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"It is the task of the First Order to remove the disorder from our own existence, so that civilization may be returned to the stability that promotes progress. A stability that existed under the Empire, was reduced to anarchy by the Rebellion, was inherited in turn by the so-called Republic, and will be restored by us. Future historians will look upon this as the time when a strong hand brought the rule of law back to civilization."
Kylo Ren, expressing his views on recent galactic history and the goals of the First Order[src]

The First Order, simply referred to as the Order, was a political and military faction—ruled by Supreme Leader Snoke and allied with the Knights of Ren—that came into existence as a result of the fall of the Galactic Empire. In the aftermath of the Battle of Jakku, the Empire formally surrendered to the New Republic by signing the Galactic Concordance, a peace treaty that marked the end of the Galactic Civil War in 5 ABY. In spite of its collapse the Empire's legacy survived in the Unknown Regions of the galaxy where former members of the Imperial Military plotted their return to power. Their cause would grow in support through some Imperial sympathizers who briefly inhabited a wing of Republic politics before abandoning the nascent democracy to join the Imperial-based movement in the Unknown Regions. Inspired by the fascist ideals of the Empire, this movement ultimately resulted in the formation of the First Order.

In the decades that followed the Empire's defeat, the First Order gradually built its strength through the secret mobilization of new fleets and armies in violation of the Galactic Concordance and Republic law. Despite further acts of defiance to the treaty, the Galactic Senate did not regard the First Order as a serious threat to the Republic. However, the Senate's inaction motivated the Rebel veteran Princess Leia Organa to found the Resistance. Although the First Order became entangled in a conflict with Organa's group, the Republic remained its primary target. After thirty years of plotting their revenge against the government that overthrew the Empire, the First Order test-fired the superweapon of Starkiller Base on the Hosnian system and thereby destroyed Hosnian Prime, the capital world of the Republic. Shortly thereafter, the Resistance launched a counterattack that resulted in the base's destruction.

Background

"Through the ages I've seen evil take many forms. The Sith. The Empire. Today, it is the First Order."
Maz Kanata[src]

For roughly a thousand years, the Galactic Republic would maintain peace and stability within the galaxy, aided by the efforts of the monastic Jedi Order and Republic Judicial Forces. With the believed extinction of the Sith—ancient enemies of the Jedi Order and the Republic—the ruling Dark Lord Darth Sidious secretly plotted to overthrow the Republic with the formation of his own Sith Empire.[7][8]

Orchestrating a Secessionist Movement along with his apprentice Dooku by formulating political chaos across the galaxy, Sidious would secretly command a rival galactic government known as the Confederacy of Independent Systems in the destructive three-year Clone Wars, while ensuring himself elected as the next Supreme Chancellor of the Republic. Gradually amassing far more emergency powers than would be ordinarily allowed, along with changes to the Galactic Constitution, Sidious would eventually issue the Proclamation of the New Order, officially wiping away the thousand year old democracy in an instant and installing himself as the first Galactic Emperor.[9]

With a massive military machine to enforce his will and the destruction of the Jedi Order, Sidious would largely remain unchallenged throughout the initial nineteen years of his reign, embarking on the gradual conquest of the known galaxy. Eventually, the Alliance to Restore the Republic would be formed to oppose his aggressive expansion and genocidal actions, resulting in the destructive five-year Galactic Civil War. Four years after the destruction of its First Death Star by the hands of Luke Skywalker, the Empire would suffer a decisive defeat at the Battle of Endor, where its second and more powerful Death Star II would be destroyed and along with it, Galactic Emperor Palpatine and his right-hand man Darth Vader.[10][11]

Following another year of bloody conflict, the fractured Empire would make its last stand over the sandy wastes of Jakku against the New Republic, resulting in high casualties on both sides. Defeated and facing severe internal unrest, the Empire would be forced to sign the Galactic Concordance, severely limiting its ability to wage war and ushering in its transformation into a mere rump state.[4]

History

Origins

"It's time to start over. That is our first order. To begin again. And to get it right, this time."
Rae Sloane to Brendol Hux[src]

Following the Battle of Jakku, Grand Vizier Mas Amedda and the New Republic Chancellor Mon Mothma signed the Galactic Concordance, which dissolved the Empire.[12] In response, many Imperial nobles, technologists,[13], warlords[4], and officers fled into the Unknown Regions in an effort to escape the prying eyes of the New Republic. They used information derived from Grand Admiral Thrawn[12] who hailed from the Chiss Ascendancy,[14] and the survey teams and droids that the late Emperor Sheev Palpatine had sent to explore the Unknown Regions. At the request of the dying Counselor to the Empire Gallius Rax, Grand Admiral Rae Sloane and Commandant Brendol Hux rendezvoused with the Super Star Destroyer Eclipse. Sloane saw an opportunity to rebuild the Empire.[12]

There, isolated from the galaxy, these Imperial hardliners formed the First Order, which was influenced by the principles of the fallen government.[4] With the New Republic now the dominant force in the galaxy, it continuously stressed upholding the values of democracy throughout the stars. In spite of such, however, the New Republic was not without its critics, many of them being disgruntled sympathizers of the Old Imperial ways, some of whom were a part of the political structure. Once disagreements between the loyalists and Imperial sympathizers became too severe, the latter group would eventually secede, whereupon they would establish the First Order along with the former elements of the Imperial military that still inhabited the Unknown Regions. While some in the Galactic Senate applauded the notion, others realized that without New Republic supervision, the Order would return to the draconian ways of its predecessor.[6]

Kylo Ren and Snoke

Supreme Leader Snoke commanded the First Order from the shadows.

With many of the Emperor's servants carrying some of the regime's greatest military secrets to the Unknown Regions, the First Order began a massive militarization effort to produce a technologically superior military to the former Galactic Empire, keenly aware that it lacked the superior numbers of the former state. Numerous shipyards, bases, and research facilities were built on newly explored star systems and colonized worlds as the Order slowly multiplied and plotted its eventual return to the galaxy at large. Growing in size and strength, the First Order would come under the command of Supreme Leader Snoke, a powerful dark side user and served by his apprentice, Kylo Ren. With Snoke's successful manipulation of Kylo Ren to the dark side of the Force, his apprentice and the Knights of Ren would destroy Luke Skywalker's attempt at restarting the Jedi Order, with subsequent purges and hunting down those with Force affinity, much like the previous Inquisitorius of the Old Empire.[4]

Subverting the New Republic

"The First Order is a remnant born of a war thirty years gone. Yes, they persist, yes, they continue, but by all accounts they do so barely. They are, at best, an ill-organized, poorly equipped, and badly funded group of loyalists who use propaganda and fear to inflate their strength and their importance."
Major Lonno Deso of the Republic Navy[src]

In the years leading up to the destruction of the Hosnian system, the First Order quietly bided its time preparing for its eventual war with the New Republic. To generate funding to refit and rearm the former Imperial fleet, the First Order used a militia group called the Amaxine warriors as proxies to fund the Nikto crime lord Rinnrivin Di's cartel. Seven years prior to the "Napkin Bombing" at the New Republic senatorial complex on Hosnian Prime, the First Order used the Amaxines to inject billions of Credits as start-up capital into Rinnrivin's cartel, turning the hitherto minor cartel into a major crime syndicate. Establishing a mutual relationship with the Amaxines, Rinnrivin embarked on lucrative smuggling and gambling operations with the proceeds being channeled through shadowy corporations and Centrist sources back to the First Order, which used the money to rebuild its fleet.[5]

In addition, the First Order also recruited several Centrist senators like Lady Carise Sindian as clandestine agents who worked to subvert the New Republic from within. Many Centrists, an informal faction in the New Republic's Galactic Senate who favored a stronger central government and military, admired the Old Empire's leaders and practices. Another proxy of the First Order was Arliz Hadrassian, a former TIE fighter pilot who had become the leader of the Amaxine warriors. While Hadrassian saw the Amaxines as the vanguard of the First Order, Lady Carise regarded her as too volatile to manage. Hadrassian in return was impatient with the Centrists for refusing to secede from the Republic.[5]

The First Order's operations were almost exposed when Rinnrivin Di's criminal activities began to exact a devastating toll on the planet Ryloth's offworld trade. In response, the New Republic senators Leia Organa and Ransolm Casterfo embarked on an investigation which uncovered Rinnrivin's links to the Amaxine Warriors. However, the two senators failed to discover the First Order's linkages to the Amaxines and Rinnrivin's cartel. In an attempt to sow chaos, Arliz Hadrassian bombed the New Republic's senatorial complex. This set in motion a chain of events that led to the death of Rinnrivin and the destruction of most of the Amaxine warriors' forces on the planet Sibensko. Hadrassian killed herself after assassinating the New Republic senator Tai-Lin Garr. While most New Republic senators and media believed that the demise of Rinnrivin's cartel and the Amaxines eliminated all threats to the Republic, Leia disagreed and established the Resistance in response to the Republic's complacency.[5]

Following the assassination of Tai-Lin Garr, Lady Carise and her Centrist counterparts began preparing a motion to secede from the New Republic in order to join and support the First Order.[5]

Preparing for war

Starkiller Base full

Starkiller Base, the First Order's headquarters during their military mobilization

For the three decades after Endor, the First Order would largely escape galactic attention, with many in the New Republic Senate believing that it posed no real threat to the galaxy at large. Echoing these sentiments, Chancellor Lanever Villecham argued there was no need for concern as long as the First Order adhered to the dictates of the Galactic Concordance. Despite this, the Order blatantly defied the accords by ushering in the mass mobilization of superior stormtrooper forces, along with violating Republic bans on the sale of weaponry to the First Order and its rules governing capital ships. Testing the resolve of the New Republic, small skirmishes would occasionally erupt between the First Order and Republic, all while the Starkiller operation would seek a suitable planet for implementation.[4]

With the First Order's growing threat and rapid mobilization for war, prominent members of the Republic voiced concern over this successor state, with the most vocal being Leia Organa. Scoffed at by the Senate at large for being an alarmist and warmonger, Organa used her influence as a prominent member of the former Alliance to recruit many former military officers left forgotten by the Military Disarmament Act passed by the Galactic Senate. Funded by like-minded senators who shared Organa's fears about the First Order, the Resistance would come to serve as the opposing force and checkmate to the Order's growing power, sparking the First Order–Resistance conflict.[4]

Despite this, members of the Republic Senate were mired in corruption and bureaucracy, with senators such as Erudo Ro-Kiintor colluding with the First Order for promises of wealth and power, with large sums of credits being discretely transferred to him through the Corporate Sector Authority. As a result, the Resistance was forced to work on its own until it could obtain irrefutable evidence of First Order violations of the peace that could be presented to Republic Command.[3]

Height of the Order

"The weapon. It is ready. I believe the time has come to use it. We shall destroy the government that supports the Resistance, the Republic. Without their friends to protect them, the Resistance will be vulnerable, and we will stop them before they reach Skywalker."
―General Hux to Supreme Leader Snoke[src]

Thirty years after Endor, and seeking to locate a fragment of a map that led to Jedi Master Luke Skywalker—who had gone into self-imposed exile following the failed resurrection of the Jedi Order, of which he blamed on himself—the First Order would deploy the Resurgent-class Battlecruiser Finalizer to Jakku, where a BB-unit and ace Resistance pilot Poe Dameron had recovered a fragment of the map. Seeking to capture the droid and destroy the last Jedi, an assault was launched on the outlying settlement of Tuanul, however not before BB-8 had escaped with the map. Following an unlikely alliance of deserting stormtrooper FN-2187 and an unknowingly Force-sensitive girl named Rey, the First Order would ultimately chase the pair and famous smuggler Han Solo and Chewbacca to Takodana, where they sought refuge. Following a climatic battle between the Order and Resistance who were both informed of the groups presence through undercover spies, Kylo Ren would manage to kidnap Rey, who having seen the map could be interrogated until she revealed Luke's location.[2]

FirstOrder

Hux's declaration of war on the New Republic

Meanwhile, the First Order would ultimately destroy the New Republic's current capital on Hosnian Prime, seeking to end its unofficial support of the Resistance with a new superweapon dubbed Starkiller Base, which could fire a planet-shattering beam through hyperspace, and destroy an entire star system. With the destruction of the Republic's capital and a portion of its fleet, the First Order stood poised to destroy both the New Republic and the Resistance.[2]

Much to its chagrin, former deserter FN-2187—now known as Finn—along with Han Solo and Chewbacca would arrive at the Starkiller in an attempt to disable its shields and allow a Resistance strike to destroy the battle station converted planet. With the First Order fifteen minutes away from destroying the Resistance's base on D'Qar, the trio would not only manage to shut off the planet's shields but also rescue Rey after a lightsaber duel with Kylo Ren. Escaping the planet with seconds to spare, the First Order's sun-harvesting superweapon would be destroyed by the Resistance's Starfighter Corps, forming a new star where the planet once was. Despite this major setback, the First Order's resolve towards galactic conquest only increased, with Snoke deciding to finish Kylo Ren's training and re-group after the destruction of his superweapon.[2]

Organization

Government

"The First Order is not the Empire. We are purer. We have been through the crucible and emerged stronger."
Phasma[src]

The First Order was a military junta inspired by the former Galactic Empire.[1][15] Led by Supreme Leader Snoke, he and his right-hand man Kylo Ren would oversee the colonization of the Unknown Regions and destruction of the last Jedi. Much like the former Empire, Kylo Ren existed outside the formal command structure of the First Order, and frequently came into conflict with military officials owing to his agenda consistently trumping military objectives. In this way, not only would fear be maintained within the Order's upper ranks, but Kylo's placement in the hierarchy would intentionally resemble that of Darth Vader's during the reign of the Old Empire.[2] Despite having Force-sensitives within its ranks, the First Order did not employ Sith or Inquisitors like its predecessor.[15][2][4]

The First Order would lack an official capital as its Supreme Leader would constantly move his base of operations, thus administration of the government would exist on an amalgam of planets within First Order territory. With the construction of Starkiller Base, the Order would possess an unofficial headquarters for its expanding power.[4]

The First Order Security Bureau would act as an intelligence service within the administration of the Order.[16]

Foreign affairs

The First Order was one of the remnants of the "Old Empire" that had emerged in the wake of the Galactic Concordance. Since the Concordance limited the Empire's ability to wage war by imposing strict disarmament treaties and punishing reparations,[4] the First Order despised the New Republic as an illegitimate regime that tolerated disorder in the galaxy.[2] Despite the First Order's frequent violations of the Galactic Concordance by intruding into Republic space and building illegal weapons, the New Republic did not believe that the Order posed a threat.[3]. Despite intelligence reports to the contrary, several Republic politicians in the Senate Intelligence Committee and senior military leaders such as Major Lonno Deso dismissed the First Order as an ill-organized, poorly equipped, and badly-funded group of Imperial loyalists who used propaganda and fear to exaggerate their strength and power.[3]

In an effort to subvert the New Republic, the First Order was also known to channel funds through shell and third-party corporations in the Corporate Sector to corrupt Republic senators like Erudo Ro-Kiintor, who blocked motions advocating sanctions against the First Order and increasing support for the New Republic Starfleet.[3] Consequently, the First Order's main military adversary was the Resistance, a private military organization founded by General Leia Organa in response to the Republic's unwillingness to take action against the Order.[4] The First Order saw its primary mission as restoring order to a "lawless" galaxy and viewed the Republic and Resistance as obstacles to achieving these goals.[3] About thirty years after the Battle of Endor, the First Order launched a preemptive attack on the Hosnian system in order to destroy the Republic and force the wider galaxy into submission. Later, the First Order made an unsuccessful attempt to destroy the Resistance's base on D'Qar.[2]

The First Order was also known to have dealings with other entities like the Corporate Sector Authority[3] and the Guavian Death Gang.[2]

Military

"They're flying state-of-the-art TIEs, they're using commando boarding parties and latest-generation attack shuttles in clear violation of the Galactic Concordance."
Commander Poe Dameron, regarding the First Order's military strength[src]

With its rapidly expanding military in clear violation of the Galactic Concordance and Republic laws, the massive militarization effort of the First Order would continue throughout its tenure in the Unknown Regions. There, military bases and shipyards would be constructed to churn out some of the technologically superior weapons and starfighters utilized by the Order's military. To avoid treaty restrictions banning the sale of weaponry to the First Order, galactic arms manufacturers BlasTech Industries and Merr-Sonn Munitions, Inc. spun off a subsidiary known as the Sonn-Blas Corporation, which manufactured much of the First Order's weaponry within First Order space. Sienar-Jaemus Fleet Systems would also help produce vessels such as the Upsilon-class command shuttle and TIE/fo space superiority fighter, along with its two-seated variant the TIE/sf space superiority fighter. Sienar-Jaemus Army Systems would manufacture the widely used AAL which could ferry twenty stormtroopers into combat, while the Aratech-Loratus Corporation developed the LIUV;[4] on ground the First Order also used some four-legged walkers similar to Imperial AT-ATs.[2] In violation of New Republic laws regarding capital ships, the Resurgent-class Battlecruiser would be developed by Kuat-Entralla Engineering and feature more than three-thousand turbolasers and ion cannons, and was specifically designed to evoke the fearful image of the Old Empire's Imperial-class Star Destroyers.[4]

Phasma FN Corps training

First Order Stormtroopers were indoctrinated from a young age.

Like its predecessor, the First Order employed the use of stormtroopers, including variants such as snowtroopers. It also utilized specialists including megablaster heavy assault troopers, flametroopers and riot control stormtroopers and selectively had one of the three variants placed in every ten-member stormtrooper squad. Unlike the inconsistent academy standards of the previous Galactic Empire, training of the new generation of stormtroopers emphasized improvisation and counter-insurgency operations, including guerrilla tactics. With the First Order lacking the numerical superiority of the Galactic Empire, better equipped and trained soldiers resulted in higher trooper proficiency than the previous Galactic Empire. Soldiers were often trained on capital ships and underwent vivid simulations to create the most loyal soldiers, which was an extension of the ideas of Commandant Brendol Hux and his Commandant's Cadets.[4]

One of its primary bases of operations was known as Starkiller Base, an ice planet converted into a stronghold. Seeking to rule the galaxy through fear, the base housed a superweapon capable of destroying entire star systems by firing a planet-destroying beam through hyperspace, and was led by an unofficial triumvirate of General Armitage Hux, Kylo Ren and Captain Phasma until it was destroyed in the Assault on Starkiller Base.[2][17][4]

The scale of the First Order's military operation shocked complacent New Republic observers, who had believed such shows of force were merely part of local defense forces and ceremonial guards.[6] With the rapid expansion of its stormtrooper ranks and military capabilities, the Resistance believed that more trooper specializations were yet to be discovered, and ships even larger than the Resurgent-class Battlecruisers were in existence.[4]

Society and culture

Growing up on the far side of the Unknown Regions, the officers and citizens of the First Order grew up with an Imperially-skewed version of galactic history. Under the guidance of Imperial veterans, along with approved literature, vids and mandatory viewings of morale sessions twice a day for stormtrooper cadets, officers would learn of their glorious past and how it had been robbed by terrorists and rebels, who later called themselves the New Republic. Many believed that only they could have the power necessary to wrest the galaxy from a path of chaos and corruption.[4]

Prerecorded speeches often filled the airwaves, in which General Armitage Hux would often comment on the depravity of the Republic with famines on Ibaar and Adarlon, the brutal suppression of the people of Balamak, and unchecked alien advances throughout the Outer Rim. Following which stories of First Order victories such as liberating labor camps on Iktotch or winning a fleet battle in the Bormea sector. Despite these patriotic functions and rallies, the First Order relied on the brutal suppression of dissent and unpatriotic activities. riot control stormtroopers were specially trained to quash insurrection, while live-fire dispersal of protesters was permitted. Industrial unrest like the Strike at Pressy's Tumble were blamed on New Republic agents. According to the First Order, the Jedi were officially extinct, while it was forbidden to pronounce Kylo Ren's birth name by order of Supreme Leader Snoke himself.[3][4] Within many of the labor camps and mining operations in First Order space, a large number of individuals involved were from aliens species.[3]

In order to boost morale, the First Order utilized a commemorative rank insignia system in which armbands bearing the names of famous units and heroes of the Galactic Civil War would be issued. Many within the military believed that despite being outnumbered by the New Republic Starfleet, their technological superiority was so complete that even their smaller navy stood virtually unchallenged.[4]

Astrography

The First Order claimed the large, unexplored region to the west of the Core as its heartland, with the emergent power expanding across the vast swaths of space left untouched for millennia by galactic explorers.[4] The result of a cold war between both the New Republic and First Order, a narrow region of neutral systems known as the Trans-Hydian Borderlands existed between New Republic and First Order space. Despite frequent First Order incursions into Republic space, the Galactic Senate did not wish to spark a conflict, and thus was limited to formal diplomatic protest. Nonetheless, by thirty years after Endor, the Order operated mining operations in the artificial asteroid field known as Pressy's Tumble in the Outer Rim Territories.[3]

Behind the scenes

"That all came out of conversations about what would have happened if the Nazis all went to Argentina but then started working together again? What could be born of that? Could The First Order exist as a group that actually admired The Empire? Could the work of The Empire be seen as unfulfilled? And could Vader be a martyr? Could there be a need to see through what didn't get done?"
―J.J. Abrams[src]

The First Order was created for the 2015 film Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens and was developed through conversations amongst the production team. According to J.J. Abrams, the film's director, the team wondered what would have happened if the Nazis who went into hiding in Argentina after World War II started working together again. Abrams hinted that the First Order would therefore be a group that admired the Galactic Empire and felt that its work was unfulfilled.[15]

The First Order's exact nature during the development of the film was kept secret since the film's announcement. On August 10, 2015, the official Star Wars Twitter and GooglePlus accounts unveiled an image of the First Order congregating at Starkiller Base.[18]

Costume designer Michael Kaplan said the First Order uniforms were designed to look severe, "very hard edge, very broad shoulders, very angular, geometric." He cited inspiration from French fashion designer Thierry Mugler.[19]

Appearances

Non-canon appearances

Sources

Notes and references

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