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Until recently, my knowledge of Star Wars was based almost exclusively on countless viewings of the original trilogy, and a couple of viewings of the prequels. On this basis, I had assumed that the entire Imperial Army (i.e., the ground troops) was composed of stormtroopers. But I just read the canonical novel Lords of the Sith, and it makes a clear distinction between regular Imperial troops and stormtroopers:

“Bring more stormtroopers? They’ve got a bunch of conscripts and enlistees here now. Nubs looking for adventure, but not true soldiers. Maybe bring more troops, elite troops, and lock down Ryloth and spice production?”
- Star Wars: Lords of the Sith

And:

Fruun was one of Belkor’s men, one of the hundreds whose loyalty he’d bought through favors or secured through blackmail. Moff Mors - lazy, sloppy Delion Mors - left the running of Ryloth’s occupation to Belkor, and Belkor had not been idle. He’d filled several Imperial units with commanders whose first loyalty was not to Mors, or even to the Empire, but to him, and the soldiers would do exactly as their commanders told them. The stormtroopers were a problem, of course, but there weren’t very many members of the corps on Ryloth.
- Star Wars: Lords of the Sith

As far as I can tell, in the original trilogy we see the following:

  • Stormtroopers: The rank-and-file ground troops, who come in several flavors (the most ubiquitous ones being the iconic image we all know as stormtroopers, plus the Snowtroopers on Hoth, and the scouts on speeder bikes on the moon of Endor), but all of them wear some variation of white plastic armor.

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Generic Stormtroopers
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Snowtroopers
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Stormtrooper Scouts
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Left to Right: AT-AT Driver, Stormtrooper Officer, Snowtrooper

  • Army Officers: These guys usually wear dark grey/black cloth uniforms (except when they are filling special roles, like the AT-AT officer above, wh wears grey armor and a special helmet), but they order the stormtroopers around and say stuff like "You rebel scum!"

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  • Imperial Navy: The dudes on the Star Destroyers and Death Stars. Grey uniforms. They only appear to fight in space, not on the ground.

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  • Imperial Navy Pilots: The guys who fly TIEs. They wear black spacesuits and die even more quickly than their stormtrooper brethren.

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So, if there are ground troops who aren't stormtroopers, where are they? Do we ever see them? What do they look like?

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    Purely from my recollection, so I'm putting this as a comment. There are no on-screen imperial troops that you wouldn't classify as a "Something Trooper" but of course, off-screen there would have been countless other types of military units. The Stormtroopers are just a specialised unit under the Stormtrooper Corps – Exploitable Jan 21 '16 at 20:05
  • On-screen? Never. Just piltos, techs, machine and vehicle operators or officers. All soldiers are stormtroopers of some kind, and the ones that aren't are recruits that will become stormtroopers. – Petersaber Jan 21 '16 at 20:08
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    +1 for your detailed and illustrated descriptions of Imperial troops in the original trilogy -- I'd never noticed all the little variations! – Gaurav Jan 22 '16 at 23:02
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tldr: Ground-based troops besides stormtroopers exist, but don't expect to see them.

In canon, the Imperial Army is the ground-based arm of the Imperial military, parallel to the Imperial Navy. The Stormtrooper Corps is an elite branch within the Army, so logically this implies that there exist non-elite infantry, and they are not stormtroopers. As a whole, the Imperial Army is responsible for enforcing Peace, Justice and Security on the Empire's countless worlds planetside, but the distinction in how elite stormtroopers and regular grunts are used is not given.

The Imperial military in Legends, though non-canon, gives a hint at how the two are possibly used in canon. In Legends, the Stormtrooper Corps exists as a separate institution from the Imperial Army, made up of regular soldiers. Here, the elite stormtroopers are responsible for assaulting the enemy and seizing hostile territory and positions, while Army regulars follow up from behind and secure these conquests as the stormtroopers advanced further at both the tactical and strategic levels.

While we cannot say canon stormtroopers and regulars are used with the exact same differences, it is safe to say that stormtroopers, being elite infantry famed for their loyalty to the Emperor, are at least used in more important deployments. It is reasonable to assume this means:

  • More restive worlds of the Empire, especially ones with persistent unrest and rebellious elements (e.g. Lothal) - remember that the Galactic Empire is a militarised society where the Imperial Army also deals with law enforcement and maintenance of public order
  • Classified locations, such as aboard the Death Stars
  • Offensive operations. To enforce the Emperor's rule by fear and the Tarkin Doctrine, the Empire's enemies must be crushed with its finest warriors. The iconic elite stormtroopers would be more appropriate than army regulars for this job. This would be why stormtroopers are stationed on board Star Destroyers for any ground assaults.

In other words: You won't ever see regular non-stormtrooper ground troops, because they are only ever deployed to boring assignments on Imperial worlds that will never be published by George Lucas and Disney.

The Legends-only entry for these regular soldiers do describe their appearances though: Their full combat uniform is similar to that worn by General Veers during the Battle of Hoth, as well as Agent Kallus during the ground assault on Seelos.

What should be noted here is that Agent Kallus' helmet isn't standard issue, while General Veers' is, and the black thing on the top of his helmet are actually visors (see the wiki article for regular soldiers).

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    The US military has similar roles. Marines (or maybe Rangers) are the assault force, then the main army comes in and holds it. – DCShannon Nov 30 '16 at 22:08
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    Is it worth updating this answer to reflect the depiction of standard soldiers in the Solo movie? – Moo Jan 1 at 11:12
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The closest ever shown to non-stormtrooper Army troops is the Imperial Navy Trooper, who do fight on the ground at the Battle of Endor (when the rebels are captured, before the Ewok rescue). See Tempest Force and note the troops in black in the screen capture:

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0

Since the release of the new Solo movie, and associated publications, we have new information to answer this question.

From Wookiepedia referencing the movie's official guide:

Early in the rule of the Galactic Empire, the Imperial Army deployed soldiers separate from stormtroopers. They were often members of local planetary defense forces who fought during the Clone Wars and were conscripted into the Imperial Military. The Imperial Army gradually upgraded and replaced the soldiers with stormtroopers.

The Battle of Mimban, which we see in the movie, takes place 10 years before the original trilogy, but by the time of A New Hope, it would seem the entire Imperial Army force had been inducted as Stormtroopers.

-1

I remember reading something in an issue of Star Wars Insider back in 2004 that explained this subject pretty well. After Episode 3 The empire introduced other clone templates. Some of these templates were of political figures who held sway with the empire. These clones were trained and fought along with the Jango Fett clones. Sometime between episodes 3 and 4 the Empire started recruiting non clones into the stormtrooper corps. By 0BBY the stormtrooper army was comprised of Jango Fett clones in the 501st and Some Jango Fett clones in charge of stormtrooper training, various other clone templates and non clone recruits.

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    I'm not sure this answers the question. Question: are there non-stormtrooper ground troops? Answer: not all stormtroopers are Jango Fett clones. But that's not the question. The question doesn't mention Fett at all. – Brythan Dec 31 '17 at 6:04
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    So "Do we ever see regular (non-stormtrooper) ground troops"? – Blackwood Dec 31 '17 at 6:04
  • The Stormtroopers are vastly outnumbered by Imperial Army Troopers, the standard infantry of the Galactic Empire. Stormtroopers are used more as an offensive fighting force and as a reinforcement force for military installations. Where as the Imperial Army Troopers are used as an occupying and guarding force to maintain a constant military presence on various worlds and military bases across the galaxy. – Bryan Murray Dec 31 '17 at 6:19
  • The closest thing we see in the films to non-stormtrooper ground troops are the AT- ST drivers. They are part of the imperial army. An example of non imperial ground troops can be seen in the 1996 video game Shadows of the Empire in stage 5, Gall Space Port. The majority of troopers that you fight are Imperial Army Troopers, although you will see a stormtrooper here and there. – Bryan Murray Dec 31 '17 at 6:32
  • youtu.be/PehL2-bWpIo?t=4m21s – Bryan Murray Dec 31 '17 at 7:12
-5

Stormtroopers are clones. All of them!

There is ample evidence for this - from publications in the late 1970s from Lucasfilm saying as much, to dialogue in the film

"you are a little short for a Stormtrooper, aren't you?"

Even in the 1997 re-release, Lucas's additional shots of Stormtroopers made clear they were clones. Lucas wanted them to be clones. When the Emperor died, several writers wrote of the confusion with Stormtroopers as they were clones and tied to the dark force of the Emperor's will. One of the reasons that the Empire collapses is because the cloned Stormtroopers were cut off from the Emperor.

This is just Disney changing, once again, what had been canon and making "canon" seem like nonsense. They have changed the story so many times. Initially, George said clearly that the Clones were not programmed to enact Order 66, that it wasn't some genetic code or switch, but just that they were disciplined to enact it. That's what makes Stormtroopers so frightening. They have no sense of humanity and they are not conscripts. They are specialized troopers as a direct offshoot of the Emperor's will. They have no mercy. They have no humanity. That was GL's vision.

  • Be that as it may, Disney are now the ones who get to decide what's canon. – Möoz Jan 31 '17 at 2:28
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    The EU wasn't officially official anyway. The new model under Lucasfilm Story Group is much better – NKCampbell Jan 31 '17 at 14:26
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    @DarthSakul I don't know that a mention of a Stormtrooper minimum height requirement automatically suggests they are clones. It was probably a reference to the height requirements of notable Guard units like the Swiss Guards (and for some reason I thought the Varangian Guards all had to be taller than 6 feet but I can't find a reference). Since Han and Luke strip down at least 2 stormtroopers you'd think there would be SOME comment about their similar appearance if they were all supposed to be clones – Jason K Jan 31 '17 at 14:49
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    But they're not... – rappatic Nov 4 '17 at 11:51
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    And you know that joining the Stormtrooper Corps doesn't have strict height requirements because... The US Marines (and most other branches of the US military) have a minimum height requirement, for example. It can be waived under certain circumstances, but it still exists. It is also much cheaper to mass-produce one-size-fits-all armor for a single size range than it is to custom-build armor for varying heights. And given the larger manpower pool that the Empire has to draw from, they can afford to have stricter requirements for entry. – the_OTHER_DJMethaneMan Jul 3 '18 at 19:58

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