- "It may appear to some that the enactment of universal laws and the widespread deployment of a heavily armed military are steps toward galactic domination, but these actions are taken merely to protect us from those who would invade, enslave, exploit, or foment political dissent, and to punish accordingly any who engage in such acts. Look on our new military not as trespassers or interlopers, but as gatekeepers, here to shore up the Emperor's vision of a pacified and prosperous galaxy."
- ―Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin, in his Tarkin Doctrine
The Imperial Military, also referred to as the Imperial Armed Forces, comprised the various branches of the armed forces of the Galactic Empire, such as the Imperial Army and Imperial Navy and the Stormtrooper Corps, as well as agencies such as Imperial Intelligence. Formed as a realignment of the Republic Military following the Clone Wars and the transformation from Galactic Republic to the Empire, the nascent Imperial Military was tasked with enforcement across the Empire and was used for suppressing planetary uprisings, continuing the Great Jedi Purge and chasing holdouts of the Confederacy of Independent Systems.
However it would be faced with a growing rebellion which caused concern within the military, ultimately resulting in the formation of the Alliance to Restore the Republic and the Galactic Civil War. The Imperial stormtroopers and Star Destroyers were deployed and fought across the galaxy to retain Imperial control. Even after the loss of the Death Star over Yavin, the Empire was able to almost defeat the rebels during the Battle of Hoth. Six months later, the Imperial Military suffered a sudden and crushing defeat at the Battle of Endor.
After successive defeats by New Republic as well as the power vacuum left in the wake of the Emperor's death following Endor, the Imperial Military finally collapsed on the Inner Rim world of Jakku and was officially disbanded by the New Republic shortly after the war ended.
- "The mining firms are corrupt. They're tied up—ownership, boards of directors—with the shipwrights that have sold the Empire on one construction project after another. Oh, it's all being done in secret, but you can't keep everything secret. A billion Star Destroyers isn't enough. They're building Super Star Destroyers, and Super-Super Star Destroyers, and who knows what else!"
- ―Clone Wars veteran Skelly, referring to the thorilide triangle theory
Following the end of the destructive three-year galaxy-wide conflict known as the Clone Wars, then Supreme Chancellor Palpatine ushered in the formation of the Galactic Empire, a dictatorship composed of the entirety of the former Galactic Republic and with himself as its head of state, the first Galactic Emperor. With vast portions of the galaxy still unconquered and outside Imperial dominion, the Emperor Palpatine transformed the Grand Army of the Republic into the Imperial Military composed of both the Army and Navy of the prior government.
The new and expanded military force was created to reinforce the clone troopers of the former Republic Military, as the clones had a limited amount of time they could be in service thanks to their accelerated aging, and to ensure Imperial rule. Embarking on a massive militarization effort in order to combat the remaining Separatist holdouts across the galaxy, as well as bring more worlds under Imperial control, the Imperial Military would serve as the primary means of Imperial enforcement and expansion from the Imperial Center.
Galactic Civil War
In the nineteen years following the Empire's rise, a growing rebellion would cause concern within the higher echelons of the Empire, ultimately resulting in the formation of the Alliance to Restore the Republic. For years, the opposing sides fought across the galaxy for control of sectors, systems and the loyalties of their respective populations, with major encounters on the Outer Rim worlds of Yavin 4, Hoth, and Endor. Despite crushing the Alliance on Hoth, the Battle of Yavin and Endor would see the destruction of both Death Stars, following which the Empire would enter into a state of disarray as former military leaders formed splinter fleets, while the New Republic slowly pushed Imperial forces back towards the Coruscant Core.
Following successive defeats at the hands of the New Republic, a year and four days after Endor, the Empire's military forces made their final stand over the Inner Rim world of Jakku. Suffering heavy casualties, Imperial diplomats on Coruscant ultimately signed a peace treaty—the Galactic Concordance—with the New Republic, ending both the battle and the war.
Over the years, elements of the Imperial armed forces founded the First Order, located in the far corners of the Unknown Regions. Briefly inhabiting a wing of New Republic politics, the First Order eventually seceded from the Republic—a move that was welcomed by many—firmly committed towards reestablishing the former glory of the Galactic Empire.
- "The Emperor is going to winnow the populations of the galaxy until the only ones left are the ones he can control. And he and Vader and Tarkin are going to accomplish that with an army of steadfast recruits who might as well be clones for the little independent thinking they do, weapons that haven't been seen in more than a thousand years, and fear."
- ―Berch Teller
The affairs of the Army and the Navy were overseen by the Joint Chiefs, the various commanders of the two branches, while the Stormtrooper Corps operated under the oversight of the Army. However, supreme command was given to the Galactic Emperor and the Commander-in-Chief, his apprentice Darth Vader, referred to as 1 and 2 respectively. There existed a proper military-ranking Supreme Commander as the next-in-line martial authority. Imperial High Command, which was structured beneath the Joint Chiefs' cabinet, was the central command division for the disparate armed forces and agencies. The Imperial Department of Military Research helped the Imperial Military by upgrading and developing new weapons and technology, while former companies friendly to the Republic helped manufacture the newer Imperial vessels entering production, with some of the largest being Sienar Fleet Systems and Kuat Drive Yards. Organizations such as the Naval Intelligence Agency, Imperial Intelligence, and Imperial Security Bureau often worked in conjunction with the Imperial Military, with the ISB installing an internal affairs officer aboard all Imperial-class Star Destroyers and utilizing informants to discover the location of the Alliance Fleet during the Galactic Civil War.
Enlistment was open to human individuals, who were trained at the numerous Imperial Academy complexes across the galaxy, with many members becoming enlisted personnel, officers or stormtroopers. The Empire had billions of soldiers during its height, the largest military force the galaxy had ever seen. Since the Empire favored humans and looked down on aliens, it was rare to find non-humans serving in the Imperial Military. Embodying the spirit of the Tarkin Doctrine, the armed forces relied on the sheer threat of force to keep neighboring systems in line. Fear and intimidation were essential for all Imperial Military operations, exemplified by the sheer size of Star Destroyers which acted as both a physical and psychological deterrent from assaulting it—and the Empire.
- Star Wars Epic Yarns: A New Hope
- "Far Too Remote"—From a Certain Point of View
- Star Wars Epic Yarns: The Empire Strikes Back
- LEGO STAR WARS: Celebrate the Season – "Reindeer Walker"
- LEGO STAR WARS: Celebrate the Season – "New Year's Hothin' Eve"
- LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures
- Star Wars Epic Yarns: Return of the Jedi
- Star Wars: Visions – "Lop & Ochō" (Ambiguous canonicity)
Notes and references
- Star Wars Bust Collection 30 (Star Wars Universe: The Emperor's Inner Circle)
- Darth Vader (2015) 1
- Dawn of Rebellion
- Servants of the Empire: Rebel in the Ranks
- Rebel Journal by Ezra Bridger
- Star Wars: Galactic Defense
- Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back
- Star Wars Propaganda: A History of Persuasive Art in the Galaxy
- Starships and Speeders
- Star Wars (2015) 17
- Unwelcome Arrival
- Star Wars: Commander
- Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
- Star Wars: Galactic Atlas
- A New Dawn
- Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel
- Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope
- Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary
- Before the Awakening
- Lords of the Sith
- Lost Stars
- Heir to the Jedi
- Ultimate Star Wars
- Star Wars Rebels: The Visual Guide
- Star Wars Rebels: Visual Guide: Epic Battles