Imperial investigators report weaknesses in Death Star management, performance.
- By Michael PeckMichael Peck is an award-winning writer specializing in defense and national security issues. He holds an MA in political science from Rutgers University.
From: Imperial Government Accountability Office (IGAO)
To: Lord Vader
Cc: Imperial Navy
Subject: Death Star Requires Better Project Management and Oversight
The Death Star project (also known as the Planetoidal Combat Ship, or PCS) has been the single largest defense acquisition in Imperial history, and has run considerably over budget. At the request of Emperor Palpatine, the IGAO has conducted a performance review of the Death Star, with reference to best practices in procurement and project management. Our research is based on numerous interviews with Imperial Navy leaders as well as Imperial Ministry of War senior executives. Our findings are summarized below:
Frequent Turnover in Senior Personnel Hampers Continuity. Competent management is key to a project as large as the construction of a moon-sized warship. Yet the unfortunate deaths of the last five Imperial admirals in charge of the Death Star project have contributed to a lack of continuity and institutional memory. We estimate that repeated asphyxiation of project managers has set back construction of the PCS by 16 months. Senior Imperial Navy leadership informs us that there have been difficulties in recruitment of qualified candidates, with several promising officers suddenly requesting early retirement when queried about becoming project leaders. Recommendation: Motivating project leaders through incentives such as cash bonuses, slaves, and land grants on habitable worlds. A reduction in the use of strangulation as a motivational tool.
Anti-Fighter Defenses Have Been Addressed, But Much Work Remains to Be Done. We note that the Imperial Navy has responded to our earlier concerns about vulnerability to Rebel Alliance fighters. Defense towers with close-range anti-fighter weapons have been installed at multiple and interlocking locations around the Death Star. Imperial Navy leadership is confident that any attacking fighters would be destroyed. We concur that anti-fighter defenses are formidable, yet we remain concerned that remaining blind spots could be exploited by aggressive rebel pilots. Recommendations: Additional anti-fighter towers be added, as well as a larger complement of TIE fighters.
Inadequate Reactor Shielding Has Not Been Mitigated. The Death Star is sufficiently armored to withstand repeated hits from the full Rebel battle fleet. However, the thermal exhaust port of the PCS’s main reactor is not armored, and the shaft to the reactor is not compartmentalized to deflect blast effects. During our interviews with experienced TIE fighter pilots, they unanimously agreed that the port is so narrow that no fighter — not even one flying down the approach trench — could obtain a sufficient firing angle, especially when attacking craft would be under continuous fire from shipboard weapons and interceptors. The prime contractor, Darkside Technologies, also assures us that the reactor is sufficiently shielded to withstand a hit from a proton torpedo. We reiterate the concerns stated in our previous report regarding the validity of the contractor’s testing of reactor protection, and we remain concerned that penetration of the port could result in a catastrophic explosion of the main reactor. Recommendation: A permeable barrier over the port to allow heat to escape while deflecting projectiles, as well as compartmentalization to channel blast effects. Independent third-party validation of Darkside Technologies’ testing of reactor shielding.
Anti-Intruder Defenses Are Strong But Still Vulnerable to Raids by Special Forces. Imperial Navy leaders expressed confidence that the Death Star’s large complement of Imperial stormtroopers, as well as extensive use of access-controlled doors, are more than sufficient to defeat any raids to seize or disable the battle station. We concur that intrusion control systems are strong, but note that a small, fast-moving team could disable key systems. Recommendation: More guards at key locations as well as mobile patrols.
Inadequate Marksmanship Training Has Not Been Addressed. Stormtrooper Command (STORMCOM) requires all troops to receive extensive blaster training. Yet our audit of their marksmanship tests finds that 70 percent of stormtroopers cannot hit a large stationary object, such as a ship, at a distance of 10 feet. This calls into question the ability of the Death Star crew to repel boarders. Recommendation: More rigorous marksmanship training. Increased use of guard bots.
Insufficient Analysis of Alternatives to Death Star. While tests indicate that the Death Star can vaporize planets and thus encourage loyalty to beneficial Imperial rule, the Imperial Navy has not demonstrated that a fleet of Star Destroyers cannot effectively accomplish the same mission through devastation of a planet’s surface at far less cost. Recommendation: Further modeling and simulation is needed to determine whether conventional ships can perform the same Imperial loyalty mission as the Death Star.
More Analysis of the Force Needs to Be Performed. The Imperial Intelligence Agency assures us that that the Jedi Knights have been eradicated. Furthermore, one Imperial admiral (prior to his recent demise) stated that the Death Star’s crew will be sufficiently trained and motivated to withstand "Jedi mind tricks." Nonetheless, the potential of a Force-trained attacker to achieve significant disruption of the Death Star cannot be discounted. Recommendation: Further research is needed to determine effects of the Force on personnel and equipment, and whether adequate countermeasures can be developed.
From the Imperial Navy: We disagree with these findings. This battle station is impregnable. Any attack by Rebel fighters or troops will be quickly annihilated.
From Lord Vader: I find your lack of faith disturbing.
Daniel W. Drezner is professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a senior editor at The National Interest. Prior to Fletcher, he taught at the University of Chicago and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Drezner has received fellowships from the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the Council on Foreign Relations, and Harvard University. He has previously held positions with Civic Education Project, the RAND Corporation, and the Treasury Department.| Daniel W. Drezner |