Answering a challenge to provide me with a new topic, a friend and listener of Words With Nerds decided to ask this question.
Why Would You Bring a Medical Frigate to a Death Star Fight?
The simple answer is, they didn’t expect the type of fight they encountered. They expected some token defense, sure, but the intel they had was that the second Death Star wasn’t fully operational, defended by a shield they expected to be off-line when they arrived.
As for ship engagement, Mon Mothma even mentions in the briefing that they believed the Imperial fleet was dispersed throughout the galaxy “in a vain effort to engage” the Rebellion. So far as they knew, the coast was clear.
They clearly did not expect a pitched battle against a full Imperial fleet. They certainly expected some sort of token force, otherwise we’d have to ask why the strike team aboard the Tydirium wasn’t the least bit curious why a “command ship” was there, and didn’t try to communicate that to the Rebels at Sullust in some way.
The Better Question
The better question is, why wasn’t the medical frigate deployed away to the Forest Moon called Endor immediately, instead of being in the midst of all the fighting? The answer is, again, that they didn’t expect a fleet battle.
They expected to show up with the fleet, sending the fighters in to blow up the superstructure of the Death Star from the inside. The medical frigate would need to treat the wounded from the ground fighting – presumably POWs as well as “Pathfinders” – and perhaps a few from engagement with whatever token force was kept around the Death Star.
For that matter, the fact that the Rebels showed up and there was no visible token force at all should have raised red flags. Sure, there was a shield in place, but some sort of guard would have presumably been there since they had intel that the Emperor himself was expected to be there. Whether the Rebels should have cut and run at that point is an interesting debate, but they should have at least redeployed their capital ships and prepared for the worst.
Naturally, the traditional jokes about Ackbar’s abilities flow freely from that point forward, but it’s cool. You don’t get to yell “It’s a Trap!” in an obvious situation and escape with your reputation unscathed.
Either way, it’s a good thing it’s only a movie. Besides, Return of the Jedi is the best of the original three, so there.