Emblem and Flag of the Rebel Alliance
|Founded||2 BBY, with the signing of the Declaration of Rebellion|
|Affiliations||Alliance Army, Alliance Navy, Alliance Starfighter Corps, Jedi Order, Clandestine cell systems|
The Rebel Alliance, also known as the Alliance to Restore the Republic and as the Rebellion, is a fictional stateless interstellar coalition of republican dissidents, revolutionary factions and anti-imperialist clandestine cell systems in a resistance movement against the imperialist Galactic Empire. The Alliance's goal is to restore the Galactic Republic. It is the main protagonist faction of the original Star Wars trilogy.
As a direct reactionary movement to the formation of the Empire, the Rebel insurgency conducted covert operations on Imperial garrison-worlds and utilized a stateless strategy in conjunction with wolfpack-guerrilla warfare against the Imperial Fleet throughout the galaxy. Capital ships had no place in the Rebellion; they are expensive to build, maintain, and to keep fully crewed. The Rebellion was far too limited in both manpower and resources to justify putting so much of both into a giant target. When the Galactic Empire is capable of always fielding greater numbers and greater firepower, being able to hit high-valued targets and get out is much more important. While the Empire considers all dissent and rebellion as acts of extremism and terrorism in Imperial propaganda, the Alliance is described and portrayed in various Star Wars media as a group of resilient freedom fighters, based on tolerance, self-empowerment, and hope for a better future using insurgency weapons and tactics.
The Rebel Alliance was first featured as the main protagonist-faction in the films Star Wars (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983). The faction's origins were alluded to in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005), and their early activities are featured in the Disney XD television series Rebels and the anthology film Rogue One (2016).
The origins of the Alliance to Restore the Republic are told during the events of Revenge of the Sith. It is explained that the Delegation of 2000 is a group of Senators who are disgruntled about the already unjustified extraordinary powers of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, as the Clone Wars were waning. The group included Bail Organa, and Mon Mothma, amongst others. At the time, Amidala was the most famous and prominent of the group, and was thus their spokesperson. She realized that this made her a target and later advised the others to go quiet in their dissent and exclude her from any future proceedings. The young senator died in premature childbirth not long after her last-ditch attempt to prevent Anakin Skywalker's fall.
The Disney series Rebels depicts the rebellion against the Galactic Empire beginning five years before A New Hope and fourteen years after the fall of the Galactic Republic and the Jedi Order in Revenge of the Sith. The show focuses on a motley group of rebels (all of whom have been affected by the Empire in one form or another) that band together aboard a freighter starship called Ghost. By the end of the first season, it is revealed that there are various clandestine cell systems that are resisting the Empire. Senator Bail Organa of Alderaan and former Jedi Ahsoka Tano both play a pivotal role in coordinating these splinter cells into a legitimate threat capable of challenging Imperial rule. Funded primarily by the Royal House of Alderaan, the alliance began to allocate resources towards a united front against Imperial rule.
Near the end of the third season of Rebels, one of the Alliance founders, Senator Mon Mothma, escaped assassination for speaking out against the Emperor. She calls out to the various rebel cells and insurgency factions to unite into a unified coalition:
We, the beings of the Rebel Alliance, do this day send forth this Declaration to His Majesty, the Emperor, and to all sentient beings in the Galaxy, to make clear to all the Purposes and Goals of this Rebellion.
We believe that the Galactic Empire has willfully and malignantly usurped the rights of the free beings of the Galaxy and therefore, it is our unalienable right to abolish it from the Galaxy. We, the Rebel Alliance, do therefore in the name--and by the authority--of the free beings of the Galaxy, solemnly publish and declare our intentions:
- To fight and oppose you and your forces, by any and all means at our disposal;
- To refuse any Imperial law contrary to the rights of free beings;
- To bring about your destruction and the destruction of the Galactic Empire;
- To make forever free all beings in the galaxy.
Many Rebel ships arrive at a rendezvous point above Dantooine to unite and form the "Alliance to Restore the Republic".
The Alliance Military and its activities were overseen by Alliance High Command, who managed the logistical and strategic matters of the Rebellion's efforts against the dominant Galactic Empire. Alliance Intelligence was headed by Spymaster Bail Organa and Spymaster Ahsoka Tano, which proved essential for maintaining communications, finding missions for the various Alliance Cells, and coordinating the Alliance's highly decentralized structure. At the time of the Battle of Endor, its chief commanders were: Gial Ackbar serving as Admiral of the Alliance Starfleet; Jan Dodonna serving as General of the Alliance Grand Army; Crix Madine serving as General of Alliance Pathfinders; and Wedge Antilles serving as Marshal of the Alliance Starfighter Corps.
The Alliance military could never decisively win a "land war" with the Empire. Generally speaking, the quality of Alliance infantry varied greatly by unit. Due to the highly decentralized structure of the Alliance, these units often operated independently with little oversight, and were frequently lacking in discipline, equipment, intelligence and combat skills. They often consisted of convicts, street thugs, pirates, outlaws, and anyone whose profession placed them at odds with the Empire. These infantry were tolerated by Alliance Command, both for their willingness to mount an insurgency against the Empire, and for their expendability.
Mission critical operations were carried out by few standardized special forces units, dubbed "pathfinders", who had previous military training for infiltration, asymmetrical warfare, and were capable of operating without resupply. Pathfinders volunteered in the Battle of Scarif under Cassian Andor, and spearheaded the ground assault during the Battle of Endor.
The Alliance military largely consisted of mothballed, improvised, repurposed, or stolen civilian ships from dozens of manufacturers; they lacked the means, resources or shipyards to build, maintain and crew thousands of military-grade capital ships. The Alliance, constantly had to change bases and their carrier ships routinely had to escape into hyperspace before recovering their fighter complement. The biggest and most powerful warship they had available were several MC80 star cruisers supplied to the Alliance by Mon Calamari, but the Alliance Fleet kept these in reserve and never risked deploying them, even when strategically-critical bases in Atollon, Yavin, and Hoth came under siege. The Alliance fleet is geared towards fabian strategy, space superiority, wolfpack operations, hit-and-run tactics, secret missions, subterfuge, and general elements of a stateless military grand strategy. They used gunships and corvettes to screen Imperial starfighters. Their warships carried a complement of expensive endurance-capable starfighters that traveled alongside the fleet. These were equipped with life support systems, deflector shields, and FTL-drives. The Alliance's focus on small light combat ships and on starfighters allowed them to effectively fight the Galactic Empire's well-funded and well-armed military.
The Alliance Starfleet almost never placed their ships at risk; they avoided pitched battles, frontal assaults, war of attrition and conventional engagements with the Imperials at all costs'. Instead of engaging the Imperials in open firefights, the Rebel Alliance largely embraced flexible non-committal attack tactics utilizing mainly fast attack CR90 corvettes supplied to the Alliance by Alderaan. The Imperial leadership considered collateral damage as "acceptable margins" in rooting out insurgents; this contrasted against the Alliance's surgical precision to avoid civilian casualties. To minimize losses, the Alliance military leadership heavily favored carrier battle groups supporting starfighter strike crafts for fast-attack style of warfare, thereby leveraging a decisive advantage over the Galactic Empire's "big powerful ships" doctrine. Anti-Imperial operations emphasized depredation and delayed actions, covertly relocating compromised bases to another secured system, interdiction in slowing down the Imperials' momentum, and inflicting maximum damage on the enemy without, in principle, becoming decisively engaged.
The Alliance finds its strength almost entirely in the starfighter arena, offering some of the most effective and versatile small strike craft within Star Wars canon. The Alliance was plagued by lack of resources: it was low on fighters, manpower, real estate. Jan Dodonna believed unsupported hyperspace-capable starfighters could undermine the Empire's control of space and demonstrated this to the galaxy by winning high-profile victories: Star Destroyers, shipyards, local fleets and the Death Star. Despite the Corps' high-maintenance costs and being chronically understaffed, with starfighter logistics, aerospace engineers and veteran pilots being limited in numbers, the Alliance doctrine--raiding targets before they could mount a defense, then leaving--proved flawless in singling out vulnerable targets and attacking only when they had strength, and only when the results were spectacular. Seventy percent of sorties were reconnaissance missions: finding targets for starfighter raids became the top priority of Alliance intelligence. The introduction of the A-wing, B-wing and X-wing, along with the former Imperial officers who piloted them, only improved upon that advantage.
The fall of the Old Republic and the birth of the Empire, as depicted in Revenge of the Sith, signaled the beginning of the bloody Galactic Civil War.
The Rebels episode, "Zero Hour", demonstrates the Imperials' absolute naval supremacy when they successfully entrapped the "Phoenix Fleet" during the Battle of Atollon, and forced them in engaging on equal footing; resulting a decisive victory for the Imperials and the total decimation of the Rebel fleet.
During the events of Rogue One and A New Hope, the Alliance learns of the construction of the Death Star, an enormous battle station intended to secure the Empire's power. With the help of the Rogue One squad led by Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor, the Rebels successfully steal the schematics of the station. This win was the Alliance's first major battle against the Empire on Scarif; but at a 75% starfleet casualty rate and with all remaining Imperial and Rebel forces planetside decimated, it was ultimately a pyrrhic victory. After successfully downloading the Death Star plans, Alderaanian soldiers aboard a Mon Calamari flagship barely manage to escape the 501st Legion and Death Squadron with the stolen data plans. Right after the battle, the Tantive IV, an Alderaanian corvette carrying Princess Leia Organa is captured by Vader's flagship, Imperial I-class Star Destroyer Devastator, while attempting to deliver the Death Star Plans to Bail Organa on Alderaan. All members of the Alderaanian Consular Security onboard are either killed or taken prisoner and Princess Leia Organa is held hostage for a time by Darth Vader. In order to punish both her and her home planet government's central involvement in the Rebel Alliance, Leia is forced to witness Alderaan's destruction by the Death Star. The Princess is subsequently rescued by Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Obi-Wan Kenobi, who then deliver the station schematics to the Alliance. This leads directly to the Alliance's victory in the Battle of Yavin and the loyalty of Luke Skywalker; the Rebellion's only remaining member with training in the Force.
In the Star Wars comics, the Rebellion wins numerous victories against the Empire after the destruction of the Death Star, destroying its major weapons factory on Cymoon 1, breaking an Imperial blockade around the Rebel world of Tureen VII by stealing the Imperial I-class Star Destroyer Harbinger and recruiting the Mon Calamari trading fleet to be refitted as an assault fleet. Such firepower would finally allow the Alliance to attack the Empire on a larger scale. However, one of the Rebellion's allies, Queen Trios of Shu-Torun (whose world's technology had been fitted into the ships of the new Rebel fleet), revealed herself as an undercover Imperial agent sent by Darth Vader to sabotage their efforts. With their ships unexpectedly paralyzed by the Shu-Torun technology, the gathered Rebel fleet could do little as they were targeted for destruction by Vader's Imperial fleet. Half the Rebel ships were destroyed in the battle before Leia found a way around the sabotage and allowed the remaining ships to escape. However, Generals Jan Dodonna and Davits Draven, as well as several other high-ranking Rebel officers, were killed during the battle and the remaining Rebel ships were separated in their flight. Mon Mothma instructed all Rebel cells to regroup in time while striking out at the Empire when and how they could. Not until the Battle of Endor would the whole force of the Rebellion be once again united in a single place.
In The Empire Strikes Back, the Alliance suffers a crushing defeat on Hoth when one of their main command centers, Echo Base, is overrun by the Darth Vader's elite personal Imperial armed forces, the Death Squadron and the 501st Legion. The remaining forces of the Rebellion are forced to stay mobile, using Admiral Ackbar's flagship, Home One, as their headquarters.
By Return of the Jedi, the Alliance has regrouped and learned that a new Death Star is being constructed, and will be completed under Emperor Palpatine's personal supervision. Mon Mothma has Admiral Ackbar and Lando Calrissian command the Alliance fleet and dispatches Han Solo and Princess Leia in leading Alliance's elite special forces to disable the station's defenses while Luke distracts Darth Vader. The Alliance subsequently wins the Battle of Endor, in which Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine, the Death Squadron-Imperial armada, and much of the Imperial hierarchy are destroyed.
Following their victory at the Battle of Endor, a provisional New Republic was officially formed by the Alliance. This, combined with the Imperial power vacuum, political infighting, and Operation: Cinder--Palpatine's scorched earth contingency plan--encouraged thousands of inhabited planets to either declare independence from the Empire, or defect to the Alliance.
The New Republic found itself with no shortage of recruits and resources: the declining popularity of the Empire pushed many long time Imperial loyalists to the Rebel cause, including those of Inferno Squadron, who after Operation Cinder, which saw the destruction of countless Imperial worlds, opened the eyes of many to the atrocities of the Empire. Even the most dedicated Imperials such as Inferno Squadron commander Iden Versio were moved to defect after the witnessing the destruction of her homeworld Vardos. Finally realizing the Empire's propaganda had deceived them, many Imperials began to feel shame over their actions, in particular over the destruction of Alderaan.
Despite fact that the New Republic was now winning the war, had a lot more resources than before--and a lot more recruits--the New Republic was suffering from logistic nightmare. The decentralized structure that served them well became a liability; described as "a ragtag force strategically ill-fed and cobbled together of incompatible ships and squadrons". The Alliance Fleet shifted military doctrine; the guerrilla warfare aspect of the grand strategy was de-emphasized, and conventional forces took over the primary prosecution of the war. Once the New Republic became powerful enough, the Alliance Fleet was reorganized into the New Republic Military, charged with the defense of the New Republic.
About a year after the Battle of Endor, the Rebellion defeated the Empire during the Battle of Jakku and formally established the New Republic. Thus, the Galactic Civil War officially ended. Three decades later, by the time of The Force Awakens, the New Republic backed the Resistance army, a successor of the Alliance, to stand against the First Order, a new military power formed by hardline remnants from the Empire.
After Disney's acquisition of the franchise, Lucasfilm announced in 2014 that previous works outside the theatrical films and The Clone Wars would no longer be considered canon, but began to be republished under the Legends banner.