Stormtroopers were the elite soldiers of the Galactic Empire. Like Imperial-class Star Destroyers and TIE fighters, stormtroopers served as ever present reminders of the absolute power of Emperor Palpatine. These faceless enforcers of the New Order were considered an extension of the Emperor’s will, and often used efficient yet brutal tactics to keep thousands of star systems throughout the galaxy in submission to the Empire. At the height of the Empire, stormtroopers had effectively become symbols of major authority. With few exceptions, they were distinguished from all other military units by their signature white armor.
The Imperial stormtroopers were the evolution of the clone troopers of the Grand Army of the Republic. By the end of the Clone Wars in 19 BBY, the Galactic Republic was reorganized into the Galactic Empire. As a result, the Grand Army was reformed into the Stormtrooper Corps and the clones were renamed “stormtroopers”. Under the Empire, stormtroopers operated alongside Imperial Army and Navy units, and some were stationed on Naval ships where they served as marines. Although the Corps was overseen by Stormtrooper Command, a military agency that was independent from Imperial High Command, all stormtroopers ultimately answered to Emperor Palpatine with unconditional loyalty and subservience.
Members of the Rebel Alliance SpecForce had several slang names for stormtroopers, including “whitehats”, “plastic soldiers”, “snowmen”, “The Boys in White”, “bucketheads”, “plastic boys”. Another term was “Stormies”, often used by Wedge Antilles and Corran Horn.
Although the deaths of both Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader in 4 ABY caused the collapse and fragmentation of the original Galactic Empire, stormtroopers were retained as elite soldiers under several successor states, such as the Imperial Remnant, the Second Imperium, and the Empire of the Hand. By the year 138 ABY, stormtroopers still existed in two Imperial states: the New Galactic Empire of the Sith Lord Darth Krayt, and the “Empire” of the exiled emperor Roan Fel.
The Galactic Civil War
“In the past, we secretly enjoyed putting down a local insurrection or two. They kept the troops sharp and the Empire feared. But these Rebels were different. They were organized, they were growing, and they were everywhere.” – 501st stormtrooper, commenting on the increasing threat of the Rebel Alliance
By the time the Galactic Civil War began in earnest, Jango Fett’s clones were heavily supplanted by clones based on a variety of templates around 9 BBY, followed shortly after by enlisted Humans. Thus, the Fett clones were ironically reduced to a minority status after years of virtually filling the stormtrooper ranks in its entirety. According to a stormtrooper’s entry log in the 501st Journal, none of the Fett clones were ever truly able to come to terms with serving alongside recruits and different clones, all of whom were disdainfully dubbed as the “new guys.” Commander Cody, a first generation clone of Jango Fett and a veteran of the Clone Wars, found stormtrooper recruits to be absolutely intolerable. Due to the significant decrease in the Imperial Military’s operational effectiveness and his own feelings of nostalgia over the Republic’s “army of one man,” Cody viewed enlisted troopers as incompetent idiots, all of whom he would have gladly sacrificed for just one real clone trooper.
Despite the influx of new troopers from various sources, the ranks remained dominated by Human males, thus reflecting the New Order’s Human High Culture. By 0 BBY, roughly one-third of the stormtroopers were clones based on the Fett template, while recruits steadily became the majority within the Stormtrooper Corps. Service in the Stormtrooper Corps was open to both Human men and women, but female stormtroopers were an extremely rare sight under Palpatine’s reign and on average there were never more than three female stormtroopers within a whole legion. In spite of this disparity, some female troopers served in elite units, such as the Coruscant Guard.
Female stormtroopers underwent the same hard training as their male counterparts. Only the best of the best recruits were selected for the stormtrooper corps. Once accepted into the stormtrooper corps, every trooper was treated as an equal. There were no differences between males and females. They even shared the same barracks. Wearing the exact same white stormtrooper armor, one could not distinguish between a male or female stormtrooper.
For twenty-three years, the stormtroopers suffered few known large scale defeats, at least until the Empire’s catastrophic defeat at Battle of Endor. An entire legion of stormtroopers, supported by AT-STs suffered a humiliating loss that was almost completely unforeseeable, given all of the advantages that the Empire had both in space and on Endor. Despite superior numbers, advanced weapons and superb training, the stormtroopers were utterly defeated by a small infiltration team of the Rebel Alliance, which was greatly assisted by the Ewoks, small and seemingly insignificant natives indigenous to Endor that Palpatine naturally overlooked as less than a minor threat. This was a devastating mistake which cost the Empire nothing less than its once unbreakable grip on the galaxy.
The stormtroopers were caught completely by surprise; in their arrogance, they began to break rank and divide into small groups to hunt down the Ewoks. But with no apparent way to counter the variety of guerrilla tactics employed by the Ewoks, the stormtroopers were systematically wiped out by their seemingly inferior opponents. In addition to this strategy, it was a commandeered AT-ST that helped turn the tide and bring the troopers on the defensive, not only dealing a severe blow to the shocked Empire, but also to the reputation of the stormtroopers as well. The news about the defeat of the mighty Imperial stormtroopers against a small band of Rebels and a highly primitive race on a backwater forest moon, combined with the deaths of both Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader, galvanized numerous worlds to full-scale rebellion against the Empire’s dictatorial rule.
Many attempts to turn the war back in the Empire’s favor ultimately ended with failure. The renowned Grand Admiral Thrawn recovered several Spaarti cloning cylinders to build a new army of clone stormtroopers. Yet due to the Chiss officer’s untimely death, the stormtroopers were unable to destroy the New Republic without Thrawn’s guidance. Even the several rebirths of Emperor Palpatine, an accomplishment that he achieved by transferring his essence into various clone bodies of himself in turn, failed to bring the Empire to full restoration. Throughout all of that time, the stormtroopers suffered a series of catastrophic defeats that inflicted a heavy strain on their numbers. As the casualty rates increased substantially, the Stormtrooper Corps was almost all but a memory by 22 ABY as their ranks dwindled from attrition and even desertion.
As the war entered its last phase, the former Galactic Empire was reduced to a small collection of Outer Rim sectors, otherwise known as the Imperial Remnant. The Remnant continued to employ stormtroopers in battle until the Bastion Accords was signed in 19 ABY, thus ending the Galactic Civil War with the Empire’s surrender. Despite the high level of casualties sustained throughout the war, the Stormtrooper Corps ultimately survived under the Imperial Remnant and other successor states of the fallen Empire, albeit as a broken shadow of its former glory. Following the treaty, stormtroopers were reduced to guard and police functions on the few thousand worlds that remained under Imperial control. However, some stormtroopers fought as elite soldiers under the short-lived Second Imperium, an Imperial faction that sought to restore the glory of the first Galactic Empire.
After the failed uprising on Kamino in 12 BBY, Emperor Palpatine came to the conclusion that an army of clone soldiers was far too susceptible to corruption. Thus, he expanded the Stormtrooper Corps to include clones that were created from a variety of genetic templates, effectively marginalizing Jango Fett’s progeny into a minority status. In addition to the massive influx of new clone sources, the Corps began recruiting real Human beings to serve in the ranks as enlisted stormtroopers.
If an individual between the ages of 18 and 30 scored in the top fifth percentile, an Imperial recruiting agent would contact him and presumably arrange for the extraction of a DNA sampling for cloning. Those who did not score high enough to qualify as a genetic template were still used as regular soldiers. Also, it was preferable if enlisted troopers met a certain standard in height and weight. Princess Leia Organa was seemingly familiar with Stormtrooper Corps’s standards by 0 BBY, perhaps as a result of her work with the Imperial Senate. Human males made up the majority of the recruits due to strictly precise requirements in physique and measurements, though females served as well. Certain Near-Humans were also eligible for recruitment in some cases.
For a time, the Stormtrooper Corps remained evenly balanced between clones and recruits, at least until the onset of the Imperial Civil War, which occurred alongside the ongoing Galactic Civil War. Due to the loss of Kamino and its cloning facilities, as well as many other cloning centers throughout the galaxy, clone stormtroopers became a rare commodity that the Empire could no longer afford to sustain. As the Galactic Empire’s unity became undermined by various splinter cell factions, a few successor states opted to vastly reform the Imperial recruiting policy. Unlike the old Empire, the Empire of the Hand recruited stormtroopers from a variety of Humanoid sources. Though the stormtrooper ranks remained consistently dominated by Human male recruits, it marked the first time that Non-Humans were allowed to serve as Imperial soldiers.
The new practice of recruiting Non-Humans as stormtroopers was continued by the Imperial Remnant. Over a century after the fall of the old Empire, the Remnant eventually reformed itself into a new Empire that was protected by stormtroopers composed of Humans, Near-Humans, Humanoids and even Aliens that hardly even resembled the Human anatomy standards. Non-Human stormtroopers were not the only new additions to the Empire’s resurgent army, however; Human females became more common within the stormtrooper ranks by 130 ABY.
At some point in the Fel-controlled Empire’s history, the Imperial Army adopted a relatively new tradition of recruiting the sons and daughters born “in the camp.” All children born to stormtroopers, either during or after service, were encouraged to enlist in the army, making soldiering an hereditary career. Since they were not legally forced to follow in their parents’ example, an incentive was added to the unofficial policy through the Continuity of Service, which allowed new troopers to serve in the same unit as their parents.
Another recruiting tool that the Empire utilized was the Imperial Mission. As part of Imperial Head of State Jagged Fel’s strategy to alter the common view of the Empire as an oppressive, war-mongering force, the Mission was created to spread Imperial influence through peaceful methods, such as providing aid to worlds that were ravaged by the Yuuzhan Vong. However, the Mission also served as a pool of potential recruits. Whether they were grateful for Imperial assistance, or simply had nothing better to do, those who were eligible for service could become enlisted troopers through the Mission. Jes Gistang, a native of Corellia, became a stormtrooper through the Imperial Mission. As far as Gistang was concerned, the life of a soldier was better than remaining on her homeworld or any of the other alternative paths that she could have taken.
By the time of the Second Imperial Civil War, well over a century since the fall of the original Empire, the vast majority of stormtroopers were composed primarily of enlisted soldiers, drawn from a recruiting pool of Humans and Non-Humans alike. No clones were known to have been in the Imperial service by such time, presumably indicating that the use of clone stormtroopers had been phased out in Darth Krayt’s Galactic Empire and the Fel faction.
“Stormtrooper ideology is terrifying in its thoroughness. They can’t be reasoned with, which means they can’t be deprogrammed.” – Leia Organa, commenting in Imperial Handbook: A Commander’s Guide
In addition to their role as elite military soldiers of the Galactic Empire, the Imperial stormtroopers were the most visible symbol of Emperor Palpatine’s rule and the unrivaled might of the Imperial war machine. They were the highly trained shock troopers that were unwaveringly dedicated to enforcing Imperial power through fear and brutality on countless worlds spread throughout the galaxy. Whether on the ground or in space, their purpose was to attack with speed, accuracy and overwhelming numbers whenever faced with an insurrection against the Empire.
Loyalty, obedience and the readiness to die for Emperor Palpatine were the primary traits that were indoctrinated into all stormtroopers. In their capacity as enforcers of the Empire, stormtroopers were also trained to completely support and uphold the ideals of the New Order. Every individual trooper was fully expected to obey their superior officers without question or hesitance, regardless if they were required to unleash harm on others or even place themselves in extreme danger. As a result of their militaristic and highly disciplined nature, stormtroopers were well aware of their expendable status to the Emperor—and they were ready to lay down their lives to ensure the continuance of his reign and the Empire. As such, this ideology, training, and discipline prevented them from getting distracted by emotional responses, to the extent of even ignoring casualties within their own ranks during combat situations, the only times casualties on their end is taken notice is from a tactical standpoint. Their ideology was such that they cannot be bribed or blackmailed, and is unswerving in obedience and unflinching in dispensing Imperial justice, and even went as far to state that their armor, helmet, and number is their skin, face, and name, respectively.
The extent of such conditioning was such that Leia Organa Solo even admitted that such indoctrination was terrifying especially regarding its thoroughness, and it was virtually impossible to sway stormtroopers away from their orders due to them being nearly impossible to be negotiated with. Despite their intense indoctrination, enlisted stormtroopers were still capable of living civilian lives; they received pay, were given periods of leave time, and under some circumstances were given opportunities to retire from service.
Clone stormtroopers were genetically modified to suppress their individuality with unquestioning loyalty; enlisted stormtroopers were rigorously trained to abandon their individual identities by embracing said loyalty to the Emperor. Their allegiance to Palpatine required the stormtroopers to impose his authority on both civilians and non-stormtrooper military personnel, especially with regard to the officers of the Imperial Navy. Upon the completion of the first Death Star in 0 BBY, an army of stormtroopers was stationed on the battle station. In addition to the presence of the Emperor’s apprentice Darth Vader, the stormtroopers were a major deterrent against ambitious officers who contemplated turning the power of the Death Star against Palpatine.
The loyalty that stormtroopers possessed was so complete that they could be neither bribed, seduced or blackmailed to abandon their allegiance to the Empire or its sovereign. However, the deaths of Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader at the Battle of Endor began a chain of events that nearly saw the complete destruction of the Galactic Empire and the stormtroopers that enforced its ideology. By the end of the Galactic Civil War, the former Empire had been diminished into a small state known as the Imperial Remnant; stormtroopers became an increasingly rare sight after their numbers were vastly depleted over years of attrition and warfare.
Yet even with the loss of both Sith Lords and the virtual collapse of the Galactic Empire, stormtroopers ultimately proved to be one of the few enduring legacies of Emperor Palpatine and the Order of the Sith Lords. The Imperial Remnant and the Empire of the Hand, both of which were successor states to the former Empire, both attempted to preserve the tenets of the New Order, particularly by maintaining stormtroopers in their respective military forces. Although reduced to a pale shadow of their former glory, the continued use of stormtroopers ensured that they would not follow Palpatine and Vader into oblivion.
The death of Palpatine, as well as many officials who supported the New Order in its original form, allowed both the Remnant and the Hand to introduce various reforms to ensure the overall continuation of Imperial ideology. Without the many cloning facilities that supplied the Empire with half of its stormtroopers, the Remnant and the Hand became desperately reliant on recruitment to reinforce their weakened manpower. Without a vast pool of civilians to recruit, both states were forced to radically alter certain Imperial ideals in order to recruit Non-Human individuals as well as significantly more females. This was a desperate measure in response to the desperate situation. As the triumphant Rebel Alliance consolidated its rule over the galaxy, first as the New Republic and then as the Galactic Alliance, the Imperial Remnant could no longer rely on just Humans to fill the ranks of the stormtroopers. As a consequence, the system of Human High Culture was greatly reduced over time. However, although not as prevalent as males, there have been female stormtroopers within the first Galactic Empire. A particularly notable example of this was Isila Drutch of the 291st Legion Dalisor. According to Drutch in her memoirs, the reason there were few female members had very little to do with any prejudice against females, as she noted that there weren’t any female genetic templates, and that the stormtrooper physical regimen was brutal enough that females were simply more likely to wash out more than males. Drutch also implied the possibility that the design of the Stormtrooper armor was such that it was likely assumed there were very few females among the Stormtroopers. By 130 ABY, the resurgent Empire, the successor state of the Remnant, maintained a vast army of stormtroopers recruited from both Human males and females, as well as various humanoid and alien species.
Under the Fel-ruled Empire, military service as a stormtrooper was regarded by civilians and soldiers alike as a mark of pride. The Empire took great strides to promote enlistment through channels such as the Imperial Mission or enticements like the Continuity of Service. After the One Sith established their control over the new Galactic Empire, stormtroopers became enforcers of Sith rule once more and were often directed to carry out their duties by spreading fear and terror amongst the galactic populace. Though much remained the same in terms of the recruitment policy, the stormtroopers of this era were just as capable of excessive brutality and genocide as their predecessors who served under Emperor Palpatine.
Even after they were forced to take sides between Darth Krayt’s Empire and the Imperial loyalists who supported the deposed emperor Roan Fel, the stormtroopers as a whole remained as one of the most persevering symbols of Imperial ideology as envisioned by Palpatine and Sith philosophy. For nearly two centuries since the rise of the original Galactic Empire, stormtroopers were both respected and feared as the greatest military force in galactic history. Throughout their existence, stormtroopers were a testament to the might of the Galactic Empire, in all of its forms, the enduring legacy of Kamino’s greatest creation, the Grand Army of the Republic, and ultimately a symbol of the Imperial way of providing order and peace through force of arms.
The BlasTech E-11 blaster rifle was the standard issue weapon of the Stormtrooper Corps and one of the most commonly issued rifles in the Imperial Military. The E-11 blaster rifle was largely based on the DC-15S blaster rifle, the standard weapon of the clone troopers during the Clone Wars, right down to the folding stock. With the exception of troopers assigned to roles that involved heavy or special weapons, the rank-and-file stormtroopers carried an E-11 along with a SE-14r light repeating blaster. They also had access to modified blaster pistols.
In addition to their standard weapons, some elite stormtroopers were armed with the deadly DLT-19 heavy blaster rifle. Though not as common as the E-11, the DLT-19 was more powerful and accurate. Other weapons in the stormtrooper arsenal included:
CSPL-12 “Caspel” projectile launcher
DLT-20A blaster rifle
“Equalizer” shoulder-fired ion cannon
Imperial heavy repeater
LX-4 self-detonating perimeter mine
LXR-6 concussion grenade
PLX-2M “Plex” missile tubes
Sharpshooter 5 blaster carbine
T-21 light repeating blaster
T-28 repeating sniper rifle
Under the Empire Reborn, stormtrooper squad leaders were armed with the Golan Arms FC-1 flechette launcher.
All stormtroopers possessed a Baradium-core code key thermal detonator attached to the back of their torso armor. The thermal detonators were specially designed to ensure that only the stormtroopers themselves could utilize them, thus ensuring that Rebel troopers could not use the Imperials’ own explosives against them. The security measures for the stormtroopers’ thermal detonators included an arming code. To further prevent the explosives from being used by enemy combatants, the buttons on the thermal detonator were unlabeled. Each thermal detonator arming code was unique, known only to the soldier to whom the device was issued.
By the year 130 ABY, during the era of the resurgent Empire, stormtroopers were issued a new standard weapon: the ARC-9965 blaster rifle. Although it was more energy dependent than its distant predecessor, the ARC-9965 model was built for superior accuracy. Although the E-11 blaster rifle had been virtually obsolete and superseded by new designs, it was still utilized as a military weapon alongside the ARC-9965 blaster rifle.
Prior to the development and distribution of stormtrooper armor, the first Imperial stormtroopers wore Phase II battle armor during various assignments, such as the Cleansing of New Plympto and the search for Garoche Tarkin. However, by the time Naboo was subjugated by military force in 18 BBY, the old Phase II battle armor had become obsolete and replaced by a new suit of Imperial armor.
Even before the creation of stormtrooper armor, the Empire’s clone soldiers were required to remove the unit affiliation markings that adorned their Phase II armor. From then on, virtually all stormtroopers were identified by their distinctive white armor. This tradition of military uniformity carried on for over a century into Darth Krayt’s Galactic Empire. However, stormtroopers of rank, such as non-commissioned officers, were identified as separate from the rank-and-file troopers through the color stripes on their armor.
The stormtrooper armor was 18 pieces of white plastoid-composite body armor over a sealed black body glove. The complete ensemble encased the wearer’s body. As the stormtroopers were an evolution of the clone troopers, so too was their armor inspired by its Phase II precursor from the Clone Wars. In addition to its imposing appearance, the armor provided a wide range of survival equipment and temperature controls to allow the stormtroopers to survive in almost any environment.
Aside from harsh environments, the armor also protected the troopers from projectiles and impact weapons. Although it could be penetrated by a direct blaster bolt, the armor was capable of reducing the damage from the absorbed bolt. Blast energy sinks were distributed around the armor to absorb energy from a blaster bolt. The insulated body glove allowed for comfortable operations in an very wide range of climates, including—for a very short time—even total vacuum conditions, or immense extremes of cold and heat.
Specialized stormtroopers, known as “armored stormtroopers,” also wore a heavier version of the stormtrooper armor. The armor in question was detailed with various lines.
In some cases, Stormtrooper officers who are undergoing combat situations leading various Stormtroopers wore colored shoulder pauldrons as high-visibility rank indicators. In addition, they also sometimes wore a variation of Stormtrooper armor that possessed colored lines around the chest, arms, shoulders, and the right side of their helmet and face, to indicate their unit.
By 130 ABY, many variants of stormtrooper armor were created for non-Human enlisted troopers who served in the Imperial Army. The general appearance of the armor had only minor changes, however. Other than a few cosmetic alterations, the armor was reportedly designed to better protect soldiers from blaster fire, thus reducing the risk of sustaining severe or fatal injuries.
Some special features include a wrist comlink, a small battle holocam built into the helmet, a proper resonator (to open secure doors) built into their armor, and an external helmet light. For extended operations, stormtroopers carried field backpacks that included a personal tent, five concentrated rations, fifteen water packs, eight blaster power packs, and a glowrod. They also used DSD1 dwarf spider droids as support weapons. The utility belt on their armor included a small attachment which could be clipped onto with an E-11 blaster rifle, thus freeing both of the trooper’s arms. Stormtroopers wore a white-on-white ID tag on the left shoulder, invisible to the naked eye, even at close range, but could be seen by other stormtroopers through their visor’s visual enhancements.
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