A Jedi General was a high-ranking Jedi military officer in the Grand Army of the Republic. The title was created in 22 BBY, shortly after the start of the Clone Wars, and was reserved for Jedi Knights, Jedi Masters, and the Jedi High Council—the governing body of the Jedi Order. As generals, the Jedi were responsible for leading the Galactic Republic's clone trooper army against the forces of the Confederacy of Independent Systems.
By 19 BBY, the Jedi were spread thin across the galaxy. As the war drew to a close, Supreme Chancellor Sheev Palpatine ordered the clone army to initiate Order 66—a military protocol authorizing the annihilation of the Jedi Order, which the clone troopers were programmed to obey without question. As a result, many unsuspecting Jedi generals were summarily executed by their own soldiers, although a few survivors managed to escape into exile, such as Obi-Wan Kenobi and Grand Master Yoda.
Having liquidated most of the Grand Army's Jedi officers, Palpatine—whose secret identity was Darth Sidious, the Dark Lord of the Sith—declared himself Emperor of the Galactic Empire. Anakin Skywalker, a Jedi General who turned to the dark side of the Force, became the Emperor's apprentice and enforcer, and assumed the identity of Darth Vader.
The rank of general provided the Jedi with the authority to lead the Grand Army of the Republic. A Jedi general was the commanding officer of a battalion of clone troopers—elite soldiers cloned from the template of Jango Fett and conditioned to follow orders with absolute obedience. As generals, the Jedi had various wartime responsibilities such as leading troops on the battlefield or coordinating strategy with the Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic. The Jedi High Council was the governing body of the Jedi Order; therefore its members directed the rest of the Jedi in their role as military leaders. However, the Council could also make forays onto the battlefield, serving as warriors alongside their troopers as Jedi Master Mace Windu demonstrated during the campaign to liberate Ryloth.
The clone troopers were subject to the authority of their Jedi Generals. They were loyal to the Jedi and the Republic, although there were instances of disobedience among the rank-and-file. In such cases a Jedi could exercise their authority as a general by ordering the arrest and court-martial of an offending clone. If the offense was treason, it was within the general's authority to have the prisoner summarily executed. The execution could be carried out by a firing squad or the general themselves.
- "General Kenobi, years ago you served my father in the Clone Wars."
- ―Princess Leia Organa, to Obi-Wan Kenobi
At the time of the First Battle of Geonosis in 22 BBY, the Jedi did not hold a military rank in the newly-formed Grand Army of the Republic. Despite this, high-ranking Jedi acted as de facto generals, commanding more than 80 regiments of clone troopers. Under the Jedi High Council's skillful leadership, the clone army was able to achieve both air and ground supremacy against the forces of the Confederacy of Independent Systems. Following their victory on Geonosis, the Jedi Order's role in the military forces of the Galactic Republic was made official, with Jedi Knights and Jedi Masters holding the rank of Jedi General by the time of the Battle of Arantara.
Throughout the Clone Wars, the Jedi generals commanded the loyalty of the clone troopers who followed them into battle across the galaxy. By the war's end, however, the clones turned against the Jedi and executed them as enemies of the state in accordance with Order 66—a military protocol that authorized the liquidation of the entire Jedi Order. Unknown to the clones, secret behavioral modification biochips had been designed and integrated into them to compel them to follow Order 66 without hesitation as part of a Sith plot to destroy the Jedi and gain control of the galaxy. Although the generals Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi survived the initial purge, the Sith Lord Darth Sidious proclaimed himself Emperor of the Galactic Empire in the wake of the Jedi Order's fall in 19 BBY.
After decades in exile, Kenobi was sought out by Princess Leia Organa. Knowing of the former Jedi general's service in the Clone Wars through her adoptive father, Bail Organa, she delivered a message imploring General Kenobi to help the Alliance to Restore the Republic in their struggle against the Empire. Ultimately, both Kenobi and Yoda aided the Alliance by serving as a mentor, in turn, to the aspiring Jedi Luke Skywalker—son of the fallen Jedi General Anakin Skywalker, who assumed a new identity as Darth Vader, apprentice of the Dark Lord of the Sith.
Behind the scenes
The Jedi were first seen leading the Grand Army of the Republic in the 2002 film Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones of the prequel trilogy. At the time, however, the Jedi only acted as de facto generals because the rank of Jedi General had not yet been established in-universe, according to the 2016 canon reference book Star Wars: Complete Locations.
Notes and references
- Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones
- Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars film
- Star Wars: Complete Locations
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Carnage of Krell"
- Star Wars: Galactic Atlas
- "501 Plus One"—Age of Republic Special 1
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Conspiracy"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Orders"
- Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope
- Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back