How An Imperial Officer Evaluates Stormtrooper Performance

Leadership

Editor’s Note: A version of this article by Mike Denny originally appeared on the blog of Angry Staff Officer.


My fellow Imperial officers and classmates,

I hope this communique finds you well, I’ve enjoyed reading the updates from my classmates from Coruscant to the Outer Rim. I apologize for being offline for the past few years. In my last three years in Fleet Strike Force 2, the pace of action has often prevented me from sitting down and writing a note to my friends. It’s been interesting and filled with challenges. I know everyone thought I was crazy to volunteer for this assignment, but as future senior leaders,  I can assure your subordinates that this is a capable and fulfilling assignment.

Related: How The Star Wars Franchise Started As A Commentary On American Imperialism »

Several of our classmates have sent me notes over time asking what life is like in a “nerf herder assignment” as a liaison officer to the Stormtrooper Corps.  I wanted to share some updated TTPs with our group as most of you have Stormtroopers and other Army personnel under your command. I’ve witnessed various tactical issues with our Stormtrooper and dismounted security forces, mostly not their fault or a fault of Imperial doctrine. By and large, our troopers are superior in training and capacity to Rebel forces and criminal entities that I met in combat operations. As a Navy pilot and weapon systems officer, in all honesty, I dreaded my assignment to ground forces out of the Imperial Academy but with my class standing I didn’t have many options. In this assignment, I found not only fulfillment in the ability to lead our Emperor’s best men and women, but exceptional opportunities for career advancement.  Over operations in 20 different systems with combined arms forces in multiple counter-insurgency campaigns I’ve observed the following trends.

1. Rumored poor performance of stormtroopers

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There have been lots of jokes floating around about Stormtroopers not hitting the broad side of a Bantha. I can assure you that the combat-focused teams of Stormtroopers are professional and deadly. The issue that revolves around poor marksmanship and battlefield prowess is nested within the duality of missions for Imperial Security forces. Long periods of security and policing functions or guard duty on Imperial Vessels and installations lead to issues of combat effectiveness.

Much of Stormtrooper training occurs against drone or robotic targets. Due to experiences from the Clone Wars, these training targets are highly mobile and deadly but lack an issue that I’ve observed in Stormtrooper engagements. All of the training and conditioning at the academies fail to account for the issue of engaging and killing fellow humans. I’ve seen less of an issue with engaging non-humanoids but have seen a reluctance of human Stormtroopers to engage fellow Humans…aliens don’t seem to cause as much of an issue. Additionally, recurring training of small arms and combat shooting is vital.

Luckily, within my Strike Force we maintained duty rotations that allowed for increased combat ability with a focus on search and destroy and responding to galactic flare ups. Anyway, back to training, while most Troopers would rotate off of combat training/campaigns to periods of guard duty or police operations before being trained back up to full combat operations. Our group was able to maintain a focus on recurring combat operations instead of counter-insurgency. Despite the excellent training of our Stormtrooper Corps, skills atrophy in certain environments and must be acknowledged. Too often troopers are ad hoc grabbed from various duties to quick deployment to combat operations; these additions to trained Stormtrooper teams too often result in tactical mistake. Furthermore, Imperial Navy or Stormtrooper corps officers bear a heavy burden of casualties and are often not present for tactical fights resulting in a lack of command and control during engagements.

2. Lack of resources for combat training

As mentioned, due to assignment of Stormtroopers to menial security duties, too often combat readiness atrophies as troops get comfortable in assignments. The Rebels and other forces have taken advantage of these lapses in readiness, attacking troopers patrolling cantinas and in other assignments. In Strike Force 2, we were fortunate to have multiple combined arms exercises on the Outer Rim prior to major engagements.

If Imperial officers don’t divert resources to allow for collective training, then various duties will take hold over combat readiness of ground forces. In certain quiet sectors, troopers are not engaged in individual task or collective task training ensuring combat readiness. They may look the part with spit polished armor, but I assure you that these troopers are not ready for engaging with hostile forces in a recurring expeditionary manner. This is particularly evident in poor performance of combined arms teams utilizing space and armored support. If the first time you integrate TIE Fighter and AT-AT support is in combat, chances are it’s not going to go well. With these crews available within our fleets, it’s only through a lack of advocating for resources that we don’t train with our other forces. We would routinely “search” for rebel forces on less than inhabited worlds with a robust task force to exercise these relationships. They might spend a lot of time covered in grease, but a naval officer can gain a lot of luck through a bottle of Corellian whiskey and some time spent in their maintenance bays.  

3. Staff duty is no substitute for getting muddy with the troops in the field.

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There is a recurring trend in my note, one that you as mid level officers in the Imperial Forces can help fix. There is a tendency to view ground force and strike force assignments as less preferable to ship staff, flight assignments, and ship engineering assignments. I routinely see naval officers who are inexperienced with the capacity of Stormtrooper corps implementing and directing poor tactical utilization of ground forces often due to hubris or arrogance.

Due to a mindset that focuses on polish over substance, I routinely saw other groups of Stormtroopers led by Imperial officers in the wrong armor and camouflage for a particular environment. They make about 6 variants and everyone is trying to rock whites all the time. With all of the various equipment modifications and intelligence on planetary conditions that we have available, deploying with the equipment for the wrong planetary environment is just inexcusable.

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I once saw a team land in a forest in polished white armor while we were hanging out in the bush with our reactive dark armor; thankfully no indigenous personnel made Bantha fodder out of them.  Our tendency towards equipping Stormtroopers with lightweight weaponry that aids to guard duty and security patrolling, fails to reach out and touch Rebels the way a proper laser rifle will. The E-11 is great in close confines of a ship, but fails to work the way an A280 would on-planet. Officers unfamiliar with operations on planet too often dictate equipment based on their experiences in simulations at the Academy or on-ship.

I’m hoping to spend the holiday back home on Drall, but have to attend mandatory reintegration training at the academy before a period of leave. Found that after I’m done cavorting — I mean studying – at Coruscant that I’m off to the Executor. I know a few of you are out in the fleet, so hope to link up with a few of you over a pint of Corellian ale in one of the messes in our Task Force.

Hail the Empire,

Hale Dorgan

Junior Commander

Fleet Strike Force 2

This article by Mike Denny, “Guest Post: Stormtrooper Performance in Contemporary Operations,” originally appeared on angrystaffofficer.com.

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