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Tarkin believed that Krennic was partially at fault for the breach on Scarif:

From Tarkin's Point of View:

Director Krennic, General Ramda, and Admiral Gorin had all failed to solve the problem at hand, granting the rebels opportunity after opportunity to seize the schematics from the Citadel.

It was a show of incompetence so great that Tarkin was almost curious to know how Krennic might explain it away.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Chapter 21

But Krennic's position is closer to a supervisor of military projects than a commander. His life is outlined in Catalyst and the Rogue One Ultimate Visual Guide:

  1. First, he studied Architecture at the Futures Program:

    When Krennic was a young man, his brilliance earned him a place in the Brentaal Futures Program, an educational institute meant to incubate developing prodigies. Young Orson's listed area of excellence was architecture.

    Rogue One Ultimate Visual Guide, page 108

  2. Then, he joined the Corps of Engineers, reconstructing Coruscant and supervising construction projects:

    During the Clone Wars, it was Krennic who oversaw the transformation of municipal grounds on Coruscant into military command centers.

    Rogue One Ultimate Visual Guide, page 108

    ... he had risen quickly to the fore in the Republic Corps of Engineers, supervising the construction of enormous projects ...

    Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel, Chapter 6

  3. Next, he was transferred from the Corps of Engineers to the Strategic Advisory Cell, requiring him to become a weapons expert:

    Recently transferred from the Crops of Engineers to the cell's Special Weapons Group, ...

    The new assignment had also required a return to school to suffer through intensive courses on the weapons Rothana, Kuat, and others had built for the Kaminoans to equip the Grand Army, and on the weapons Baktoid, Hoersch-Kessel, and others were engineering and producting for the Separatists. On graduating he had supervised a brain trust of research experts who reported directly to the upper echelon of the Republic military.

    Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel, Chapter 3

  4. Finally, sometime after the Empire takes over, the Strategic Advisory Cell is absorbed into the Tarkin Initiative, and Krennic becomes Director of Advanced Weapons Research:

    ... [Krennic's shuttle] is on Tarkin Initiative business, with an Imperial advanced weapons director aboard.

    Rogue One Ultimate Visual Guide, page 24

I doubt that the change to the Tarkin Initiative required knowledge on military tactics, as the Rogue One Ultimate Visual Guide describes the initiative as a "think tank" (page 127). Therefore, Krennic never received any ground tactics training, nor was he particularly interested: the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story novelization notes that "Krennic was not, at heart, a military man; he believed that if a battle had to be waged, something had already gone wrong" (Chapter 18).

Therefore, given that Gorin was in charge of the star destroyers and Ramda was in charge of the garrison, would Krennic actually be at fault for the breach or was Tarkin's perspective influenced by the rivalry between the two?

[Note: I don't think Tarkin's view has anything to do with Galen because the grand moff is only considering "the problem at hand", implying that Krennic's failure has to do with the rebel assault.

In addition, when Krennic commands the officers on Scarif, it is because of their gross incompetence - when the attack happened:

The officers were yammering behind him. He heard no words, but recognized a shared tone of surprise and confusion. Were they truly so oblivious?

And after he shouts "Are we blind?":

He had the attention of the room. Attention was not what he required.

Therefore, Krennic only stepped in because nobody was reacting properly. ]

  • 3
    I don't think you understand how bureaucracies work. It's about finding the lineman to punish, not about whether your excuse of whom to blame to cover your a$$ is perfectly logical. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 23 '18 at 13:31
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    Outside of the details stated in your question I do not know much about Krennic, but nothing you have stated says that he was not the ranking member on Scarif at the time of the assault or that he was not actually in command there (in some fashion). Had he been either one of those options, regardless of his lack of expertise in defense strategies, it is easy to blame him for everything. He should have run drills, he should have directed defense better, etc. In addition, if he was not the commander and "stepped in" as you put it he opened himself up for the blame by trying to help... life sucks – Odin1806 Jan 23 '18 at 17:14
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    @DVK-on-Ahch-To Indeed. Especially when your boss is a heartless psycho who has been known to magically choke people over Facetime because they failed to stop something bad happening even when they had no control over it. – Steve-O Jan 23 '18 at 19:05
  • @Steve-O - that goes into the next managerial job requisition text I'm writing :) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 23 '18 at 19:46
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   Krennic has been fighting for political power.

From the movie and novels, we could see that he didn't want just technical positions or even management of technical positions. He wanted political power, and to put it bluntly, control over the Death Star. In Rogue One he unsuccessfully petitioned Vader for just that, and tried to secure an audience with the Emperor.

In a highly militarized system of government like the Empire, any senior political position undoubtedly carried with it certain military command. Krennic did wear a uniform and had a certain number of troops at his disposal. If he succeeded with his machinations, he will of course command an even larger part of the Imperial military.

Finally, the reason for his death is being at wrong place at wrong time, and of course being Tarkin's rival. Both Tarkin and Krennic display certain psychopathic traits, similar to Emperor Palpatine himself. Either of them would not hesitate to remove any obstacle to his ambition, no matter the cost. Later, a convenient excuse would be found, like Krennic's supposed guilt for Rebels stealing plans for the Death Star.

1

As others very pertinently wrote above, one of the main reasons was political rivalry and struggle for power. Yet this is not the only reason that Krennic could be held responsible for the leak of the Death Star plans.

To understand why Grand Moff Tarkin acted this way, we need some further insight in his background. Tarkin grew up in an wealthy, aristocratic family but in an harsh Outer Rim planet, Eriadu. His family led the the seasoned Outland Regions Security Force, a paramilitary organization that provided security to the whole Eriadu system since the Republic was virtually absent in the Outer Rim. He had a strict, almost military upbringing. When he became 16, as a ritual of passing, he was sent to survive in the untamed wilderness of Eriadu. He learned that his family has always been strong in defending Eriaduans first from nature and the wild beasts, then from pirates or any other threat. Tarkin grew up to be a decisive, calculating, unemotional, and ruthless man, who believed in order, stability, and devotion before everything else. He learned that as a Tarkin, weakness, indecisiveness, failure should not be tolerated, since they could mean death not only for him and his family, but also for the people of his planet.

Director Krennic had come to represent all of the above in the eyes of the Grand Moff. As a Director of the Advanced Weapons Research, he failed to prevent a critical security breach, he failed to deal with it once it occurred, and he wouldn't have even realized where and how it happened if wasn't for Tarkin

-The breaches have been filled. Jedha has been silenced.

-You think this pilot acted alone? He was dispatched from the installation on Eadu... Galen Erso's facility.

-Ah, we'll see about this.

But since the question is about the events in the Battle of Scarif, let's see some of Krennic's key strategic failures AFTER he got to Scarif for the last time:

  • His first and biggest mistake is that he assumed command of the complex and led the defense against the rebels exactly despite him having no training or experience in tactical command. (Judging by that, and given his insignia, his rank was equivalent to that of an Admiral, and as such, he outranked General Ramda, the Commanding Officer of the Facility at Scarif.). Given that there were other high-ranking officers trained to do exactly that, he should have left the defense to them. Instead Imperial forces went into the battle without any plan of action, and all of Krennic's decisions were reactive and spasmodic, if not completely erratic. Many of his subsequent mistakes are a direct consequence of an unfit person without tactical training or military experience being in command. Namely;

  • He didn't undertake any measure to secure the facility. Once the attack broke out he should have immediately ordered a lock down of the base. He did it way too late, and even as the Rebel fleet was attacking the facility he ordered the shield closed only following General Ramda's suggestion:

    -Director, the rebel fleet is amassing outside the shield.

    -Lock down the base. Lock it down.

    -And close the shield?

    -Do it!

  • Information Security is an 101 course in any military academy, for future military commanders, engineers, architects, or even army musicians alike. Krennic should have been proactive in protecting the Death Star plans. Scarif was a planet without any strategic value, and didn't host any facility of military importance that could render it a target. Apart from some rare metal deposits, its only valuable resource were the archives stored there. So Krennic should have figured out that unless the Rebels were planning to start mining operations on Scarif, they were after the Death Star plans. Even more so following the recent security breach in Eadu.

  • Even if all other mistakes could be attributed to him not being a military commander, as a scientist and Director of the Advanced Weapons Research one would expect that his first concert would be at least to safeguard the Research Program archives. He instead threw all forces, even his personal guard into the decoy battle, leaving the vault virtually unguarded. When he thought of checking this out, he took only two men with him.

    -Send my guard squadron into battle. Get that beach under control! Two men with me, now.

So Tarkin was not completely unjustified to blame Krennic: In the very end, it was his inadequacy first as a Director (which started the chain of events in Rogue One) and subsequently as a Commanding Officer (which resulted in the leak of the plans to the Rebel Alliance) that eventually led to the destruction of the Death Star.

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