The stateless strategy was a space warfare strategy utilized throughout galactic history. Properly used, it allowed a smaller power to defeat a larger, militarily-superior one.[1]

The strategyEdit

"Control space and you control any battlefield you can imagine. Unfortunately you cannot control space."
Admiral Firmus Nantz.[src]

The stateless strategy relied on decentralization and the sheer vastness of space to allow a smaller belligerent to beat a larger one. A power with a defined homeworld and colonies could be reduced and defeated with numerical superiority. However, a decentralized power without a clearly-defined homeworld or territory would have to be overcome everywhere it existed before it could be defeated. The vastness of space meant that throughout history, even the largest militaries found controlling space impossible.[2]

In contrast, this gave an advantage to the decentralized belligerent: since the larger opponent could not defend everywhere, the smaller power could choose its battles and strike where its opponent was not. This would force the larger power into making the choice between heavily-defending a handful of key "fortress worlds", thus allowing the enemy a free hand elsewhere, or dispersing their forces and so risking the loss of a key planet through defeat in detail. Economic considerations and public pressure tended to force states to adopt the fortress world strategy.[3]


The various Sith Empires throughout history used the stateless strategy in their wars against the Galactic Republic.[4] The Confederacy of Independent Systems used the strategy during the Clone Wars. However, since they possessed territory, the CIS was vulnerable to the stateless strategy in its own right, and by 19 BBY had been forced on to the defensive in the Outer Rim Sieges once the Republic's superior industrial base had produced enough warships to both defend their territories and take the offensive.[5]

The Alliance to Restore the Republic made use of the stateless strategy during the Galactic Civil War. The Galactic Empire's response was a policy of reprisal, a system of state terror that was institutionalized in the Tarkin Doctrine.[6] However, the policy of overwhelming force in an effort to deny the Rebels safe haven did more to foment resistance than eliminate it. The creation of the Death Star was intended to reverse such a state of affairs by introducing the possibility of a reprisal so terrifying - namely, the destruction of entire planets - that no world would risk aiding the Rebellion.[7] In the aftermath of the Battle of Endor, the Empire retreated to the "fortress world" strategy, effectively giving the Rebellion a free hand over much of the galaxy and dooming it as a galactic power.[8]

Grand Admiral Thrawn's final campaign against the New Republic in 9 ABY was considered to be a classic example of the stateless strategy. Making use of high-profile raids against poorly-defended targets, Thrawn panicked the New Republic's citizens and made it look weak when it could not defend all its worlds. Thrawn made a series of feints at Ando, Filve and Crondre that forced the New Republic fleet at Ord Pardron to sortie. Thrawn then destroyed the undefended military base at Ord Pardron, in turn allowing him to capture Ukio.[9] The campaign totally reversed the strategic geography of the Galactic Civil War, forcing the New Republic to adopt the fortress world strategy, with rapid reaction fleets deployed to defend Coruscant, Bothawui, Kashyyyk and Mon Calamari, until it was abruptly ended with Thrawn's assassination at the Battle of Bilbringi.[10]