Rewatching Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, I noticed the opening crawl declares Luke Skywalker as the leader of the Rebel forces on Hoth:

Evading the dreaded Imperial Starfleet, a group of freedom fighters led by Luke Skywalker has established a new secret base on the remote ice world of Hoth.

Is that correct? I though Princess Leia or General Rieekan commanded the Rebel base on Hoth.

I can't find any references to this discrepancy on the Internet. Maybe in an earlier version of the script, Luke Skywalker was the commander and the crawl wasn't updated. Or perhaps "led" is meant in the sense Luke was a moral leader of the Rebel fighters?

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    I would think your latter suggestion is right as he only has the rank of 'commander' at the start of Empire.
    – user107907
    Mar 11, 2019 at 15:38
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    Or perhaps literally - his was the ship at the front of the convoy? Mar 11, 2019 at 15:44
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    Rieekan is in charge, and he's got the Purina patch to prove it. youtu.be/1CTpTyT8y2w?t=13 Mar 11, 2019 at 17:07
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    I've been disturbed about this for years, and eventually rationalized that it was moral leadership that was being referred to here, and that there was a separate, formal organizational leadership. Mar 11, 2019 at 18:14
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    @RobertColumbia Or inspirational leadership, if not moral exactly.
    – mattdm
    Mar 11, 2019 at 20:35

2 Answers 2


Luke wasn't the leader of the all of the base's forces, he held the rank of Commander and led Rogue Squadron, a small aerial defence force stationed at the base and one of several squadrons at the disposal of the Rebellion's leadership.

While the Rebellion's structure is relatively vague (and fluid), we do know that Echo Base was commanded by General Rieekan.

Her name is Leia, and she is the princess of that planet the Empire destroyed with a single shot. She was on the Imperial battle station, being forced to watch. Now, she is among the leaders of the Rebellion. You can understand why.
Her brown eyes flash at the various panels and readouts. Her long brown hair is braided and wrapped in a ring around her head.
At first, Han studiously ignores her. He goes over to General Rieekan, commander of the base, who is poring over the security readouts. Like security readouts are going to help when the Empire shows up.

The Empire Strikes Back: So You Want to Be a Jedi?

Leia, Mon Mothma and various others lead the Rebellion and Admiral Akbar commands their fleet of starships. Luke is one of the leaders of the Rebellion, in the sense that he holds a relatively high rank.


Luke is a commander by ESB, and is in command of a squadron. More specifically, his call sign is Rogue Leader as he is part of the Rogue Squadron which he named after the the Rebel group that got the plans for the Death Star.

  • Do squadron commanders typically also command ground based installations? I wouldn't expect to find a modern Air Force leader giving orders at an Army base.
    – Brian R
    Mar 11, 2019 at 16:24
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    @BrianR But, you might expect it at an Air Force base, which is usually on the ground Mar 11, 2019 at 16:40
  • @BrianR Right, that's what I'm thinking. I understand Luke is commander of Rogue Squadron, but we never see him in command of the entire base in ESB.
    – RobertF
    Mar 11, 2019 at 17:02
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    @BrianR The scrawl does mention it's "a group" which pretty much would describe just one squadron. It's possible he led a research mission to Hoth and later reported to Leia who then proceeded to move resources there.
    – Scott.Bell
    Mar 11, 2019 at 17:09
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    @BrianR The Alliance doesn't demonstrate the sort of inter-service rivalries you see between branches in large, established militaries. Probably because the Alliance ain't got time for that.
    – Schwern
    Mar 12, 2019 at 1:00

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