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Imperial Moffs traced their origins to the final days of the Old Republic, when the Sector Governance Decree was promulgated by Supreme Chancellor Palpatine using his emergency powers, establishing regional governors throughout the Galaxy. Though they were also referred to by the more generic style of Governor, the title of Moff was specifically chosen by Palpatine as a tribute to the satraps of the small space empires that had grown together to become the Old Republic, and the decree thus pointed the way towards Palpatine's subsequent assumption of Imperial power, which was explicitly presented as a revival of the glories and grandeur of ancient monarchies like Atrisia.
The initial Sector Governance Decree, however, was issued under the Republic, and caused immediate alarm in the Galactic Senate, serving as the major catalyst for the Petition of Two Thousand. Palpatine simply used this show of Senatorial opposition as a means to identify and remove his most dangerous opponents in the political elite, but the Senate's short-lived defiance, along with the magnitude of the tasks involved in ending the Clone Wars and initiating the Great Jedi Purge, may nonetheless have contributed to the delay in the appointment of the first Moffs, who did not take up office until several weeks after the Declaration of the New Order and the establishment of the Galactic Empire.
The concept of assigning Moffs to sectors obviously related to the ancient division of the Republic into a thousand sectors, each with a Senator and a local congress; but the first Moffs seem to have been appointed to control rather larger territories than those for which the Senators were answerable: for instance, the Moff of Sector 3 was headquartered on Bimmisaari in Halla Sector, but his territory extended as far as Kashyyyk in Mytaranor Sector: these vast volumes of space may have corresponded to the theatres of operations of the twenty Sector Armies within the Grand Army of the Republic. It appears that at this time, the newly reformed Imperial Fleet was also placed under the authority of a Moff, one of the few senior officials to whom the command program of the dreadnaught Eye of Palpatine was answerable.
By the time that the Senate was dissolved in 0 BBY, Moffs had been assigned to most of the thousand historic sectors of known space, tightening the Empire's grip on the Galaxy. However, a number of further modifications had been made to the system, most notably the creation of a cadre of higher-ranking Grand Moffs, governors-general of a new class of Priority Sectors, also known as Oversectors. Proposed by Moff Wilhuff Tarkin of Sesswenna Sector, these were areas of the Galaxy in which Rebel activity and unrest were proving more than the local Moff could handle, and within which the apparatus of control was strengthened by the diversion of vastly increased military, paramilitary and judicial resources. The best-known Priority Sectors were vast reaches of space, rather similar to the large sectors of early Imperial Moffs, in which a number of existing sectors with their local Moffs were now subordinated to a new Oversector command: Imperial Center Oversector incorporated most of the Core, while Tarkin's own Oversector Outer essentially incorporated the whole of the former Outland Regions, and the Bright Jewel Oversector embraced another vast tract of the Rim.
However, not all Oversectors were created in this way. Sometimes, a Moff was simply promoted to Grand Moff and given additional resources to deal with the threats within his existing sector, and sometimes, a rash of troublesome areas across several adjacent sectors were removed from their Moffs' control and grouped in a new Priority Sector under a new Grand Moff. Occasionally, a single existing sector might be converted into an Oversector and subdivided into new sectors, as with the planned transformation of the Tapani Sector that was interrupted by the Battle of Endor.
As well as the stratification introduced by the creation of Grand Moffs, further complexity was added to the organization of regional governors by the appointment of Moffs to control areas smaller than the historic sectors of the Old Republic: fortress worlds like Prakith had their own Moffs, and on Imperial Center, even ministries of the planetary administration were incorporated as sectors in their own right, such as Planetary Security, commanded by Moff Kadir.
Following the Battle of Endor, the Moffs were largely responsible for the chaos that ensued during the Post-Endor Imperial power struggle. Ever ambitious, Moffs would take their own sector resources and establish spheres of influence of their own, each vying for more and more power and territory. Conversely, the Interim Ruling Council, which led the Empire through its darkest days, was comprised largely of loyal Moffs and other high-ranking Imperial officials, from the government and the military.
In the aftermath of the power struggle and Bacharan Valak's rise to the throne, Moffs were once again resuming their normal duties. The Moffs were reorganized into a Moff's Council, positioned beneath the Imperial Ruling Council and comprising one of the elements of Imperial High Command. Led by the Supreme Moff, the Moff's Council was designed to allow for better coordination of Imperial resources and cooperation between the Imperial Moffs.
Role and powersEdit
Under the Sector Governance Decree, each Moff was armed with little more than a broad mandate to monitor sector government, and a force of Stormtroopers that might be sufficient to secure their residence, maintain control in the surrounding streets, and provide protection to a few administrative personnel on detached duty. This was enough to provoke the Petition of Two Thousand and precipitate the revolution that overthrew the Old Republic.
By the time that the re-named Imperial Senate was swept away nineteen years later, the machinery of power that the Moffs directed had increased almost beyond recognition. Within the civil chain of command, they were now the formal superiors of all Planetary Governors, while the paramilitary apparatus of COMPNOR and the intelligence networks now amalgamated as Imperial Intelligence were both supposed to be channeled through the Moff's office at sector level. Most imposingly of all, they held authority over the immense military resources of a Sector Group: as regional governor, every Moff had ultimate authority over the deployment of all military forces within his sector, but the additional naval and military dignities of High Admiral and Surface Marshal of the sector were normally also held by the Moff himself, and only rarely delegated to subordinates.
According to sources produced by the Rebel Alliance, the Navy forces in a typical sector included twenty-four Star Destroyers, 1,600 other warships, and 800 support ships, while the field forces of a typical Sector Army numbered 774,576 front-line troops, and a little over 400,000 support personnel, to say nothing of the dozens or hundreds of planetary garrisons—usually small Stormtrooper brigades commanded by Major Generals. However, a note of caution must be sounded as to these figures, since it is known that in many sectors, the actual deployments were much smaller: in Minos Cluster, the Sector Group comprised a single ageing Victory-class Star Destroyer and a few small capital ships, while in the Tapani Sector, on the eve of its planned transformation into an Oversector, the primary Army presence consisted of a single Battlegroup based at the Tallaan shipyards. Nevertheless, in terms of both manpower and firepower, the strength of the Imperial Service was truly unprecedented across the Galaxy: it was a rare Moff who found himself outnumbered or outgunned by any organized enemy force that he might face.
However, when it is asked what the Moffs were expected to do with all these resources, we find little more than vague ideals: they were expected to maintain order, prevent corruption, enforce the law, and not otherwise interfere with the operation of the local bureaucracy or sector government. It is possible that their authority was never defined in any more precise terms than this, and with this in mind, it can certainly be noted that the most important enhancement of their powers came through the removal of the Senate and the associated administrative bureaucracy, not an enhancement of their own authority per se, but the elimination of the procedural channels and public political platforms that had until them been the main means of challenging or circumventing their authority.
Of course, such a loose commission can lead to gross infringements of civil liberty and arbitrary tyranny; Moffs might, in the name of restoring order, have their soldiers fire on peaceful demonstration, or bombard a planet into submission for purely political defiance. However, it must also be remembered that the Moffs took power in a Galaxy ravaged by war and racked by political corruption: their powers were intended to allow them to do what was necessary, to prevent the system unraveling into anarchy under the pressure of Separatist terrorism or radical agitation. Without downplaying the crimes committed by the Imperial regime, we must in short, consider the nature of their authority against the backdrop of the Clone Wars and the subsequent insurgency, and endeavor to separate the reality of the situation from the rhetoric and propaganda produced by Senate radicals like Mon Mothma, and later canonized in official histories overseen by her political secretary and speechwriter, Major Arhul Hextrophon. While Imperial tyranny undoubtedly fuelled the fires of rebellion, it must also be asked how much the actions of the Rebel Alliance were themselves responsible for creating, or at the very least legitimizing, the very tyranny that they claimed to be revolting against.
It is not clear whether any Moffs were assigned to commands that were not formally constituted as sectors, but some Moff's domains were certainly not interstellar fiefdoms. The Moffs of fortress worlds have been referred to already, as has the role of Moff Kadir as commander of Coruscant Security, while Moff Giiedt was liaison to the planetary government of Tiss'sharl. Moff Jerjerrod, previously in charge of Quanta Sector, was at one point slated to be made Director of Imperial Energy Systems, but it is not clear whether there was any real separation between his later role as governor of Moddell Sector and his position as commander of Death Star II; his apparent presence aboard the Executor while she was in Anoat Sector, shortly after the Battle of Hoth, can in turn be linked to his role in charge of the Death Star project.
The first Moffs, appointed in 19 BBY, wore military uniforms with four code cylinders, and rank badges carrying five blue tabs above a varying combination of red and two gold: Wilhuff Tarkin had three red and two gold pips, while Marcellin Wessel wore one red and four gold. Later Moffs usually retained four code cylinders, but various Moffs are seen with a variety of different patterns of pips on their badges. Although it may be impossible to explain the exact symbolism of every Moff's insignia from current records, it can be observed that Grand Moffs typically wore six red squares above three blue and three gold, while several Moffs are seen with six red squares over six blue, the insignia of an Admiral.
There is, it ought to be stressed, no evidence that these insignia were specific to the position of Moff, as opposed to the military dignities of High Admiral and Surface Marshal of the sector, which most Moffs held ex officio. Moffs could also wear civilian robes, as they did for meetings of the Moff's Council in later years.