Star Wars: Three unsung heroes of the Rebel Alliance

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Photo Credit: Lucasfilm

Imperial Bureaucracy

At the beginning of A New Hope, we witnessed Darth Vader’s Star Destroyer capture Princess Leia’s Tantive IV over Tatooine in an effort to recapture the Death Star plans that could, if in the wrong hands, have devastating effects.

During the battle, a rogue escape pod carrying R2-D2, C-3PO, and the plans the Empire was desperately chasing launched from the captured Rebel ship.

“Hold your fire. There are no life forms. It must have short-circuited.”

Those lines have always stuck with me. You’re the Evil Galactic Empire. You’re frantically trying to recapture plans to your battle station. You’ve captured an alleged Rebel ship. WHY WOULDN’T YOU JUST SHOOT DOWN EVERY ESCAPE POD THAT LAUNCHES FROM YOUR ENEMY’S SHIP?!

The only solution I could ever come up with was that this Evil Empire was somehow environmentally conscious. Blaster bolts and laser cannons must contribute to greenhouse gases and thus lead to global warming, right? The Empire must not be so bad after all if they’re trying to preserve the galaxy for future generations.

Never have I been so happy and relieved to have one of my Star Wars theories disproved! The real reason why Gunnery Captain Bolvan ordered Lieutenant Hija to “hold his fire” has finally been revealed.

It turns out the Empire had actually implemented a plan to help identify officers for promotion. Because of Rebel propaganda claiming Imperials couldn’t hit the broadside of a Bantha, the Empire instituted a policy that tied officers’ promotions to their kill ratios.

In other words, firing one laser that resulted in one kill would give an officer a kill ratio of 1; firing one laser that resulted in zero kills would result in a kill ratio of 0. Firing at an unoccupied escape pod would actually decrease an officer’s ratio and knock him lower on the list of candidates in line for a raise.

This new policy, thought up and passed by Imperial Navy bureaucrats, was why Bolvan, reluctant to hurt his kill ratio, ordered Hija to hold his fire. It was in that moment that Imperial Bureaucracy became an unsung and unknowing hero of the Rebel Alliance’s cause to overthrow the Empire and restore freedom to the galaxy.