Free in spirit but slaves by blood.
—Rakatan army saying
The Rakatan Imperial Army was the military force of the Infinite Empire. Despite its name, the Rakata only represented a minority of its personnel, occupying the general officer positions, while the junior officers and lower-ranking troops were slaves and volunteers of different species.
One of the earliest major galactic militaries, the Rakatan Imperial Army consisted of millions of troops that were used in the Infinite Empire's many campaigns to conquer different parts of the galaxy. The backbone of its forces consisted of infantry and cavalry, mainly including slave troops, with some armored elements to serve as support. The Rakata were responsible for many advancements in military science that would later become important for armies of other galactic powers such as the Galactic Republic and the Sith Empire, including the implementation of a standardized order of battle and general staff system on such a large scale.
As the Rakata broke out of the western side of the galaxy and began invading many other inhabited worlds, their empire expanded quickly. The Rakatans' power in the dark side of the Force and their technology allowed them to conquer and enslave many species, causing the Infinite Empire's slave markets to fill up quickly. Around 30,000 BBY, the Rakata stopped fighting wars by themselves, seeing no need to put their people in danger when there were plenty of other species they could use for the gruesome tasks. A new imperial army was assembled by the Rakata nobility, with the Empire's ruling Over-Predor requiring all other Predors to provide slaves for this new force. He sought to limit their power somewhat by this and prevented them from building up their own private armies that could challenge him.
The new army consisted of both slaves as well as volunteers, mostly relying on numbers to overwhelm their enemies but also not lacking in skill or discipline. The backbone of this force were the slave soldiers binded by a special dark side technique that got rid of their free will and turned them into little more than automata. The basic slave soldiers were known as Varitai and the elites were called Kuritai, with the former being the most common infantry while the latter served as shock troops. Regular recruits from the Infinite Empire's free, non-enslaved population were known as Free Swords. This Imperial Army became one of the earliest major galactic military forces to exist.
- Gree Incursion (29,991—29,987 BBY) — Although the more advanced race known as the Gree had been defeated by the Rakatan Infinite Empire around five thousand years ago, by then they had built up their strength enough to attempt to reassert their authority in the Tingel Arm. This incursion saw the first combat usage of the Imperial Army. The Rakatans deployed large units of Varitai, Kuritai, and Free Swords on those worlds assaulted by the Gree to fight them off. They then launched a counteroffensive into the Gree Enclave, besieging the fortress world of Asation as it stood in the way of their conquest of the planet Gree. Although the Rakatan forces sustained massive casualties, they were able to finally take Asation from the Gree. It was viewed as a successful deployment of the imperial troops, as they did most of the fighting and the casualties of actual Rakatans were light. The Gree were forced to come to terms with the Infinite Empire.
- Gamorrean Uprising (29,778 BBY) — Several clans of Gamorrean slaves that were important by the Rakata to the central sectors of their empire for construction projects ended up rising in revolt against their masters and taking over several systems. The Imperial Army was deployed and manage to pacify the rebellious worlds after three months of fighting against the Gamorreans, slaughtering all of them in the process. Two of them that contained a particularly large number of Gamorreans saw the deaths of more than half a million troops in an invasion attempt, and in the end it was decided to raze them completely from orbit.
- 105th Pacification of the Core (29,342—29,321 BBY) — Sporadic uprisings against Rakatan rule occurred throughout the Core periodically, and the Imperial Army saw action during the 105th operation to quell such a rebellion on multiple Core Worlds. This was the largest of the early crusades that the Rakatan imperial forces embarked upon, with more than fifteen million soldiers being mobilized to quell the uprising (some of them even being natives of the worlds in rebellion). The operation lasted for over two decades, with the largest battle being the Siege of Coruscant. The Human and Taung rebels had dug in on the future galactic capital, using a vast system of fortifications that was originally used by the Rakata to fight their former masters. The siege lasted for nine years and saw the deaths of four million Varitai as well as two million Free Swords, with the total losses of the local population being more than ten million. Little remained on the planet once the siege was over, and similar scenes played out on other Core Worlds.
- Jeruvian Retaliation (28,891 BBY) — An internal rebellion by the heir of a Predor who refused to answer for his corrupt crimes against the Rakatan empire. He instead proclaimed himself independent. Not tolerating any sign of dissent from the nobility, the reigning Over-Predor of the time quickly dispatched the Imperial Army to put an end to his delusions. The campaign was rather short, as the Predor's regime fell apart completely and his supporters melted away into the countryside as the imperial forces landed. It became also referred to as the "Two-Day War" in Rakatan records.
- Hutt Crusade (c. 28,500—28,400 BBY) — The early campaigns against the Hutt overlords and their early empire. These saw a deployment of about five million troops, pitting the slaves of the Rakatans against the slaves of the Hutts in a contest where they proved to be roughly equal in terms of capability. In the end, the war was decided by the over-extended Rakatan supply lines, so the Hutts prevailed over the decades, managing to defend their territory successfully. A change in leadership on Lehon decided to stop with the failing invasion attempt after about a century.
- Sith Campaign (27,700 BBY) — After contact was made between the Sith of Korriban and the Rakata, their King Adas decided to drive the Rakatans off of his world. Several divisions of Free Swords were sent to fight against them only to be largely decimated by the Sith warriors. A second invasion force consisting of a corps of Varitai, Kuritai, and Free Swords came closer to succeeding but was still defeated, so the Rakatans chose to leave the Sith alone as they were not deemed to pose a significant threat to the Infinite Empire.
- Great Core Rebellion (27,647—27,599 BBY) — Another attempted uprising by the Human natives of several of the Core Worlds, including Coruscant, Alderaan, Kuat, Alsakan, and others. This was different from the others as it was more organized and saw the proclamation of a unified state, the Allied Congress of the Core, which coordinated their activities and formed an army. This massive rebellion took half a century to put down and was a precursor of what was to come towards the end of the Empire's existence. The Imperial Army deployed twenty million troops, scrounging up the best units from all corners of the Rakatan domain to prevent the Core from successfully becoming independent and serving as an example for their other subjects. This time there were mass defections of Free Swords to the rebels, and although this helped them it ultimately did not change their fate. The Allied Congress eventually was forced to capitulate and its leaders were executed. However, this mass uprising showed many other Rakatan citizens of the empire's waning strength and new methods for staging a rebellion.
- Rakatan Civil War (?—25,200 BBY) — This conflict saw the collapse of the Imperial Army as the entire domain of the Rakata fractured into numerous smaller states and factions. Still, this period saw some of the most brutal and lengthy combat that the Rakatan army took part in, and was also the largest-scale occasion of imperial troops having to fight each other. As the imperial host disintegrated many former Free Sword units joined rogue warlords or deserted en masse, while Varitai and Kuritai soldiers followed orders from their commanders to the bitter end. Large quantities of its armaments ended up falling into the hands of revolting slaves as Free Swords joined them in rebellion. Many former imperial troops would go on to fight in the later Cruentusian War.
The Varitai (meaning "slave soldier" in the Rakatan language) were the basic infantrymen of the Infinite Empire's army, consisting of slaves of various species whose free will was broken by the dark side of the Force. Most Varitai were born into slavery and taken at a young age to be trained as soldiers before the Rakata performed a dark side ritual on them which binded them to their masters and essentially turned the person into an emotionless drone. This ensured that the slaves were not capable of disobedience or had any regard for their own lives after the ritual. Varitai also possessed a high tolerance for pain, being able to fight on oblivious to any grievous injuries or overwhelming odds. The slave soldiers were highly disciplined and capable fighters but also used numbers to overcome more skilled opponents. The Empire's slave markets always provided a large supply of new "recruits" so they were regarded as expandable and usually fought to the death.
Members of the Rakatan nobility that had large numbers of slaves were obliged to provide a certain number of them to serve as Varitai or Kuritai in the Imperial Army, limiting their power somewhat. Many were simply taken from their home worlds and drugged into forgetting their past before being sent into training.
The standard gear for a Varitai consisted of a leather greatcoat with a gas mask and breathing apparatus for operating in hazardous environments. They were issued with basic blaster rifles, pistols, and some grenades, easily mass produced in the Empire's Star Forge and various other factories.
The Kuritai (meaning "slave elite" in Rakatan) were the more skilled shock troops of the Infinite Empire. They were slaves raised in similar conditions as the Varitai and likewise binded using the dark side of the Force, except they were trained more brutally so that only the best warriors survived to become Kuritai. They were taken at a young age and put into gladiatorial arenas known as "the pits", where the less capable were killed off and the survivors were allowed to join the Imperial Army's ranks as its elite. While the Varitai and Free Swords used overwhelming numbers to attack, the Kuritai were more skilled and operated in smaller formations, often planted into Varitai or Free Sword units as special forces. Like the Varitai, they had a high pain tolerance and could not do much other than follow orders from their masters due to the dark side binding.
Most recruits for Kuritai were initially obtained the same way as those for the Varitai, either kidnapped and forced into service or given up by their masters.
The Kuritai were equipped with essentially the same uniform as the Varitai with the addition of strong metal armor and more advanced gas masks. They were also issued better rifles and other weaponry than their slave soldier counterparts or the Free Swords.
The Free Swords were soldiers that came from the non-enslaved citizenry of the Empire's five hundred worlds, their ranks including both volunteers and conscripts. Unlike the Varitai and Kuritai, they were typically not raised in brutal conditions, nor were they bonded with the Rakata by the dark side, so they were still capable of independent thinking. It also made them less disciplined and more inclined to surrender or desert, as normal soldiers would. Their combat capabilities also varied. Many Free Swords were from the poor lower classes of the Empire and sought to improve their standing, while others were conscripted to fill a quota during times of war. Non-Rakatan noble families frequently sent their children to serve as junior and senior officers to increase their prestige, or were sometimes forced to by the Rakatans to ensure their loyalty. The Free Swords were typically used in second wave attacks after a line of Varitai softened enemy defenses, and were backed up by Kuritai.
Some planets that lacked resources to provide the Rakatan empire with had to instead give their sons, being forced to meet a certain quota of Free Swords. Different worlds had different methods of doing this, including recruitment and conscription.
The Free Swords were equipped with a mix of Varitai and Kuritai weapons, depending on the specific unit's performance and location, but with a slightly different uniform. They were given a greatcoat of a different design and smaller gas masks.
To increase manpower during particularly difficult campaigns, mercenaries were sometimes hired by the Infinite Empire to back up its army's regular forces. They varied in species and were often better paid than Free Swords, but consisted of mercenary outfits experienced in combat or individuals with skills in another area. Experts in some fields, such as engineering or medicine, were hired for their particular talent to serve in supportive roles for the army. In battle, mercenaries were generally used as auxiliaries and not too relied upon. They were all still regarded as expendable by Rakatan generals, however.
The weapons and equipment used by mercenaries varied, as the Rakatans were rarely generous enough to provide anything in the way of supplies. Some of the veteran and well-known mercenaries had gear that was more comparable to that used by the regular troops, while others were poorly armed.
The military was under the direct command of the ruler of the Infinite Empire, the Over-Predor, with his three appointed Lord High Generals holding the military bureaucracy's top offices. Those included the supreme army commander, who oversaw troop deployment and operations, the chief of the high command office, responsible for long-term strategic planning, and the minister of war, overseeing the administrative and logistical functions. Only three individuals held the rank of Lord High General at any one time, with a few rare exceptions including particularly talented commanders being promoted to oversee major campaigns. The three aforementioned departments (high command, war ministry, and the actual fighting forces) that they oversaw made them the principal military leaders and a powerful authority in the Rakatan empire. They answered to the Over-Predor and served as a counterbalance to the individual Rakatan noble families.
Influential nobles had their own private armies, but these fell under the command of the Lord High Generals during emergencies and they were required to fulfill a slave recruit quota for the Imperial Army's ranks.
The Rakata Imperial Army was one of the first major military forces that existed in the the galaxy and the first to implement a standardized order of battle on such a large scale. Most units of the army more or less followed the standard organization, with only the more remote garrisons being more likely to deviate from it. The Imperial Army was structured as follows:
- A theater oversaw large operations taking place across multiple systems or sectors. Led by a Predor or high warlord, multiple field armies were subordinated to a theater.
- A different number of field armies were part of a theater, and for smaller operations only one or two armies were deployed. Usually three or more armies were only a deployed in a theater.
- The fire team designation was used by infantry, squadron by cavalry and armor.
The Imperial Army's lower-ranking troops mostly consisted of various enslaved species while Rakatans occupied the highest general positions. It was rare for a non-Rakatan to become a general, as the highest rank they could usually attain was colonel.
- Lord High General
- Lord General
- Master Sergeant
Weapons and equipment
Most of the weapons the Rakatans issued to their imperial troops were made on the Star Forge, although many were also created in factories across the Infinite Empire. As vast as this industry was it could not keep up with the demand for such equipment and so some units, depending on their location and experience, were forced to use lower quality gear.
A standard kit included the following:
- Blaster rifle
- Blaster pistol
- Thermal detonators
- Smoke grenades
- Water purifier
The army also used various vehicles, mainly from the Star Forge, which served in different roles.
- 2nd "Predor's Hammer" Artillery Regiment
- 12th Free Sword Regiment
- 19th Varitai Regiment