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In Rogue One we see

Orson Krennic ordering the execution of a team of Death Star engineers after discovering that somebody leaked the designs to the Rebellion. He makes sure that every engineer involved in the construction of the Death Star is present before personally supervising their termination.

Why would Krennic do this, considering that the Death Star was not yet fully operational? What would he have done if parts of the design needed revisions or if part of the machinery needed to be repaired?

Wasn't his decision kind of rash?

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    Or if, you know, the whole thing needed to be rebuilt from scratch? Jan 4, 2017 at 16:09
  • I think the point is that only Galen was really valuable. For everyone else, well, “We have reserves.”
    – Adamant
    Jan 4, 2017 at 16:13

3 Answers 3

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From the novelization, it seems quite clear that Krennic is trying to demoralize Galen; Galen obviously doesn't want the other engineers to pay for his actions, so Krennic has them killed to demonstrate his control and the consequences of crossing him (emphasis mine):

Galen took action at last.

He dashed between Krennic and the engineers, spun about and nearly slipped on the wet platform. "Stop," he cried, again and again, spreading his arms as if he could block the troopers' shots. "Krennic, stop. It was me. It was me. They have nothing to do with it."

Krennic looked into the face of the man he'd befriended long ago. He waited.

"Spare them," Galen said. Drenched and tired and wild-eyed, he looked like a man whose genius had deserted him.

Krennic crooked a finger at Galen. As if reluctant, the begging man stepped back toward Krennic.

"Fire," Krennic spat.

He didn’t watch the crimson bolts flare from his troopers’ rifles, didn’t bother glancing at the bodies of engineers tumbling to the ground and sizzling in the rain. His eyes were on Galen, and he saw the explosion of shock and fury in the scientist's face — saw him try to hide it the next instant behind a mask of iron.

But they were long past hiding things, and Galen should have known better. Krennic swung his fist in a tight arc and felt the back of his hand strike Galen’s cheek and chin. Galen staggered and dropped to his knees.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story - Official Novelization Chapter 11

Although it may seem somewhat rash to execute a team of supposedly talented engineers, the Empire doesn't struggle to locate new recruits; there are always more engineers.

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    Plus the Death Star is pretty much complete. Killing all the loose ends seems like quite a good idea. The metaphorical burying of the architects in the pyramid
    – Valorum
    Jan 4, 2017 at 16:51
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Krennic's in a bad mood. He's just been humiliated by Tarkin and he's worried that he's going to have his toy taken away from him. He initially suspected that one of the engineers was a traitor to the Empire (hence why he has them line up in front of the firing squad) but ultimately he has them killed simply to vent his petty frustration.

Krennic let them stand there in the rain for a bit longer than necessary, just to show them who was in charge.
There was no Tarkin present, no Emperor, no Darth Vader. When it came to this facility, he ruled.

...

If that didn’t get them to crack, Krennic believed nothing would. Then he’d be forced to have them all executed. Until now, he might have hesitated to give such an order for fear of destroying a team he very much needed, but with the Death Star operational—and Tarkin having stolen it from him anyway—he didn’t see the harm.

...

Krennic looked to the engineers again. They were awash with relief that Galen would take the fall for them. They were too surprised—too unsure about what was happening—to thank him for his sacrifice.

Krennic stared at them, despising them all. He said one word. “Fire.”

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – A Junior Novel

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When Tarkin tips off Krennic to the fact that information was leaked to the pilot defector, he specifically directs Krennic to a particular facility on a particular planet which implies that other facilities exist on other planets.

The execution we see isn't even close to everyone involved in design and production. If they need more work done, they have other engineers to do it.

To Krennic, the minor loss of engineer life is worth getting his point across.

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