Analysis: The Grand Army of the Republic’s Greatest Flaw
The Clone Wars was the first major conflict that the Republic faced in a millennium. While it only lasted 4 years it was a conflict on a grand scale that would greatly shape galactic history. It was an extremely complicated war at that, with the balance of power, battle lines and allegiances constantly shifting, and all of this makes it difficult to discuss this war in broad strokes. However, when it comes to the Galactic Army of the Republic (GAR) there is one thing that plagued them throughout the war. This flaw is often overlooked, I mean it is a crowded time in galactic history after all, but I believe that this flaw is important to point out as it can help explain a lot of things in both the EU and the movies.
So what is this flaw? Well the answer is simple, their equipment, or more specifically their blasters. As just about anyone who has seen any prequel era Star Wars media is aware of, the blasters used by the clones (the DC series of blasters) fire blue beams, not red or green like was seen in previous Star Wars media. This is because they don’t fire normal bolts but rather bolts that have been heavily ionized which accounts for their blue color. No these still retain properties of a normal blaster and are therefore not full on ion blasters, they are a hybrid of a normal blaster and an ion blaster. Those ionized bolts are extremely deadly to droids, frying their circuits upon contact while the actual bolt does what normal blaster bolts do. Because of the mix they are especially good at destroying droids. An Ion blaster would just in a sense stun them, while a normal bolt would just damage and not destroy them. A lucky shot from each could destroy a droid but a grazing or not well placed shot wouldn’t. The hybrid shot however is pretty much a one hit kill. Simply put this type of blaster is the most efficient way of dispatching combat droids.
So what’s the problem then? The GAR has weapons designed specifically to kill combat droids and are fighting a war against an enemy that mainly uses combat droids. Shouldn’t that be enough? Well no, as what happens when they fight an enemy that doesn’t use droids? Well if you are familiar with the battle of Jabiim or Umbara from Dark horse comics and TCW respectively you probably know the answer. If you didn’t know well in each case the GAR didn’t fight just droids but the indigenous population of the planets. The former battle they lost and was considered the greatest loss of the war, the latter of the two they did win but only after taking extremely heavy casualties. Now in both they did fight droids at some point and there were other reasons for the difficulties of each battle, but no one talks about how the blasters themselves also accounted for the failures of both campaigns.
Now I am not saying that a DC series blaster cannot kill an organic being, they still maintain properties of a normal blaster and a well-placed shot can still drop someone in one hit. However, that ability to destroy droids so efficiently, comes at the price of reduced efficiency against organic targets. This means one shot won’t always drop someone, and in some cases multiple shots might not do the trick either. And a wounded enemy, is an enemy that can still shoot back.
Now this all makes perfect sense to me as to why they would do all of this. As again Palpatine knows that the clones would be fighting a droid army, so it would make sense to arm them with weapons optimized for killing droids, especially as this army was the one that needed to win the conflict. In fact, it also works from multiple angles as the Republic has not had an army for over 1000 years and would be reluctant to raise and keep one. The senate in particular could see a short term need for an army but would want to see it disbanded when the war was concluded so it couldn’t be used against any of their planets. So making the army and equipping them with weapons which are specialized against droids would be a way of alleviating those fears, as it shows that the army’s only purpose is to fight he droids and cannot be used against any of their planets. This was an extremely smart move on Palpatine’s part to build trust with the other senators and make his rise to power easier.
But there is a bigger problem that arises from this. Mainly that another part of Palpatine’s plan was to eradicate the Jedi using this new army. However, this army has weapons that are not optimized for fighting Jedi. Now I cannot find any official confirmation on this so what I am about to say is my own speculation but I believe that these two battles, Jabiim and Umbara were fought with that end goal in mind. Jabiim was fought to see if the clones could take on a non droid enemy force but failed, so they took the lessons from that, taught the clones new tactics to use against non droids and tried again against Umbara and were successful with high casualties. Palpatine was then content with the tactics and that the clones could take down Jedi and moved on to other matters. Again I have no source or confirmation for this so it is a fan theory at best, but it makes sense to me at least.
So this concept can explain the difficulties in two of the most well-known battles in the EU, but what of the movies? Well to that I’d say watch the order 66 scenes from Revenge of the Sith and you will notice that the Jedi in that scene that are killed by clone infantry (not vehicles or starships) are all killed in a hail of blaster fire, with shots coming in after they have started collapsing and in one case the clones continue to fire after the Jedi has completely collapsed. So why the overkill? Again it is because they simply cannot trust their own weapons to be able to take down an organic being in one hit. And if they can’t kill a normal sentient being in one hit they have no hope of doing so against a Jedi. In this case they have to be sure they got the kill, because a Jedi that isn’t dead is extremely dangerous. The clones can’t afford to take that chance so they have to keep shooting them until they are 100% sure the Jedi is dead, hence the overkill.
For this reason, when the Republic became the Empire they needed to do something about the fact that their troops could not efficiently take down non droid combatants, so the DC series was replaced by the E-11 which caused other issues detailed in a previous article I had written. So if you have read that and were thinking, so why the change, well this is the reason.
As always thanks for reading! Let us know your own thoughts on this and until next time!