Special Operations in the Star Wars and Star Trek Universes

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Trektards will often throw up a number of methods in which the UFP, and others, could resist an Imperial invasion of the Milky Way. Most of these unusual methods require the use of special-operations forces, and when the demonstrated capabilities of such forces in the Star Wars galaxy and the Milky Way are compared, some interesting conclusions can be drawn.

Star Wars Special Operations


During the Republic era, the Jedi Order based on Coruscant served as the primary special operations force. The Jedi operated as all-in-one diplomats, police, intelligence agents, "internal security" (as inferred from the casualness of chopping arms off in crowded nightclubs) and special forces. Many times the Jedi would have to be augmented by paramilitaries such as Freedom's Son's, due to the fact that Jedi, while extremely capable, could still be defeated by a sufficiently large number of enemies.

Due to the extraordinary nature of the Jedi and their abilities, they cannot be considered "true" special forces.

Clone Wars Era

When the Fett-strain clone army was being built by the Kaminoans, it was clear that the Jedi would be acting as Generals, and would not be on hand in sufficient numbers to fulfill the special operations role, requiring the assignment of Clone troopers to spec ops roles. The so-called Republic Commandos operated in 4-man teams and took part in the full spectrum of special operations, including hostage rescue, boarding of enemy vessels, snatch-and-grab, and sabotage behind enemy lines. Commandos were used extensively and with great success during the Clone Wars. Other clone strains that operated in a special forces role included the Advanced Recon or ARC Troopers. ARC troopers were deployed in larger groups than Republic Commandos, but often played a similar overall role on the battlefield. They were noted as being much closer to Jango Fett than other clone lines.

Imperial/Post Endor Era

The Galactic Empire stepped away from clones as the primary source for the military between the end of the Clone Wars and the destruction of the first Death Star at Yavin, and by the Thrawn era, Imperial commando teams consisted of exceptional personnel drawn from the general military.

During this time, the Empire utilized alien specialists known as Noghri for activities that required concealment of Imperial involvement. After it became clear that the Empire was intentionally dragging its feet in restoring the Noghri homeworld, the Noghri defected and joined the New Republic.

Rebel Alliance/New Republic

The Rebel Alliance (and later the New Republic) utilized their own specialized Commandos in the form of Page's Commandos and Wraith Squadron, to name two examples.

Star Trek Special Operations

United Federation of Planets

The Federation -- as of the TNG era -- was reduced to drafting unspecialized personnel from starships to perform covert operations, rather than having its own Special Forces branch with trained, dedicated personnel.

During the course of both the TNG and DS9 series, there was exactly one Federation individual who specialized in covert operations. Despite this training, his primary function in the show was to recruit Dr. Julian Bashir into Section 31!

For the most part, there are no (public) Special Forces in the Federation, with the teams that are put together (whether for boarding ships or sent on recon missions) being ad hoc assemblages using standard Starfleet equipment and personnel. In one famous example, a Special Forces team was assembled from the command crew of the Enterprise-D to infiltrate a Cardassian base![1]

Interestingly, there is at least one firearm that suggests it was designed for special operations, but it has been seen in only one DS9 episode.[2]

Other Trek Powers

The Cardassian Union and Romulan Star Empire had their own special operations agencies: the Obsidian Order and Tal'Shiar, respectively.

While the Obsidian Order managed to produce some effective agents (including Elim Garak), the substantial number of warships both agencies possessed suggested a role in line with the Soviet Union's NKVD/KGB of protecting the regime from the regular military rather than straight-out unconventional warfare.

Obsidan Order and Tal'Shiar Capabilities

As shown in the DS9 episode The Die is Cast; the Obsidian Order and Tal'Shiar were able to amass substantial fleets of modern first-line warships. While this was supposedly in contravention of their founding charters; it beggars the mind to believe that they were able to obtain this many warships without anyone in the military or governmental chain of command noticing, hence it is more plausible to believe that they had a standing fleet, along the lines of the Soviet/Russian Border Guards.[3]

While many of the Soviet/Russian Border Guards ships are small patrol boats, they also have several major warships, such as the Krivak-III-class frigate.


  1. TNG "Chain of Command"
  2. DS9 "Field of Fire"
  3. Information on Warships used by the USSR/Russian Border Guards