This has been bugging me for some time: Why would any military organisation in their right mind ever use an army of soldiers in full-body armor, including helmets that completely cover their faces? As the title suggests, I’m thinking of the stormtroopers. To me, stuffing them into such an armor sounds extremely counterproductive, for the following reasons:

  1. They block your senses, both your vision and hearing, your two most important allies on the battlefield. In particular, we have their aiming issues and the total uslessness of the sights on their rifles.

  2. It is close to impossible to distinguish the soldiers from each other, even for the soldiers themselves. Even if they learn to recognise each other from their way of moving, the process of identifying the soldiers in your squad and your superior officers is extremely difficult and time-consuming in an already tense battle situation. It does make sense for a terror regime to try to suppress individuality in its soldiers, but limiting their ability to cooperate effectively does not sound like the right appoach to me. Even the Nazis did not go that far. In The Force Awakens, there seem to be some markings on the superior officers’ shoulders, but not in the original trilogy, and in any case, it would only solve some of the problem.

  3. It is extremely easy for the enemy to disguise themselves as stormtroopers, as happens in A New Hope with great success.

  4. The armor is likely to be an unnecessary expense for an already expensive million man army. What about using an ordinary, cheap uniform? That is usually enough to suppress the individual in most armies.

  5. One of its purposes, according to Wookieepedia, is to protect the soldiers against harsh enviromments. Yet they are never seen in any such environment at any time during the films, and it is very doubtful whether they operate in such climates often enough to justify packing every single soldier into a full-body armor. Of what purpose is such an armor on the Death Star?

  6. It seems like extremely bad camouflage, unless you are on an icy planet.

Are there actual examples of similar armies in full-body armor in the galaxy not very far away? (EDIT: Just to be clear, what I mean by this is from Planet Earth.)

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    That is what is commonly referred to as clothes. And yes, they use a helmet to protect the top of their heads, not one blocking the face and limiting the senses. – Gaussler Jan 26 '16 at 18:50
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    Again, please explain to me the purpose of all of that for a soldier working inside the Death Star. – Gaussler Jan 26 '16 at 19:08
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    @Gaussler: on the contrary, medieval knights' armor was very practical. It protected them from enemy weapons, it identified them to those who needed to know while hiding their identity from the enemy, and it made them look badass. – Martha Jan 26 '16 at 19:21
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    @Gaussler: most of that is Hollywood myth. A well-trained fully armored knight was no more hampered by said armor than a modern soldier wearing a similar-weight backpack. – Martha Jan 26 '16 at 19:29
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    @Gaussler: metmuseum.org/toah/hd/aams/hd_aams.htm – Martha Jan 26 '16 at 19:45

1) Actually, the helmets enhance the senses, as the helmets have holographic HUDs, and there are speakers and microphones in the helmets to pick up sounds, as I point out in this answer.

2) Uniformity is a big thing everywhere. Almost every army ever has done this thing. In the case of the Empire, it drives home not getting attached to things, such as TIE pilots not getting attached to a specific TIE. (it also makes it a lot easier to manufacture if they're all the same). It also helps drive away their individuality, ("You're no longer Bill Billerton, you're now THX-1138!")

3) This happens a lot, and really can't be prevented. In large groups anyone can blend in, and it isn't just storm troopers.

4) Yeah, it would be expensive, and this it doesn't make sense.

5) Harsh environments: you mean like the desert (sand is coarse and rough, and it gets everywhere), or a snowy icy place? Or a humid jungle planet? Troops were shown in different environments in the movie, and in the clone wars cartoon the clones were in even worse places with just their armor and were doing fine.

6) It wasn't designed for camouflage, but it beats wearing bright red uniforms. It was designed to be a large imposing force. Though according to the visual encyclopedia for episode 3, it was designed to make the troops look more heroic, like white knights.

Also, the best example of a full bodied armored force would be the Clone army, where the storm troopers are descended from.

In EU, there were forces like the Mandalorians, the Echani who wore full body armor.

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    The republic commandos are canon now :P And you are correct. – user40790 Jan 26 '16 at 18:48
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    @Gaussler the suits might be air conditioned – user46509 Jan 26 '16 at 18:50
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    @Gaussler They also have a body glove underneath the armor, so it would work like underarmor, and keep you cool in the heat, warm in the cold. – CBredlow Jan 26 '16 at 18:51
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    @Gaussler using just what we see in the movies: Commanders have a special pauldron (the orange thing), but using an extrapolation of my answer: the HUD probably has some recognition thingie on it. – CBredlow Jan 26 '16 at 19:15
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    Almost every army ever- after the 17th century. – Broklynite Jan 26 '16 at 23:23

I'll address some of your points here:

Harsh Environments- In ANH, when the first Death Star catches the Millenium Falcon, several stormtroopers are seen in the trench on the station's outer hull (seriously, go see for yourself). In ESB, the snowtroopers invading the rebel base on Hoth have much superior protection from the cold compared to the rebels.

Armour Expense- This is from questionably canon sources (Imperial Handbook: a Commander's Guide, for example), but the Stormtrooper Corps doesn't make up the whole Imperial army, rather an elite division like the US marines (yes, I'm aware they're only decent shots when the script needs them to be).

Camoflague- Stormtroopers are never about concealment, they're delberately overt and in your face, to strike terror in the masses from the start.

Other examples- I'm not absolutely certain of this, but Mandalorian armour (what Boba Fett wears) would probably be a good candidate.

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  • Okay, I admit it would make sense in places like Hoth. But why would it be part of their standard equipment? The guards on the Death Star would hardly need it in their everyday work. – Gaussler Jan 26 '16 at 18:57

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