Imperial Insignia


These pages are a presentation of ongoing attempts to deduce a concise synthesis of the system of the military uniforms and insignia of the Galactic Empire. In addition, the pages necessarily contain a summary of the command structure of the Imperial Forces. The primary sources are the STAR WARS films, but I include as much official non-canon material as possible: comprehensiveness is also an objective. Where non-canon references conflict with each other I follow the choice which most closely agrees with modern military systems and terminology on Earth.

At present most of my attention in this field is dedicated to understanding the insignia of commissioned officers. The decorations of Imperial officers simultaneously show more complexity and hints of underlying mathematical order than the uniforms of noncommissioned personnel.

Armed Services

Imperial Navy

The Imperial Navy is charged with the security of all space throughout the galaxy. These responsibilities include the elimination or deterrence of belligerence by spacegoing factions amongst the galactic citizenry: pirates, the underworld, corporate and guild powers, rebel forces and the navies of untamed sapient species such as the Mon Calamari and the Ssi-Rukh. Knowingly or unknowningly, the presence of the Imperial Starfleet deters incursions by covetous extragalactic barbarians like the Yuzhan Vong.

The Navy also plays important roles in support of the operations of the Imperial Army. It provides the Army with transport between worlds and orbital bombardments against troublesome ground-based enemies of the Empire.

The Imperial Navy is claimed the largest space naval force in the history of the galaxy, with large and small combat starships numbering in countless millions, including at least several dozens of tens of thousands of dreaded star destroyers, and lesser numbers of more powerful star cruisers, star battlecruisers, star battleships and star dreadnoughts.

Imperial Army

The Imperial Army is responsible for holding territory on the millions of worlds of the Galactic Empire. Whereas stormtroopers are employed in crucial conflicts and guard the most vital military installations, the Army is responsible for holding ground and pacifying entire worlds as a lasting force when stormtroopers are withdrawn to perform other missions [according to The Imperial Sourcebook and roleplaying games]. The Army is a more sizeable and permanent presence than the elite shock-troops which the stormtroopers are.


As with the insignia of the semi-organised forces of the Rebel Alliance, the uniforms and insignia of the Imperial Forces must indicate the status of commissioned and non-commissioned members in an unambiguous fashion. This implies that there must exist a simple visual scheme for reading the geometric and colour cues of the insignia. Each individual's insignia must translate into a single measure of seniority. The artists who designed the costumes for the films might not have considered such a system in detail, but it is the task of this document to consider the simplest possible ad hoc scheme which is consistent with all of the known examples and with realistic naval and military conventions and nomenclature.

The vast scope and orderly nature of the Galactic Empire gives us confidence that its insignia must follow regular and systematic principles. The Galactic Empire was static, resource-rich and tightly-regulated on a galactic scale. The Imperial Forces are rooted in traditions of lawfulness, consistency and uniformity. Their equipment, uniforms, insignia and customs must be as fixed and standardised as Imperial policy and philosophy.

Whatever rules are theorised to govern the interpretation of the insignia of the Imperial Forces, they should satisfy some basic, axiomatic requirements. The system of interpretation must indicate an unambiguous status level for any given insignia configuration. The insignia must preserve and reflect the equivalence of ranks and ratings which are of equal status in different services. The system should agree with the explicit and tacit ranking of officers and personnel in the films and literature. The rules of interpretation should be simple and obvious to the eye.

General Notes


Special thanks are due to (in alphabetical order):


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