Skywalker on Trial: the Galactic Code of Military Justice

Scene: Galactic Courtroom. Defendant seems blissfully unaware of what’s going on, keeps talking about his training with a “Yoda.”

Judge: “Commander Skywalker, let’s walk through the events that occurred during the Battle of Hoth, shall we?”

Commander Skywalker: “Sure, it’s all the same to me, but I’m kind of busy and –”

Judge: “Commander, this is a military organization, and we have rules. General Carlist Rieekan ordered us to convene an investigation into your actions that day, as per the Galactic Code of Military Justice. The better part of Rogue Squadron was wrecked, our ground forces scattered, and we barely escaped with our transports. Now, you were the commander of Rogue Squadron that day, were you not?”

Commander Skywalker: “Yeah, I was.”

Judge: “And what were your orders?”

Commander Skywalker: “Well, we got word that there were Imperial forces landing and I grabbed Wedge – I mean, Commander Antilles – and we got the squadron and we flew out–”

Judge: “Yes, yes, Commander, I meant, were you delivered orders through a specific orders process, with commander’s intent, overall mission and execution?”

Defendant stares quizzically at Judge.

General Rieekan: “Um, sorry your honor, but my staff was a little busy packing up, and I don’t really like operations orders anyways, I like to use mission command on the fly, so….”

Judge: “Very good, sir, I see. Well then, commander, you then sortied out of the hanger. What happened next?”

Commander Skywalker: “Well then we flew over our lines and towards the Imperial AT-ATs, we passed them, and then I gave the order for attack pattern delta and–”
T-47 Speeders on approach…straight at the AT-ATs. (Lucasfilm, Ltd.)

Judge: “I’m sorry, did I hear you correctly? You deployed your T-47 Speeders over the top of your own troops in line formation? Rather than coming in from the flank? Putting all your ships on line together towards the main guns of the enemy armor? Main guns that can only fire forward, i.e., your direction of travel? And only after you passed the first walkers did you decide to assume a much less risky formation, attack pattern delta?”

Commander Skywalker: “Uh, yeah, it’s what we do in our doctrine.”

Judge: “So you use tactical doctrine, but don’t use the orders process? Hm.” Makes note. “Very well then, what happened next?”

Commander Skywalker: “Then we started making passes on the AT-AT’s, but their armor was too thick to penetrate with blasters, so Wedge managed to use his tow cable to tangle up one of them and bring them down. Then I tried the same thing but that’s when our speeder was hit and my co-pilot, Dak Ralter, was killed.”

Judge: “Ah yes, Dak. We’ll come back to that. During your squadron’s attacks on the enemy armor, did they at any time cross in front of the enemy main guns?”

Commander Skywalker: “Well, yeah, I think it happened a few times.”

Judge: “Speaking with ground survivors, your aircraft passed in front of the main guns of the AT-AT’s no fewer than twelve times, which accounts for the majority of Rogue Squadron’s losses. In fact, your orders, as recorded by in-flight monitors, were for everyone to ‘keep it tight.’ Commander Skywalker, are you familiar with the concept of tactical dispersion?”

Commander Skywalker: “You weren’t there, you didn’t see what it was like!”

Judge: “No need to get testy, commander, we’re not trying to trap you.”

Admiral Ackbar coughs and looks unsettled from his position on the bench.

What defeat looks like. (Lucasfilm, Ltd)

Judge: “Now Commander Skywalker, you mention that the weapons on the T-47’s failed to penetrate the armor of the enemy vehicles. Would you say that this is a design flaw?”

Commander Skywalker: “Definitely, we were unable to gain superiority because of that. In fact, our clumsy and inefficient blasters should be completely redesigned.”

Judge: “I see. We’ll make a note of that, although I suspect that Research and Design Department won’t be able to do much about it considering our budget was cut by nearly 100% when Alderaan was destroyed. But back to the matter at hand. As you were entering combat, did your co-pilot make any remarks?”

Commander Skywalker: “Yeah, Dak said something about how he had no approach vector and that he wasn’t set.”

Judge: “And having determined that your own co-pilot said that there were deficiencies in your own ship, how did you proceed?”

Commander Skywalker: “I think I told him that it was okay, but it was all in the heat of the moment, I don’t remember.”

Judge: “Your exact words were, ‘Steady, Dak.’ Did you do anything to correct to allow for your co-pilot to determine the fault in the equipment?”

Commander Skywalker: “Um, no.”

Judge: “I see. Dak found further faults with the vehicle, did he not? Specifically, when you asked him to prepare the tow cable for deployment.”

Commander Skywalker: “Yeah, that’s right, as we went in on our final approach.”

Judge: “His exact words were, ‘Oh Luke, we have a malfunction in fire control, I’ll have to cut in the auxiliary.’ Which would seem to point out that there were significant issues in not only the maneuverability of the ship but with the weapons systems as well. How did you conduct preventative maintenance on your ship prior to this mission?”

Commander Skywalker: “I dunno, that’s not my job!”

Judge: “Commander, we have limited ships. As I mentioned, we have pretty much no budget for spare parts. It is imperative that ships are maintained to the best of our abilities. It is clear that no maintenance was conducted on your ship, leading you to be combat ineffective once involved in battle. You then told your own co-pilot, ‘Hang on, hang on Dak, get ready to fire that tow cable.’ What happened next?”

Poor Dak. He deserved a better pilot. (Lucasfilm, Ltd)

Commander Skywalker: “Then we got hit and I crash-landed the speeder, dismounted, and headed towards the closest walker.”

Judge: “How did your ship end up in the enemy’s line of fire?”

Commander Skywalker: “It was on our approach with the tow cable.”

Judge: “You elected to begin your approach vector around the front of the walker? Hm. All right, then you crashed, and your retrieved two items from your ship, a grenade and an obsolete weapon, is that correct?”

Princess Organa: “Leading the witness!”

Judge: “Fine, fine, a lightsaber. With these two weapons you proceeded to disable a walker, which demonstrates bravery that is highly commendable. In fact, in light of this bravery, and your subsequent courageous but foolhardy attempt to rescue Commander Solo, the court has urged me to look with kindness on your case. Were it up to me, Commander Skywalker, you would be cashiered to some backwoods corner of the Galaxy, maybe Tatooine, for your abysmal tactical performance and the destruction of our limited resources. I would also reprimand you for your negligence in the care of your own equipment, which led you to be manning a flying box during the engagement. However, since we have a severe lack of pilots, an impending operation to rescue Commander Solo, and are essentially desperate, it is the recommendation of the court that you are reinstated to your command. And promoted to general. God help us. Court adjourned.”

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