- "The Empire has a legion of loyal soldiers that are in endless supply."
- ―Darth Vader
Stormtroopers were the elite soldiers of the Galactic Empire. Like Imperial-class Star Destroyers and TIE fighters, stormtroopers served as ever-present reminders of the absolute power of Emperor Palpatine and would remain an icon of Imperial war efforts for over a century following his death. These faceless enforcers of the New Order were considered an extension of the Emperor's will, and often used efficient yet brutal tactics to keep thousands of star systems throughout the galaxy in submission to the Empire. At the height of the Empire, stormtroopers had effectively become symbols of major authority. With few exceptions, they were distinguished from all other military units by their signature white armor.
The Imperial stormtroopers were the evolution of the clone troopers of the Grand Army of the Republic. By the end of the Clone Wars in 19 BBY, the Galactic Republic was reorganized into the Galactic Empire. As a result, the Grand Army was reformed into the Stormtrooper Corps and the clones were renamed "stormtroopers". Under the Empire, stormtroopers operated alongside Imperial Army and Navy units, and some were stationed on Naval ships where they served as marines. Although the Corps was overseen by Stormtrooper Command, a military agency that was independent from Imperial High Command, all stormtroopers ultimately answered to Emperor Palpatine with unconditional loyalty and subservience.
Members of the Rebel Alliance SpecForce had several slang names for stormtroopers, including "whitehats", "plastic soldiers", "snowmen", "The Boys in White", "bucketheads", "plastic boys". Another term was "Stormies", often used by Wedge Antilles and Corran Horn.
Although the deaths of both Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader in 4 ABY caused the collapse and fragmentation of the original Galactic Empire, stormtroopers were retained as elite soldiers under several successor states, such as the Imperial Remnant, the Second Imperium, and the Empire of the Hand. By the year 138 ABY, stormtroopers still existed in two Imperial states: the New Galactic Empire of the Sith Lord Darth Krayt, and the "Empire" of the exiled emperor Roan Fel.
- "The clone troopers, now proudly bearing the honorable rank of Imperial stormtroopers, have tackled the dangerous work of fighting our enemies on the front lines. Many have died in their devotion to the Empire. Imperial citizens would do well to remember their example."
- ―Emperor Palpatine during the Declaration of a New Order
As the Clone Wars reached its end, the clone trooper veterans that defended the Old Republic emerged as the feared enforcers of the New Order. When Emperor Palpatine declared the formation of the first Galactic Empire, the clones of the late Jango Fett were rechristened as Imperial stormtroopers. Without the guidance of their Jedi officers, stormtroopers were "cut loose" to brutally enforce the new Imperial doctrine, to which they quickly built a reputation as merciless, uncompromising soldiers indoctrinated with unconditional loyalty to Emperor Palpatine.
At first, the Stormtrooper Corps was composed almost entirely of clone soldiers based on the Fett template. That included the remaining clones that were engineered on Kamino, supplemented by the millions of clones created on Coruscant and Centax-2 through Spaarti technology, and three new stormtrooper clone batches grown in the Outer Rim Territories. During this time, traces of the clones' obsolete armor remained in the design of their new and improved armor. However, the stormtrooper ranks would cease to be dominated by Fett's progeny after the Battle of Kamino in 12 BBY.
Among the first battles that cemented the stormtroopers' image as elite soldiers to be feared, Kashyyyk was a planet that was twice made an example of in order to showcase Imperial brutality to anyone else who contemplated defiance against the Empire. Darth Vader participated in both the first and second invasion of Kashyyyk, personally leading a contingent of clone stormtroopers to subjugate the planet's Wookiee population, as well as to hunt down fugitive members of the Jedi Order. Commander Appo, the commanding officer of the 501st Legion and one of the first stormtroopers, was slain by the Jedi Roan Shryne during the Empire's first attack on Kashyyyk.
The Galactic Civil War
- "In the past, we secretly enjoyed putting down a local insurrection or two. They kept the troops sharp and the Empire feared. But these Rebels were different. They were organized, they were growing, and they were everywhere."
- ―501st stormtrooper, commenting on the increasing threat of the Rebel Alliance
By the time the Galactic Civil War began in earnest, Jango Fett's clones were heavily supplanted by clones based on a variety of templates around 9 BBY, followed shortly after by enlisted Humans. Thus, the Fett clones were ironically reduced to a minority status after years of virtually filling the stormtrooper ranks in its entirety. According to a stormtrooper's entry log in the 501st Journal, none of the Fett clones were ever truly able to come to terms with serving alongside recruits and different clones, all of whom were disdainfully dubbed as the "new guys." Commander Cody, a first generation clone of Jango Fett and a veteran of the Clone Wars, found stormtrooper recruits to be absolutely intolerable. Due to the significant decrease in the Imperial Military's operational effectiveness and his own feelings of nostalgia over the Republic's "army of one man," Cody viewed enlisted troopers as incompetent idiots, all of whom he would have gladly sacrificed for just one real clone trooper.
Despite the influx of new troopers from various sources, the ranks remained dominated by Human males, thus reflecting the New Order's Human High Culture. By 0 BBY, roughly one-third of the stormtroopers were clones based on the Fett template, while recruits steadily became the majority within the Stormtrooper Corps. Service in the Stormtrooper Corps was open to both Human men and women, but female stormtroopers were an extremely rare sight under Palpatine's reign and on average there were never more than three female stormtroopers within a whole legion. In spite of this disparity, some female troopers served in elite units, such as the Coruscant Guard.
Female stormtroopers underwent the same hard training as their male counterparts. Only the best of the best recruits were selected for the stormtrooper corps. Once accepted into the stormtrooper corps, every trooper was treated as an equal. There were no differences between males and females. They even shared the same barracks. Wearing the exact same white stormtrooper armor, one could not distinguish between a male or female stormtrooper.
For twenty-three years, the stormtroopers suffered few known large scale defeats, at least until the Empire's catastrophic defeat at the Battle of Endor. An entire legion of stormtroopers, supported by AT-STs suffered a humiliating loss that was almost completely unforeseeable, given all of the advantages that the Empire had both in space and on Endor. Despite superior numbers, advanced weapons and superb training, the stormtroopers were utterly defeated by a small infiltration team of the Rebel Alliance, which was greatly assisted by the Ewoks, small and seemingly insignificant natives indigenous to Endor that Palpatine naturally overlooked as less than a minor threat. This was a devastating mistake which cost the Empire nothing less than its once unbreakable grip on the galaxy.
The stormtroopers were caught completely by surprise; in their arrogance, they began to break rank and divide into small groups to hunt down the Ewoks. But with no apparent way to counter the variety of guerrilla tactics employed by the Ewoks, the stormtroopers were systematically wiped out by their seemingly inferior opponents. In addition to this strategy, it was a commandeered AT-ST that helped turn the tide and bring the troopers on the defensive, not only dealing a severe blow to the shocked Empire, but also to the reputation of the stormtroopers as well. The news about the defeat of the mighty Imperial stormtroopers against a small band of Rebels and a highly primitive race on a backwater forest moon, combined with the deaths of both Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader, galvanized numerous worlds to full-scale rebellion against the Empire's dictatorial rule.
Many attempts to turn the war back in the Empire's favor ultimately ended with failure. The renowned Grand Admiral Thrawn recovered several Spaarti cloning cylinders to build a new army of clone stormtroopers. Yet due to the Chiss officer's untimely death, the stormtroopers were unable to destroy the New Republic without Thrawn's guidance. Even the several rebirths of Emperor Palpatine, an accomplishment that he achieved by transferring his essence into various clone bodies of himself in turn, failed to bring the Empire to full restoration. Throughout all of that time, the stormtroopers suffered a series of catastrophic defeats that inflicted a heavy strain on their numbers. As the casualty rates increased substantially, the Stormtrooper Corps was almost all but a memory by 22 ABY as their ranks dwindled from attrition and even desertion.
As the war entered its last phase, the former Galactic Empire was reduced to a small collection of Outer Rim sectors, otherwise known as the Imperial Remnant. The Remnant continued to employ stormtroopers in battle until the Bastion Accords was signed in 19 ABY, thus ending the Galactic Civil War with the Empire's surrender. Despite the high level of casualties sustained throughout the war, the Stormtrooper Corps ultimately survived under the Imperial Remnant and other successor states of the fallen Empire, albeit as a broken shadow of its former glory. Following the treaty, stormtroopers were reduced to guard and police functions on the few thousand worlds that remained under Imperial control. However, some stormtroopers fought as elite soldiers under the short-lived Second Imperium, an Imperial faction that sought to restore the glory of the first Galactic Empire.
Post-Galactic Empire period
Although heavily reduced under the Imperial Remnant, stormtroopers retained much of their former duties under the Empire of the Hand, another successor-state to the Galactic Empire that was founded by Grand Admiral Thrawn. In addition to protecting the Hand's member worlds, the stormtroopers were ironically used as a liberating force to convince other planetary governments to join the Hand's confederation on their own volition, as opposed to utilizing the former Empire's common strategy of coercion and conquest. Though the Empire of the Hand failed to achieve the same kind of longevity as the Imperial Remnant, stormtroopers continued to retain their services under the Remnant, which itself had begun adopting many of the Hand's political and military reforms.
The stormtroopers were eventually restored to their former role as an elite military force when the Imperial Remnant entered the Yuuzhan Vong War on the side of the Galactic Alliance, the successor state to the former New Republic, against the Yuuzhan Vong invaders. They served on various fronts and fought alongside their former enemies, Alliance and Jedi alike, until achieving a decisive victory on Coruscant itself.
While the Imperial Remnant slowly regained its former strength, many of the ideals of Palpatine's New Order, such as Human supremacy and alien inferiority, began to die with him. Ultimately, it was necessity that forced the Remnant to loosen its restrictions against Non-Human species, especially since those policies had been some of the primary motivations behind the growth and success of the Rebel Alliance. Without the extensive resources and the unlimited manpower that the Galactic Empire enjoyed in its prime, and with most of the galaxy under the Galactic Alliance's control, the Imperial Remnant had to make do with the few resources it had left, and that entailed allowing aliens and Human females to serve as stormtroopers.
As the ranks of the Stormtrooper Corps were steadily replenished with enlisted troopers from both Human and Non-Human sources alike, the Empire's once heavy reliance on clones diminished over time, mainly due to the loss of Kamino and other various worlds that held cloning facilities. In addition to the highly expensive operation of consistently producing clone soldiers, the practice was complicated by two other reasons—the most effective clones that were grown in the Kaminoan-fashion took too long to reach full maturity and the fast-grown Spaarti clones were of extremely poor quality.
Thus, the Remnant had no choice other than to rely on the patriotism and training of recruits rather than the programmed loyalty and fighting skills of clones. The decrease in the military's operational efficiency was partially compensated by a brutal training regimen that emphasized the stormtroopers' lack of individuality and total dedication to the ideals of the Galactic Empire. The gamble ultimately paid off as the stormtroopers were restored to fighting trim by 40 ABY. By the time of the Second Galactic Civil War, the Remnant's stormtroopers were excellent marksmen compared to the original stormtroopers of the old Empire. The shock troopers, elite soldiers within the Imperial Elite Guard, were said to be just as effective as Darth Vader's 501st Legion. Until the end of the war, the stormtroopers of the Imperial Remnant fought once more as the allies of the Galactic Alliance, by then under the control of the Sith Lord Darth Caedus.
A divided Empire
- "I am, by right of birth and choice, your true Emperor! Not this Sith usurper Krayt! It is to me that you owe your allegiance! I call upon you, my loyal stormtroopers, to join with me and take back our Empire which you have so long and faithfully served."
- ―Roan Fel, demanding the loyalty of Bastion's stormtrooper garrison
By the year 130 ABY, stormtroopers were serving as the elite soldiers of a new Empire, formerly known as the Imperial Remnant until Jagged Fel's ascension as emperor. At some point after Fel claimed the long-vacant Imperial throne, the Stormtrooper Corps was absorbed into the Imperial Army, though individual stormtrooper units remained active and independent of regular soldiers. The stormtrooper ranks were still dominated by Human recruits by that time, but were also composed of even more enlisted aliens than ever before. The 501st Legion, which had been created by the Empire of the Hand after the dissolution of the original 501st, remained active and was stationed on the heavily-fortified world of Bastion.
In the same year, the Empire's victory over the Galactic Alliance in the Sith–Imperial War saw the stormtroopers' restoration to prominence as the greatest military force in the galaxy. In addition to fighting once more for galactic conquest, the stormtroopers found themselves in league with the Sith once again; Emperor Roan Fel, grandson of Jagged Fel, reluctantly accepted the aid of a new Sith Order when the war first began. In the aftermath of the Alliance's collapse, stormtroopers fought alongside the Empire's Sith allies during the Massacre of Ossus where they fought against the Jedi Order in a bloody and costly battle. Although the stormtroopers and the Sith both suffered their fair share of casualties in a direct attack on the Jedi Academy, the Jedi were ultimately overwhelmed by the enemy's numbers; the survivors had no choice other than to retreat and escape into hiding as a third purge of their Order began in earnest.
Ironically, the Empire's conquest of the former Galactic Alliance and its return to galactic-wide dominance, thanks in part to the fighting prowess of the elite Imperial stormtroopers, was a short-lived return to glory. Seven years after the Sith Lord Darth Krayt usurped the Imperial throne, Emperor Roan Fel resurfaced and captured Bastion by relying solely on the devotion of Imperial loyalists. Among his strongest supporters in the military were the stormtroopers of the 501st Legion and the 908th Stormtrooper Division; many other units continued to desert Darth Krayt's Galactic Empire as the Second Imperial Civil War escalated. With two Imperial sovereigns fighting each other for the throne, the galaxy was engulfed in turmoil as stormtrooper units were forced to take sides between the sitting regnant Darth Krayt and the deposed emperor Roan Fel.
The second civil war had much of the same effects on the Empire as the first one; a wasted expenditure of vital resources, mass devastation on thousands of worlds and a high cost in manpower to the stormtroopers that were forced to fight each other. By the time of the civil war's end, the Empire was a wasted force on both sides. Although Fel's faction emerged victorious over the Sith faction with the assistance of the Jedi Order and the Galactic Alliance Remnant, Roan Fel died during the final battle. No longer in a position to rule the galaxy by the brute force of stormtroopers, the Empire was forced to consolidate its union with the Jedi and the Alliance. Hence, although they ultimately failed to restore the Galactic Empire, the stormtroopers' sacrifices contributed to the formation of the Galactic Federation Triumvirate, an organization that was created to rule over the unified galaxy. The stormtroopers' first regnant Empress, Marasiah Fel, represented the Empire as one of the three triumvirs alongside Admiral Gar Stazi of the Galactic Alliance and Master K'Kruhk of the Jedi Order.
After the failed uprising on Kamino in 12 BBY, Emperor Palpatine came to the conclusion that an army of clone soldiers was far too susceptible to corruption. Thus, he expanded the Stormtrooper Corps to include clones that were created from a variety of genetic templates, effectively marginalizing Jango Fett's progeny into a minority status. In addition to the massive influx of new clone sources, the Corps began recruiting non-clone Human beings to serve in the ranks as enlisted stormtroopers.
If an individual between the ages of 18 and 30 scored in the top fifth percentile, an Imperial recruiting agent would contact him and presumably arrange for the extraction of a DNA sampling for cloning. Those who did not score high enough to qualify as a genetic template were still used as regular soldiers. Also, it was preferable if enlisted troopers met a certain standard in height and weight.[source?] Princess Leia Organa was seemingly familiar with Stormtrooper Corps's standards by 0 BBY, perhaps as a result of her work with the Imperial Senate. Human males made up the majority of the recruits due to strictly precise requirements in physique and measurements, though females served as well. Certain Near-Humans were also eligible for recruitment in some cases.
For a time, the Stormtrooper Corps remained evenly balanced between clones and recruits, at least until the onset of the Imperial Civil War, which occurred alongside the ongoing Galactic Civil War. Due to the loss of Kamino and its cloning facilities, as well as many other cloning centers throughout the galaxy, clone stormtroopers became a rare commodity that the Empire could no longer afford to sustain. As the Galactic Empire's unity became undermined by various splinter cell factions, a few successor states opted to vastly reform the Imperial recruiting policy. Unlike the old Empire, the Empire of the Hand recruited stormtroopers from a variety of Humanoid sources. Though the stormtrooper ranks remained consistently dominated by Human male recruits, it marked the first time that Non-Humans were allowed to serve as Imperial soldiers.
The new practice of recruiting Non-Humans as stormtroopers was continued by the Imperial Remnant. Over a century after the fall of the old Empire, the Remnant eventually reformed itself into a new Empire that was protected by stormtroopers composed of Humans, Near-Humans, Humanoids and even Aliens that hardly even resembled the Human anatomy standards. Non-Human stormtroopers were not the only new additions to the Empire's resurgent army, however; Human females became more common within the stormtrooper ranks by 130 ABY.
At some point in the Fel-controlled Empire's history, the Imperial Army adopted a relatively new tradition of recruiting the sons and daughters born "in the camp." All children born to stormtroopers, either during or after service, were encouraged to enlist in the army, making soldiering an hereditary career. Since they were not legally forced to follow in their parents' example, an incentive was added to the unofficial policy through the Continuity of Service, which allowed new troopers to serve in the same unit as their parents.
Another recruiting tool that the Empire utilized was the Imperial Mission. As part of Imperial Head of State Jagged Fel's strategy to alter the common view of the Empire as an oppressive, war-mongering force, the Mission was created to spread Imperial influence through peaceful methods, such as providing aid to worlds that were ravaged by the Yuuzhan Vong. However, the Mission also served as a pool of potential recruits. Whether they were grateful for Imperial assistance, or simply had nothing better to do, those who were eligible for service could become enlisted troopers through the Mission. Jes Gistang, a native of Corellia, became a stormtrooper through the Imperial Mission. As far as Gistang was concerned, the life of a soldier was better than remaining on her homeworld or any of the other alternative paths that she could have taken.
By the time of the Second Imperial Civil War, well over a century since the fall of the original Empire, the vast majority of stormtroopers were composed primarily of enlisted soldiers, drawn from a recruiting pool of Humans and Non-Humans alike. No clones of the Fett template or other sources were known to have been in the Imperial service by such time, presumably indicating that the use of clone stormtroopers had been phased out in Darth Krayt's Galactic Empire and the Fel faction.
- "After that, we fought and moved and spoke and thought like stormtroopers - male and female had been taken out of the equation along with everything else."
- ―Isila Drutch (TD-4388)
Although stormtroopers often worked alongside the Imperial Army, Intelligence and Navy, the Stormtrooper Corps operated independently of all branches of the Imperial Military. Hence, the Corps possessed its own command structure, ranking system and support facilities. Together with the Imperial Royal Guard, stormtroopers answered directly to Emperor Palpatine, but were managed on a daily basis by Stormtrooper Command.
The basic unit of organization was the individual trooper. Each stormtrooper was assigned a designation for tactical purposes and to reinforce the Imperial ethic of uniformity. Troopers were organized into squads, platoons, companies, battalions, regiments and legions. A company commander could give command to regular officers over any given squad or platoon. When it was first formed during the rise of the Galactic Empire, stormtrooper squads had 8 troopers, including a sergeant and a corporal, platoons had 32 troopers (four squads) and were led by a lieutenant and a sergeant-major, companies usually encompassed 128 troopers (four platoons) and were led by a captain, a battalion encompassed 512 troopers (four companies) and were led by a major, a regiment was composed of 2,048 troopers (four battalions) and were led by a lieutenant colonel, and a legion possessed 8,192 troopers (four regiments) led by a high colonel. At the height of the Galactic Empire, a single battalion consisted of 820 soldiers, whereas a battalion of the Republic clone troopers in comparison comprised only 576 clones.
As of 130 ABY, the Stormtrooper Corps was apparently disbanded under the Fel Empire, as well as its successor state, the Galactic Empire of the Sith Lord Darth Krayt. The stormtroopers themselves were absorbed into the hierarchy of the Imperial Army. However, individual stormtrooper units continued to exist as elite shock forces in both Krayt's Empire and the Fel faction.
Stormtrooper officers were traditionally non-clone graduates from the Imperial Academy, but Imperial stormtroopers who demonstrated skills in leadership could be promoted to officer status. In battle, commissioned stormtrooper officers wore standard armor with rank insignia to indicate status. Non-commissioned officers were identified in the field with shoulder pauldrons instead of the standard rank squares worn over the armor. For non-combat situations, officers wore a black dress uniform, including a cap, boots, gloves and standard rank squares. Becoming an officer in the Stormtrooper Corps was a stepping stone to joining the more prestigious ranks of the of Imperial officers; stormtrooper officers were still hierarchically bound to obey orders from Imperial officers.
The stormtrooper commanders were separate from the regular officers in the Stormtrooper Corps. Highly skilled in combat and leadership, the commanders were modeled after the ARC troopers, elite clone troopers that fought for the Galactic Republic during the Clone Wars. As a result, they were widely regarded as superior soldiers to the more common Imperial stormtroopers. Because of their special status, the commanders were entrusted with command over the Empire's Shadow Troopers and were given authority to utilize them at their own discretion without requiring any clearance from Imperial High Command. As an anomaly within an organization that stressed absolute uniformity, the stormtrooper commanders were easily noticeable due to the blue markings on their armor, which otherwise perfectly resembled stormtrooper armor. However, unlike the protective suits worn by normal troopers, the commanders wore a specialized variant that was equipped with a built-in shield generator which was impervious to many attacks, including certain Force offensive techniques, but was highly vulnerable to lightsaber strikes.
Due to the accelerated aging process of the Kamino-bred clones and the redirecting of the Imperial cloning program, real Human beings gradually superseded clone officers as the majority within the command structure of the Stormtrooper Corps. In the year 1 BBY, almost twenty years after the formation of the Galactic Empire, there was only a small minority of clone officers that remained active ever since the conclusion of the Clone Wars; Commander Cody was among the few clone veterans that continued to serve in the military. Due to the decline in the creation of clone soldiers and the growing preference for recruiting manpower, Cody found himself in command of a unit composed mainly of enlisted troopers, much to his dissatisfaction.
By 137 ABY, the Imperial Army utilized a color-ranking system for officers in charge of stormtrooper units. This system mirrored the one that was utilized within the Grand Army of the Republic, prior to the point when color came to denote unit affiliation rather than rank. Ran Harkas' armor was distinguished with olive green markings, thus visually confirming his rank as sergeant within the 407th Stormtrooper Division's Joker Squad.
In addition to their role as elite military soldiers of the Galactic Empire, the Imperial stormtroopers were the most visible symbol of Emperor Palpatine's rule and the unrivaled might of the Imperial war machine. They were the highly trained shock troopers that were unwaveringly dedicated to enforcing Imperial power through fear and brutality on countless worlds spread throughout the galaxy. Whether on the ground or in space, their purpose was to attack with speed, accuracy and overwhelming numbers whenever faced with an insurrection against the Empire.
Loyalty, obedience and the readiness to die for Emperor Palpatine were the primary traits that were indoctrinated into all stormtroopers. In their capacity as enforcers of the Empire, stormtroopers were also trained to completely support and uphold the ideals of the New Order. Every individual trooper was fully expected to obey their superior officers without question or hesitance, regardless if they were required to unleash harm on others or even place themselves in extreme danger. As a result of their militaristic and highly disciplined nature, stormtroopers were well aware of their expendable status to the Emperor—and they were ready to lay down their lives to ensure the continuance of his reign and the Empire. As such, this ideology, training, and discipline prevented them from getting distracted by emotional responses, to the extent of even ignoring casualties within their own ranks during combat situations, the only times casualties on their end is taken notice is from a tactical standpoint. Their ideology was such that they cannot be bribed or blackmailed, and is unswerving in obedience and unflinching in dispensing Imperial justice, and even went as far to state that their armor, helmet, and number is their skin, face, and name, respectively.
The extent of such conditioning was such that Leia Organa Solo even admitted that such indoctrination was terrifying especially regarding its thoroughness, and it was virtually impossible to sway stormtroopers away from their orders due to them being nearly impossible to be negotiated with. Despite their intense indoctrination, enlisted stormtroopers were still capable of living civilian lives; they received pay, were given periods of leave time, and under some circumstances were given opportunities to retire from service.
Clone stormtroopers were genetically modified to suppress their individuality with unquestioning loyalty; enlisted stormtroopers were rigorously trained to abandon their individual identities by embracing said loyalty to the Emperor. Their allegiance to Palpatine required the stormtroopers to impose his authority on both civilians and non-stormtrooper military personnel, especially with regard to the officers of the Imperial Navy. Upon the completion of the first Death Star in 0 BBY, an army of stormtroopers was stationed on the battle station. In addition to the presence of the Emperor's apprentice Darth Vader, the stormtroopers were a major deterrent against ambitious officers who contemplated turning the power of the Death Star against Palpatine.
The loyalty that stormtroopers possessed was so complete that they could be neither bribed, seduced or blackmailed to abandon their allegiance to the Empire or its sovereign. However, the deaths of Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader at the Battle of Endor began a chain of events that nearly saw the complete destruction of the Galactic Empire and the stormtroopers that enforced its ideology. By the end of the Galactic Civil War, the former Empire had been diminished into a small state known as the Imperial Remnant; stormtroopers became an increasingly rare sight after their numbers were vastly depleted over years of attrition and warfare.
Yet even with the loss of both Sith Lords and the virtual collapse of the Galactic Empire, stormtroopers ultimately proved to be one of the few enduring legacies of Emperor Palpatine and the Order of the Sith Lords. The Imperial Remnant and the Empire of the Hand, both of which were successor states to the former Empire, both attempted to preserve the tenets of the New Order, particularly by maintaining stormtroopers in their respective military forces. Although reduced to a pale shadow of their former glory, the continued use of stormtroopers ensured that they would not follow Palpatine and Vader into oblivion.
The death of Palpatine, as well as many officials who supported the New Order in its original form, allowed both the Remnant and the Hand to introduce various reforms to ensure the overall continuation of Imperial ideology. Without the many cloning facilities that supplied the Empire with half of its stormtroopers, the Remnant and the Hand became desperately reliant on recruitment to reinforce their weakened manpower. Without a vast pool of civilians to recruit, both states were forced to radically alter certain Imperial ideals in order to recruit Non-Human individuals as well as significantly more females. This was a desperate measure in response to the desperate situation. As the triumphant Rebel Alliance consolidated its rule over the galaxy, first as the New Republic and then as the Galactic Alliance, the Imperial Remnant could no longer rely on just Humans to fill the ranks of the stormtroopers. As a consequence, the system of Human High Culture was greatly reduced over time. However, although not as prevalent as males, there have been female stormtroopers within the first Galactic Empire. A particularly notable example of this was Isila Drutch of the 291st Legion Dalisor. According to Drutch in her memoirs, the reason there were few female members had very little to do with any prejudice against females, as she noted that there weren't any female genetic templates, and that the stormtrooper physical regimen was brutal enough that females were simply more likely to wash out more than males. Drutch also implied the possibility that the design of the Stormtrooper armor was such that it was likely assumed there were very few females among the Stormtroopers. By 130 ABY, the resurgent Empire, the successor state of the Remnant, maintained a vast army of stormtroopers recruited from both Human males and females, as well as various humanoid and alien species.
Under the Fel-ruled Empire, military service as a stormtrooper was regarded by civilians and soldiers alike as a mark of pride. The Empire took great strides to promote enlistment through channels such as the Imperial Mission or enticements like the Continuity of Service. After the One Sith established their control over the new Galactic Empire, stormtroopers became enforcers of Sith rule once more and were often directed to carry out their duties by spreading fear and terror amongst the galactic populace. Though much remained the same in terms of the recruitment policy, the stormtroopers of this era were just as capable of excessive brutality and genocide as their predecessors who served under Emperor Palpatine.
Even after they were forced to take sides between Darth Krayt's Empire and the Imperial loyalists who supported the deposed emperor Roan Fel, the stormtroopers as a whole remained as one of the most persevering symbols of Imperial ideology as envisioned by Palpatine and Sith philosophy. For nearly two centuries since the rise of the original Galactic Empire, stormtroopers were both respected and feared as the greatest military force in galactic history. Throughout their existence, stormtroopers were a testament to the might of the Galactic Empire, in all of its forms, the enduring legacy of Kamino's greatest creation, the Grand Army of the Republic, and ultimately a symbol of the Imperial way of providing order and peace through force of arms.
- "Only Imperial stormtroopers are so precise."
- ―Obi-Wan Kenobi
The BlasTech E-11 blaster rifle was the standard issue weapon of the Stormtrooper Corps and one of the most commonly issued rifles in the Imperial Military. The E-11 blaster rifle was largely based on the DC-15S blaster rifle, the standard weapon of the clone troopers during the Clone Wars, right down to the folding stock. With the exception of troopers assigned to roles that involved heavy or special weapons, the rank-and-file stormtroopers carried an E-11 along with a SE-14r light repeating blaster. They also had access to modified blaster pistols.
In addition to their standard weapons, some elite stormtroopers were armed with the deadly DLT-19 heavy blaster rifle. Though not as common as the E-11, the DLT-19 was more powerful and accurate. Other weapons in the stormtrooper arsenal included: CSPL-12 "Caspel" projectile launcher, DLT-20A blaster rifle, "Equalizer" shoulder-fired ion cannon, DEMP gun, FC-1 flechette launcher, DXR-6 disruptor rifle, DXR6 heavy carbine, PLX-4 Missile Launcher, Ion mortar, Imperial heavy repeater, PLX-2M "Plex" missile tubes, Stouker concussion rifle, Proton rifle, RT-97C heavy blaster rifle, 4-X blaster rifle, T-21 light repeating blaster, and the T-28 repeating sniper rifle They could also use LX-4 self-detonating perimeter mines or LXR-6 concussion grenades.
All stormtroopers possessed a Baradium-core code key thermal detonator attached to the back of their torso armor. The thermal detonators were specially designed to ensure that only the stormtroopers themselves could utilize them, thus ensuring that Rebel troopers could not use the Imperials' own explosives against them. The security measures for the stormtroopers' thermal detonators included an arming code. To further prevent the explosives from being used by enemy combatants, the buttons on the thermal detonator were unlabeled. Each thermal detonator arming code was unique, known only to the soldier to whom the device was issued.
By the year 130 ABY, during the era of the resurgent Empire, stormtroopers were issued a new standard weapon: the ARC-9965 blaster rifle. Although it was more energy dependent than its distant predecessor, the ARC-9965 model was built for superior accuracy. Although the E-11 blaster rifle had been virtually obsolete and superseded by new designs, it was still utilized as a military weapon alongside the ARC-9965 blaster rifle.
- "I'm takin' you down, plastic boy!"
- ―Anonymous Rebel trooper
Prior to the development and distribution of stormtrooper armor, the first Imperial stormtroopers wore Phase II battle armor during various assignments, such as the Cleansing of New Plympto and the search for Garoche Tarkin. However, by the time Naboo was subjugated by military force in 18 BBY, the old Phase II battle armor had become obsolete and replaced by a new suit of Imperial armor.
Even before the creation of stormtrooper armor, the Empire's clone soldiers were required to remove the unit affiliation markings that adorned their Phase II armor. From then on, virtually all stormtroopers were identified by their distinctive white armor. This tradition of military uniformity carried on for over a century into Darth Krayt's Galactic Empire. However, stormtroopers of rank, such as non-commissioned officers, were identified as separate from the rank-and-file troopers through the color stripes on their armor.
The stormtrooper armor was 18 pieces of white plastoid-composite body armor over a sealed black body glove. The complete ensemble encased the wearer's body. As the stormtroopers were an evolution of the clone troopers, so too was their armor inspired by its Phase II precursor from the Clone Wars. In addition to its imposing appearance, the armor provided a wide range of survival equipment and temperature controls to allow the stormtroopers to survive in almost any environment.
Aside from harsh environments, the armor also protected the troopers from projectiles and impact weapons. Although it could be penetrated by a direct blaster bolt, the armor was capable of reducing the damage from the absorbed bolt. Blast energy sinks were distributed around the armor to absorb energy from a blaster bolt. The insulated body glove allowed for comfortable operations in an very wide range of climates, including—for a very short time—even total vacuum conditions, or immense extremes of cold and heat.
Specialized stormtroopers, known as "armored stormtroopers," also wore a heavier version of the stormtrooper armor. The armor in question was detailed with various lines.
In some cases, Stormtrooper officers who are undergoing combat situations leading various Stormtroopers wore colored shoulder pauldrons as high-visibility rank indicators. In addition, they also sometimes wore a variation of Stormtrooper armor that possessed colored lines around the chest, arms, shoulders, and the right side of their helmet and face, to indicate their unit.
By 130 ABY, many variants of stormtrooper armor were created for non-Human enlisted troopers who served in the Imperial Army. The general appearance of the armor had only minor changes, however. Other than a few cosmetic alterations, the armor was reportedly designed to better protect soldiers from blaster fire, thus reducing the risk of sustaining severe or fatal injuries.
When in non-combat situations, various Stormtrooper officers wear a uniform similar to various other officers in the Imperial military hierarchy, and specifically conformed to the uniform standards of the Imperial Navy branch. The uniform worn by a Stormtrooper officer was identified as being black-colored tunics and caps. Because the uniform was largely derived from similar uniform standards of the Imperial Navy, the Stormtrooper officer uniform featured several similar insignia, including officer's discs, rank insignia plaques, and code cylinders, the last of which allowed Stormtrooper officers access to secure areas and computer systems.
Some special features include a wrist comlink, a small battle holocam built into the helmet, a proper resonator (to open secure doors) built into their armor, and an external helmet light. For extended operations, stormtroopers carried field backpacks that included a personal tent, five concentrated rations, fifteen water packs, eight blaster power packs, and a glowrod. They also used DSD1 dwarf spider droids as support weapons. The utility belt on their armor included a small attachment which could be clipped onto with an E-11 blaster rifle, thus freeing both of the trooper's arms. Stormtroopers wore a white-on-white ID tag on the left shoulder, invisible to the naked eye, even at close range, but could be seen by other stormtroopers through their visor's visual enhancements.
There were several subgroups in the Stormtrooper Corps with training and equipment for particular mission profiles, generally sorted by the type of environment the trooper would encounter. Recruits to the Stormtrooper Corps are selected for specialization at an early stage of training, and thus are conditioned with the appropriate knowledge and psychological training for the tasks required of them. As a result, their psychological conditioning to their particular identity once specialized is so strong that the resulting specialized stormtrooper almost never wishes to change his division.
- Aquatic assault stormtroopers: Stormtroopers trained for aquatic combat.
- Armored Stormtroopers: Stormtroopers equipped with heavier armor and weapons.
- Assault troopers: Stormtroopers who wore standard white armor with yellow markings.
- Bomb squad stormtroopers: Stormtroopers trained in bomb disposal.
- Cavetroopers: A variant of stormtroopers who were trained to operate in various geographical areas. They used a lighter version of armor, similar to that of scout troopers and carried blaster carbines.</nowiki>
- Clone stormtroopers: Stormtroopers cloned from a variety of genetic templates.
- Cold assault stormtroopers: Also known as snowtroopers; stormtroopers equipped with specialized armor suited to cold terrain environments.
- Coruscant Guard: A police force of elite stormtroopers tasked with patrolling Coruscant.
- Crowd Control Stormtroopers: Stormtroopers equipped and trained for combating civilian uprisings.
- Cuis clones: Force-sensitive stormtroopers cloned from the genetic template of Sa Cuis; trained in lightsaber combat and basic Force techniques.
- Dark troopers: Special droid/exoskeleton stormtroopers.
- Dark Trooper Project: An Imperial program designed to create an army of battle droid stormtroopers.
- Phase Zero dark troopers: Aged clone troopers, transformed into cyborgs.
- Phase I dark troopers: Dark troopers armed with vibroswords and blast shields.
- Phase II dark troopers: Dark troopers armed with assault cannons, Imperial repeater rifles, and equipped with jetpacks.
- Phase III dark troopers: Dark troopers armed with assault cannons and Seeker missiles, occasionally a pair of dual blaster cannons, with two per wrist, as well as six PLEX rocket tubes, with three per shoulder, and jetpacks.
- Triumphant-class dark trooper: Dark troopers created as a hybrid between battle droids and stormtroopers.
- Black Hole dark troopers: Dark troopers deployed with shadow stormtroopers.
- Exogen-class dark trooper: A dark trooper variant used by the Galactic Empire.
- Dark novatrooper: Dark trooper variant, programmed with expertise in boarding operations.
- Glory-class dark trooper: Dark trooper variant, primarily used as city guards.
- Inquisitorium dark troopers: Dark trooper variant, created to serve under the direct command of the Inquisitorius.
- Purge trooper: Dark trooper prototype specialized for anti-Jedi combat.
- Dark Trooper Project: An Imperial program designed to create an army of battle droid stormtroopers.
- Dewback trooper: Sandtroopers mounted on dewbacks, used as a light cavalry force.
- Stormtrooper droid: Droids manufactured on Mechis III with stormtrooper armor for IG-88's Droid Army.
- EVO troopers: Stormtroopers armed and trained to operate within the most hazardous environments.
- Field stormtroopers: High-ranking stormtroopers with superior field experience and weaponry.
- Hazard stormtroopers: Cyborg Stormtroopers equipped with armor that was impervious to extreme temperatures, acidic damage and small-arms fire.
- Heavy troopers: Stormtroopers trained in close-range combat, armed with an electrostaff for melee combat.
- Imperial Marines: Stormtroopers trained for boarding operations.
- Incinerator stormtroopers: Stormtroopers equipped with flamethrowers, composed of pyromaniac clones raised to live with an intense urge to burn and destroy.
- Imperial Elite Guard: An elite honor guard tasked with protecting the leading government officials of the Imperial Remnant, such as the Supreme Commander of the Imperial Fleet and the Council of Moffs.
- Imperial jumptroopers: Stormtroopers trained for airborne combat.
- Imperial Navy commandos: Light-armored stormtroopers used by the Imperial Navy.
- ISB Stormtroopers: Stormtroopers under the direct command of the Imperial Security Bureau, sometimes used as spies within the Stormtrooper Corps.
- Magma stormtroopers: Stormtroopers trained to operate within volcanic environments, such as Mustafar.
- Minetroopers: Sevarcos II spice mine security troopers.
- Novatroopers: Stormtrooper honor guards, equipped with distinctive black and gold armor, used as commandos for special assignments.
- Radiation zone assault troopers: An elite stormtrooper variant, equipped to operate in deadly radiation-filled environments.
- Riot stormtroopers: Stormtroopers who specialized in combating insurrectionists and uprisings.
- Sandtroopers: Stormtroopers who operated in desert terrain environments, such as Tatooine.
- Scout troopers: Light-armored stormtrooper variants, trained as reconnaissance troopers, spies and survivalists.
- Shadow EVO Troopers: A variant of both shadow stormtroopers and EVO troopers.
- Shadow stormtroopers: Stormtroopers who specialized in stealth operations, equipped with black armor and cloaking devices for camouflage purposes; also known as "Blackhole stormtroopers" because of their service under Agent Blackhole.
- Shadowtroopers (Empire Reborn): Dark Jedi stormtroopers trained in the dark side of the Force.
- Shock troopers: Elite stormtroopers equipped and trained as heavy weapons specialists, later served in the Imperial Remnant as soldiers of the Imperial Elite Guard.
- Stormtrooper recruits: Freshly-inducted members of the Galactic Empire's Stormtrooper Corps. They had weaker armor and minimal experience in combat. Because of this, they were very rarely used in direct combat.
- Storm commandos: An elite special forces unit that operated within the Stormtrooper Corps.
- Stormrifles: Specialized soldiers of the Stormtrooper Corps, equipped with yellow command pauldrons.
- Stormsnipers: Specialized soldiers of the Stormtrooper Corps, equipped with white command pauldrons.
- Wetland assault stormtroopers: Nicknamed swamptroopers; a variant unit of scout troopers that operated in marshy environments.
- Zero-G assault stormtrooper: Stormtroopers equipped and trained to operate in outer space.
Stormtroopers were one of the bases of the New Order during Palpatine's reign, and thus their ranks were exclusively reserved for Human clones and recruits. An exception to this policy were the T'Syriél stormtroopers, Imperial soldiers recruited from among the alien T'Syriél by General Sk'ar. Sk'ar himself was an alien Kaleesh, which explains why he was prepared to deviate from standard Imperial recruitment policy. Later, there was a small corps of alien stormtroopers serving under Admiral Daala in the United Warlord Fleets until her resignation. Alien stormtroopers were more common in the Empire of the Hand and Roan Fel's Empire some 130 years ABY.
The Imperial Security Bureau had its own stormtroopers that operated outside the command structure of the Stormtrooper Corps. As they were identical to regular stormtroopers in appearance, they were occasionally used to infiltrate standard units of stormtroopers to ensure that assigned tasks were properly accomplished. A good example of this practice was an attack against Rebel sympathizers on Teardrop in 0 ABY. ISB stormtroopers noticed that Daric LaRone, an enlisted trooper, was deliberately not shooting civilians.
ISB stormtroopers were also more questioning of their orders than standard stormtroopers. Two ISB troopers betrayed the Emperor's Hand Mara Jade while she was infiltrating a pirate base on Gepparin. Aside from infiltrating regular military units, they were often attached to ISB tactical units.
Behind the scenes
Stormtroopers, as depicted in the early drafts of Star Wars and envisioned by Ralph McQuarrie, were to wield lightsabers and hand-held shields. George Lucas, when composing background information for licensees in 1977, stated that females did exist in the Stormtrooper Corps, although there were few stationed on the Death Star. He suggested that they were numerous in other units. As a result, few female stormtroopers are explicitly depicted in Expanded Universe sources.
According to several Expanded Universe sources, it would appear that by the time of the Galactic Civil War, stormtroopers were no longer exclusively clones. In Empire 36, following the Imperial assault on Jabiim, Janek Sunber checks his surviving troops. At this point he comments that none of the regular Human troops under his command survived the battle and we are given a look at a group of blue-eyed and blonde clones, obviously a newer template. Sunber also says that the clones in the army are tough and he heard that during the Clone Wars they were even tougher. So, it would seem that with the expansion of the military following the rise of the Galactic Empire, new clone templates were created and regular Humans recruited partly because the lifespan of a Jango clone was roughly half that of an ordinary Human. Thus, a steady stream of clone and non-clone replacements would be required to fill the ranks of the stormtroopers.
The first source to mention that there are clones in the stormtrooper ranks was Soldiers of the Empire!, an article that appeared in Star Wars Official Poster Monthly 4 (January 1978). Unfortunately, this article fell into deep obscurity (most fans still have not heard of it). As a result, most EU authors prior to the prequel trilogy believed that all stormtroopers were recruits. Many Expanded Universe sources mentioned Imperial academies (such as on Carida) and normal human stormtroopers such as Davin Felth and Kyle Katarn. After the prequel trilogy was released, a retcon was necessary to shoe clones into the stormtrooper ranks to mesh these EU sources with the movies and 1978 article.
LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy introduced a new, non-canon stormtrooper type known as the "beach trooper". They wore a standard helmet and swimming shorts, and could be found resting in hot tubs throughout some levels.
In Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, enter TK421 as a cheat code to unlock the classic stormtrooper skin.
Due to their seeming "inability" to hit the main characters in the films, and to a lesser extent, the main characters being more likely to hit their targets in desperate situations, the stormtrooper effect (Urban Dictionary definition here) has been named after them. However, it should be noted that in the case of at least the first two films, it was heavily implied that the stormtroopers were deliberately missing the main characters so they could lure them into a trap (in A New Hope, it was to have Han Solo and Luke Skywalker lure the Death Star to their hidden Rebel base, which Leia also implied, and in The Empire Strikes Back, it was to lure the Millennium Falcon to the Executor).
Stormtroopers were named after Imperial German Sturmtruppen, which in English translated to Stormtroopers, special troops who were tasked in the last year of World War I with mounting fierce infantry assaults on Allied trenches in an attempt to break the stalemate on the Western Front. However, many aspects of the branch of service, such as their unwavering obedience to the Emperor, their reputation for excessive force, and their status as an independent element separate from the overall army bears some similarity to the Waffen-SS or "Armed SS" units that served as independent military formations controlled originally only by the SS-Führungshauptamt, or SS Operational Command Office, but also by the OKW, or German High Command during World War II.[source?] Contrary to popular belief, however, there's very little indication that the Stormtroopers in Star Wars bore any similarities to the Sturmabteilung units of the Nazis during the 1930s other than sharing a similar name. According to Mary S. Henderson's Star Wars: The Magic of Myth, the Stormtroopers, and in particular, their armor, were partly inspired by the police droids of the underground prison facility in THX-1138, one of George Lucas's first films.
Notes and references
- What Happened To Han And Leia? How About Jar Jar? 'Star Wars' Emperor Lucas Speaks - MTV.com article where George Lucas discusses the transition from Clone troopers to stormtroopers
- Imperial stormtrooper on Wikipedia
- 501st.com (Star Wars costuming group)
- Soldiers of the Empire - 1981 magazine article