- "Imperial officers aren't known for flexibility."
- ―Captain Raymus Antilles
Imperial officers were individuals, predominantly human, who held a position of authority and responsibility in the military forces, and some civilian elements, of the Galactic Empire. When the Empire succeeded the Galactic Republic after the end of the Clone Wars, some officers were tasked with leading the stormtroopers, the troops of the new regime.
Officers were high-class soldiers who held various positions of responsibility, authority, and duty within the various branches of Galactic Empire's military. Common traits among those officers were ambition, ruthlessness, and strong approval of Emperor Palpatine's plans to destroy the rebellion.
The upper echelons of the Empire included those whose influential families afforded them preferred treatment and advancement. Officers were put through one of several prestigious academies across the galaxy that raised ambitious men and women who would perfectly echo the Imperial mantra of control through authority. As the line between the Imperial political machine and Imperial war machine became more blurred, the Empire so gradually transformed into stratocracy that many in the galaxy simply took no notice.
Since the Empire favored humans at the expense of aliens, the ranks of its officers were dominated by the former. Additionally, most of those holding high ranks were males. One notable exception to the Empire's humanocentrism was Thrawn, a Chiss who held the title of Grand Admiral.
Imperial officers wore a uniform that consisted of a double-breasted tunic with matching trousers, a pair of black boots, a belt and a command cap. There were regulations that made sure all officers maintained a neatly groomed appearance while wearing their uniforms. Although officers often cut their hair short for optimal efficiency, all were permitted to keep it long on the condition that they wore it pinned back in tight braids. This allowed Nash Windrider, a male officer from Alderaan, to retain a traditional hairstyle from his homeworld.
In addition to those officers who exerted command in the Navy or the Army, there were other specializations. Loyalty officers, also known as Security Officers, were tasked with identifying and culling any seditious individual within the Empire's own ranks.
The Galactic Empire made an effort to identify recruits in its Imperial Academies who were potential officer material. Recruits identified to potentially have such talent were sometimes sent to specialized officer academies, such as the academy on Arkanis.
- "Eyes on an officer."
- ―Del Meeko
At the end of the Clone Wars, Chancellor Sheev Palpatine, leader of the Republic, unilaterally reorganized the regime into an autocratic Galactic Empire and also ordered the extermination of all Jedi. The Republic Military was then reformed into the Imperial Military. Although most of the Imperial leadership, particular that of the military, hailed from the Core Worlds and Inner Rim, the heart of the Empire, there was room for mobility. Wilhuff Tarkin, who became the Empire's first Grand Moff, was born on the Outer Rim world of Eriadu, which, before the rise of the Empire, was not a particularly well-known world. Although it was annexed by the Empire during the height of its reign, the planet Jelucan, a world of poor farmers and minor nobles, provided several prominent officers, such as Thane and Dalven Kyrell and the peasant Ciena Ree.
The Empire did not shy away from welcoming colonials from the fringes into their ranks either, although they did not often garner as much respect from their superiors, meaning that they had to work extra hard if they were to rise through the ranks. Lieutenant Commander Eli Vanto was born on the planet of Lysatra, which was deep in Wild Space, near the Unknown Regions, where the Empire's influence was scarce. Vanto ultimately gained admission into the Royal Imperial Academy on Coruscant and became one of the most prominent officers in the Seventh Fleet under Grand Admiral Thrawn, serving as second in command aboard the Star Destroyer Chimaera.
Due to resentment towards those alien species that participated in the Separatist Movement, very few found it easy to serve as officers in the military, mostly serving as low-ranking servicemen, noncombatants, and occasionally in government positions. However, there were few exceptions. The Chiss Mitth'raw'nuruodo, better known by his Core name "Thrawn," was one of them, having attended the Royal Imperial Academy. Although initially unpopular with the Imperial Admiralty for his unconventional tactics, he ultimately became highly regarded, being promoted to Grand Admiral and given command of the Seventh Fleet. Ironically, he only accepted his commission as a means to infiltrate the Empire in order to assess its might, as his fellow leaders in the Chiss Ascendancy, where his true loyalties lay, believed that it could make a powerful ally to defend from looming threats in the Unknown Regions.
Once the Galactic Civil War broke out, more and more officers began to see combat. This led to more and more of them being dispatched to do combat.[source?] Prior to the outbreak of the war, there were more captains, lieutenant commanders, and commanders than there were ships in the navy, meaning that the younger and more inexperienced officers, particularly those who had joined after the Proclamation of a New Order or had not served in the Clone Wars, either served in positions that they were overqualified for or were inactive altogether. This changed after the destruction of the Death Star, which left a power-vacuum in the high command. This led to many younger officers being promoted. The same exact thing happened after the Emperor's death at the Battle of Endor. In the time after the Battle of Endor, the Imperial turncoat Ralsius Paldora noted that 1 in every 148 Imperial officers would surrender to the New Republic and sought asylum.
Contrary to how it was two decades earlier, many younger, under-qualified officers as young as in their early twenties were promoted and given command of their own ships, even Star Destroyers, as was the case when Ciena Ree was promoted to commander and given captaincy of the Star Destroyer Inflictor shortly before the Battle of Jakku. With much of the leadership destroyed either over Endor or during the rebellion on Akiva, the government slowly lost much of its power. The military took control over the Empire, effectively transitioning it into a stratocracy under the command of Fleet Admiral Gallius Rax and his Shadow Council. Despite this, some greedy Imperial officers would try to seize power for themselves or take their forces and leave the Empire altogether, hoping to build factions of their own. Rax, after declaring himself Counselor to the Empire, would then united the Empire and lead them to Jakku, where they made one final stand against the New Republic, which proved to be a devastating loss for the Empire.
After the Empire's defeat on Jakku, its leadership, under Grand Vizier Mas Amedda, signed the Galactic Concordance with the New Republic. The conditions of the surrender placed various restraints on the weakened Empire. One of these conditions stated that those Imperial officers who did not repent for their actions were to be branded as war criminals. Despite this formality, the Imperial Navy was still permitted to remain organized, so long as it relocated to the Imperial remnant established in the Core and the Inner Rim.
Even so, some staunch Imperial officers refused to accept defeat, affiliating themselves with a militarized faction of the Empire that locked itself into a Cold War with the New Republic. Eventually many would relocate their forces to the Unknown Regions, where they would help establish the military of the First Order.
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