Did Vader Punish General Veers?

Sure, I had a satirical moment with the #BanBigGuy thing, but let’s get back to some Star Wars. That last round of questions from Craig on Words With Nerds really put my brain into overdrive I guess. Today’s blast of cold air (lousy Smarch weather) bent my brain toward The Empire Strikes Back.

And this blog is also a challenge to you.

I thought a bit about poor Admiral Ozzel (more on him in another forthcoming post) and the survival skills of Admiral Piett, then considered another Imperial officer who seems to escape any reprimand, either from Vader or the fans.

General Veers

General Veers
He will go on to be foiled by The Knights Templar with an assist from Indiana Jones.

General Veers does his Dark Lord’s bidding and leads an attack on the rebel base on Hoth. Everyone trumpets this as a victory, because the rebel base is destroyed and it makes everyone angst-y from my generation jump on the Kevin Smith Bandwagon and say that Empire shows the harshness of life.

However, the attack on the rebels is very unsuccessful and I’ll tell you why.

Zoom Zoom Zoom

The rebels got away. Not just Vader’s prize, Luke Skywalker, mind you. Han Solo & Company get away too. Heck, the very first transport gets away. While that showed further boobery on the part of the Imperial Navy, it also shows how poorly Veers planned for this attack.

He goes full-tilt for the rebel base itself, and not for the obviously-parked-outside escape ships sitting outside the protective hangar bays. Even if you say that the transports themselves waited inside the base (they didn’t, you can clearly see one lifting off as Luke gets in his X-Wing), Veers didn’t set up an anti-aircraft battery or two to stop things from getting away.

(Even the blindingly inept Trade Federation set up guns outside the hangars on Naboo in Episode I. Not particularly effective ones, but they tagged at least one ship.)

Sure, this is more fun. But it's also kind of a waste!
Sure, this is more fun. But it’s also kind of a waste!

Why couldn’t this general adopt a siege mentality, and park everything just out of range of the rebels’ guns and just wait them out? They’re on a flipping snow planet and obviously need supplies flown in to them. Starve the rebels into making a move that brings mistakes and panic, or even defections from those too stupid to realize you’re just going to kill them all for being traitors.

Or at the very least, look for where the ships are parked and attack that instead of the base itself, where the defenses are concentrated!

Seriously, George Patton would slap the silly out of Veers in a heartbeat.

But I Have The Answer!

See, I’ve actually got the answer to this one in my brain. But I want to give all you Empire–lovers the chance to guess what that answer is.

It’s so elegantly simple and obvious that I’m surprised I’ve not thought of it before.

But give it a crack below. I’ll reveal my answer tomorrow, but will gladly entertain discussions until then. I think, honestly, that this explanation is so beautifully perfect that it’s the only one that truly works.

Are you up to the challenge?

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17 thoughts on “Did Vader Punish General Veers?

  1. Well, I think back to Acererak, the made demi-lich from the classic AD&D module, Tomb of Horrors. Why would he store all of his valuables, including himself, in a trap-infested tomb, then provide clues (through poems) to adventurers as to how to defeat them? Because he (literally) insanely arrogant. I’m not talking about Veers, mind you. I’m talking about the guy pulling his strings, and by strings, I mean vocal chords. Vader wouldn’t care about tactics because nothing’s more powerful than the Dark Side.

    Moreover, being able to take photos of the burnt out husk of a rebel base is sometimes more powerful than taking out the rebels themselves. The rebels have to hide somewhere next, but seeing the first hand destruction of the rebel base care of the Empire’s edited footage is enough to keep anyone from being willing to hide them. In fact, that might be why they were on Hoth in the first place: They had no inhabited worlds that would hide them in such large numbers.

    Or not. I’ve had a long week.

  2. It could be that he fancies Leia and wanted her to escape. Or he fancied Luke and wanted him to escape. Or he fancied Vader and wanted to be spanked LOL

  3. Ummm, because it’s a movie and not a war strategy documentary. If he was effective and the rebels didn’t escape, there would be no movie and no sequels or prequels from which to make hundreds of millions of dollars and endless hours of toy playing and discussions.

    1. Surprisingly cynical! Of course the rebels “had to get away” from that Pirandello-esque standpoint. It’s more fun to examine “what if it was a real-world thing” than just robbing our imaginations of a nice exercise. 🙂

  4. You raise an interesting question here. I’ve always dismissed this huge plot hole as a measure of Lukas’s inept understanding of military tactics. However, showing the transports outside the defensive perimeter is hanging a lampshade on the error. So, I’ll take the bait and offer my own answer:

    Vader did not punish Veers. Taking the film’s events as a whole, I propose that the escape of the Rebel command was key to Vader’s strategy. Veer’s was ordered to attack and destroy the base, forcing the Rebels to evacuate. Allowing the high value targets to make good their escape put them out of harm’s while driving them toward Could City.

    The attack on the base on Hoth was purely intended to flush the rebels out of a secure position. This would force the rebels to diffuse their military assets, and provide a propaganda coupe as mentioned above. In turn, we can presume Vader had already co-opted Lando Calrissian ensuring that his quarry would only find safe refuge in the place where he had laid his trap.

    1. I don’t reject the idea that they purposely wanted to drive the rebels out and therefore made the attack “convincing but not lethal.” But I do contend that it supports the conclusion that Vader was terrible at tactics. He really, truly cared about converting Luke, because that would have given him the key to the galaxy.

      Minor point of order: Lando wasn’t contacted by that point and the script supports that. Fett is the one that follows the Falcon and figures her course. Then Lando, after the trap is sprung, says, “They arrived right before you did.” If they had contacted Lando at the time of the Hoth attack, that would have demonstrated Vader having definite knowledge of the future, which even Yoda can’t claim to have — only a vision of the probabilities. And if they had contacted Lando, why get the bounty hunters involved at all?

      Thanks for reading!

  5. The only reason the Rebels got away is because Admiral Ozzel came out of hyperspace to soon. This gave the Rebels time to escape. The ground attack went as well as expected.Next question?

    1. While the ground battle didn’t go particularly “poorly” for the Empire, I will note they lost 2 walkers out of 5 (and presumably the AT-ST since you only see it in one shot and ROTJ later establishes those things are as tough as matchsticks), the rebels got away and eventually…you know what? Just read the next blog in the series. 🙂

      On Sat, Mar 15, 2014 at 9:11 PM, kessel korner wrote:

      >

      1. Nah I’m okay, thanks.
        Admiral Ozzel came out of hyperspace to close to the system>you have failed me for the last time Admiral.
        The plan was to bombard the Rebels from distance, before they could get their shield up. This failed, therefor the fault lies with Ozzel.

        1. Huge flaw in your reasoning. Vader wanted Luke alive. Bombarding the planet therefore wouldn’t have worked. If anything, there *is* a valid tactic that, if you think Vader wanted it, would have worked and therefore been screwed by the shields being up. But since you don’t want to read the next one in the series, you’ll never know!

          Also, there’s another I just thought of but it’s also not bombardment.

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