What One of Star Wars’ Most Famous Battles Can Teach the U.S. Military

    Matt Hipple

    Security, North America

    This isn’t going to go the way you think…

    From the sinking of HMS Victoria in 1893 to the 2012 USS Porter collision, the hubris of experience and seniority can blind and isolate leaders to deadly result. Such is the cautionary tale of Vice Adm. Amilyn Holdo’s toxic leadership that brought the Resistance to a crisis.

    The conflict between ex-Commander Poe Dameron and Vice Admiral Holdo is interpreted by some as a junior leader’s sexist arrogance, and an unwillingness to follow orders. But for orders and intent to be followed, orders and intent must be given and credibility maintained. Leaders fail when they do not establish expectations, communicate intent, or at minimum engage with key subordinates—like their strike group’s wing commander, airboss, bridge watch standers and intelligence shop. Vice Admiral Holdo’s communication failure forced subordinates to abandon her formal authority for loyalties higher in the hierarchy—the ship, the mission and the cause.

    First Impressions Matter—Uniform as Communication

    In the aftermath of the Republic capital’s destruction, a decapitation strike eliminates the senior military leadership onboard the last Resistance flagship. The Resistance fleet’s remaining officers and their immediate subordinates gather on the secondary bridge seeking direction stolen by two devastating fleet losses, the death of Admiral Ackbar, Leia’s incapacitation and an unending siege of Imperial gunnery. Into this crisis and a sea of dirty uniformed watchstanders strides Vice Admiral Holdo, wearing a spotless art-gala gown and halo-tiara.

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