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Admittedly, the armor of the stormtroopers is not the best, but it's better than nothing. Why don't the rebels strip the armor from dead stormtroopers to use with their best soldiers?

I'd really like to understand why they don't do this.

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    It seems like a pretty good way for friendly fire, however we did se Han and Luke wear Empire armour in ANH, and later again I think – Edlothiad Nov 10 '17 at 14:27
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    Seems like a really good way to be shot by someone who actually knows how to aim a blaster... – Zeiss Ikon Nov 10 '17 at 14:27
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    If you experienced Star Wars as it was released, soon-to-be rebels actually do steal storm troopers' armor in the first third of the first movie. In the third movie, a rebel impersonates an imperial officer by wearing an imperial helmet. – Todd Wilcox Nov 10 '17 at 16:27
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    Maybe the rebels are usually just a bit too short for the assault troops gear :-D. – SJuan76 Nov 10 '17 at 18:32
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    The armor is useless. Small arms fire penetrates it easily and we saw angry teddy bears in Episode 6 easily defeat the armor with rocks and wooden clubs. I wouldn't be surprised if the Rebellion funded itself by secretly selling this armor to the Empire. – Kyle Jones Nov 11 '17 at 0:08
88

Because they're rebels, not soldiers.

Sure, the armour that Stormtroopers wear is better than what the Rebels generally wear, but it doesn't exactly blend in, even if you repaint it into something else.

The Rebel goal isn't to fight the Empire head on, and most rebels you see are smugglers and thieves, not soldiers. Their main protection is blending in with a crowd and not instantly being stopped and shot because they're running around in bulky, suspicious armour, which is no doubt restricted contraband on most Imperial planets.

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    And, they wanna tell friends from foe – Garret Gang Nov 10 '17 at 15:26
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    Also rebels are little too short to be a stormtrooper. – Kimberly W Nov 10 '17 at 18:11
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Because the armor will not stop a blaster shot, which is the main weapon both the Rebels and the Empire use. Plus I understand that you can't see a thing in those helmets. Plus rigid armor slows you down somewhat and makes you easier to hit. Plus it's shiny white, so you stand out like a sore thumb in any non-winter terrain.

The rebels are the smart ones.

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    Luke couldn't see a thing in that helmet because it didn't fit him, literally, that was an unscripted line Mark Hamill said when he didn't know the cameras were still rolling. – Amicable Nov 10 '17 at 17:11
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    @amflare Being fair, they used white armor on a jungle. That's... stupid, to say the least. – T. Sar Nov 10 '17 at 17:27
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    @PCSgtL Given that every country on the planet already does this and that they built not one but two Death Stars, they can achieve this. Besides, it would actually save the Empire money as it would make the clones last longer. The cost of a new clone would greatly outweigh the cost of a paint job. – Nathan Smith Nov 10 '17 at 18:17
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    @PCSgtL Well, you don't need to ship the whole armor; anything is better than shiny white in every environment but snow. Just ship matte paint and budget an hour or so every week or two for the troops to paint their armor. Alternatively, cloth overlays. It never needs to be perfect, just better than the worst possible case.. – Delioth Nov 10 '17 at 18:25
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    @PCSgtL Your argument is completely undermined by the fact that the Rebels obtained camo for Endor. If the underfunded, on the run Rebels can get some camo for a forest moon, the Empire can provide a few basic sets of camo (forests, deserts). Sure, it won't be perfect in every single last environment, but they are certainly capable of doing better than a color that stands out and makes them easy targets in the vast majority of environments. Or better yet, maybe they can develop some kind of adaptive armor that adjusts based on surroundings. – jpmc26 Nov 11 '17 at 3:48
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Reality TL:DR because it's more compelling to see a "rag tag militia" fighting against the uniform "might of the empire" and we need to see that in every scene. But that's not a fun answer, now is it?

If you look historically, there are plenty of situations that would cause a lesser equipped militia to steal from a regular army, and just as many reasons why they wouldn't.If a soldier were given enough time to loot the battlefield, they are 'obviously' going to grab anything they have that's better than what they got, especially if they are lacking in their personal supplies. There are plenty of instances in the Legacy Universe where entire stories revolve around the rebels attacking and raiding supply lines and caches of the Empire. So why wouldn't we see more squads of rebel soldiers loaded up with piecemeal bits of white, grey, and black armor, or periodically see a red blaster bolt flying back at a stormtrooper? Maintenance and Logistics.

As a reference the historic 16th century suit of plate armor cost months and heavy sums of money to outfit a knight. They required an entourage of to keep a mounted knight in full fighting condition; whether it be their armor repairs after even a light battle, or preparation after traveling for days to the site of a battle. Even if we were to magically wave the fiction wand and say that the stormtrooper's armor is "self repairing" or even "Easy to Repair by the individual soldier" it's not far fetched to think that they will require replacement parts, specialized tools, and other logistical concerns that would come from a formalized standing military machine.

But clearly some equipment could be used without this concern right? There's no reason why it shouldn't be so. I'm sure you can open almost any star wars book and hear about how a small resistance force, was using "stolen" empire equipment, time and again. But why not the regular rebel forces? Again, logistics. If the empire has the money, infrastructure, and capability to keep a standing army in the 10's of millions in fresh white stormtrooper armor; the actual regular rebel forces will have to come up with uniforms and their own logistical infrastructure to match.

This means cutting corners where they can and knowing what they can afford, and while a standard stormtrooper might have a mask that protects against dust and toxins, your standard rebel soldier will have a belt mounted respirator that does the same thing and is easier to transport and maintain. The imperials might completely control Blas-Tec for their blasters, but a Corellian company might be able to make something similar and cheaper. Perhaps on Geonosis they have an entire continent devoted to turning out stormtrooper Armor, but it's easier to get wool for rebel jackets on Hoth. Etc Etc Etc.

So in the massive battles; the rebel forces, a standing outfitted militia, with tactics and logistics built around that, against the Empire, a standard outfitted army, with tactics and logistics built around that, Might make it a point not to allow their equipment to be used unless the mission calls for it. Allows commanders and planners to work within given parameters of the operation, and keeps people safe when something gets broken during a war zone.

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    Also note that stealing a suit of armor in Medieval/Renaissance times would get you killed pretty quickly - and it's a good bet that rebels moving around in imperial stormtrooper armor would meet similar fate. – Luaan Nov 13 '17 at 12:29
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"Flying a false flag" is serious business in war. If the enemy finds you in one of their uniforms, they take you to an officer, who confirms your bona fides, and then shoots you in the head. That's the Geneva Convention and the story behind the famous Vietnam war photo.

They would want to customize the armor with new colors or emblems, and would probably want to exceed legal minimums, just to avoid friendly fire incidents. For instance allied forces painted white stripes on their wings during D-day.

There's nothing wrong with reusing the gear. If you charged into the skies of France with a Me109 emblazoned with RAF roundels, that's legit. That's why airplanes have insignia instead of just relying on model/shape.

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    The emperor is willing to kill them all anyway. – Joshua Nov 12 '17 at 3:22
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    Thanks that actually was what I assumed they would do. – Kaleb Goodlow Nov 12 '17 at 19:26
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We never see a rebel soldier in a situation where it would be useful.

The first time we see 'a rebel' soldier they are moving under the pretence of being a diplomatic mission for Alderan and wearing an imperial uniform would break their cover.

The second time is on Hoth where I assume due to the cold, storm trooper armour was not used by the empire and instead the 'snow trooper' armour.

The third was on the moon of Endor where they wore clothes to blend into the forest.

4

Why don't the rebels strip the armor from DEAD stormtroopers to use with their best soldiers?

I agree with most in universe answers above. Another good reason, is that most of individual protections in our world can be used only once. AKA "It's a terrible idea to use a bulletproof vest picked up on a shot dead body"

As little effective stormtroopers armor are, this wouldn't help either

3

IIRC, stormtroopers in TNH had a type of communication link in their helmet that was connected with some type of "main control room." All it would take would be for main control to interrogate the suspected individual in order to discover that they had an "intruder." Definitely something that should have been thought out better, imo..

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    Why would they have to respond to the interrogation? They could just remove the communication link, surely? – Edlothiad Nov 11 '17 at 9:49
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    If they didn't respond they would be suspect. – briandc Nov 11 '17 at 12:55
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    @briandc this question isn't referring to espionage. It's referring to them taking the armor to use in combat situations as heavier duty armor. – The Great Duck Nov 13 '17 at 15:49
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Vision

From a practical perspective, the storm trooper's helmet seems to have quite limited visibility. The empire mostly deploys storm troopers in massed formations, so nearly every storm trooper has others covering his sides and rear. Under these circumstances, lack of visibility isn't a huge handicap.

Rebels, however, more typically fight individually. With their much smaller numbers, each has to take much greater responsibility for covering his own sides/rear. Under these circumstances, peripheral vision is highly valued, and wearing a storm trooper's helmet would border on suicidal.

Visibility

In general, soldiers you want to survive in battle should be outfitted with camouflaged uniforms. The bright white uniforms of the storm troopers stand out--this indicates that they're intended to be seen. As such, we can quickly guess that one (or both) of two things applies:

  1. The empire just doesn't care how many get killed, or
  2. they're a symbol of the empire, and fear of what they represent (not just what they themselves can do) will normally prevent anybody from resisting or attacking them.

In this case, it's a fair guess that both apply, though the emphasis is undoubtedly on the latter.

I'd estimate that the Empire thinks of a stormtrooper getting killed about the way you or I would about a glass getting broken. You don't normally have any emotional attachment to a glass, and its intrinsic value is quite minimal.

Nonetheless, cleaning up the mess when one breaks is some work, and when too many break you have to go buy more. Depending on how you feel about shopping, that may be a chore that prevents you from doing what you'd really prefer for a while.

0

The same reason why many rebel groups today don't steal all the equipment that's lying around - because it takes training to use.

Rebel groups, by their nature, can't have giant formal training programs. What training rebels do receive is largely designed to get them to all shoot the same direction without hitting each other. They do not have time to learn how to don complicated suits of armor, operate tanks, or even wield a firearm whose operation requires more training than a can opener does.

Rebel soldiers are largely expendable - their utility to a war is determined by how cleverly their commanders deploy them. In real asymmetric warfare, the underdog loses many more soldiers than the regular fighting force (their goal is attrition, not to overwhelm outright). So there is not even any incentive to train their footsoldiers to the level of a standing army.

Stormtrooper armor seems to have a fair bit of utility to it - including air filtration, power supply, communications, nightvision optics, anti-glare lenses, even motion sensors. Any one of these features requires a good bit of training (ask anyone who has actually used night-vision during an operation).

Real-life rebel commanders are concerned with cost-effectiveness - they may lose more soldiers than the regular force, but every man in the standing army costs dramatically more than a rebel gunman. In-universe we're shown much of a similar situation - the Rebels lose just about every major engagement they get into, and are certainly outclassed in every firefight. Their successes come through attacking critical targets (like the death star).

  • Although interesting this answer is very anecdotal and speculative. With the assumptions that OOU reasons must be relevant IU. The rebels could easily wear everything other than the helmet to "protect" them better without requiring much more training. – Edlothiad Nov 13 '17 at 7:41
  • The Alliance aren't really rebels, though - that's just imperial propaganda. They have well trained troops and a full-blown navy with capital ships, with support (overt or covert) from many advanced planets all over the galaxy. They use old-school guerrilla warfare, attacking the enemy where they are weak and escaping unfavorable engagements - still a war of attrition, but the goal is to deplete the imperials faster than their own. Do you really think the "Rebels" can build and man capital ships that can challenge a Star Destroyer but couldn't train their troops in the use of a HUD? – Luaan Nov 13 '17 at 12:42
  • @Luaan those people probably have armor. We're referring to the groups that are in particular rebels such as the main people from the movies or the group from the tv show. Large capital vessels probably have people armed with the armor of their people or armor made by the alliance. – The Great Duck Nov 13 '17 at 15:54

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