The 20 Most Powerful Military Figures In The 'Star Wars' Galaxy, Ranked

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Star Wars has never shied away from depictions of the military and its commanders. After all, the galaxy had been fighting the Clone Wars before the events of A New Hope. The Rebel Alliance kept it going long after the battles between the Separatists and the Galactic Republic came to an end during the civil war. 

Sure, there's plenty of political intrigue carried out by powerful political leaders, like Mon Mothma and Grand Moff Tarkin, but the military is where the real story takes place… at least in the original trilogy. The battle between the Rebel Alliance and the Empire pits some of fiction's most powerful military leaders against one another. Whether battles take place in the sea, land, air, or outer space, someone is commanding the action. 

This list looks at the 20 most powerful military figures in Star Wars by focusing on the high-level commanders. Military members from the Galactic Republic, Empire, First Order, and even the Jedi Order are represented, so take a look at them down below. When you find the military leader you think is the most powerful, be sure to give them an upvote to see which one rises to the top!

  • Grand Admiral Thrawn
    Photo: Star Wars: Rebels / Disney XD

    Grand Admiral Thrawn entered military service at a young age, serving in the Chiss Ascendancy. He eventually came to the attention of Sheev Palpatine, who was impressed by the young Chiss officer. The two worked together for some time before Thrawn was promoted to the rank of Grand Admiral, and both men admired one another.

    Thrawn was a calculated leader and a genius regarding military strategy. He believed the only way to truly defeat enemies was to know them. To this end, he collected art, trinkets, and artifacts of various cultures, which he studied and used to his advantage in a conflict. Thrawn rose to the rank he did out of his brilliance but also through his ability to command through loyalty, not fear, as explained by Thrawn's original creator, Timothy Zahn, in a 2017 interview:

    Most of the Imperial leaders we see in the movies rule through a combination of fear and manipulation. I wanted to create something different: a commander who could lead through loyalty. The result was Thrawn, a tactical genius whose troops follow him willingly, and who will fight for him whether or not he's watching over their shoulders.

    579 votes
  • Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin
    Photo: Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope / 20th Century Fox

    Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin's earliest days of military service came via his exploits with the Outland Regions Security Force, which caught the eye of Senator Sheev Palpatine. After meeting the young man, Palpatine worked to help elevate his standing by putting him in the Galactic Republic's Judicial Academy. He was more inclined to military service but managed to work in both capacities throughout his career. Eventually, he became Governor of Eriadu, again with the backing of Palpatine.

    When the Clone Wars began, Tarkin took a position as an officer in the Grand Army of the Republic and quickly rose through the ranks. He continued to serve as Governor while simultaneously fulfilling his role in the military, and before long, he joined the Republic Special Weapons Group. That same year, he prosecuted Ahsoka Tano, assessed the Clone Trooper program on Kamino, took part in several critical military engagements, and was promoted to the newly-created rank of Grand Moff

    Tarkin later became Governor of the Outer Rim and the head of the Death Star project. He commanded the Death Star during its destruction of Alderaan and flew it to the Yavin system in an effort to snuff out the Rebellion in one fell swoop. Ultimately, Tarkin was killed when the Rebel Alliance destroyed the Death Star at the Battle of Yavin.

    470 votes
  • General Obi-Wan Kenobi
    Photo: Star Wars: The Clone Wars / Lucasfilm

    When the Galactic Civil War broke out, the Jedi were put into positions within the military as commanders. Jedi Masters and Knights were made into Generals of the Grand Army of the Republic. This was initially an informal distinction, but it was soon made permanent. Obi-Wan Kenobi was made a Jedi General shortly after the Battle of Geonosis, and he quickly proved himself more than capable of leading troops in combat.

    Kenobi commanded the Third Systems Army, the Open Circle Fleet, the 7th Sky Corps, and the 212th Attack Battalion throughout the Clone Wars. He was often accompanied by Clone Marshal Commander CC-2224, otherwise known as “Cody.” Before long, he was promoted to the rank of High Jedi General, and he took part in every significant military engagement during the conflict. His military service ended when the Republic fell and he went into hiding after Order 66.

    399 votes
  • Admiral Gial Ackbar
    Photo: Star Wars: Episode VI -Return of the Jedi / 20th Century Fox

    Admiral Gial Ackbar was a member of the Mon Calamari Guard, where he served as a captain. He took part in the Battle of Mon Cala during the Clone Wars, which resulted in removing Separatist influence from his homeworld. Later, he joined the Rebel Alliance, where he quickly proved his superior abilities as a military tactician.

    Ackbar's relationship with his people and their support of the Rebel Alliance helped fill its navy with Mon Calamari star cruisers. Ackbar commanded the fleet during the Battle of Endor when he helped ensure the destruction of the second Death Star. After the war, he served as Fleet Admiral in the New Republic Defense Fleet, leading it to victory at the Battle of Jakku.

    That battle resulted in the Imperial remnants' departure from known space, and the New Galactic Republic began to decommission its military assets. Despite this, Ackbar was ready to fight when war came to the core once more via the First Order. He came out of retirement and accepted his commission, commanding the Resistance fleet against Starkiller Base. Later, he was aboard the Raddus when a TIE fighter attacked the bridge, killing him and many other high-ranking Resistance members.

    411 votes
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    360 VOTES
    Commander Rex
    Photo: Star Wars: The Clone Wars / Lucasfilm

    CT-7567, better known as “Rex,” was a Clone Captain and member of the 501st Legion under the command of Jedi General Anakin Skywalker. On numerous occasions, Rex proved himself a capable commander and strategist, able to repel attacks and engage the enemy on multiple fronts without the assistance of the Jedi. He was often left in charge when the Jedi took care of business elsewhere, and he was well-respected by his men, who followed him loyally.

    Eventually, Rex learned of the inhibitor chips installed in all Clones, and his knowledge helped Ahsoka Tano remove it from his brain. This led to Rex being the only Clone aboard Ahsoka's starship who didn't try to kill her. Both he and Ahsoka made it safely to the ground, and Rex went on to live with some of his fellow clones (minus their chips) on Seelos. He later joined the Phoneix Cell in the earliest stages of the Rebellion against the Empire. He was promoted to the rank of Commander and took part in the Battle of Endor in Return of the Jedi.

    360 votes
  • General Jan Dodonna
    Photo: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope / 20th Century Fox

    General Jan Dodonna's military career began in the Galactic Republic's navy, where he fought during the Clone Wars. When the Republic fell and the Empire replaced it, he continued to serve in the navy of the Galactic Empire, but he didn't like how the government oppressed its people. He chose to join Senator Bail Organa's resistance movement, and after some time, Dodonna became a pivotal figure in creating the Alliance to Restore the Republic.

    Eventually, Dodonna joined the Alliance High Command, which put him in command of the Rebel's secret hidden base on Yavin IV. Dodonna was the military strategist who devised the plan to destroy the Death Star, ultimately winning the Battle of Yavin and delivering a crippling blow to the Empire. Dodonna continued to serve the Rebel Alliance, and his last action came when he flew to Mao-Ta to save a group of Rebel forces. He was successful, but his ship was destroyed in the process, resulting in his demise.

    304 votes