Why The Empire's Most 'Spectacular Military Fiasco' Was The Battle Of Hoth

It's one thing to pick apart plot holes in a film, but to do so while at the same time cross-examining the military strategy of fictional protagonists? That's about as far up my alley as you can get without things getting adults-only.

Wired's military column, Danger Room, has written a fantastic piece putting Darth Vader's strategy at the Battle of Hoth under the microscope.

What at the time looks like a scrappy, if ultimately crushing victory for the Empire is instead — rather convincingly — shown to be its greatest failure, being the one and only time the military might of Palpatine and co had a serious chance to eradicate the Rebellion and all its principal characters, only to let it slip.

I'd personally argue the Tantive IV operation was worse, at least in terms of strategic importance. Not firing on 3PO and R2's escape pod, burning Owen and Beru's farm in a gross act of unnecessary force (which compels Luke to set off on a journey that will ultimately kill both Palpatine and Vader), failing to discover a Jedi had been living on the planet for decades, letting the Falcon escape... it was a mess.

But the arguments made here for Hoth are still good reading (especially since the Tatooine operations weren't really a "battle").

Inside the Battle of Hoth [Wired]


    Um, the Empire won didn't they?The movie was called The Empire Strikes Back wasn't it?So maybe they didn't show any great strategy but they had superior fire power that is considered expendable and they had not expected the Rebel craft to use those tow cable thingies.

      Nope. The Empire totally failed in their strategy. Read the article, it's great!

      Without having read it, I think the point was more so that they did 'win the battle' but failed to kill multiple rebel leaders and friends (Luke, Han Solo, Lando, etc) Forgive me if I have the people that were present wrong, but you get the idea.

    Read the comments, they're the best bit.

    burning Owen and Beru’s farm in a gross act of unnecessary force
    Never put your enemy in a 'nothing to lose' situation. This has been known since the days of Sun Tzu.

      Maybe this happened long before Sun Tzu's time, let alone far, far away from him..

      The farm? Oh, that was an accident: http://youtu.be/-3Kor78QPNw - according to Robot Chicken...

        I think this came earlier, but yes. Luke got pissed over nothing it WAS an accident!


      especially if they are the son of vader and are "destined" or "Chosen" for anything
      also check for force powers

      im sure sun tzu would have included that in his book if he lived long enough to watch the empire strikes back

      Last edited 14/02/13 4:38 pm

    While most of his arguments are correct he made one mistake where he says that "A smarter plan would have been to launch TIE fighters against Echo Base — since aircraft and spacecraft can get past that Rebel enemy shield"

    Ships cant get through otherwise the rebels could have done a mass evacuation with ships going in every direction. The ships that brought the AT-ATs had to land outside the shield, hence no air cover. Also if ships could get through then they would have used them to take out the shield and not used the AT-ATs at all.

    The Site also has a write up how Han Solo is older than the emperor due to time dilation when traveling near the speed of light for the Kessel run.

    Last edited 14/02/13 9:55 am

    I always laugh when planets are 'blockaded' in Star Wars. It's as if they forget that in space you can fly in all directions.

      Sure, but the point of the blockade wasn't to physically block any way off the planet. It was to cover the planet in such a way that any ship attempting to visit or leave the planet would be destroyed by the ships blockading it.

        Oh no I understand that, but their blockades always seem to be a thin line float around the equator. Now I don't know what their effective range and targeting systems are like, but it's pretty simple to leave the planet from the poles giving you maximum distance between you and them.

    Small Problem there Luke, Obi Wan had been dead for years, it's mentioned by Luke's Aunt and Uncle at the start of Episode 4. Yes Obi Wan comes back from the dead to train Luke, as does Yoda.

      The article also fails to grasp one thing, if the Imperials succeed at Hoth, there's no movie. Don't we usually refer to this as Plot Armour?

      Also, Vadar personally tracked down and killed every Jedi, why would he be going to meet his son in person? Oh right some of the first words he spoke when he met Luke properly, join with me and we'll rule the galaxy as Father and Son.

        wow somebody has watched alot of reruns

          I don't think I've seen Star Wars for years, not since they did the re-releases where Han was still shooting first. I've got a half decent Memory and my Brother being a big Star Wars fan we talk about it a lot if I mention something remotely Star Wars related.

    Plot armor, no movie if the Empire wins on Hoth. That said, I don't think Lucas had a firm grasp on tactics when he wrote the movies anyway. Given what I've read and understand in the EU there's only so many hyperlanes that will work leaving a system. Maybe Vader had an SD covering the 6 major hyperlanes the Rebels could use to escape the planet, while the rest of Death Squad lay at the exits. That makes a bit more tactical sense. But again, its plot so don't read too much into their loss here. Otherwise no ROTJ/EU

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