Approach was, according to Michael Unther, the first phase in a planetary assault. This stage covered the initial approach to the planet in question and required the commander of the assault fleet to make strategic decisions of various kinds, such as deciding how late or early to drop out of hyperspace and how close to the planet.

Dropping out of hyperspaceEdit

Emerging early, and far from the planet, gave the assault fleet time to reconnoiter the system, but also allowed the defending forces to mobilize and prepare their defenses. Emerging late and close to the planet deprived the invading force of much preparatory time but one the other hand allowed the invasion fleet to surprise the defending forces. According to Unther, the approach phase of the Battle of Hoth was a textbook example of how wrong decision in the approach phase may complicate matters. He argued that Admiral Ozzel emerged from hyperspace too close to the planet, which did not allow his forces to reconnoiter the system properly. Having underestimated the Rebels' firepower, the invasion fleet was forced into maneuver quickly without proper planning. Had Ozzel emerged from hyperspace further from Hoth, there could have been time to plan the attack in accordance with the Rebels' firepower and fewer Rebel ships would have managed to escape.

Planning the routeEdit

Another important aspect of the approach phase was the route towards the planet. The route had to be carefully planned, and phenomena like gas clouds and asteroid fields should be carefully scanned before moving the fleet close to them, since enemy fighter squadrons could be hidden there. Even if the scans proved inconclusive, it was, according to Unther, a good idea to keep such areas lightly guarded throughout the entire operation.

Transport ships and transportsEdit

Transport ships and transports were to be protected during this phase, since they were typically certain targets to the defending forces. Star Destroyers were among the first ships to be targeted because of their considerable firepower and their command coordination capabilities.