By: Peter Sessum
No, Boba Fett isn’t the “quintessential Special Forces soldier of the ‘Star Wars’ universe” or even “much more than just a badass galactic warrior” as Task & Purpose (T&P) states in their clickbait article Why Star Wars’ Boba Fett is the ultimate Special Forces soldier. He isn’t SF, in fact, he isn’t even a bad ass warrior. Boba Fett, as I have often said, is a POG. If anything, he is the quintessential POG.
I thought I was done beating this dead horse, but, like Michael Corleone; they keep pulling me back in. Hopefully, this will be the end of a Boba Fett was a POG Trilogy. I started the unintentional series with Boba Fett was a POG before watching the first season of The Mandalorian. I wanted to get my thoughts down about the portrayal of the infamous bounty hunter before the new show.
When The Book of Boba Fett was coming out, I followed up with Boba Fett is Still a POG based on observations from his screen time in the Mandalorian series. While I was wrong about exactly where his ship was parked in his absence post Return of the Jedi, I still stand by my points. This will be as much supporting my argument with new information as countering the T&P article.
I will admit that the article was an opinion piece written by an associate professor at Arkansas State University who “enjoys researching and writing about military history, as well as comic books and Star Wars.” I don’t bring up his bio as a slight, but it means he is coming from a different position than a former grunt turned PSYOP that trained tactics to actual soldiers and was boots on the ground as PSYOP support for Special Forces teams in Afghanistan and later a civilian liaison officer briefing the commander of Special Operations in country on counter narcotic efforts. Opinion pieces can’t technically be right nor wrong, but I disagree with every point he makes. Based on the new series, I will acknowledge that Fett is now an officer, but that makes him no less a POG.
At best, I will concede that Fett is less of a POG only when taking everyone else in the series into account. Yes, the cook that won the company smoker is more bad ass than the other POGs in the unit, but that doesn’t make him a grunt, much less an operator. So, who is his competition for top dog?
Jawas? The ones who kicked his ass after his escape from the Sarlacc Pit? Sure, he was weak from the ordeal, but not only was it a one hit knockout, but he didn’t even recall who took his armor. I’m all for him wanting to blow up the thing that fucked you up, but he still thought his armor was in there. And again, it was something that almost killed him when he returned with his ship. He would have died if not for his right-hand woman Fennec Shand taking care of business. A common theme in the series. A real Special Forces Operator would have the critical thinking to know that a Sarlacc wouldn’t strip him and spit him out and would have been looking elsewhere for his pound of flesh delivered by missile from a distance.
The infamous Order of the Night Wind Assassins? They are a greater argument for how much everyone in the Star Wars universe sucks than proof of Fett’s SOF credentials. So called deadly assassins, who have Fett in the open without his helmet off and what do they do? They break cover to engage him with riot shields and tasers. I’m not Special Forces, I’m not sniper qualified or trained, and I could have taken a headshot on a stationary target from less than 50 meters away. So how does “badass” Fett take them out? After being surrounded, does he use his jet pack to take the fight airborne and use his single biggest advantage over a majority of the galaxy? No, he panic fires a wrist rocket into a shield at close range and gets his ass kicked until his too far security and his bad ass XO, (Shand) save him. The same XO who chases down enemies while he leaves her to go get to the aid station.
How about feared Krrsantan, the Wookie gladiator turned bounty hunter (mercenary) who infiltrates Fett’s stronghold, finds him sleeping and unprotected in a pod and the assassin makes the genius move to pull Fett out of the pod to beat him with spiked taser brass knuckles. You know, just how a skilled assassin would. Why shoot or blow up a half-naked and defenseless target when you can engage in fisticuffs until help arrives? Again, Fett isn’t credited with the W because of his skill or abilities. Because that is what SF is known for, getting their asses handed to them and being saved by a bunch of street rat teenagers. The Hutt’s try one half ass assassination attempt and give up on taking back their territory? Sure, it is great for a plot point, but lazy writing at best or it shows that all occupants for the Star Wars galaxy are inept.
So, why does an academic who loves military history think a character who constantly gets his ass handed to him is the ultimate Special Forces soldier? In my opinion, it is because Star Wars fans are infamous for sledge hammering a square peg into a round hole to fit their head canon narrative. In this case, Fett is awesome, no matter the information to the contrary. As an academic, he should be embarrassed to submit something with such poorly reached conclusions.
Fett’s time with the Tusken Raiders is used as an example of Unconventional Warfare (UW), but I would counter that is an example of how un-SF he really is. He is enslaved by one of the only primitive species on Tatooine. Even Jawas appear to engage in space travel. While a prisoner, he engages in zero SERE techniques. At first, it is understandable, he is weak and doesn’t know how to find water, but one he does, he still makes no effort to escape. He kills a dollar store knock off of the Kracken from Clash of the Titans and returns to the Tusken camp. I would argue that he less “saved a child’s life” and more fought to save his own.
He is welcomed into their tribe and makes no effort to reclaim his armor or his ship. Instead, he goes native, which might be considered an SF thing, but was also the plan of Bowe Bergdahl, so draw your own conclusions. He does, however teach them how to rob a train, but unlike true SF operators, he uses the attack to try and force a galactic drug ring of paying protection money. Any real UW soldier would know that the Tuskens were unable to enforce that deal and would instead negotiate that the syndicate stop firing on indigenous tribes as the train passed by.
The Tuskins were newly trained on stolen bikes armed the equivalent of WWI era bolt action Enfield rifles. They lost vehicles and personnel on the initial train assault and Fett had the audacity to approach a galactic drug cartel and demand protection money.
A real SF soldier would have done an accurate assessment of forces and known that after taking so many losses in the initial assault would have known that his treat was unsustainable and would not be in keeping with the way of life of the indigenous tribe he had joined. The fact the Pykes allowed him to leave the building was a miracle. Those same ingenious forces that were supposed to protect the trains are wiped out while Fett is trying to shake the syndicate down. Literally anyone could have seen that, except, of course, for a POG high on his first success.
No half way competent soldier would have allowed the people who embraced him to be wiped out. It doesn’t take a genius to see that there was a number of better ways to handle the situation. I would argue that the main reason he FUBARed the situation was because he didn’t have a competent person like Fennec Shand at his side. If they were up to the task of offering protection to an intergalactic crime syndicate, they could have easily got his ship and/or armor back. In fact, there is nothing that suggests he couldn’t have asked Bib Fortuna for his old ship back. No SF soldier I have ever met would do things the absolute hardest way, waste resources, or make things worse for local allies.
Based on what can be gleaned on screen, I have stated that Boba Fett is a POG, after watching the first season of The Book of Boba Fett, I would concede that after taking over Jabba’s old palace, he has been promoted to officer. At best, he is a butter bar with the senior enlisted Shand at his side. Before the keyboard warriors and peanut gallery post comments, I challenge you first answer the question. Who would you rather follow into battle, the lieutenant who says, “this is what I learned in ROTC” or the one who says, “I’ve amended the plan to include Gunny’s suggestions”?
Literally every time he refuses to listen to Shand, things go to shit. And yet, this supposed SF operator is given credit for every success. In the T&P article, he is given credit for Shand conducting “a commando-style raid to infiltrate the headquarters and kill the Pyke’s boss and other officials” which was literally her idea from the start. The platoon leader, after losing multiple forces, finally says to his senior NCO, “do it your way.” And she does. She even saves allies on her way to merc the bosses.
She is in the company of three well known, and well connected, bad ass mercenaries (four if you count Fett, which I don’t) and they don’t recruit anymore? Fett claims to have money is one of the biggest arguments about how he is not SF. If there is one thing an SF team loves to do, it’s spend money. They could have had a whole company of mercenaries pulling up at light speed to reinforce their numbers. Fett could have told Din Djarin to offer a building as a conclave for Mandalorians in exchange for their assistance in the war. But, of course he doesn’t, apparently a bunch of teens riding vespas are all he thinks he needs to fight a drug cartel.
Another favorite thing of SF is intel. Fett has literally none. Everything the enemy does is a surprise to him. He doesn’t know anything until it happens. The bombing of the club, the cartel framing a biker gang for murdering the Tuskin tribe, his “allies” turning on him, the Pykes sending a man to kill the sheriff, their forces, the fact they have mechanized armor. He doesn’t know any of it. His “spies” are street punks that everyone knows work for him. No eyes and ears in the other criminal organizations. He is supposed to be a crime lord, but he is just a POG LT with nice lodging.
Fett’s best armor isn’t the Beskar he wears, but plot armor. His biggest threat isn’t the Pykes or whatever antagonist they come up for season two; it is his own incompetence. The moment Shand decides her life debt is paid, or that he has needlessly risked her life more than he saved it, Fett’s days are over. He wins zero fights on his own or due to his tactical genius. At some point, Shand is going to realize that he isn’t fit for the job and he is going to be fragged. As with the rest of his life, he won’t see it coming.
As someone who’s job was psychological warfare for a decade and earned combat patches doing it, I am a little insulted that this POG ass officer is credited with conducting the same. Psychological Operations (PSYOP) is a well thought out and executed plan. Sending out the mayor’s aide as a distraction is no more PSYOP than pointing and yelling, “what’s that over there?” Calling it psychological warfare leads me to believe the author knows little about either of those words.
Another term I am not sure he understands is Counter Insurgency (COIN). In this case, Fett and his band of misfits is the insurgency. They aren’t the legitimate government. Despite being called a daimyo, Fett hold no real political power. In fact, the legitimate government sides with the Pykes. If Fett is using COIN tactics, he is a complete moron. He should be acting like an insurgent force and using unconventional tactics to fight a superior force aligned with the legitimate government.
The conclusion that after the battle Fett crated a stable government is unsubstantiated. He isn’t the mayor or part of the legitimate government; he remains a crime boss. Just because your XO took out the mayor and your competitors doesn’t get you elected to office. While it would fit the COIN idea, that narrative is flawed one to start from.
While Fett is an inept POG, I can see why, for the uninitiated, he might seem a like an expert in unconventional warfare. According to Murphy’s Law of Combat, “if it’s stupid but works, it isn’t stupid.” So, while his ideas are stupid, because he lucks out, he is considered unconventional. Unfortunately, this speaks more to the rest of the Star Wars universe and not a compliment to his skills as a warrior. Where the Pykes and Hutts fail, a fireteam of grunts with decent weapons quals would have succeeded.
I sincerely don’t want to seem critical of Dr. Edward Salo, the author of the opinion piece praising Fett or Task &Purpose for printing it. Salo and I are coming from vastly different places. Out of respect for his profession, before publishing, I peer reviewed my conclusions with fellow veterans, warriors that specialize in unconventional warfare, and COIN subject matters experts. All have real world, first-hand experience in their given fields. However, I am open to the possibility that there are factors I haven’t considered and would welcome the opportunity to speak with Salo and exchange ideas to see if there is common ground to be found. Until given new evidence, I remain firm that Boba Fett is a POG, is not worthy of the accolades he receives, and that it is insulting to any military personnel or veteran to claim otherwise. As clickbait, however, the article serves its purpose.