In the Star Wars universe, the Imperial Academy was a system of military training programs formed by the Galactic Empire for youth from across the galaxy who wanted to become commissioned officers in the Imperial Military (Army, Navy or Stormtrooper Corps). It was the result of the unification of countless planetary military academies that existed during the time of the Old Republic into one administrative structure. Applicants from around the galaxy and from the Galactic Empire applied to the Academy as a whole, and were assigned to campuses and programs at the discretion of the Imperial military if accepted.
Local Academies Edit
Throughout the Empire there are thousands of local military academies, often with histories dating back centuries or millennia. They are the traditional schools of continents, worlds, or star systems which have been assigned a new role in the New Order. While they are not sources for commissioning under the central Imperial Academy system, they still have a place. They provide academic instruction, typically leading to an academic degree, as well as initial military instruction, and often basic flight training (since prior flight experience before reaching the higher levels of the Imperial Academy system means better chances of being accepted for flight training).
Those who graduate these academies are well prepared for enrollment into another academy for their commissioning, in programs that last from between 12 to 30 months depending on the service they are entering and the program they are enrolling in. Graduates of local Academies are given preferential treatment over those with no prior military training or service when applying for other parts of the Imperial Academy system.
Raithal Academy Edit
Raithal Academy was already one of the oldest and most respected military academies in the galaxy before the incorporation of the Imperial Academy system, the eponymous military academy of the planet Raithal in the Core Worlds. The Raithal Academy is the premier training facility for the Imperial Army, and is renowned for a training regimen which is both grueling and extremely effective. Heavy indoctrination into Imperial political ideology is accompanied by lengthy field exercises. The fundamental doctrine of the Raithal Academy is to teach new officers to lead through a combination of fear (through harsh discipline) and respect (by setting an outstanding example). Following a one year program, cadets are commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and enter normal service.
Unlike the Imperial Army, which concentrates its training in a single prestigious academy, and numerous others, the Imperial Navy organizes its academies into a series of smaller local academies, with one in each sector of space. These Sector Naval Academies take recruits that are new to military service, as well as those having prior service, and train them for life in the Imperial Navy.
While not as large or renowned as the Raithal Academy, the Imperial Navy does maintain a single, premier training academy for its most promising cadets. Only those who test in the top 2% of the qualifying exams are eligible to attend, and they all must receive the endorsement of a military officer of moff rank or higher, as well as pass a more detailed background check than is given to most officer recruits. Those who are accepted for a 30 month training program. The motto of the Imperial Naval Academy is "Service, Fealty, Fidelity", and the Academy makes a point of ensuring that each Cadet is very familiar with this motto.
The academic standards of the Imperial Naval Academy are the strictest in the entire Imperial Academy system, and those who graduate from it almost always go on to successful and high-ranking careers in the Imperial Navy. While certainly not an official requirement, promotion to the highest echelons of Imperial Naval Command almost always requires graduation from this Academy.
The actual location of the Imperial Naval Academy is a military secret, Cadets are only taken to and from the academy by military transports. The Academy was built on a world not used for any purpose other than military training, with no civilians anywhere in the star system, all for the purposes of ensuring highest security and integrity of the training program as well as that of the recruits.
Flight Training Edit
Those cadets of the Imperial Navy (both the Imperial Naval Academy and the Sector Naval Academies) who graduate in the top 5% of their graduating class are eligible to enroll in flight training. While flight training also produces shuttle and transport pilots, training as a starfighter pilot is what virtually every cadet hopes for. Those who graduate between the top 6% and 33% from their academies can apply for flight related specialties, such as navigation, gunnery, and other support skills.
By specific request of a flag officer, a cadet in the Imperial Navy can be specifically marked for Flight Training regardless of test scores, typically due to already having proven their flight qualifications prior to enlistment. The training of Maarek Stele is one such case.
Flight Training is not conducted at a single campus, it is a program conducted in the field, aboard an Imperial Star Destroyer, typically one which is not seeing combat at the time. Training begins in a flight simulator, although cadets are quickly moved to flying actual TIE Fighters as soon as they demonstrate basic competence. Halfway through their training they are flying under actual combat conditions, with live weapons, away from their base ship. When a pilot is certified for combat, they have already practiced in many live-fire drills and seen extensive simulated combat. This marks the example of Darth Vader's wingmen (Mauler and Backstabber), who, among numerous others, are known as the best pilot-scort ever requested for service by the dark lord. Because of the front-line nature of Starfighter pilot training, pilots sometimes find themselves in combat even before their training is officially completed. Because of this, it is typical of an instructor to pronounce a cadet as having graduated and certify them for combat immediately upon satisfactory completion of their first actual combat experience, even if their standard training is not officially complete.
The Imperial Academy at Carida was the campus of the Imperial Academy most often depicted in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Located on Carida which was a key member world to the Galactic Empire even after it splintered into warring factions following the death of the Emperor Palpatine. Among the most famous graduates of the Carida Academy was Kyle Katarn, the former Stormtrooper who later became a Jedi Knight, and Han Solo, the smuggler who later became a hero of the Rebellion.
The Carida Academy was first founded in 200 BBY, when the Old Republic first established a weapons proving ground there, which quickly grew to be a large military base which had a heavy emphasis on training and weapons research. Even as Carida Academy focused on training Imperial Stormtroopers, its tradition of weapons research continued on, producing creations like the AT-MT walker.
The Imperial Academy at Carida was devoted to training officers for the Imperial Stormtroopers. Stormtrooper Officers were specifically recruited and trained from natural-born humans, instead of the clones that comprised some of the enlisted ranks, including the 501st Legion. In later years, enlisted training facilities were added on Carida for recruited (instead of cloned) Stormtroopers, but the focus of the Academy was on Officer training. Besides Stormtrooper officers, advanced training facilities also existed for specialized programs like training Imperial Storm Commandos, elite Tie Fighter pilots and gunnery crews.
The actual campus of the Military Academy of Carida was built on the Spinara plateau, and was a gleaming citadel that was specifically designed and built to look much older than it actually was. The design was meant to resemble traditional military academies such as Raithal Academy and the oldest governmental and academic buildings on Coruscant. The buildings had many highly polished white marble columns, reflecting pools, and parade grounds.
The Imperial Academy at Carida was destroyed in 10 ABY, when Kyp Durron, searching for his brother Zeth (who had been forcibly conscripted as a Stormtrooper several years before), blew up Carida and Zeth with the indestructible Sun Crusher.
Gorden, Greg (1989). Star Wars: Imperial Sourcebook. Honesdale, PA: West End Games. ISBN 0-87431-175-6.
Sudlow, Paul (1996). Star Wars: The Jedi Academy Sourcebook. Honesdale, PA: West End Games. ISBN 0-87431-274-4.
Also see star wars graphic novel "Imperial Perspective".