Note: The following contains spoilers.
An Open Letter To My Fellow Officers of the First Order; Gen Hux et. all.;
I wish to open this letter by acknowledging the difficult month we have shared, collectively, as leaders of the First Order. Most if not all of us reading this memo had close friends and trusted colleagues on Starkiller Base, their loss is a palpable wound.
However, even with the destruction of the Hosnian System and the hated Senate, it is up to us as officers to admit we have, yet again, suffered a defeat at the hands of the Resistance. Morale is at an all-time low. This is why we must be particularly careful not make hasty or foolish decisions without careful consideration of the polices that have led us to this low point in the otherwise glorious history of the First Order.
Which is why when entering a conference room on the leadership deck I was shocked and dismayed to discover a group of high-ranking officers, engineers and financial controllers in the middle of a meeting running over preliminary plans to create something they were calling “Ultimate Super StarKiller Murderbase IV.”
Just stop it. Do you hear me? Stop. It’s time we admit that he First Order, a supposed edification of the Galactic Empire, has problems we can’t Death Star our way out of.
Do you have any idea the sheer scale of our war-fighting resources directed toward increasing size and complexity high-visibility, concentrated-power destructive bases over the past decades? It’s in the quadrillions. Think of all the ships, troops, manufacturing capability, planning and doctrine we’ve slavishly dedicated to these single-use weapons, and what we have to show for it in return. The Rebellion/Resistance, continues to vaporize them with the banal ease of dispatching mynocks from a garage. Worse, because we have placed so much unearned confidence in these weapons as a panacea to achieving our military goals, we have compromised our ability to fight more traditional conflicts.
I ask you to consider how many Star Destroyers, divisions of At-At mobile assault forces, TIE fighters and Stormtrooper weapon training programs (blaster proficiency is at an all time low, even by Stormtrooper standards) do these bases represent? With the effort and treasure we have dedicated to these failed programs we could by now have blockaded every significant system in the galaxy with capable vessels. We could have bombarded and invaded their capitals at will, or simply bribed them into fealty to Supreme Leader Snoke, All Hail Him, without discharging a blaster. Yet still we continue to build toward this scarcely-utilized capability, throwing our entire organization behind one new giant laser after another while the rest of the force survives on bits and scraps.
To be frank, even if one of these behemoths ever wound up surviving its initial contact with Resistance forces (which one never has) as I have noted elsewhere, their military usefulness is negligible. When one destroys a planet you are denied the entire resource capability of that world forever. Space is big, the number of habitable planets is finite. We just can’t go blowing up the ones with a population we find disagreeable at a particular moment. Despite the political and PR fallout, just from a practical standpoint we would find ourselves running short on the very thing we want to control in the first place, the very building block of a galactic empire: planets. Alderan, for instance, was a pretty nice place. My grandparents kept a villa there and had raised prized dewbacks for generations. Now it’s space rubble. Good luck planting the First Order flag there.
The whole Death Star/Planet Killer concept is vapid. They are ineffective against fleets and smaller on-planet targets such as population centers or military installations. Due to the engineering necessity of large, open spaces at their cores for sufficient venting or to have (as in the case of Starkiller Base), undefended oscillators on their surfaces, they are astonishingly vulnerable to swarms of small, fast, lightly-armed attack vessels. These so-called “super weapons” are instead single-use set pieces, good only for visually displaying just the kind of raw power the First Order stands for, but in practical use they are about as reliable as as fourth-hand droid at a Jawa market.
After a few Antakarian Fire Dancers at any rank-and-file Imperial officers club, when the topic of “Why does the Rebellion keep kicking our asses?” comes up, the first and typically loudest response is some version of the old saw, “Darth Vader’s Son used The Force on us! How are we supposed to defend against that?” The reality, however, comes from the softer, often unspoken voices at the periphery who know that only the first of the successful attacks on our “indestructible” bases were assisted by mystical intervention. At the Battle of Yavin, arguably the best constructed of the battle stations, The Force was indeed an appreciable factor in its destruction. The others were lost to our own shortsightedness by failing to predict well-established Rebel attack strategy.
I put forth the following argument, at risk of my First Order career and, I realize, my very life at the hands of an enraged Sith, but the values for which we stand transcend my personal concerns. Thus I find myself in the uncomfortable position of speaking aloud what has been whispered in dark corners for too long, and I dearly hope others will openly join me in this realization:
Death Stars are far more useful to the Resistance than they could ever be to us.
When the Rebellion/Resistance finds themselves facing a Death Star-type system they inevitably win both the battle and, on the greater stage, the war. The reason is the same in both cases: Death Star Doctrine warfare plays exclusively to their strengths. Over and over we build massive, slow-moving, highly visible, yet fundamentally indefensible bases. The Rebels/Resistance deploy motley collections of whatever ships and crews they have at hand, making desperate, heroic squadron-based raids one of which inevitably punches through. It’s the same as throwing pebbles at a Wookie skull. Toss enough and one will inevitably land in an eye socket, it’s just simple statistics.
Following their victory all credit is given to adherence to “The Light Side” of The Force stoking the superstitions of the Galactic populace from whom they receive financing, support, morale, recruiting and perceived initiative. All they need to do is repeat this cycle every few years or so to keep up the appearances of a viable fighting force.
But stepping back to an orbital view we see the Rebellion and their forebears in the Resistance have only ever had one base with a handful of leaders. Even when Hoth proved conventional, well-led attacks of specialized troops easily sweep their forces aside, we ignore this victory and inexplicably continue to pursue the untenable solution of Death Stars. Are the vendor relationships within our organization so powerful we will allow them to lead us to defeat after defeat for a few plumbing and thermal-shielding contracts?
The First Order is about removing disorder and restoring stability to ensure progress. I understand why, in the light of our core principles, something like a Death Star/Starkiller seems like a seductive solution. Simply excise the disorder from the galaxy with a single, quite frankly thrilling, giant beam and no more messy impediments to our decretion. But the practical execution of this concept has led us down the path of fatal single-mindedness. Disorder is our enemy, yes, but disorder is the engine of novelty which can be turned against us if we continue to pursue a single course rather than a diverse, calculated military strategy to defeat the Resistance once and for all.
I beg you to consider my plea to divert from this course and shutter the Death Star/Starkiller programs for good.
Lt. Commander M. Wenchel Gendar
Moff Tarkin School for Strategic Studies
First Order Academy of the Outer Rim