The Galactic Empire is pretty seriousness business. At the height of their power they were responsible for a lot of systems and the well being of trillions of sentient humans and near humans alike. The Emperor, Darth Vader, and everybody's favorite Grand Moff: Tarkin, couldn’t be everywhere at once, so they had legions of troops stationed throughout the galaxy.
Imperial Stormtroopers were highly trained, experienced, and loyal to a fault and they dressed in iconic, imposing, and stylish black and white battle armor. They were a well known and respected paramilitary police force who carried out the will of the Empire everywhere they went from the core systems, to the outer rim.
Of course, in order to manage the people in charge of managing the galaxy, you’re going to have to lay down some strict rules. And as you might imagine, the kinds of rules Stormtroopers have to follow are intense. In fact, some of them are downright unsettling. As it turns out, ruling galaxies requires a pretty no nonsense attitude and approach to education and discipline, as well as some outside the box rules for vetting new recruits, unconventional warfare tactics and non traditional day to day ideas for living which offer no room for interpretation or improvisation.
Here now is a list of the 15 weird rules you had no idea Stormtroopers had to follow.
15 You Give Up Your Name
Part of the training and indoctrination process in any military is dehumanization, breakdown of the individual, and then rebuilding them up to be a loyal killing machine. The Galactic Empire however takes it a bit farther by forbidding the use of your given name and instead replacing it with a serial number.
In A New Hope, we hear TK-421 called out by his commanding officer for abandoning his post and in The Force Awakens, Finn originally introduces himself as FN-2187 when he meets Poe. This makes the simple gesture of Poe referring to FN-2187 as, Finn, something of a revolutionary act.
14 Retreat Is Not An Option
Grand Moff Tarkin was the author of the infamous Tarkin Doctrine. It was a message sent to the Emperor in which he unveiled his vision for among other things, a fear inspiring military force. This idea trickled down into the recruitment, training, and conditioning of the Stormtroopers themselves. The training would be grueling and, by its nature, would wash out all but the most loyal and hardy of cadets.
The mental conditioning inherent in such training, as well as the rampant propagandizing, has created a force so diehard and unwaveringly loyal that death is preferable to retreat. The tactics of the situation do not matter. Push forward and cause as much damage, and pain, as possible.
13 Leave Your Comrades Behind
During the Clone Wars, it was considered an auto fail if your squad left any troopers behind. This is similar to the U.S Marines who flaunt their motto “we never leave a man behind” at every chance they get. But as the galaxy grew and times changed, the Republic turned into the Empire and the Empire had a new protocol: “We leave men behind.”
Finishing the mission and devastating the enemy through force and fear has become more important than the well being of the military itself. Again, this ties back to the Tarkin Doctrine and its philosophy of force through fear. It was an attitude that sewed distrust within the ranks and was tactically pretty disastrous. But the Empire already had a stranglehold on the galaxy and an unlimited number of recruits. So it evened out.
12 You Must Be Human (Mostly)
The idea of humanity being a pre-req for a job doesn’t seem that ridiculous here on Earth, but out in space and the broader galaxy as a whole, where you have thousands of alien species hanging out and intermingling, it is something of a stumbling block.
When you watch the original trilogy you might have noticed you’ve never seen a Hutt Stormtrooper, or a Trandoshan trooper. That is because during Emperor Palpatine's life, the recruits of Stormtroopers were culled mostly from the human ranks of the galaxy. There are a few near human races sprinkled throughout the Empire --most notably Grand Admiral Thrawn -- but the standard troopers were mostly human with exceptions for special ops here and there. This is a policy that would change after the death of the Emperor.
11 No Force Users Allowed
Project Harvester was an initiative designed to weed out, cull, and exploit any force sensitive troops that may pop up in basic training. Commanders were taught to spot any recruits who might have above average results on their tests which would indicate force sensitivity. They were then delivered to The Grand Inquisitor on the planet Arkanis for further testing and exploitation. The young cadet Dhara Leonis was one such troop who was spotted and reviewed for force sensitivity by the Inquisitor.
Naturally, it's easy to see why they wanted to keep force sensitive troops out of the ranks. If powerful beings were there, they could easily cause an uprising and use their own weapons, and troops, against the Empire.
10 Cadets Are All Thoroughly Screened For Any Hint Of Subversive Behavior
Thinking outside the box, raging against the machine, and standing up for what you believe in are generally considered positive traits. However, the Galactic Empire isn’t interested in the nuances of your personal politics or the rights, liberties, and freedoms you might believe in and want to see reflected in the world.
The most important thing for the Empire is making sure that you are loyal and submissive… to them at least. All recruits at any Stormtrooper academy are thoroughly vetted for any history of subversive or criminal activity. If you want to build a terrifying force for order in the galaxy, you don’t just require highly trained, battle hardened, troopers: but also close minded, submissive servants with no ideology beyond what you have told them to believe.
9 You Couldn’t Adjust Your In Suit Temperature Control Unless Authorized
If you have ever worked in an office where the manager was a tyrant with absolute control over the AC and thus you were never comfortable in your own skin, either sweating or shivering, then you might know what it’s like to be an Imperial Stormtrooper. You see, their armor is complete with built in cooling and heating systems, however troops are forbidden from actually adjusting them without being given an order to do so and, in fact, adjusting your temperature controls is a punishable offense.
The justification is that such a rule forces troopers to adapt to a standardized norm and thus helps dehumanize them. But there is also the tactical fact that the power supply for your cooling system is limited and you never know when you might need it on a mission and not for comfort.
8 Women Are Separated And Trained Harder Than Men
Even a galaxy long, long ago, and far, far away made it tough on women. Technically females were never actually prohibited from joining the ranks of the Stormtroopers. However, the training and conditioning was developed for men of a certain height, weight, and physical capability. These conditions were not changed or relaxed for female troopers. This meant that there were not a lot of females who could enlist and the ones who did had to train twice as hard as the men.
The female troops were also kept separate from the male enlisted men during training. The most notable of these unit’s was unit Forn.
7 You Must Train In Everything
Even though it would seem the Empire liked to specialize with their training and have different troops for everything from driving AT-AT’s to being a Gunner on the Death Star, it turns out that all Stormtrooper recruits were actually trained in everything from tactics, to heavy weaponry, to piloting walkers, ships, and even technician work.
While all of these roles were technically filled with specialists in practice, it was smart of the Empire to make sure all of their elite shock troops were well rounded enough to be self sufficient in a time of crisis. If anything ever went terribly wrong, a Stormtrooper could step in and lend a hand, leading to a more efficient staff overall.
6 Everything You Say Is Recorded And Evaluated
One of the funny quirks of wearing a helmet with a microphone in it all of the time is that it gives your superiors the ability to eavesdrop on any and everything you say. All conversations via helmets were recorded and logged and could be checked at any time for signs of treason, dereliction of duty, or basic incompetence. So, Big Brother was always watching, or listening in this case.
Knowing that everything they said was recorded was a good way to keep troops in line. Revolutionary plans, rebellious instincts, and other treasonous thoughts were vanquished in the minds of the troopers before they could ever speak them aloud.
5 You Must Wear All Parts Of Your Armor At All Times
Captain Phasma might have seemed like a buzzkill in the Force Awakens when she told Finn to keep his helmet on at all times, but she was just doing her job. A Stormtrooper's armor is a powerful tool in their survival and the struggle to maintain order in the galaxy. And it was also intimidating to see squads of faceless, heavily armored troopers going about their business while on tour. Part of the intimidation factor was that unbroken mystique of the faceless troopers.
Thus, much like the suited mascots at Disneyland and Chuck E Cheese, the Stormtroopers were forbidden from removing any piece of armor while on duty. It was mostly tactical and practical. After all, a helmet doesn’t work if you’re not wearing it. But there was a certain psychological factor to not breaking character in front of the people you were supposed to be policing.
4 You Answer Directly To The Emperor
It must be nice to have an army of highly trained, organized, and capable shock troops who are completely loyal to you. The Stormtroopers were trained to be 100% obedient to the command structure of the Imperial army, however they were considered loyal only to Emperor Palpatine, which is definitely as terrifying as it sounds. As we saw with Order 66, he wasn't afraid to use his troops for terrible things and he could've used his Stormtroopers to completely wipe out an enemy.
Contrast this with the American army who swear an oath to uphold the constitution and protect the nation from all threats, foreign or domestic. The Stormtroopers swore an oath to the Emperor and no one else. Meaning his word was law.
3 It’s A Family Thing
While not technically a law or a rule by any means, the children of Stormtroopers were heavily incentivized to join the ranks of the Imperial army. The idea was that kids who had grown up in an Imperial family with first hand experience dealing with the life of a Troop would be ripe for the picking. On top of that, familial loyalty and tradition could be used to guilt people into becoming loyal to the Empire.
One of the biggest incentives was allowing the children of veterans to serve within the same company, and squads, as their parents. Thus hi jacking traditional familial traditions with subservience and allegiance to the evil Empire.
2 You Must Believe You Are Your Armor
The brainwashing of the Stormtroopers was so intense that they would often come to see their masks as their face, and their armor as their body. In fact, this was encouraged and re-enforced by their commanders, their training, and the ongoing indoctrination programs of the Imperial army. By dehumanizing and depersonalizing the troops, the Empire was able to override the troopers sense of self and their identity. This was ideal for creating a force that followed commands blindly and never hesitated when given a command, even a command that would ultimately end in their in their demise.
When you look at someone like Finn, who inevitably left the First Order, he was mostly rebelling against this kind of oppression that he felt.
1 You Cannot Improvise
Do you think an entire legion of the Emperor's best troops armed with flying laser bikes and walking tanks couldn't take down a few little bears? Well, they didn't. In Return Of The Jedi, we see some adorable Ewoks subdue troops the Emperor himself claimed were his best. How did they do it? They had the element of surprise on their side but they were also able to improvise in the heat of the moment while the Stormtroopers were locked in to a broken down command structure that forbade them from thinking on their feet, improvising, taking initiative, or adapting to circumstances without the consent of a commander.
While the Ewoks were hijacking an AT-ST, rolling logs, and clotheslining Scout Troops, the Imperial troops were running around completely disorganized, unable to regroup or pivot. The downfall of the troops was inevitable. All the superior firepower was meaningless when a sustained campaign of non-standard attacks slowly decimated their leadership and ability to properly defend themselves.
The Battle of Endor was a turning point in the war against the Empire. A conflict that could have gone much differently if only the Stormtroopers weren't so held back by their military philosophy and punishing rules.
Which of these surprised you most?