Pursuant to yesterday’s challenge, here’s my answer. I’m writing this blind without seeing anyone else’s attempts at answering, though I’m sure everyone who wanted took a good crack at things.
Just a quick re-establishment that I consider the Imperials to have bungled the Hoth attack, primarily because Veers fell for a diversionary tactic hook, line and walker.
The rebels escaped what should have been certain destruction, lived to gather at Sullust and then win the deciding victory in the war (pending Episode VII plot developments).
Whether Vader punished Veers for this nincompoopery is up to the audience to decide. Based on an IRL conversation I had with someone, it seems the audience wishes to defend this particular strategy more strongly than others in the series.
But could Hoth really have gone differently? I say yes, and my “why” is below.
As we all know, Ozzel came out of light speed too close to Hoth for Vader’s liking. Vader, ever the micro-manager, dispatched Veers to change his assault plans and then killed Ozzel with his magic powers.
But do you remember what Ozzel was doing when Vader decided to choke him to death?
He was about to explain strategy. You know, a strategy for which he was responsible until old bacon-pants decided to kill him.
His words were, “Ah, Lord Vader. The fleet has moved out of light speed and we are preparing to…” And then he’s choked to death as Vader tells Piett how to deploy the fleet, which Piett obviously bungles, and promotes him to command of the fleet.
In light of yesterday’s post, and what was examined there in terms of how the Empire should have employed siege tactics, I contend that Admiral Ozzel was getting ready to finish his statement to Vader with, “…we are preparing to isolate the planet, locate their escape ships and destroy them while they starve without fresh rations.”
Implied subtext of this strategy is, “…because they live on a barren planet that can’t sustain life for long periods except in the case of Tauntauns, which seem to exist only to feed Wampas, but the rebels live in caves anyway. We should be able to take them without any real resistance in about a week when someone breaks and sells out their friends for a decent meal, after which we’ll kill them anyway.”
But Vader, ever impatient, decides to kill his admiral. Then he decides to throw forces at the rebels in the exact way that allows the rebels to divert them and escape and risk the killing of Luke, which would have screwed up his personal plans to overthrow the Emperor and become the true Lord of the Sith.
Further, this promotion is most likely what cost the Empire the space battle over Endor. Probably, Admiral Ozzel, with far more military experience than Piett (implied by age), would have been able to outsmart the sushi dish in command of the rebel fleet.
Bringing it back around, it’s just one more example of why Darth Vader was never meant for promotion.