Troopers: From the 501st to the First Order

Hey everyone and welcome back to the Sarlacc Pit! This week, I will discuss some of the most iconic characters in the Star Wars franchise: Troopers. Some of this information may be familiar for casual movie watchers, but a lot of this information will be coming from the two Star Wars animated TV series: “The Clone Wars” and “Rebels.” While both of these shows are billed as children’s shows, they actually have some pretty complex adult themes and I recommend both of these shows for fans of all ages. “The Clone Wars” is especially important to fill in the gaps between “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith,” as well as adding depth to the Clone Wars Era that is a little lost in the films. So without further ado, let’s talk about some clones.

The Origin of the Grand Army of the Republic and the Beginning of the Clone Wars

“The shroud of the dark side has fallen. Begun the Clone War has.” –Yoda, “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones”

While investigating the attempted assassination of Senator Padmé Amidala, Obi-Wan Kenobi was led to Kamino. A planet known for its cloning facility. On his arrival, Kenobi was greeted by the Kaminoans in charge of the cloning facility, who told him that the clones ordered by Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas were ready for inspection. Sifo-Dyas had believed that the Republic, which had no centralized military, would soon find itself at war. Sifo-Dyas had approached the Kaminoan cloners with the idea for the formation of a clone army. During this time, Sifo-Dyas was sent on a mission by Chancellor Valorum, and went missing. Darth Tyranus, after hearing about Master Sifo-Dyas approaching the cloners, arranged for Sifo-Dyas’ death, then funded the clone army with the assistance of his master, Darth Sidious, in order to begin a galactic civil war. The Sith plot worked, the Jedi ended up fighting alongside the clones that made up the Grand Army of the Republic against the droid military of the separatist systems of the Confederacy of Independent Systems. The Clone Wars had begun.

The clone soldiers commissioned were cloned using DNA from a Mandalorian bounty hunter named Jango Fett. The clones were altered to speed up development and make them less independent and more docile than Fett. The clone soldiers wore armor that were reminiscent in design of Mandalorian armor and originally color was used only to distinguish clones of rank while standard soldiers wore armor of all-white. Clones were given CT identification numbers at “birth.”

The clones first saw battle during the Battle of Geonosis, where several Jedi arrived with the newly formed Army in order to rescue Anakin Skywalker, Padmé Amidala, and Obi-Wan Kenobi, as well as destroy the Separatist droid factory on Geonosis and suppress the Separatist movement. The clones’ ability to think creatively and outsmart battle droids played a vital role in the Republic victory during the first battle of the Clone Wars.

The Battle of Geonosis

The Clone Wars

“I am not just another number!” –Fives “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” Season 4 Episode 10

What was seen during the Battle of Geonosis was Phase I armor. Around the time of the Battle of Mon Cala, this armor was improved upon and Phase II armor was widely used. Both versions could be modified with various attachments including jetpacks and macrobinoculars. After the Battle of Geonosis, color was also more widely used on armor to distinguish which unit the trooper belonged to, as well as for individualized customization.

Captain Rex

Along with armor customization, clones were also encouraged by the Jedi to express their individuality. While they were all genetically identical, they all displayed different personalities. Most began to either name themselves or use names given to them by others. Different hair styles and tattoos were seen when the clones took their helmets off as well.

While there were rankings among the clones, all clones answered to their Jedi generals. Clones were split into units and most units answered to a Jedi. This fostered friendship between the clones and the Jedi, and the clones were treated equally to other sentients, instead of replaceable and disposable fighting machines. This compassion was often exploited by the Separatists, as medical outposts for clones were easy targets and the Jedi were often willing to negotiate for the lives of clone prisoners.

As the war dragged on, the Republic began having trouble finding resources to pay for the clone army. On Kamino the cloning facilities began running out of genetic material to use as templates for the clones due to the death of Jango Fett during the Battle of Geonosis, which led to more and more “bad batchers,” clones whose were genetically damaged or in some way inferior. As the difficulties in cloning increased and funds decreased, the Republic began to worry about how they would continue their never-ending struggle against the Separatists.

Order 66

“Execute Order 66.” –Darth Sidious, “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith”

While the Jedi and Kaminoans believed the clones were commissioned to assist the Republic in wartime, the truth was much more insidious. In secret, the Kaminoans were instructed by Darth Tyranus to place chips in the heads of every clone during the third stage of their development. Officially, these were inhibitor chips, there to ensure the clones were less aggressive than Jango Fett. However, these chips had a secret protocol, Order 66, programmed in them authorizing the killing of nearby Jedi once the order was issued.

Fives, a clone in Anakin Skywalker’s 501st Legion, almost alerted the Jedi to this hidden plot when his inhibitor chip malfunctioned and activated Order 66 while he was on a mission with Jedi General Tiplar and her twin sister, which resulted in Tiplar’s death. When he was brought to Kamino for inspection Fives discovered the inhibitor chip in his head. Convinced these chips were part of a conspiracy against the Republic and the Jedi, Fives told his commanding officer, Captain Rex, and was given an audience with Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. During their conversation, Fives began to believe Palpatine was a part of the conspiracy and attempted to assassinate him, but was stopped and killed by Jedi Master Shaak Ti. After Fives’ death, Rex resigned his post, removed his inhibitor chip, and deserted the Army along with Clone Commando Gregor and Marshall Commander Wolffe.

While some clones found about the inhibitor chips, this was kept a secret from most of them. Three years into the Clone Wars, after the death of the Separatist leader Count Dooku and the Jedi attempt to remove Palpatine from power after discovering his identity as Sith lord (see last week’s post), Palpatine activated Order 66. Across the galaxy clones turned their blasters on Jedi, resulting in the death of most Jedi, despite their enhanced reflexes and Force abilities. This was mostly due to the emotional bonds that many Jedi had formed with their clone soldiers, as well as the pervasiveness of the dark side of the Force at this time, which clouded their abilities. Currently, the only Jedi known to have survived Order 66 are Jedi Masters Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda, as well as a padawan named Caleb Dume, later known as Kanaan Jarrus. Also, it appears that Jedi who had left the Jedi Order, such as Anakin Skywalker’s padawan Ashoka Tano, may have survived, but any beings strong in the Force were hunted down by Darth Sidious, Darth Vader, and newly-trained Sith Inquisitors. The Republic and the Jedi Order had fallen, and the Empire now ruled.

Order 66

Storm Troopers

While clones were kept as soldiers of the Empire, their expedited development resulted in rapid aging, and the cost of clones made the Empire abandon the use of clone troops. New recruits of all ages joined the Imperial Academy and received training to become Imperial Stormtroopers. While many cadets joined for the sole purpose of making money or escaping their home worlds, there were some true believers among the ranks. These true believers accepted that the Empire was attempting to bring peace and order to the galaxy, and that only the heavy hand of the order-bringing Empire could achieve this goal.

Stormtrooper training was designed to produce highly trained and highly loyal soldiers for the Emperor. As was the status quo for the Empire, often selling out peers for the Empire was praised, creating distrust among peers, while keeping troopers loyal to the Emperor. This training produced loyal troopers who were quick to execute the Emperor’s orders, no matter what was asked of them.

While clone troopers fought for the Republic and the Jedi, which emphasized freedom and democracy, stormtroopers fought for the Empire, which emphasized order and domination. As such, the armor was very uniform and all troops were clad in all-white, with the exception of specialized soldiers such as shadow troopers, pilots, and scouts. Troops kept their uniform on at all times in public, often punished for removing their armor while on duty. While stormtroopers all had names, they used identification numbers while on duty.


The 501st Legion

Begun as a legion of clone troopers led by Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker, Padawan Ashoka Tano, and Clone Captain Rex, the 501st continued to exist after Order 66 and the end of the Republic. After Skywalker’s transition into becoming Darth Vader, he kept the most elite clones in this Legion, adding elite stormtrooper recruits while phasing out clones. Due to the ferocity of these troops and the fact that they were led by the dark lord of the Sith, the 501st Legion became known and feared throughout the galaxy as Vader’s Fist.

The First Order

“They’re certainly skilled at committing high treason. Perhaps the Supreme Leader should consider using a clone army?” –Kylo Ren, “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens”

While the Empire made no efforts to make stormtrooper training easy on cadets, the First Order took it to another level. In an effort to recreate the idea of clone super soldiers with less cost, these stormtroopers were taken from birth, given identification numbers instead of names, brainwashed, and trained to become the best soldiers possible. This produced a legion of stormtroopers completely loyal to the cause of the First Order and its Supreme Leader Snoke. Currently not too much is known about these troops except they all seem to be true to the cause, and any troop that falters in their resolve is “reconditioned.” The morale of the troops were monitored by Captain Phasma, a chromium-clad trooper in charge of preventing disobedience or rebellion amongst the troops. *Fun fact: Captain Phasma’s armor was coated in chromium from Emperor Palpatine’s personal Nubian cruiser to serve as a reminder of the past power of the Empire and the First Order’s goal.

The First


While the troopers get very little recognition in the Star Wars movies, they have a rich history in expanded canon. Once again, I highly recommend “The Clone Wars” TV show, as it expands on the background of the clone troopers.

Next week I will talk about the Jedi Order, with a focus on the waning years of the Republic. This will have a lot of information from “The Clone Wars,” as well as information from the Marvel series “Kanaan: the Last Padawan.” Also, starting next week I will not be posting from home. I will be doing fieldwork in the Florida Keys from next week till up to April 8th. During this period, I may not be able to publish my posts until the evening, when the work for the day is done. However, I will still attempt to post every Monday, but I apologize in advance if I miss a week. I hope that you will bear with me as posts begin to come in a little slower than usual. Thank you for reading, and may the Force be with you!


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