My associate Iron Mike e-mailed me this thought-provoking question:
After seeing the uncoordinated mess that was the attack on the first Death Star,
and seeing the pilots of the Rebel Alliance make literally every tactical
mistake in the book resulting the destruction of the entire attacking force save
for a few ships, my question is:
Did pilots of Rebel Alliance ever, at any point, receive even the smallest
amount of remedial combat training?
I thought that was an awesome question. My answer would be not necessarily (at least in terms of remedial combat training). With Star Wars written in the aftermath of the Vietnam conflict, George Lucas wanted to show how a mighty technologically-advanced empire could be brought down by amateurs with nothing more than scrapped-together equipment and hope.
The planets of the rebellion, for the most part, weren’t in open rebellion. They supported the alliance through backdoor means, with individuals joining the rebel armed forces. Those with combat training, or who served in the Clone Wars, were usually higher-ups in the military command. For the most part, the cannon fodder of the alliance was made up of idealistic youngsters who were fit into the roles that best suited them. Those who could pilot a craft were made pilots. Those who could stand around pointing guns at a door poised to blow open were the guys who got gunned down at the beginning of Episode IV. Look at Luke Skywalker, he didn’t have any particular spacecraft training, yet, because he could fly, he was made a pilot. I think it’s safe to assume that considering he wanted to go to the “academy,” he had no formal combat training. Yet he was the pilot that brought the Death Star down.
When Star Wars first came out, the universe had a more “lived-in” look than other science fiction of the time. But still, people thought the RA’s X-Wings and Y-Wings looked way cool (and they still do today). But comparing what the RA has to the Empire, and even comparing that to the different armed forces in the prequel trilogy, you can definitely see their weaponry, equipment and starfighters are more second-hand. Episodes I-III, thanks mostly to the technology available at the time they were made, shows us what all the components of a galactic army are supposed to look like. Even the Seperatist forces (which were, in effect, the Rebel Alliance of the prequel trilogy) had a much more impressive and better-trained army, even if they were made of droids. While they may have gotten mowed down by the thousands on screen, the droid armies were able to match the strategies and numbers of the Republic, something that the RA couldn’t do against the empire.
The empire on the other hand, was designed to enforce their brand of terror through sheer numbers and force. They had the equipment and the training. Most importantly, they had the Death Star, which was designed to get those rogue planets in line.
Fear will keep the local systems in line… Fear of this battle station.-Grand Moff Tarkin
Up against that, the rebels didn’t have a chance. They didn’t have the training, they didn’t have the equipment, organization or numbers. As the question said, they made “literally every tactical
mistake in the book resulting the destruction of the entire attacking force save for a few ships.” Only one thing could have helped them- the Force. And that was something they had that the empire didn’t.
On a smaller level, you can ask that same question of Luke vs. the Emperor/Vader. The Emperor and Vader were trained users of the Force. They learned it old-school. Luke, on the other hand, had no formal training (compared to the years of training his father had, Luke had at best, a few days with obi-Wan and a few months with Yoda). Yet somehow, despite making every mistake in the book (leaving Dagobah, on Cloud City, and again in the Emperor’s throne room aboard the Death Star II), he defeated those with a lifetime of training.
Sometimes luck (or the Force) plays a bigger role than we’d like to admit.
In my experience there is no such thing as luck.-Obi Wan Kenobi