Among the approximately 17 billion Star Wars streaming shows announced at Disney’s recent Investor Day panel, one of the most interesting was a Mandalorian spinoff series called Rangers of the New Republic. Which begs the question: what exactly is a Ranger of the New Republic?
The concept of a Ranger in the military sense—a special forces trooper specializing in reconnaissance and combat operations in multiple terrains and biomes—has long existed in Star Wars canon, both in the old Expanded Universe and even in current stories. The Rebel Alliance had the Wilderness Fighters, SpecOps squads deployed everywhere from Hoth to Endor, and re-canonized in ancillary material for Rogue One.
Another major ranger force in the EU was the Antarian Rangers, a paramilitary group originally created hundreds of years before the Skywalker Saga as a group of non-Force-users who pledged themselves to offer combat support and aid to the Jedi Order in times of crises. It was a group that winnowed with the Order’s downfall and resurged once again with the establishment of the New Jedi Order.
There’s also the presence of military-adjacent Rangers in Star Wars canon the series could draw inspiration from and actually might have already. In both Disney’s content and the old EU there were “Sector Rangers,” an Old-Republic-era law enforcement agency beholden not to a singular planet, but a sector of space, working with local agencies to pursue particularly dangerous criminals. The Sector Rangers were even re-established by the New Republic when it rose to power in the new canon. There are comparisons there to Cara Dune’s role in The Mandalorian season two as a Marshal for the New Republic, although her duties seem much more tied to a specific world (in this case, Nevarro), rather than the wider jurisdiction of Sector Rangers.
Whether the series is Cops-in-Space or Cops-in-Space-With-More-Commando-Gear, what’s most interesting about Rangers of the New Republic is the time it’s set. Taking place in and around the roughly 9ABY (After the Battle of Yavin) time period of The Mandalorian, the series exists in a particularly interesting time in what we know of the New Republic’s existence between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. In particular that it’s a period of the former armies of the Rebel Alliance being broken up and pared down.
When The Mandalorian occurs, the New Republic as a galactic entity has well been established. Although the Rebel Alliance rapidly reformed as the New Republic in the wake of the Battle of Endor (which took place in 4ABY), it wasn’t until after the Battle of Jakku nearly a year later that its new Senate had really been formally established. They first collected on the planet Chandrila—Chancellor Mon Mothma’s homeworld—then relocated to Nakadia after an assassination attempt by Imperial Remnant forces, before a move to rotating between member worlds for the remainder of its existence.
One of Mon Mothma’s first moves as Chancellor—after relinquishing the emergency powers given to the office (and retained by Palpatine) during the outbreak of the Clone War—was to introduce the Military Disarmament Act. It was a piece of legislation that wouldn’t ultimately be approved until the New Republic Defense Force scored a decisive victory over the Remnant at Jakku, bringing the Empire to the negotiating table to sign the peace treaty known as the Galactic Concordance. The Concordance paved the way for the Senate to quickly ratify Mon Mothma’s Military Disarmament Act, which fundamentally reshaped New Republic Command’s military presence in the galaxy.
The former military force of the Rebel Alliance was cut down in size by 90%, leaving only a limited, centralized defense force broken into three branches: the New Republic Army and the New Republic Defense Fleet, helmed by Admiral Ackbar, and General Crix Madine’s New Republic SpecForces, the elite/intelligence branch of New Republic military operations. The funding and extraneous hardware of the former military was re-funneled into the individual military budgets of the Senate’s member worlds, so they could establish local defense forces that would operate to secure their sectors and work with the larger New Republic military in times of crisis.
How does that tie into Rangers of the New Republic? Well, as previously mentioned, the Sector Rangers were re-established as part of the New Republic Defense Force, with law-enforcement academies established across Senate worlds. That included Hosnian Prime, the unfortunate home of the Senate during the Starkiller Base crisis that fractured the New Republic for good. The idea of a new protagonist in charge of maintaining New Republic jurisdictions across the Outer Rim is kind of a way to have The Mandalorian both ways. You can still get that sort of space-western vibe but one rooted within the traditional heroes of the Star Wars saga rather than a morally-ambiguous (but good at heart) outlaw. Maybe the series doesn’t follow a Sector Ranger, but pilots and soldiers in the New Republic Defense Force—like X-Wing pilots Carson Teva and Trapper Wolf—as it stands in this period of time, getting to explore a galaxy in relative peace after years of fighting in the Galactic Civil War.
Whatever Rangers of the New Republic decides to be about, one thing we can be certain of: it’ll be some much-needed insight into a vital period of Star Wars canon that we still don’t know all that much about.
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