A Military Review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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A Military Review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The Last Jedi is a great flick, so go and see it. I was ini­tially wor­ried that it might try to be polit­i­cal or do some­thing dis­tinctly un-​Star Wars-​ish, but it stuck to what makes the fran­chise great while tak­ing a new twist on a lot of things. Go see it, and my only rec­om­men­da­tion is that you remem­ber it is over 2 hours long, so don’t drink a lot of water before you go!

This review is from a purely mil­i­tary strat­egy and tac­tics per­spec­tive. It con­tains spoil­ers, so don’t read if you want to be spoiler free.

Spoil­ers ahead.…don’t say you weren’t warned!

From a mil­i­tary per­spec­tive, there was a lot to like, and plenty to dis­like, about The Last Jedi. We’ll alter­nate good with bad.

Finn learns the Resis­tance is buy­ing black mar­ket weapons. Finn and Rose (a new mechanic char­ac­ter) head to Canto Bight to find a slicer, and there they see the dark side of gam­bling. Rose has plenty to say about how the evil weapons man­u­fac­tur­ers that gam­ble there fund the First Order. I sort of rolled my eyes, think­ing that next we’ll see a Lock­heed Mar­tin logo pop up. But later the slicer they find shows Finn that the same peo­ple sell­ing weapons to the First Order are also sell­ing X-​Wings to the Resistance!

The movie sadly then con­tin­ues on, but the point is made: the Resis­tance isn’t entirely clean. I loved this point, which was also made in Rogue One when Saw Ger­rera was com­pared to a ter­ror­ist. The fact that good and evil some­times appear dif­fer­ent from a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive is great, just like Episode IV resem­bles an ISIS recruit­ment effort. In real life, weapon sales to both sides isn’t exactly a new phe­nom­e­non (thanks Boe­ing!).

[cap­tion id=“attachment_103702” align=“aligncenter” width=“300”] Only fair, since you’re sell­ing air­planes to Iran[/​caption]

My only crit­i­cism of this point is we didn’t get more. Maybe Finn could have learned that Vice Admi­ral Holdo ordered those X-​Wings? Maybe we could have had a con­fronta­tion with one of the arms deal­ers? I think the movie missed a chance to make the Resistance’s sup­ply chain a bit more murky.

Gen­eral Hux shows some smarts. In the sub-​light speed pur­suit, he shows patience in killing the Resis­tance fleet with­out tak­ing huge risks. He stays focused on destroy­ing the Rebel Trans­ports, and he wants to con­tinue the ground assault while Kylo Ren fights (holo­gram) Luke. I liked his char­ac­ter a bit more because he actu­ally seemed half-​way smart. We seem to always get an evil Empire force that takes attri­tion tac­tics to an extreme. Maybe this reflects declin­ing stan­dards in the Impe­r­ial Acad­emy? Or maybe it reflects a lack of strat­egy and a focus on tac­tics? Sadly, this isn’t lim­ited to Star Wars (see lack of strat­egy in Libya, Afghanistan, Viet­nam, and a host of other conflicts).

The movie missed a chance to add one last piece of sus­pense with Hux. At 2 hours 33 min­utes long, the movie is long, and at the end it drags a lit­tle bit. What if Hux had con­tin­ued the ground assault? We could have Kylo fight­ing Luke with a back­drop of surg­ing First Order troop­ers, run­ning down the cave in hot pur­suit. The end­ing could stay the same, but you’re kept in sus­pense. Will Leia make an Alamo-​like last stand? Will Finn pos­si­bly die? Up until that point, I hadn’t noticed the time, and a ground pur­suit would have been a fit­ting end­ing for the movie.

Sadly, Hux shows that he still falls for the some old prob­lems. Like, how do you NOT deploy scores of TIE Fight­ers before attack­ing Dakar? With all your fire­power, how do you not destroy the Resis­tance Cruiser while still tar­get­ing trans­ports? Is every­one wait­ing for your per­sonal com­mand? Come on man, del­e­gate some lead­er­ship down!

And seri­ously, who the hell is per­form­ing Oper­a­tional Test and Eval­u­a­tion for the First Order? Like, TIE Fight­ers just explode with a few laser blasts? The tur­rets on their dread­nought get taken out with ONE X-​WING!!! How is the armor man­u­fac­turer not lose his con­tract over that? Tacked on top of the dam­age to the Supremacy and the loss of Starkiller base, the First Order needs to seri­ously look at its acqui­si­tion process and tighten up some holes. Hmmm, where have we seen that before?

But it’s not all bad. Even though some­how a sin­gle X-​Wing blows up mul­ti­ple tur­rets, the First Order makes short work of a num­ber of Resis­tance bombers. I absolutely love the World War 2 bomber ref­er­ences, com­plete with oxy­gen masks and bomb bay doors. The fact that you get a lone bomber barely scrap­ing by is fit­ting, and the fact that Leia is absolutely pissed with Poe over the losses incurred. Leia plays the long game, and she knows that tac­ti­cal suc­cess doesn’t equal win­ning the war. That dynamic plays out over and over again with Poe, and it’s done perfectly.

And for my last point, let’s talk about the coup and Vice Admi­ral Holdo. The spoiler reviews are angry over the fact that she doesn’t reveal the plan to Poe. Like, why didn’t she just do that, then obvi­ously Poe would have backed down.

Guess what? Vice Admi­ral Holdo is right.

Poe is an O-​4…wait, O-​3, in the Resis­tance. Holdo is an O-​9. Poe’s job is to exe­cute task­ing, plain and sim­ple. Yes, he has a close rela­tion­ship with Gen­eral Leia, but he attempts to abuse that mul­ti­ple times in the film, and both Leia and Holdo rightly put him in his place. Guess what fly boy? The admi­ral doesn’t have to explain things to you! Seri­ously. Now, maybe in a for­mal Pow­er­Point brief­ing, with some prepa­ra­tion and under less dire cir­cum­stances, he would have plenty of time to ask ques­tions and under­stand the strate­gic end state of Admi­ral Holdo’s plan. But we’re not in that cir­cum­stance, and Poe ear­lier showed he doesn’t under­stand strat­egy. I see noth­ing wrong with Holdo not shar­ing that infor­ma­tion with Poe.

[cap­tion id=“attachment_103706” align=“aligncenter” width=“182”] You have a TRAI­TOR in your midst, and some things are need to know![/​caption]

Plus, from an intel­li­gence point, Admi­ral Holdo just got tracked through hyper­space. She should be wor­ried that there is a trai­tor in their midst (oh wait, there is). She has crew mem­bers try­ing to aban­don ship. So if her plans leak, the First Order might change strat­egy. In fact, the plan would have worked except for the cap­ture of the cloak­ing device (which, did Finn do that on pur­pose? Maybe he really is a deeply placed spy? Ooooo…another deep fan the­ory!!). Holdo has a duty to keep that plan close hold. Stu­pid fly­boy antics would doom the Resis­tance, and Poe rightly gets slapped and stunned for his actions. Next thing you know, Poe will be using a ski speeder to make phal­lus draw­ings on the sur­face of Crait.

[cap­tion id=“attachment_103707” align=“aligncenter” width=“800”] Quick! Erase it before Leia sees it and takes me to Court Mar­tial![/​caption]

Over­all, the movie was great, and from a mil­i­tary stand­point, I liked the mil­i­tary pieces. While some parts could have been done bet­ter, they were done well and they flowed. Rian John­son deserves a lot of credit for turn­ing out a great movie.


This post rep­re­sents the views of the author and not those of the Depart­ment of Defense, Depart­ment of the Navy, First Order, The Resis­tance, The Boe­ing Cor­po­ra­tion, or any other entity. Links and images are pro­vided under the fair use clause.

Please donate to Da Tech Guy. Because let’s be hon­est, you chuck­led a bit at the above arti­cle, but we can’t keep writ­ing if some money doesn’t roll in.

The Last Jedi is a great flick, so go and see it. I was initially worried that it might try to be political or do something distinctly un-Star Wars-ish, but it stuck to what makes the franchise great while taking a new twist on a lot of things. Go see it, and my only recommendation is that you remember it is over 2 hours long, so don’t drink a lot of water before you go!

This review is from a purely military strategy and tactics perspective. It contains spoilers, so don’t read if you want to be spoiler free.

Spoilers ahead….don’t say you weren’t warned!

From a military perspective, there was a lot to like, and plenty to dislike, about The Last Jedi. We’ll alternate good with bad.

Finn learns the Resistance is buying black market weapons. Finn and Rose (a new mechanic character) head to Canto Bight to find a slicer, and there they see the dark side of gambling. Rose has plenty to say about how the evil weapons manufacturers that gamble there fund the First Order. I sort of rolled my eyes, thinking that next we’ll see a Lockheed Martin logo pop up. But later the slicer they find shows Finn that the same people selling weapons to the First Order are also selling X-Wings to the Resistance!

The movie sadly then continues on, but the point is made: the Resistance isn’t entirely clean. I loved this point, which was also made in Rogue One when Saw Gerrera was compared to a terrorist. The fact that good and evil sometimes appear different from a different perspective is great, just like Episode IV resembles an ISIS recruitment effort. In real life, weapon sales to both sides isn’t exactly a new phenomenon (thanks Boeing!).

Only fair, since you’re selling airplanes to Iran

My only criticism of this point is we didn’t get more. Maybe Finn could have learned that Vice Admiral Holdo ordered those X-Wings? Maybe we could have had a confrontation with one of the arms dealers? I think the movie missed a chance to make the Resistance’s supply chain a bit more murky.

General Hux shows some smarts. In the sub-light speed pursuit, he shows patience in killing the Resistance fleet without taking huge risks. He stays focused on destroying the Rebel Transports, and he wants to continue the ground assault while Kylo Ren fights (hologram) Luke. I liked his character a bit more because he actually seemed half-way smart. We seem to always get an evil Empire force that takes attrition tactics to an extreme. Maybe this reflects declining standards in the Imperial Academy? Or maybe it reflects a lack of strategy and a focus on tactics? Sadly, this isn’t limited to Star Wars (see lack of strategy in Libya, Afghanistan, Vietnam, and a host of other conflicts).

The movie missed a chance to add one last piece of suspense with Hux. At 2 hours 33 minutes long, the movie is long, and at the end it drags a little bit. What if Hux had continued the ground assault? We could have Kylo fighting Luke with a backdrop of surging First Order troopers, running down the cave in hot pursuit. The ending could stay the same, but you’re kept in suspense. Will Leia make an Alamo-like last stand? Will Finn possibly die? Up until that point, I hadn’t noticed the time, and a ground pursuit would have been a fitting ending for the movie.

Sadly, Hux shows that he still falls for the some old problems. Like, how do you NOT deploy scores of TIE Fighters before attacking Dakar? With all your firepower, how do you not destroy the Resistance Cruiser while still targeting transports? Is everyone waiting for your personal command? Come on man, delegate some leadership down!

And seriously, who the hell is performing Operational Test and Evaluation for the First Order? Like, TIE Fighters just explode with a few laser blasts? The turrets on their dreadnought get taken out with ONE X-WING!!! How is the armor manufacturer not lose his contract over that? Tacked on top of the damage to the Supremacy and the loss of Starkiller base, the First Order needs to seriously look at its acquisition process and tighten up some holes. Hmmm, where have we seen that before?

But it’s not all bad. Even though somehow a single X-Wing blows up multiple turrets, the First Order makes short work of a number of Resistance bombers. I absolutely love the World War 2 bomber references, complete with oxygen masks and bomb bay doors. The fact that you get a lone bomber barely scraping by is fitting, and the fact that Leia is absolutely pissed with Poe over the losses incurred. Leia plays the long game, and she knows that tactical success doesn’t equal winning the war. That dynamic plays out over and over again with Poe, and it’s done perfectly.

And for my last point, let’s talk about the coup and Vice Admiral Holdo. The spoiler reviews are angry over the fact that she doesn’t reveal the plan to Poe. Like, why didn’t she just do that, then obviously Poe would have backed down.

Guess what? Vice Admiral Holdo is right.

Poe is an O-4…wait, O-3, in the Resistance. Holdo is an O-9. Poe’s job is to execute tasking, plain and simple. Yes, he has a close relationship with General Leia, but he attempts to abuse that multiple times in the film, and both Leia and Holdo rightly put him in his place. Guess what fly boy? The admiral doesn’t have to explain things to you! Seriously. Now, maybe in a formal PowerPoint briefing, with some preparation and under less dire circumstances, he would have plenty of time to ask questions and understand the strategic end state of Admiral Holdo’s plan. But we’re not in that circumstance, and Poe earlier showed he doesn’t understand strategy. I see nothing wrong with Holdo not sharing that information with Poe.

You have a TRAITOR in your midst, and some things are need to know!

Plus, from an intelligence point, Admiral Holdo just got tracked through hyperspace. She should be worried that there is a traitor in their midst (oh wait, there is). She has crew members trying to abandon ship. So if her plans leak, the First Order might change strategy. In fact, the plan would have worked except for the capture of the cloaking device (which, did Finn do that on purpose? Maybe he really is a deeply placed spy? Ooooo…another deep fan theory!!). Holdo has a duty to keep that plan close hold. Stupid flyboy antics would doom the Resistance, and Poe rightly gets slapped and stunned for his actions. Next thing you know, Poe will be using a ski speeder to make phallus drawings on the surface of Crait.

Quick! Erase it before Leia sees it and takes me to Court Martial!

Overall, the movie was great, and from a military standpoint, I liked the military pieces. While some parts could have been done better, they were done well and they flowed. Rian Johnson deserves a lot of credit for turning out a great movie.


This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, First Order, The Resistance, The Boeing Corporation, or any other entity. Links and images are provided under the fair use clause.

Please donate to Da Tech Guy. Because let’s be honest, you chuckled a bit at the above article, but we can’t keep writing if some money doesn’t roll in.