The Glorious Armada of the Golden Empire was by far the largest ministry of the Golden Empire, in terms of both manpower and budget. It was the agency responsible for all aspects of the Empire's defense against external enemies; internal security was largely left to individual system law enforcement and the Ministry of Justice, as well as the Order of Keltrayu.
Though not originally so named, the Glorious Armada was the first component of the Golden Empire, formed from the Ta'asyak Za`vek Rin Sakaros commandeered from her father after their duel in 87 ABY. During the early years of the Empire, both Rin and Tariun Sakaros simply referred to their forces collectively as "the fleet".
After the Empire began to expand and acquire dozens of worlds, though, means of production were sufficient to create additional warships. Existing capital ship complements of member worlds were also assumed into the fleet. It was around this time that the word "Armada" began to be used for the total forces of the Empire, with "the Prime Fleet" describing Rin's personal battle fleet. The adjective "Glorious" was added some time before the Great Liberation, both to satisfy Rin's desire to create a sense of awe and grandeur among her citizens and to build a similar sense of great power and invincibility among her enemies.
As the Empire continued to swell following the defeat of the Tetrarchy of Mezlagob, the Armada was broadened from just the fleet and its constituent parts to the much broader "all agencies related to the defense of the Golden Empire against external threat".
The Armada played a crucial role in the expansion of the Golden Empire's territory, not only through offensive conquest, but also making a strong impression on the minds of potential member systems. Not merely intimidating, the size and complexity of the Empire's warships often gave a sense of wealth, power, and technological superiority, especially to systems which were still in the nascent stages of their own spaceflight development. On the home front, the Armada was often used for propaganda purposes, painted as a strong and noble defender of the Empire.
Though the Armada's various subfleets experienced defeat occasionally in battle, the strategic genius and prophetic powers of Rin Sakaros granted the ability to turn even defeats into eventual victories. It was this seeming inability of the Armada to fail in the long run, not her own personal combat prowess, which eventually saw Rin given the epithet "the Invincible".
Foundation and early campaigns
Shortly after Rin Sakaros founded the Golden Empire with her brother Tariun and her apprentice Keltrayu, she set out to obtain a fleet. Traveling aboard her personal frigate, the Vengeance, she traveled to her father's fleet, hidden at the Denarii Nova. There she sent a message to her father, demanding that he return at once. Upon his arrival, the two Sith fought a duel; Rin won and claimed the fleet for herself, while Tak escaped, injured and cut off from the Force. The ships and troops Rin won from her father became the first elements of the Armada.
Armed with twenty-odd ships and a legion of Massassi soldiers, Rin took her new Armada and set off into the Unknown Regions. The Armada played a crucial role in the early expansion of the Empire. In some cases, the sight of the disciplined ranks of Massassi and powerful weaponry of the fleet awed or intimidated groups into joining the Empire without bloodshed. In other cases, such as Feldirjo, it was the military prowess of the Armada that broke down all resistance.
The Armada's first real test was the Liberation of Quadia in 88 ABY, at which the Massassi performed magnificently, butchering the pirates and slavers who had conquered the Qua and liberating the planet with only a few days of fighting.
As the Empire began to incorporate more worlds, and especially after the absorption of Iscandar and Tershin, more species began to fill the Armada's ranks. Many Ossaki, Zaractoks, and others joined the Royal Army, while the Iscali were among those who demonstrated the greatest aptitude for Royal Navy service. The issuance of warrants and commissions to Non-Commissioned Officers and officers (respectively) was much less formalized than in later days, with Tariun, Keltrayu, or existing senior officers often evaluating potentials on the spot.
The Great Liberation
In 100 ABY, the Golden Empire had its first skirmish with the Tetrarchy of Mezlagob at Quadia. Though the interlopers were driven off, the two great powers of the region were set on a collision course. A second skirmish at Yin sealed the matter, and the Great Liberation was begun.
Though Tariun, Keltrayu, and the Centurion Aquila Corcer conducted some raids behind enemy lines and a shadowfeed into the Tetrarchy's HoloNet, the overwhelming majority of the fighting was carried by the Armada. Early success at Wemod and several neighboring systems was reversed after the disastrous Battle of Hudrel, which saw strong Tetrarchy incursions into Royal territory. Much of the Armada's success in battle depended on Rin's Battle Meditation.
The Empire ultimately committed nearly the entire Armada to the enormous Battle of Tizgo V. Though Keltrayu was killed in the conflict, the Empire carried the day and captured the Tizgo V military depot, including the Xoquon sector arsenal and a good number of Tetrarchy capital ships. This staggering reversal of fortune left the Tetrarchy off-balance, and while Tetrarchy forces concentrated defenses in the Mezlag sector, the Empire liberated the rest of the Xoquon sector and found a waiting pool of technologically literate and eager recruits for the Armada.
During the ensuing Capture of the Vall`to sector, the Armada continued to capture enemy vessels and crew them with Xoquon sector recruits, though occasionally a company or regiment of Tetrarchy soldiers or even an entire enemy ship would surrender willingly. The Armada's capture of Vall`to and its seizure of the Vall`to Sector Bank intact crippled the Tetrarchy's economy while providing the Empire with a massive source of wealth to fund the war.
Much of the Mezlag sector fell quickly, and Mezlagob itself surrendered without even fighting a battle. The Armada laid siege to Ommol, and its capture ended the war and finally destroyed the Tetrarchy.
The devils within the walls
The years immediately following the Great Liberation saw the Armada mainly employed to put down revolts by lingering Tetrarchy supporters or to police pirate activity. The Legate system of leadership began to take final shape during this period, and enlisted and officer training institutes were formally established. Royal Intelligence and the Exploration Corps were founded in 107 ABY.
Though small threats cropped up from time to time and were squashed quickly, two groups took more effort for the Empire to eradicate. The first was the Nightside Raiders, an old and violent pirate group. The Armada had mixed success in tracking Raider movements and intercepting their attacks on convoys; it was the assassination of Kilwyo Kesh which dealt the first truly effective blow to the Raiders' coordination. Without Kesh's leadership, subordinate units scattered, and those which did not fall to systemary law enforcement or infighting were swiftly destroyed by the Armada or the Order of Keltrayu.
In the years following the defeat of the Raiders, the Empire began to hunt the more elusive Red Eclipse slaving syndicate. Most of the actual work was done by Centurions, although it was a Royal Navy task force which intercepted a Red Eclipse shipment of Heshoo slaves and thus gave Rin Sakaros the means to find Harth Gool. The Prime Fleet fought in the subsequent Battle of Harth Gool, and the later Ambush at Bolera which slaughtered what remained of Red Eclipse.
The period between the death of Sayl Leikvold at Bolera and the Conquest of the Chiss Ascendancy in 137 ABY was marked by relative peace for the Empire. The Armada continued to conquer systems which resisted incorporation, including notable battles at Shel Du and Sanduluc, but no external enemies threatened in serious numbers. The Armada continued to diversify and expand, with Firebird-class war cruisers being produced in large numbers and the Stronghold and Tempest joining the Keltrayu in the Armada's new Star Destroyer corps. The Exploration Corps expanded the Empire in all directions, though remaining respectfully distant from the borders of the Chiss Ascendancy.
The first years of the 130 ABY decade were spent strategizing and planning for the coming assault on the Chiss. As such, ship production and personnel recruitment were stepped up
Tariun and Sorrik launched their assault on the Chiss in 137 ABY, with Tariun striking the Chiss Expeditionary Defense Fleet base at Battle of Cormit while Sorrik devastated the other at Battle of Kinoss. After a diversionary strike at Csilla, the two fleets merged to obliterate the CEDF coordinating centers at Naporar, then returned and captured Csilla.
The Chiss did not come quietly, and the Royal Navy was busy for many months mopping up remnants of the CEDF and putting down revolts. The Exploration Corps was redirected into incorporating the many worlds which had been under the sway of the Ascendancy, and attempting to map out the Empire of the Hand, which had been divided among the Ascendancy, various rebellious sects, and outlying enemies. In 140 ABY, concerned with the age of her flagship and desiring something more powerful and impressive, Rin and Tariun secretly began the construction of a Super Star Destroyer.
In 141 ABY, however, the Chiss enemies themselves showed up at the Empire's door.
The Fall of Tenupe and the murder of the Vorsyt Consul and Centurion Tesshen Manytrek by the Vagaari sparked the Vagaari War. Incensed, Rin directed the Armada to retaliate with its full might, and Tariun Sakaros began to deploy his fleet to repel the threat. Only a few months into the campaign, however, the Ssi-ruuk attacked the southern Empire, and Tariun was forced to split the Armada to respond. Sorrik journeyed south with the Rampart, Rin, and more than half the Armada, leaving Tariun what was left to fight the Vagaari.
Tariun adapted his strategy, launching a three-pronged incursion into Vagaari territory with himself, Salome Hrek, and Tarse Medrego in command of the three fleets. Robbed of much of his Armada, though, the campaign quickly degenerated into a desperate attempt to hold the line against the Vagaari, who were responding to the attacks with vigor. Matters became worse when the Chiss, sensing the weakness of the Empire, rebelled, and Tariun further reduced his own command to send ships to pacify the rebellion. More than once, what remained of the Prime Fleet was nearly defeated.
Meanwhile, Sorrik and his command struggled to find a target against the Ssi-ruuk, who seemed to strike and withdraw with no purpose other than capturing slaves for entechment. Rin's Battle Meditation kept Sorrik's command victorious when they managed to respond to pleas for help in time, but Sorrik also divided his fleet in three, sending Vem and Breek Zagrev with commands of their own to cut down reaction time. A break did not come until the discovery of a major Ssi-ruuvi production center at Shest Minor. In the subsequent Battle of Shest Minor, Breek's forces defeated the Ssi-ruuk army and obliterated the production center. Shortly after, Rin met with a delegation of P'w'ecks, who had been chasing their former Ssi-ruuvi oppressors. The two forces allied and together repelled the Ssi-ruuk from Royal space. The P'w'ecks vowed to continue the hunt, while Sorrik and his command rejoined Tariun.
When all hope had seemed lost, Tariun stumbled upon the discovery that Jira Seezhli also had a gift for Battle Meditation, and put her to work trying to keep his fleet intact. The collapse of the Chiss Rebellion enabled him to hold the line against the Vagaari until Sorrik's return. The reunited Armada struck the Vagaari with a vengeance and, faithful to Rin's command to utterly obliterate the species, hunted the Vagaari down, eradicating their bases and destroying their fleets. The Vagaari were functionally extinct by the end of 143 ABY.
The Armada was faced with the daunting task of protecting the Empire with reduced forces, even when the defeat of the Chiss and the Vagaari had added thousands of systems to the Empire's area of nominal control. Defeated Vagaari worlds were sacked entirely for their resources, which were channeled into creating more warships and defensive structures. The leaders of the Chiss Rebellion were executed, although Rin extended amnesty to the common soldiers.
The Armada was often used to ferry diplomats and Royal Integration Corps officers to former Chiss and Vagaari worlds, attempting to bring in as many as possible before some other regional power could absorb them. All resources which could be spared were funneled toward the Super Star Destroyer project.
The Nightmare War and the 65 Reforms
In 149 ABY, a group of Dark Jedi attacked the Empire, unleashing a horde of savage insectoid soldiers against unsuspecting worlds. After a series of initial losses, Sorrik sent Tariun and Breek to retaliate, organizing the Romasi and Xoquon Sector Fleets. The Dark Jedi were defeated in a series of battle, culminating with the destruction of Kizav and the Battle of Dolomir, but the flaws in the Empire's highly-centralized military had become obvious.
With the 65 Reforms, Rin formally established sector governments led by Procurators. The Prime Legate appointed a Sector Magister for each sector, who had charge of sector security and command over forces assigned to that sector. With the advent of Sector Magisters, Legates became increasingly used only for campaigns at or beyond the Empire's borders. The 65 Reforms also opened all officer ranks to command positions, removing what was perceived as the choice between the higher pay of top officer and the command opportunities of a lower-grade one.
The Empire spent considerable time after the Nightmare War without any major conflicts, and the Armada was devoted to border campaigns and the ongoing process of turning technical spheres of influence into actual holdings, particularly in the former Chiss Ascendancy and Vagaari Empire.
- The Royal Army
- The Royal Starfleet, subdivided into the Royal Navy and the Royal Starfighter Corps
- Royal Intelligence
- The Exploration Corps
- The Household Guard
While the Exploration Corps was not technically involved with the defense of the Empire in the way the other divisions were, knowledge of the Unknown Regions beyond the Empire's territory was considered necessary for defense, and the Corps made use of decommissioned or temporarily reassigned Royal Navy craft, as well as small contingents of Royal Starfighter Corps pilots and craft attached to each exploratory task squad.
In the public conscious, Royal Intelligence and the Exploration Corps did not always register as logically being part of the Armada, so "the Glorious Armada" was sometimes used by civilians to refer solely to the military components. Those aware of RI and the EC used the more exact "the Royal Military" or "the Royal Armed Forces".
Personnel and strength
Millions of beings were under arms in the Armada, not including local system defense forces which could be nationalized if necessary. The only basic service requirement across the Armada was the ability to speak Orhyo. Pilots of the Royal Starfighter Corps had to be of proportionate size to the cockpits of RSC fighters, and soldiers in the Royal Army had to be able to move at the pace of a normal humanoid (the term "march" was removed from the initial service requirement after the Empire acquired systems with sentients who could move at a Human pace, but did not have legs) and wield a blaster. Royal Intelligence had much more demanding requirements, but these mostly centered around background investigations and inherent intelligence.
Over half of the beings in the Armada served in the Royal Navy, as its capital ships required large crews; at optimal strength, the Sith Star alone required a crew of 32,000 beings. The Army was the next largest division, followed by the much smaller Starfighter Corps. Exact figures for the membership of Royal Intelligence were not publicly available, but it was known to be smaller than the Starfighter Corps.
Only roughly 50,000 beings (0.05%) of the Armada made up the Exploration Corps.
Types of military personnel
Officers say who to kill. NCOs say how to do it. Junior enlisted pull the triggers.
—Tariun Sakaros, "explaining" military rank structure to his sister
A number of different personnel types served in the armed forces of the Golden Empire. Enlistment contracts were generally for periods of five years, with the same initial requirement on an officer's commission. However, service requirements were usually higher for those recently trained as starfighter pilots.
Given differing rates of maturation, no single minimum age of service was established for the military. Instead, the Armada accepted the consensus of each individual species in the Empire for its age of "adulthood", and set that as the minimum age of service. The only known age requirement was for the (relatively) small Human population of the Empire; Humans were allowed to enter service at 17.
Recruitment commands of the service existed on every member system, and specifically sought recent graduates of public secondary education. The Army was known to favor those with athletic training, while the Navy tended to recruit more broadly for technical proficiency and computer skills, focusing on physical training once the recruit had enlisted. The Starfighter Corps was famous for recruiting only those enlisted personnel with demonstrable mechanical aptitude and a "gearhead" disposition.
Recruits were trained at Golden Empire enlisted military training facilities, where they studied a number of subjects, including military discipline, service history, weapons proficiency, and physical fitness. Recruits were thoroughly inculcated with a deep pride of service and respect for Rin Sakaros.
The first three ranks in all three branches of service were considered "junior enlisted", and were marked by minimal (but increasing) responsibility for anything but self and personal gear. Promotion to E-2 and E-3 was automatic unless denied for substantive cause, and handled exclusively at the local command level.
The pay grade of E-4 signified promotion to NCO status across the services, and was accompanied by an increase in responsibility and the beginning of authority over junior enlisted personnel. Army Corporals tended to have the least authority, whereas Navy Section Chiefs had much greater command over their subordinates.
The Royal Starfighter Corps had a unique system of NCO ranks, and was the only branch of service to include multiple enlisted titles at the same pay grade. It followed the Navy rank structure up through E-4. Section Chiefs could remain within the "deck-service" RSC structure (servicing and maintaining starfighters), or volunteer for flight duty. If they passed the difficult flight battery, they entered an entirely separate career track from E-5 on, which used "Sergeant" ranks instead of the Naval structure.
NCO ranks carried increasing command authority until the highest grade, E-9. Sergeants Major, Master Chief Petty Officers, and Cluster Sergeants functioned as high-ranking enlisted advisors to more senior officers. Occasionally very talented E-8s were also assigned to such positions, but E-9 was the standard.
Representing the leadership of the military services, officers were drawn from those with higher education who volunteered for officer training institutes. On systems without higher education levels deemed sufficient for officer services, potentials could apply to a military academy, which functioned as both a tertiary education facility and an officer training institute. Enlisted personnel in NCO grades or above could apply for attendance at either of these options, based on their qualifications, and officers in the grade of O-6, Legates, and the Prime Legate had the authority to award "battlefield promotions" to NCOs to officer status even without meeting educational criteria. Enlisted battlefield commissions were rare, and most common in the Royal Starfighter Corps, where pilots could easily distinguish themselves.
Whatever the source of commissioning, nearly all officers began in positions of command. The regular exception was officers in the Royal Starfighter Corps, all of whom served as pilots and, consequently, answered to more experienced pilots.
All officer promotions were based on recommendations by reporting superiors but handled by the High Commands of the respective services. Officer career evolution included commands of increasing breadth and responsibility, as well as attendance at senior training seminars and institutes.
Sector Magisters had command authority over all military personnel attached to their sectors (but not promotion authority, which remained vested in the various High Commands). Sector Magisters were responsible for all aspects of sector security, including both defense against invasion and operations against pirates and organized crime if authorized by the sector Procurator.
Most Sector Magisters were from the Army or Navy, though they had advisors from all three branches as well as Intelligence attaches. "Sector Magister" was a post, not a rank, although it required an officer holding the post to have a certain rank (usually either OF-8 or OF-9).
Until the 65 Reforms and uniquely among the known military powers in the galaxy, regular command authority stopped at the pay grade of OF-6 (Colonel) for the Army and RSC, and OF-7 (Commodore) for the Navy. Consequently, the greatest regular command available to an officer was a single capital ship or a single cohort. When multiple capital ships were grouped together, command of the entire force would rotate daily among the captains of the ships; on a day of command, a captain would be styled "Commodore", but would not receive any increase in pay. Long-term, non-revolving Commodore appointments existed, but were very rare.
Fleets of capital ships and large armies were mustered on an as-needed basis; when they were assembled, a single officer was selected to have command over the entire force. This officer was given the temporary command rank of Legate. A Legate's authority was defined in his initial commission, which expired when his task was over. For example, a Legate might be authorized to assemble and lead a task force to rout a group of pirates; during the operation, the Legate would have absolute command over every being in his task force, of all branches of service. Once the pirates were eradicated, however, the task force would dissolve, the component elements would return to their original stations or follow new orders, and the Legate would revert to his normal rank.
Most Legates were drawn as needed from Army and Navy officers. Occasionally two would be assigned, one from each branch; the Naval Legate to command space battle, the Army Legate to direct ground operations. On occasion, Legates were appointed from militarily experienced Centurions of the Order of Keltrayu as well. Legates operated at the OF-11 pay grade while so commissioned.
Legates continued to be appointed in the wake of the 65 Reforms, but their use for internal conflicts dropped off dramatically, as Sector Magisters were expected to command their sectors' forces against internal enemies. Most Legates after 151 ABY served in defensive war or to expand the Empire's borders.
Even while regular command authority stopped at OF-6, additional officer grades did exist, along with a single higher enlisted rank, and formed the High Commands of the Army and Starfleet. Extending up through OF-9 and encompassing General and Admiral ranks respectively for officers, and Service Chief Petty Officer and Service Sergeant ranks at EN-10 for enlisted, these positions were entirely administrative. High Command handled all promotions for the pay grades of EN-4 and above, as well as procurement and broad public relations.
"Promotion" to High Command was entirely voluntarily, though the Prime Legate of the Empire sometimes made requests of individual officers or NCOs. Further, promotion to High Command was not exclusive to OF-6 officers or EN-9 enlisted; some in the OF-5 grade and even a few in OF-4 were installed in High Command throughout the Empire's history, as were some EN-8 and EN-7s.
Pay generally increased for High Command members (although, since this was based on length of service also, an OF-4 elevated to OF-7 would still make less than an OF-6), but not all officers and enlisted were interested in the transition, even with the allure of greater pay. In particular, Captains of warships often preferred to remain at the grade of OF-6 and in command of an actual vessel and its complement. There was an attitude among some senior officers that "promotion" to High Command was an expression of lack of faith in an officer's command ability in the field.
Some military scholars predicted a decline in the number of officers acceding to High Command after all officer grades were opened to command with the 65 Reforms, but statisticians found no noteworthy evidence of such a trend.
Royal Intelligence operated outside the military chain of command, its Director reporting directly to the Prime Legate. Intelligence officers were paid on the military pay scale, beginning at EN-5 for junior officers and extending up to OF-9, which was the pay grade of the Director of Royal Intelligence, unless he, she, or it was a Centurion of the Order of Keltrayu.
Composed of volunteers from the regular military, as well as assigned volunteer detachments from the Ministry of Diplomacy, Royal Integration Corps, and Educational Expansion Corps, the Exploration Corps was administratively military in nature, but was authorized to engage in combat only against enemies of the Empire or when directly attacked. In wartime, members of the Exploration Corps would revert to the command of their original services.
The Household Guard shared a pay scale with the rest of the Armada but, like the Gendarmes, had a different rank structure. The Guard was authorized a full cohort's (10,000 beings) strength and led by a Colonel-Commandant who answered personally to the Sovereign. As such, the Household Guard was the only branch of the Armada which the Prime Legate did not command.
Leadership and administration
At the head of the Armada, representing it on the Grand Council and acting as supreme military commander of the Empire (after the Sovereign) was the Prime Legate. The Prime Legate was the only permanent Legate position in the Empire, and had absolute command over all aspects of the Armada other than the Household Guard, including disposition of forces; ordering, commissioning, and decommissioning ships; recruitment, training, retention, promotion, retirement, and dismissal; purchasing arms and other munitions; directing activities of Royal Intelligence; and giving assignments to the Exploration Corps.
In practice, the individual High Commands of the Royal Army and Starfleet dealt with most of the day-to-day transactions relating to procurement and promotions. For instance, the Prime Legate generally gave a minimum number of ships to be in service at the end of a year, and High Command saw to the specifics. Similarly, all promotions below the rank of Captain or Colonel were usually conducted by High Command or even local commands (for junior enlisted promotions), though both the Prime Legate and the Sovereign could involve themselves at any time. Anyone assigned a captaincy (either the naval rank or command of a warship) or the rank of Colonel had to be approved by the Prime Legate, though the High Commands still made the recommendations, and a disagreement between the two was rare.
Only the Prime Legate, the Sovereign, or a Royal Executor could install Legates and create task forces. The Prime Legate normally had the authority to appoint Sector Magisters with no confirmation process, although occasionally Rin Sakaros made her own appointments.
Though operating through separate chains of command until the top, the Royal Navy and the Royal Starfighter Corps were served by the single High Command of the Royal Starfleet. The highest-ranked officer of the Starfighter Corps attached to a capital ship had command over everyone else in the Corps onboard, but was himself subject to the command of the ship's captain.
Diversity and segregation
Reflecting the Golden Empire's official policy of accepting species differences, theoretically any species which could clearly enunciate aloud in Orhyo was eligible for service in the Armada (and even some which could not speak Orhyo, but could function with translation droids, could serve in administration or service support billets). In practice, additional requirements were sometimes put in place; the tentacled Rebeyr were not eligible to serve in the Infantry of the Royal Army, for example, because their physiology made them unable to easily wield blasters with triggers. However, even species which could not serve in all capacities in a military branch were usually allowed to participate in combat support roles.
Males, females, and species without either of those sexes were allowed to serve in all combat specialties if otherwise qualified.
The Empire maintained few official policies of segregation in the Armada. The best known concerned the seventeen Massassi Cohorts of the Royal Army. These units, totaling 170,000 beings plus NCOs and officers, were composed entirely of Massassi warriors. After long consideration, Rin Sakaros agreed not to force them to integrate, as very few species would be capable of the great feats of physical exertion of the Massassi, and forced integration would only hurt their efficiency.