- "Sometimes being a good soldier means doing what you think is right."
- ―Faro Argyus
- "Soldiers can't choose their battles. A soldier fights for an imperfect nation, not a perfect ideal."
- ―Soran Keize
Soldiers could be trained and organized to fight as part of an army or militia, whereas others served as special units. Infantries were army branches made up of soldiers. Soldiers who fought purely for monetary income rather than political alignment were known as mercenaries. Soldiers could serve in more roles than front-line fighters, as they could be stationed at an installation or serve as guards.
Soldiers also often fought with an ideal in mind, such as honor. In fact, the rogue Sith Lord Maul believed that every soldier was bound by honor, deeming it a weakness that could be exploited. Another ideal was hope, which was often held by the soldiers of rebel movements; the Rebel troopers and other members of the Alliance to Restore the Republic worked off the hope that the Galactic Empire could be destroyed.
Officers would serve as leaders for soldiers, fighting and commanding alongside their troops or commanding from a more secure location. While officers who did the latter could still win battles, soldiers often appreciated it when their superior fought in combat with them, coming to respect such commanders. Alternatively, officers who worked away from the frontline could anger their troops, particularly if the superior's plans resulted in the deaths of many soldiers. Their soldiers could also come to mock such officers, questioning if their supposed leader lacked the fighting abilities their army possessed.
Indeed, Jedi General Anakin Skywalker felt that the only way to truly be a leader of soldiers was to lead from the battlefront, serving in the trenches of war alongside one's army. However, Captain Phasma of the First Order Stormtrooper Corps held a different opinion, believing great leaders did not command from their soldiers' front; instead, Phasma found her troops to be patriotic fools, viewing them to merely be cannon fodder who could be sacrificed to ensure her survival and victory.
Life of a soldier
- "Good soldiers follow orders."
- ―A saying repeated by clone troopers under the influence of their control chip
Fighting in battles that they knew they could die in, difficult combat made up part of the life of a soldier. However, different soldiers had different opinions on what exactly it meant to be a good soldier; the treasonous Senate Commando Faro Argyus felt that, in order to be a good soldier, one needed to do what they thought was right, but he also believed the clone troopers of the Galactic Republic were too conditioned to understand as such. Indeed, Clone Commander CC-1004 "Gree" believed all direct orders needed to be followed and was angered by Argyus' words. Another clone, Clone Captain CT-7567 "Rex," believed following orders upheld the honor of the Republic, but he came to change his mind during the Battle of Umbara; having seen the pain inflicted by Jedi General Pong Krell, Rex came to believe it was right for soldiers to disobey orders and make their own decisions.
Another clone trooper, Advanced Recon Commando CT-5555 "Fives," agreed that being a loyal soldier did not mean that one needed to obey every order, saying that would mean the individual in question would be the same as a pre-programmed battle droid. However, the activation of a behavioral modification biochip in their mind would force clones to think differently; to a clone under the influence of the chip, a good soldier was one who followed every order. In fact, when Elite Squad Trooper ES-01, a human recruit brought into the Imperial Army by Project War-Mantle, objected to his orders to kill civilians by saying he signed up to be a soldier and not an executioner, Clone Commander CT-9904 "Crosshair" shot him dead, passing on the belief to the rest of his squad that they needed to follow every command given.
The Galactic Republic was protected for centuries by the Jedi Order who served as peacekeepers, although they maintained that they were not soldiers. During the High Republic Era, soldiers made up part of the Republic Defense Coalition. The Republic was also protected by the Judicial Forces, yet the government started to rely on the Jedi for peacekeeping operations, giving the Judicial Forces less of a role in the Republic. The Galactic Senate on Coruscant was protected by the Senate Guard and its elite Senate Commandos. Meanwhile, Republic member worlds like Naboo and Mon Cala typically had their own soldiers, such as the Royal Naboo Security Forces, Mon Calamari Guard, or Royal Onderon Militia.
With the eruption of the Clone Wars, the Republic formed the Grand Army composed of clone troopers, who were considered the future for soldiers in galactic history. They fought against the Droid Army of the Confederacy of Independent Systems. While the Separatists notably used battle droids instead of flesh and blood soldiers, there were occasions where organic troops were deployed, such as the use of Geonosians during the First and Second battles of Geonosis.
After the war, the new Galactic Empire used the clones as the basis for the the Imperial stormtroopers, who served as elite soldiers and shock troops. Nevertheless, the stormtroopers also began to replace the regular Imperial soldiers. The Galactic Empire also made use of elite soldiers selected from the Stormtrooper Corps called death troopers, who were used to guard high-placed Imperial officers.
The Alliance to Restore the Republic had Rebel troopers, who were its ground forces fighting against the Empire. The New Republic had its own New Republic soldiers, but its decision to ignore the First Order meant the Resistance had to rely on lightly-armored troopers like its predecessor. The First Order had its own version of the stormtrooper.
Notes and references
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Cloak of Darkness"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Plan of Dissent"
- Alphabet Squadron
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Clone Cadets"
- Star Wars: The Visual Encyclopedia
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Rookies"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Brain Invaders"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Shades of Reason"
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "The Zillo Beast"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "The General"
- Star Wars: Droidography
- "501 Plus One"—Age of Republic Special 1
- Age of Resistance - Captain Phasma 1
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "The Unknown"
- Star Wars: The Bad Batch – "Replacements"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Carnage of Krell"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Shattered"
- Star Wars: The Bad Batch – "Aftermath"
- Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones
- The High Republic: Light of the Jedi
- Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Water War"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "The Soft War"
- Dark Disciple
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Landing at Point Rain"
- Solo: A Star Wars Story The Official Guide
- Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary