destroyer Vensenor. Flight schools were also located on Carida, and as was the case with Han Solo, honors graduates might be referred to the Prefsbelt Academy for command training, before being posted for further command training in their specialist fields at schools like the highly-regarded Austringer Flight School, which focused on preparing ace pilots to be Wing Commanders.
Two other Imperial Military academies attracted cadets, though they were far less prestigious than Raithal and Prefsbelt. The Imperial Exploration Academy was located in the Vanik system in the Inner Rim and trained scouts for the Imperial Survey Corps. The Imperial Merchant Galactic Academy on Rhinnal trained personnel for the Merchant Galactic and the Imperial Supply Fleet.
- Academy of Carida
- Corulag Academy
- Coruscani Pilot Institute
- Prefsbelt IV Naval Academy
- Raithal Academy
- Rengali Imperial Naval Academy
- Vensenor Flight Academy
- Royal Guard Academy of Yinchorr
Behind the scenes
In The Imperial Sourcebook, the Raithal Academy and the Imperial Naval Academy were established as the most prestigious branch of the Imperial Academy for Imperial Army and Imperial Navy cadets. The appearance of the Academy of Carida in the Jedi Academy Trilogy does not contradict this: Carida is described as the premier training facility for the Stormtrooper Corps, although Navy and probably Army cadets could also be assigned there.
Notes and references
- Star Wars Journal: The Fight for Justice
- The Truce at Bakura Sourcebook
- Star Wars: The National Public Radio Dramatization
- Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison
- Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary
- The Essential Atlas, p. 199
- Heir to the Empire Sourcebook
- The Essential Atlas
- Star Wars: Imperial Handbook: A Commander's Guide
- The Essential Guide to Warfare, pp. 118-9
- Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game First Edition
- Star Wars: Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike
- The Essential Guide to Warfare, p. 138
- The Essential Guide to Warfare, p. 138
- Star Wars Sourcebook, Second Edition, p. 25.