In Admiral Ozzel’s Death: The Key the the Empire Losing Hoth, I offered that he would have led a more successful attack on the Rebel Base. I touched as well on Piett’s promotion to Admiral and postulated this:
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.
The Ewok Twig Effect
So like Han stepping on a twig that led to the Ewoks’ involvement, Ozzel’s death had ripple effects that washed over Imperial forces in unexpected ways.
I contend that Piett was not ready, nor appropriate, for command of a military fleet. The precise reason is the same one that keeps him alive despite failure. He does exactly what his political commander tells him to do.
Vader was a military hero of a bygone era. He thought his tactics applied to modern warfare, when they didn’t. The rebels weren’t a mindless army of drones, but real beings who behaved unexpectedly.
Ozzel may not have been the greatest commander ever, but he couldn’t have been that bad. He had the age to suggest he’d earned his rank. Sure, he was wrong about Hoth being a base, but he spoke from a position of knowledge and offered a simple counterpoint. At least he was willing to offer a counterpoint.
To bring it back to Piett, he lacked the spine to tell Vader what really needed to be done. A true command structure needs people like Ozzel (or Tarkin), who are military men. Piett was a political animal, interested in his own skin more than the mission.
The first Death Star’s destruction was an even greater blow than we thought, then, for two reasons. One can presume that Ozzel was in a position of like nature to Tarkin and therefore the most-qualified ranking military officer to take over the military forces.
Even if he wasn’t in second place originally, he sure as Heck was when the Death Star blew up with ol’ Wilhuff, Motti and Tagge, as well as the Assorted Others stationed in there. (Seriously, the entire ranking command structure of the Imperial Military wiped out in one shot.)
Tarkin’s death promoted Vader to more direct involvement in the fleet. Note Ozzel is in command first, then Vader is the one to whom everyone reports after he kills him.
No one reports to Piett, and he doesn’t care.
Vader’s likes Piett because he gives him more control. As a result, Piett can’t make the appropriate tough decisions when the time comes.
A more-qualified commander would have been able either to disengage the Rebels and let the Death Star pick them off, or press the advantage of crushing them between a Super Star Destroyer and a Death Star. Seriously, why did the fleet just sit there?
Good grief, firing blindly should have resulted in more rebel casualties than just getting whipped by a fish-man with hypertension. So what if you hit the Death Star? The thing was built to withstand a direct large-scale assault!
The Final Argument
Piett was a foolhardy man. He made his move against Ozzel because he wanted the prestige of command, but not the responsibility. He was more than happy to let Vader tell him what to do, obviously, and he paid for it with his life at the end.
Naturally, I suppose we should be thankful because it contributed to the death of the Empire (pending Episode VII plot details). But Piett’s drive was matched only by his unfortunate lack of real will and insight, deplorable attributes in any person given the responsibility of command.