Monday, August 8, 2011

Red Leader vs Gold Leader: A Study in Effective Leadership

Yesterday I was involved in a discussion that resulted in me responding with "Red Leader, standing by" which was met with the rest of the team sounding off in a similar fashion and falling in line accordingly. Thinking about it afterwards, I wondered if I should have responded as Gold Leader due to the fact that the discussion had to do with a group whose team colors were actually gold.  This was immediately followed by trying to remember if Gold Leader died. Clearly, this required more attention to detail and a thorough analysis of the situation than the task at hand, and an copious amount of research must be done.

The title of Red and Gold Leader is not one to take lightly, as it requires cunning, tactical experience, luck, grit, and a bit of gumption, each with its own long history. However, this is where the lineage splits. My thorough research took me deep into Wookiepedia where I spent moments learning everything there was to be had pertaining to the recorded history of these two legendary titles, as to grow, we must learn from our past.

We start with red.

In the days of the Galactic Republic, Tsui Choi (the first Red Leader in recorded history according to Wookiepedia) led Red Squadron into battle during the epically strategic first battle of Kamino. This successful campaign allowed the Republic to continue to produce clones to fight the good fight in the soon to be named "Clone Wars". When you read about what all went down at Kamino that afternoon, you quickly realize that Tsui Choi is one bad pajama Jedi that you do not want to mess with. It was because of his leadership in this fight that he was a named general in the Clone Wars. They just don't hand out titles like that to anyone.

Goji is a mad mofo clone trooper who was named Red Leader during the battle of Malastare where he essentially was responsible for dropping a 2-ton E.M.P. on the head of the oncoming droid army, stopping them all dead in their tracks. If it wasn't for this epic task, this battle, one of the longest on record during the clone wars, may have had a different outcome.

From here we move onto a legend who eventually vanished before our eyes. Obi-Wan was Red Leader for a period of time, but during the third battle of Tythe and at the battle of Coruscant was truly his time to shine. He did the impossible and put trust in his squad to carry on while he infiltrated the Invisible Hand to fight General Grievous and Count Dooku and retrieve the kidnapped chancellor. A lesser leader would not have been able to inspire such tenacity to continue the fight. In turn, not only did Kenobi succeed individually, but he had clearly trained his team well.

Unfortunately, there is always a dark mark in every history. During the battle of Yavin, Garvin Dreis led the team as Red Leader. In his youth, he had opportunity to fly along side Anakin Skywalker during the clone wars, and took on a fatherly approach to the men that flew with him, taught them everything they needed to know personally. During the attack on the Death Star, Garvin had to pick up the slack where others had failed, and unfortunately could not follow through. You see, Darth Vader had shot him down when he went to go "shoot'n down the exhaust port". needless to say, this did not end well.

Following this dark mark, there were several more Red Leaders, including both Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles (quite possibly the two most well known of this elite crowd), but there was one whose name has been lost in history, and is known only as "a Red Leader". Following the battle at Endor, there were commercial star tours that folks would pay good credits for. During one of these tours, the shuttle ended up off course and in the middle of a battle around a "Death Star-like" battlestation. This Red Leader guided them to safety.

So clearly, being Red Leader has a lot to live up to, so the same must be true for Gold Leader right? Well...its hard to tell, as it appears that the history books have not been as kind to Gold Leader throughout the ages. The first recorded history of Gold Leader leaves him unnamed. In fact, only two lines of text are recorded for his exploits.

"Gold Leader was present in command of Gold Squadron at the Battle of Muunilinst. He was killed by incomingGeonosian starfighters."

Well shit. it appears that as Gold Leader we are already set up for failure. Surely, the Republic would not make the same mistake and would hire the best Galactic PR team to come in and cleand up that mess. Not really, as the next Gold Leader is the one and only Anakin Skywalker. Clearly at the time, it was a brilliant plan. Here's this kid from Tatooine, mother killed by Sand People, brought up by the church, a real "rags-to-Jedi" story that will just warm your banthas cackles. And he's cocky, willing to go the distance, a real everyman for the job. He's perfect. 

Then Order 66 is issued.


Gold leader just can not get a break, as Anakin falls in a pit of lava and is reborn as Darth Vader at the birth of the Empire. The Emperor sees the mistakes that his predecessors have made and proceed to fire this particular PR firm, and decides to keep things in house, and Death Star PR is born.

The history books show that THE Saesee Tiin, a Jedi General of the Grand Army of the Republic as well as a seated member of the Jedi high council, at one point in time led Gold Squadron into battle at the  Battle of Boz Pity. While he had led Gold Squadron, it is not known if he had taken the title of Gold Leader, although many presume he has. From my research, it is in my opinion that he in fact did not. You see, Saesee was a bit of a mind-reader, and could tell what peoples thoughts were towards Gold Leaders. When he was assigned to Gold Squadron, its my estimate that several choice Iktotchi vulgarities were going through his head knowing its history, and chose to never acknowledge that he was, in fact, Gold Leader, hoping beyond hope that people would just forget that it was his job. In the end it didn't matter as the Emperor himself slaughtered him once Order 66 went into effect. Wump wump for Saesee Tiin. So close.

The Galactic Republic has fallen, and the Empire has risen, but there is hope. The rebel alliance has started rise across the galaxy to overthrow this great evil. We need heros. We need champions. We need leaders. So, clearly, the galaxy has a redo and they can do it right, they can pick a great man to lead Gold Squadron to victory. So who do they choose? Motherfucking Jon "Dutch" Vander.

When I read this, I was livid as I misread it as Vader and just thought "come the fuck on, THE BAD GUYS NAME IS VADER TOO" and the public would not accept this. But I was wrong, so lets learn about "Dutch" Vander who will lead us to victory. Ends up ol' Dutch is a former Imperial TIE Bomber who abandoned his post to fight with the alliance after they made him bomb his home world. His claim to fame is that he one time drove Princess Leia on some missions for the Rebels. During the briefing of the first assault on the Death Star, he questioned the wisdom of such an attack, as well as Jan Dodonna own leadership. Fortunately for him, Luke Skywalker himself straightened him the fuck out by comparing the 2 meter exaust port to shootin' Whomp Rats back home.

So, Dutch is gold as Gold Leader, right? No. Fucker got his men and himself killed because he decided that his team would be flying in closer formation than regulation called for, and as a result couldn't get out of the trench fast enough when the real Vader showed up and shot him down. Once again, giving Gold Leader a bad name, not to mention that because of his fuck up, Red Leader Garven Dreis needed to quickly react and unfortunately suffered the same fate. But there is hope, as the next and true Gold Leader is Billy Dee Williams

When it was discovered that the Empire had taken a Carl Sagan approach to Death Star construction, the Rebel alliance was all "oh shit", and started forming a plan that involved Han Solo taking the lead and winning everything. Except right around that time is when word got back to them that he had been frozen in carbonite. Ok, no problem - we'll get Luke to lead us to glory. Nope, he's gone to get him, and he's taken your third choice Princess Leia with him. Fuck, so who's left? 

Motherfuck'n Lando Calrissian 

While that isn't factually accurate, its pretty close to what happened (according to my sources) and Lando was chosen to be the next Gold Leader. Now, Lando isn't known for facts or reading or doing things by the book, so when he heard that Gold Leader tends to lead to death, he was all "aww hell no" and bought a fucking cape and got his drinking buddy Nien Nunb to tag along and blew the fuck out of the Death Star. 

Thats how it's done son.

And there we have it, a history of two of the galaxies most notable posts on the front line. Red Leader, who time and time again has proven itself to be the selfless, caring, nurturing, bastion of hope that we alway have sought after. And Gold Leader, the back-woods, self centered, self serving, egocentric, failed preservationists that we end up with. 

Never go with gold kids, thats the moral here.

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