Friday, February 15, 2013

Imperial Strategy

Earlier this week there was an article on Danger Room analyzing the Battle of Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back and basically showing how every single Imperial decision throughout the battle was a colossal mistake. There were many decisions that were highlighted, but the single biggest failure appeared to be taking down the Rebel shield. The idea being that had they left the shield intact that Imperial ships could have been positioned to interdict rebel ships emerging from the one exit point.

I actually think that the ion cannon would have provided sufficient cover in that scenario and therefore the correct target for the ground forces wasn't the shield generator, it was the ion cannon. But whatever. The thing that actually came to mind while reading this article was that the battle of Hoth is not nearly the level of failure the Empire suffered at Yavin and Endor. In both of those cases Imperial forces made the same kind of mistakes made at Hoth and allowed the Rebels to snatch vitory from the jaws of defeat. Mostly it seems that the failures are failures of patience.

At Yavin, midway through the battle we hear that the Death Star leadership have analyzed the attack and found that there is a risk. They must have known at that point that the risk was the thermal exhaust port. Their response to this is to try to destroy the Rebel fighters ship to ship. That's certainly proactive and aggressive, but wouldn't a better course of action have been to have taken a shuttle and park it over the exhaust port? I mean, sure, that wouldn't have solved the problem of the X-Wings buzzing around the station like gnats, but it also certainly would have bought enough time for the station to clear the planet and blast the Rebel base into smithereens.

Endor is the same failure again. All they have to do is keep the shield up. They have a technically superior force, probably numerically superior too. They also are fully aware that they are going to be attacked in spite of the fact that the Rebel commandos think they have the element of surprise. All they have to do is stack scout walkers in front of every door and put stormtroopers body to body behind each door and sit tight. In that scenario there is no way Han and Leia take the ground station and bring down the shield. But instead of doing literally nothing and winning - because with the shield up the Death Star would just pick off Rebel capitol ship after capitol ship - the Imperial forces chase the rebels into the jungle, off their home field and onto unfamiliar ground where they are embarrassed by a gang of teddy bears. Again, a lack of patience costs the Empire their win.

I guess it is possible that in the case of the Battle of Endor that Luke and Anakin would still have defeated the Emperor, so the outcome of the war might have been the same, but there is no reason they couldn't have defeated the Rebel forces.

It seems consistent that since aggression and impatience are hallmarks of the Dark Side of the Force and the Empire is led by the Sith and so they fail exactly because of those traits. But with a closer look it does seem that from a military standpoint the Empire was pretty stupid.

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