In the original trilogy films of Star Wars we see a number of "Imperial officers". Their rank, and indeed their branch of service is never made entirely clear. Nor is their relationship, in command terms with Darth Vader. They do, however, seem to have authority over the Stormtroopers serving aboard the various Imperial vessels.

In The Force Awakens the First Order troops are commanded by a Stormtrooper officer, Captain Phasma. While the First Order is obviously not the same as the empire, the Star Wars RPG did feature Kayn Somos, a Stormtrooper "commander", suggesting that the Stormtroopers did have officers within their ranks.

So I got to thinking about what would happens if one of these Stormtrooper officers were serving alongside an "Imperial officer" from the original films. Are they from different service branches? What are their respective ranks? Who would assume command?

All these sorts of questions would quickly be resolved if the service branch and rank structure of the Imperial military were ever detailed. Does any canon material at all attempt to address this?

  • Related-ish: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/115757/…
    – Wad Cheber
    Aug 3, 2016 at 1:45
  • 1
    It seems to be similar to the British Royal Navy; Command of ships is the main officer line, then the "branches" include fighters ( Equivalent of Fleet Air Arm ) and the land forces ( Marines ). This would make a simpler command structure, though it would require 'Captain' to be reserved fro the commander of a ship and the officer above a Lieutenant in ground forces would be given a 'promotion' to Major when on board a ship ( Though Stormtrooper Commander rank may be the equivalent of Captain for that very reason) I've got little to support that, except for the feel of the movies Aug 13, 2016 at 21:59

1 Answer 1



There are 9 different services ("branches") of the Imperial Military.

The detailed part...

Battle Station Operations - Operate and maintain the Death Stars (+ other siege weapons in Legends)

Battle Station operations operated and maintained the first Death Star, and would have maintained and operated the second Death Star (if not for a number of rebels). Within Canon, there were a number of (mostly) self-explanatory subsections of this branch - Engineering, Logistics, Maintenance, Personnel, Security, Station defenses, Technical Support.

Imperial Academy - Train and enlist regulars and officers

This branch recruited and enlisted all personal for the Imperial Military. There were a number of institutions that specialized in each branch. Notable students include Biggs Darklighter and Mitth'raw'nuruodo (commonly known to us as Thrawn).

Imperial Army - Ground forces

Sub-units of this branch include:

Due to a lack of content, it is not clear where the regular non-stormtrooper soldiers fit in, but it can only be assumed that they were replaced or part of the Stormtrooper Corps.

Imperial Intelligence - Espionage & Intelligence

Imperial Intelligence (also known as Military Intelligence, IM) were the espionage arm of the Imperial Military. Members of Imperial Intelligence included Death Troopers (as seen in Rogue One) and the Imperial Information Office.

Imperial Marines - Only detailed as a branch of the Imperial Miliary in Canon. Described in Star Wars Legends as Stormtroopers stationed on warships. They are also mentioned as being the units that will board other ships. It can be assumed therefore that these stormtroopers on the Tantive IV are Stormtroopers of the Imperial Marines:

Imperial Marines

Imperial Navy - Naval forces

Includes sub-branches for starfighters (Imperial Starfighter Corps), the Naval Military Police (separate from the Army Military Police) and Naval Command and Control (which can only be assumed to be the main command of Naval Forces.)

Imperial Special Forces - Special forces command

A term used to describe the special forces units of the Imperial Military. Units that fell under the Imperial Special Forces umbrella included Inferno Squad and the Storm Commandos. In Star Wars Legends, Imperial Special Forces often provided units for other branches of the Military, for example, providing Ghost Battalion to the Army and Imperial Navy Special Forces to the Navy.

Joint Chiefs - Command branch

A command branch of the Imperial Military, divided into Imperial High Command and the Naval chief. Imperial High Command also had a number of sub-sections:

Sector Command - Another command unit

Another command unit, not clear if part of The Joint Chiefs. Members include Commander Brom Titus and Captain Brunson. A sub-unit called Sector Command also existed.

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