This is an excerpt from First Order Center for Lessons Learned Publication, Light Infantry Operations in Forested Terrain and Treatment of Indigenous Peoples.
Scene: Imperial stormtroopers are seated in rows of benches as a hologram of the Forest Moon of Endor looms over them. Their company commander steps forward to begin the briefing.
Captain: “Listen up, troopers, this is your cultural awareness and intel briefing for your upcoming deployment. Congratulations, we’re going to some place called the Forest Moon of Endor, also known as FME, an acronym I’m sure you’ll all pervert in some profane way. Now listen up: for many of you, this is your first deployment. My first recommendation is this: link up with someone else who’s already been out there and has a couple tours under their helmets. There’s a lot of experience in this room: raise your hand if you’ve been to Tatooine? How about if you froze your conscripted ass off on Hoth? Yeah, that one sucked. We’ve got desert fighters, cold weather experts, space breaching subject matter experts, all sitting right here. So as we ramp up for this deployment, make sure you’re getting with these dudes to pump their brains.
Now that being said, this tour isn’t going to be like the other ones. I don’t wanna hear anything like, ‘Well on my last tour we did it this way.’ That’s the kind of thing that’s going to have you on shield generator duty for weeks on end. It’s a whole new system out there. Let’s start off with some basics on terrain.
So, FME is a, well, forested moon, obviously. It’s characterized by incredibly thick foliage and a nearly impenetrable – stop laughing, trooper, get your mind out of the trash compactor – canopy above it. What does this mean?”
JR-9716: “Uh, sir, it means we don’t have any air cover.”
Captain: “That’s right, trooper. We won’t have any cover from the Navy’s guns. And not only that, the trees are too dense to get heavy armor in there. That’s why they’re sending the light-fighters in. All we’ll be able to fit in there are AT-STs for the heavy weapons platoon and speeders for the scout platoon, although I’ll bet Headquarters Troop takes the only operational speeders.
Okay, so, woods, big-ass trees, rocks, that pretty much does it for terrain. Now let’s move on to – what, LU-2463, you have a question?”
LU-2463: “Yes sir, uh, what’s our mission?”
Captain: “Dammit, didn’t your lieutenant brief you guys the Imperial Operations Order I gave them? LT, where you at? You and I are going to have some words after this briefing, and you bet this will be reflected in your quarterly counseling. I swear, I don’t know what the Imperial Academies are teaching you kids that go through there these days.
Right, take out your recorders and prepare to copy. Here’s our mission. On order, Troop A, 1st Squadron, 503rd Imperial Legion (Light) moves from SSD Executor to the Forest Moon of Endor (FME) in order to provide base security for the Death Star’s shield generator and project forward Imperial power to maintain stability in the region.
At this point I’m going to hand it over to our squadron S-2 intelligence officer.”
S-2: Good morning, troopers, sorry I’m late. Lord Vader just landed on board and of course everyone is losing their collective minds, so trying to navigate the hallways was nearly impossible.
Everyone fired up to get out there and make the Empire more secure? I’ve been tasked to give you guys an intel update as well as some additional info from the squadron XO. This is a good time to talk about the local populace. What we know of the moon is that it seems to be devoid of most large life forms. However, Troop C, which is occupying the moon right now, says they’ve seen what appear to be small, furry animals that have some humanoid features. However, they’re experts at cover and concealment and Troop C doesn’t patrol, so we really don’t know their capabilities. For the love of all that is Sith, please patrol; you’re light infantry, that’s your thing. Based on what intel we have, we believe that these things might be what are called ‘Ewoks.’ They seem to be tribal in nature and have little in the way of infrastructure. Their culture seems to be based around shamans and tribal chieftains, but we don’t know anything about their warfighting capabilities. We do know we haven’t received any readings that would indicate that they have blasters or any type of modern weapons platforms. So that’s a plus.
That being said, I’ve been ordered to tell you that we are to treat the local non-human population in accordance with Imperial Army Policy Memo 425, which reads as follows: ‘All non-human life forms are to be treated with the same respect and dignity that we accommodate to all humans on Imperial occupied systems. Observe respect for local customs and norms, remembering always that you are ambassadors for the Emperor and represent the order and security of the Empire.’
Per Imperial Doctrine Publication Conflict Ongoing with Imperial Natives, or COIN, our goal is to move away from ‘shoot first and ask questions later.’ The Rebellion is pretty much crushed and we’re transitioning into stability operations. Therefore, we need to make friends out there so that we’re not on peacekeeping duty forever. If you’re like me, you’re tired of getting assignments on worthless systems without a decent bar. So let’s do our best to not piss off the locals.
Rules of engagement are as follows: don’t fire unless fired upon, but if you feel like you or one of your fellow troopers are in imminent danger, you may act to neutralize the threat using economy of force. So, if they throw, like, a spear at you, use non-lethal means to subdue them. This will not only preserve your limited combat power, but it will mean you can capture the creature and get it to us for interrogation.
During your time on FME, Imperial Order 1 is in effect: no consumption of controlled substances. If we get word of anyone with contraband, you’ll be on a transport to Tatooine faster than a Bantha turd. Inside the garrison perimeter, weapons status is at amber, per order of the squadron commander. You may go red when you leave the base. Reflective strobes will be worn inside the perimeter when conducting physical training. At no time are you permitted to downgrade your uniform posture – this is the Imperial Army after all, not those wimps in the Navy with their soft caps and weak discipline. I expect you troopers to uphold the honor of the Imperial cavalry corps. Scouts out!”
Troop A: “Scouts out!”
Captain: “Okay, so now that the squadron spies are gone, here’s what I have to say: I’ve been in this business going on twelve years now. I used to sit where you’re sitting, rose through the ranks and got a commission. I’ve done my time, is what I’m saying. And while squadron thinks they’ve got this war all wrapped up and won, it’s my belief that the only thing these locals ever respect is force. So here’s the deal: we’re going to get on-planet – or moon, whatever – and we’re going to get out there and patrol; hard. And the first contact you make, you make it clear that you’re there to be their worst nightmare. Hit ’em with everything you have. Once we’ve made a few examples of the locals, the rest will quiet down and we won’t have any trouble. Got it? We’re not going there to win hearts and minds, we’re there to kick ass and take names.
Alright, move your happy asses off to the central issuing facility to draw your new equipment issue of scout trooper armor. We’ve got formation for pre-combat checks and inspections in twenty-four. Then it’s go time for OPERATION JUST MOON. I know, I know, I didn’t name the damn thing. Now move out.”
Aftermath: Due to Troop A’s overly aggressive actions, the population of the FME turned against the Empire, right into the arms of a Rebel SOF group that inserted onto the moon. In the ensuing engagement, Troop A was practically wiped out, with the remainder taken prisoner. Their hubris and reliance on their weapons platforms inhibited their ability to maneuver and assess threats seriously. Stormtrooper Corps has compiled these lessons learned from audio files recovered from the Imperial Security Agency’s internal monitoring section.
Lessons Learned: This vignette highlights the importance of not underestimating the threat, of the vital need to conduct presence patrols partnered with indigenous peoples, and the impact that small unit leaders have on Galactic operations. Had this commander adopted the squadron’s orders, the situation on FME may have ended in an Imperial victory. First Order troopers must be aware of the dangers present in operating in restricted terrain with an unknown host population.
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About the Author: Angry Staff Officer is an Army engineer officer who is adrift in a sea of doctrine and staff operations and uses writing as a means to retain his sanity. He also collaborates on a podcast with Adin Dobkin entitled War Stories, which examines key moments in the history of warfare.