The Structure of the Empire Part Four: The Military

The might of the Empire has not arisen overnight, although years of planning and preparation by the Emperor allowed the military to expand at a nearly inconceivable rate. From the time of the Old Republic to the opening years of the New Order was a period of rapid change and expansion for the Imperial forces. With the Empire’s loss at the Battle of Yavin, even more changes have taken place — some not even yet announced to the various branches.

The Navy

The Navy has grown enormously since the decline of the Old Republic, but its mission has largely stayed the same: to free the system space of member worlds from hazards to profitable commerce, to assure the safety of member worlds from attack from outside forces, and to bolster the planetary governments in times of crisis. This last mission has grown more difficult since the rise of the New Order.

Under the Republic, the Navy could move in and put down unrest in a system, secure in the knowledge that the majority of the governed species welcomed their intervention. The New Order has changed the attitudes on many of the constituent worlds. While the vastly increased firepower available to the Navy has so far been more than adequate to compensate for any increase in hostilities, the willingness of member worlds to resist the New Order is expected to be a greater problem in the future.

Changes in Civilian Command Structure

Planetary governments had the right to call upon the Navy of the Old Republic in emergencies. They would simultaneously petition the Senate if the forces were to be engaged for more than seven standard days (most actions could be concluded within that time). The only lengthy campaigns were against the pirates located on the fringe worlds, and these were the concerted efforts of several hundred worlds who at one time or another had found themselves prey for pirates.

Since the disbanding of the Senate, the Navy is no longer required to respond to requests from planetary governments, including the planetary governors appointed by the Empire. Under new doctrine, individual planets are too insignificant to allow them direct control over an asset as important as the Imperial Navy, even for short periods of time.

Civilian orders are now transmitted at the level of the Sector Group, from regional Moffs, Grand Moffs, or the Emperor himself. Smaller units are to receive their orders only from officers in the proper chain of command. This is a definite change from the Republican Navy, when Senators or other politically powerful beings could directly commandeer naval vessels — sometimes entire squadrons — for missions without having the order come down through the chain of command.

This change has greatly boosted the morale of naval personnel. The officers now know that the strategy is being set at a level of authority which is best suited for seeing the whole picture. Naval commanders have the authority and responsibility to execute their orders in the best manner possible, and they know they shall be free from political interference while doing so.

Naval Command Structure

The Navy has responded to its rapid growth by changing its command structure, introducing intermediate levels of command which did not exist in the Republican Navy. Most of the junior level officers were promoted to these intermediate levels, while the senior officers kept their ranks but had the scope of their command enlarged. An admiral in the Imperial Navy commands forces over 10 times as great as an admiral did during the Old Republic.

Naval Personnel

All vessels serving in the Imperial fleets have varying numbers of the following personnel. It must be noted that all game statistics are for “typical” individuals in that category—specific skill levels may vary dramatically from individual to individual or ship to ship, depending upon training level, mission profile and countless other factors.


From the men who fly the capital ships to the men who leap into the cockpits of the TIE fighters, Imperial pilots are the mainstay of the Imperial Navy. They are the necessary element in the military branch charged with protecting the space lanes from pirates, smugglers, alien invaders, and Rebels.

The top pilots in the galaxy are found in the Imperial Navy. These pilots, following the glorious and time-honored allure established during the Republic, attend the premier academies throughout the Empire. Within these fine institutions, the Empire teaches these men duty and promotes the idea of maintaining order, as opposed to defending against aggression.

TIE pilots form an elite corps within the Imperial Navy. Each candidate for admission into the rigorous TIE training program must undergo a strenuous screening and testing process. After all, they are being prepared to fly the best starfighters the Empire has to offer.


Imperial Gunner Officer Template

Gunners are a special sub-unit of the Imperial pilot corp. Any Imperial military vessel larger than a one-man TIE starfighter makes use of these trained weapons masters to handle the high-tech arms employed by the Empire.

Most gunners are either pilots in training or pilots who failed to make the grade in all the skills necessary to fly a vessel. Nonetheless, a gunner must have a keen eye, superior reflexes, and a rapport with the specialized equipment.

Gunners are trained to handle everything from a single light laser cannon up to turbolaser battery emplacements and even the now-destroyed superlaser that was the main weapon of the Death Star battle station. In addition to their handson training, gunners learn to work with specialized computer helmets that not only offer protection but are equipped with macrobinocular viewplates and sensor arrays to assist with targeting fast-moving fighter craft.

Naval Troopers

To protect its vast number of capital ships without relying on the help of the Army, the Navy has created a corps of troopers to act as soldiers. These men, trained in traditional combat skills, also learn skills needed to survive aboard the mighty vessels that patrol the galaxy in the name of the Emperor.

These troopers wear the distinctive uniform and helmet once only the province of the Death Star troopers. These soldiers dressed in all black are deadly warriors, but they all serve other functions aboard Imperial ships. They act as security, handle hangar traffic control, monitor sensor arrays, and other duties when their combat skills aren’t required.

Imperial II Star Destroyer Template


Equipment designs proliferated under the Old Republic to the extent that the odds of a cadet training on equipment and serving with units which used anything which bore a passing resemblance to said equipment was often remote.

With the New Order, and especially since the massive build-up orders issued after the Battle of Yavin, the Navy has received top-of-the-line equipment throughout the upper ranks of the Imperial fleet. Only in the lower, system-level units does the older, less-standardized equipment appear in large quantities. Capital Starships, State of the Art TIE Fighters, and Escort Transports continued to be developed for the Imperial Navy right up until the last days of the Galactic Empire. In secret in the Unknown Regions there is word that the Imperial Navy is being rebuilt after the loss at the Battle of Jakku for when the day comes that the Empire is Reborn.

The Army

If the Navy was rejuvenated since the rise of the New Order, the Army was revived from the dead. During the days of the Old Republic the Army degenerated into a poorly trained police force with fancy uniforms. They performed garrison duty on member worlds, often as a barrier between squabbling locals. The Navy was responsible for getting the Army to its destination and for picking up what was left. There was lip service paid to the concept of orbital support, but the Navy was stretched too thinly to afford sitting in stationary orbit for the duration of a surface campaign. The Navy jealously guarded its starfighters, so the Army was denied any effective means of maintaining an orbit free of enemy spacecraft once the Navy departed. Morale was often low and the quality of Army personnel bordered on non-existent.

AT-AT Template

With the New Order, the Army was completely overhauled. Rigorous training and recruitment programs were re-established, and the missions of the Army were expanded. Drop missions into hostile territory were considered to be routine for normal troopers rather than the province of a few elite units. Training for complex assaults was the norm, and Imperial doctrine specified the Navy’s mission to be support for surface forces during critical phases of an operation.

Doctrine further specified that permanent garrisons or units expecting surface campaigns of significant duration would have significant Naval assets, such as TIE fighters, attached to the Army units for the whole of the mission. These assets were determined well in advance of the mission and soon standardized so an Army officer could know what he had to work with for a particular type of mission.

Changes in the Civilian Command Structure

The Army used to be almost exclusively under the command of the planetary governments of the worlds on which they served. This was due to necessity more than anything else; most worlds had an arrangement whereby they paid half the expenses and provided half the materiel of any Army unit engaged in operations on their world, unlike the Navy whose expenses were paid for by the Republic as a whole. This one difference was perhaps the major cause for the decline of the Army. The worlds which needed help from the Republic and were not among the wealthiest continually complained about the cost of surface forces deployed on their planets. The average amount spent on the Army plummeted while the Navy’s expenditures remained constant.

With the New Order, and especially since the abolishment of the Senate, the Army has become the physical manifestation of the Empire throughout the galaxy. Whether black-clad Imperial soldiers or white-armored stormtroopers, the Imperial Army has grown into the mailed fist that pounds the thousand-thousand worlds of the Galactic Empire into submission.

The Army Command Structure

The Army took a different tack from the Navy when it experienced its phenomenal growth, The army kept its ranks the same, but increased the number of subordinate officers for each rank above. This decreased the ratio of officers to troops and gave the Imperial Army a very lean fighting force.

The establishment of the New Order gave the Army the opportunity to clear out its deadwood as well as remove those officers who might be ideologically opposed to the new regime. Over three-quarters of the Army’s officers were weeded out during the first days of the New Order.

Since the Battle of Yavin, the two forces have been moved closer together as regular Army detachments have been assigned to Navy vessels to create more complete combat units.

Army Personnel

The personnel that make up the Imperial Army includemanyspecialized soldiers. However, most of these men can be classified under the following types.

Army Troopers

Imperial Mudtrooper Template

Army troopers make up a vast number of the Empire’s planet-bound fighting forces. These soldiers wear similar uniforms to the Naval trooper, complete with helmet. But the Army wears a gray-colored uniform and partial armor for protection.

These soldiers are trained only to fight, and they do it very well. They are taught all manner of combat techniques. Hand-to-hand, blaster pistol, grenade, and heavy weapons training are just some of the areas these soldiers are expected to excel in.

Army Assault Crews

The Imperial Army uses surface attack vehicles such as AT-AT and AT-ST walkers to equal the fury of their assault troopers. These vehicles are all heavily armed and armored to provide maximum fire power and protection to the units they are assigned to.

The crews that service these war machines are soldiers with training in the operation of a variety of ground assault vehicles. Most of these machines are crewed by a pilot, a gunner, and a combat coordinator (or commander). Depending on the size and type of vehicle, there may be additional crew members or fewer crew handling multiple roles.

Like the normal Army trooper, assault crewmen wear gray uniforms and partial body armor. They receive all the combat training given the trooper, as well as the training needed to operate the ground assault vehicles. They also learn how to best apply the Imperial mindset of rule by fear through the use of their war machines.


While the Army suffered financially under the Old Republic, one benefit to less money was less of a squabble in the Senate over procurement of equipment; the contracts were less lucrative and therefore subject to fewer predations by greedy commercial interests. This is particularly true of the personal weapons and equipment of the average trooper, which was built to last with a minimum of maintenance. The budgetary wrangle over more expensive pieces of equipment, such as surface war vehicles, was sufficient to ensure that the Army suffered problems similar to those of the Navy, only on a smaller scale.

Since the disbanding of the Senate and the Battle of Yavin, no expense has been too great for the Empire. The Emperor has ordered the pace of military build up — already staggering since the start of the New Order — increased even more. He does not want his forces found lacking when the next battle takes place.


Imperial Stormtrooper Template

Encased in protective armor and wielding the most powerful personal weapons available, Imperial Stormtroopers form the Empire’s elite shock troops and are feared throughout the galaxy. Stormtroopers support the two arms of the military — assisting the ground forces and the Imperial fleets — but remain apart and separate from these organizations.

Imperial command assigns Stormtroopers wherever they are needed to crush resistance and neutralize opposition to the will of the Emperor. They are totally loyal and cannot be bribed, seduced or blackmailed into betraying the New Order. They live in a totally disciplined militaristic world where obedience is paramount and the will of the Empire is unquestioned.

The first generation of Stormtroopers came from the last generations of Clone Troopers who survived The Clone Wars. As the Clones were phased out the Empire recruited young men into the Stormtrooper ranks. Where the men who wear the armor of the Stormtroopers are recruited from is unknown, just another part of the mystery that adds to the aura of fear and secrecy that surrounds these soldiers.

In addition to the core stormtrooper forces (which some reports indicate is greater than the number of regular Army and Naval forces combined), a number of elite divisions have been established to move into a specialized environment at a moment’s notice. These units are equipped with particularly designed armor, weapons, and gear created for use in specific environments and based largely on the environmental armor from The Clone Wars.

Cold Assault Stormtroopers

Imperial Snowtrooper Template

The polar regions of most worlds remain frozen, inaccessible wastelands — the perfect hiding place for rebel outposts, smuggler ports and pirate coves. In response, the Empire has established a special corps of elite Stormtroopers trained and equipped to operate in these environs. These are the cold assault Stormtroopers, or “snowtroopers.”

Snowtroopers work in tandem with AT-AT walkers. These vehicles are ideally suited for the extreme temperatures and icy terrain where snowtroopers are deployed.

There is no stealth involved in snowtrooper combat tactics. They hit planets fast and hard, crushing opposition quickly and completely. Efficient, fast and deadly, snowtroopers are one of the most feared combat units in the Imperial military.

Aquatic Assault Stormtroopers

Another special unit of Stormtroopers has been established to handle another prominent environment throughout the Empire. Aquatic assault Stormtroopers — or “seatroopers” — are trained and equipped to operate below the seas of the thousand-thousand worlds.

Seatroopers can be deployed quickly via dropships, but are most often assigned to aquatic garrisons where they enjoy the support of a fully loaded base, special water craft (including modified TIE fighters), and powerful AT-AT swimmers.

Zero-G Assault Stormtroopers

While all Stormtrooper armor provides limited protection against hard vacuum, one elite division has been trained to operate exclusively in outer space. Zero-G Assault Stormtroopers — or “spacetroopers” — are deadly commandos of the highest order, second only to the Imperial Royal Guard in training, loyalty, and destructive capability. When it is necessary to capture a freighter, space station, or other spacefaring vehicle, spacetroopers are deployed to handle the job.

A spacetrooper platoon uses a refitted and heavily armored assault shuttle to stage its operations from. A five-man command crew pilots the shuttle. All communication devices are patched through the platoon commander’s station so that the commander can monitor the entire team’s activities. He issues orders from on board the shuttle, directing his troopers from within the flying fortress.

The assault shuttle is a formidable attack vehicle in its own right, but the 40 spacetroopers it carries are walking arsenals. Each trooper wears a standard Stormtrooper shell, but then plugs into a full body armor encasing that performs as a personal spacecraft and attack vehicle. Spacetroopers are limited by the amount of power their armor can store, but they are trained to employ their armament effectively and complete their specified mission within a limited period of time. If unable to complete their mission within the time limit, spacetroopers have standing orders to return to their shuttle for recharging.

Because of their fearsome yet bulky outfits, spacetroopers perform best in no-gravity environments such as deep space and non-atmosphere worlds.

Stormtrooper Scouts

Imperial Scout Template

Stormtrooper scouts are assigned to garrison posts. At a typical garrison, scout speeder bike squadrons perform reconnaissance and patrol missions in cooperation with AT-ST walkers. Imperial doctrine dictates that garrisons remain active and aggressive, performing continuous patrols to establish a tangible presence, even on “pacified” worlds.

Scouts use the explosively fast Aratech 74-Z speeder bike to perform their missions. Because speeder bikes require sensitive handling, Imperial scouts wear highly specialized lightweight armor. This armor includes macrobinocular viewplates and full sensor array, as well as a built-in computer to analyze incoming data quickly. Without such aid, even the best scouts would be hard pressed to operate speeder bikes at full speed.

The Effect of Stormtroopers

When Stormtroopers first replaced the Clone Army and were sent to Army and Navy units everyone questioned who they were and where they had come from. Stormtroopers stayed to themselves and always referred to themselves by number or rank rather than by name. The tradition of using names rather than rank and number quickly faded as the Clones were replaced with troops from the Imperial Academy.

While the Stormtrooper Corps were not as effective as the Clones who came before them, their early successes in putting down worlds in rebellion against the Empire after the Clone Wars, combined with their fearsome appearance, soon made the Stormtrooper a symbol of the New Order. Their fearless dedication set an example which was enthusiastically followed by many troops and junior officers eager to move up in the Army and Navy. The elite attitude of the Stormtroopers has now firmly entrenched itself throughout the Imperial forces.

PT White

I've been involved in creating content for Star Wars The Role Playing Game since 1992 and consider myself a Star Wars Super Fan and knowledge bank for the Star Wars Universe.

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