Jump to content
Dino

Civilians on a Starfleet vessel: what do they do?

Recommended Posts

In her book Beyond Uhura (hardcover ed., p. 248), she stated, "Portraying Starfleet as a military organization flew in the face of everything Star Trek stood for [....] At one point I forcefully but tactfully reminded Meyer and Harve [Bennet] that Starfleet was the philosophical descendant of NASA, not the Air Force."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A line included in the script for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country but not in the actual film was to have established that Starfleet was under civilian control, such that certain interstellar choices (for instance, whether to aid the Klingon Empire in avoiding economic collapse or to hamper the Empire, eventually causing them to become subservient to Starfleet) were entirely political rather than military decisions.

 

In "Peak Performance", Captain Picard states, "Starfleet is not a military organization, its purpose is exploration."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't help but wonder if later entries in the Star Trek franchise (from Deep Space 9 onward) including the J.J. Abrams films - what with their increasingly obvious emphasis on razzle-dazzle action -  colored outside perception to the point where people mentally re-wrote Starfleet into a military organization.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Ragitsu said:

I can't help but wonder if later entries in the Star Trek franchise (from Deep Space 9 onward) including the J.J. Abrams films - what with their increasingly obvious emphasis on razzle-dazzle action -  colored outside perception to the point where people mentally re-wrote Starfleet into a military organization.

 

The Enterprise sure as **** is a military vessel. They have a military system of ranks and chain of command. They operate under military discipline. They are tried, when necessary, in a court *martial*, not a civilian court. The ship is heavily armed, and provides military defense for the area of space in which it operates. The Captain is vested with the power, on his own authority, to wage WAR on other powers. That is a military vessel, no matter how much they may pretend otherwise. And none of this a "rewriting" of Starfleet--this is all straight out TOS.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I always found it odd that Data's trial was conducted by Starfleet and not handled by a civilian court (he ISN'T Starfleet property). That said, i'll not deny that there were some oddities early on in regards to continuity/consistency regarding Starfleet's status as an organization. However... the overall framework laid out across TOS/TNG/VOY and less-so DS9 tends towards a "civilian organization with legacy military ranking". After all, our Attorney General isn't literally a General in the traditional sense of the word and the Surgeon General, while uniformed, isn't overseeing troops going into battle.

 

P.S. Sinanju? It is outright stated in TNG that the Enterprise-D is not a vessel of war. That's canon, whether you agree with it in the context of its role in the series or not.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Ragitsu said:

I always found it odd that Data's trial was conducted by Starfleet and not handled by a civilian court (he ISN'T Starfleet property). That said, i'll not deny that there were some oddities early on in regards to continuity/consistency regarding Starfleet's status as an organization. However... the overall framework laid out across TOS/TNG/VOY and less-so DS9 tends towards a "civilian organization with legacy military ranking". After all, our Attorney General isn't literally a General in the traditional sense of the word and the Surgeon General, while uniformed, isn't overseeing troops going into battle.

 

P.S. Sinanju? It is outright stated in TNG that the Enterprise-D is not a vessel of war. That's canon, whether you agree with it in the context of its role in the series or not.

 

And that statement in TNG is a load of crap. It's propaganda, nothing more. I'll believe what they actually showed us through their behavior rather than what they claimed. They can lie to themselves all they like, but the Klingons, Romulans, Ferengi, Cardassians, the Borg and every other neighboring power all knew that if war came, it was Starfleet that would be fighting for the Federation. Starfleet is the Federation's military. Heck, the Borg snatched Picard to assimilate *because* as Captain of the Enterprise, the Federation's military flagship, he was privy to all the military plans for defending the Federation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Greywind said:

Put succinctly, Starfleet is a Defense Force and as such, a Civilian organization and The Federation has no Military. But it would consider, non-Starfleet as Civilians vs them not being Civilians, but they wouldn't consider themselves Military.

 

I'd very much like to see a citation to a canon source that supports this assertion. Frankly, it makes no sense whatsoever. The Federation has been involved in numerous wars since its inception, and engaging in warfare requires a military. Its officers have military ranks and follow a military chain of command. Civilian vessels do not do this, apart from recognizing the captain of a vessel as its top authority while at sea (civilian maritime organizations do not have admirals, for instance). And all militaries serving a democracy are ultimately under civilian oversight (just like all of our military branches). That does not make them non-militaries.

 

Unless Star Trek has utterly redefined the word military (and for no particularly useful reason I can think of), it is quite plain that Starfleet is a military organization.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, Greywind said:

If someone attacks you and you defend yourself, are you the military?

 

Maybe, maybe not. If you attack someone are you the military?

 

WIktionary defines Military, as a noun, as being the Armed Forces. And the definition for Armed Forces includes  the phrase "Tasked with the defense of the nation and its citizens."

 

Lucius Alexander

 

If I walk up and punch a palindromedary and it responds by kicking me away from it, I have attacked and it has defended but neither of us is military. We both USED To be but that was years ago.

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The primary purpose of a military is to be prepared for war, either offensive or defensive.

 

The primary purpose of Starfleet is exploration and scientific research. When was the last time the military did exploration and scientific research whose purpose was not military? Oh, wait, never, because they tend to control the scientific community.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In Errand of Mercy, Kirk says "I'm a soldier, not a diplomat."  In Star Trek: TMP, McCoy says they drafted him to get him back into Starfleet.  Those are two examples I can think of off the top of my head, of Starfleet acting like a military.

 

The statements in TNG about Starfleet not being a military primarily come from the first two seasons, when Roddenberry was running wild, throwing in whatever pompous and self-righteous crap he wanted into the show. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It seems to me there are some fans who are every bit as desperate as Roddenberry was later in life to defang Starfleet. Neither have been very convincing. Particularly since nobody in an executive position within the Federation would have allowed the dismantling of its defense force. Few members of the Federation would have voted for such a thing. Starfleet is, and always was, first and foremost a military entity. It has remained so, to one degree or another, in every incarnation of the franchise ever put to screen, big or small.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Uh huh. So, aside from the flagship of the Federation (as of TNG's era, anyhow) being explicitly referred to as a vessel primarily tasked with exploration and diplomacy, there are two other things to consider.

 

1. The Enterprise-D clearly had families aboard it. Unlike a military base, this starship is quite mobile. There were instances when Picard was called upon to take his Enterprise into enemy territory. Note "instances". As in, on occasion...not primarily. I cannot for the life of me think of any real life armed force that has their Navy/Air Force (whichever you prefer to compare Starfleet to for the purposes of this debate) knowingly take the families of soldiers into combat zones.

2. Individuals whose occupation isn't command or warfare lead the Enterprise in a time of crises. Remember that incident when the bridge was staffed by only five people because of unusual circumstances and one person died, leaving four behind to handle a budding catastrophe? Best as I can recall, there was an extra wearing Operations gold, Deanna Troi, Ro Laren and Miles O'Brien. Counselor Troi, at that point, had no real experience in a leadership position and certainly wasn't a space marine. Yet, because of the system of ranking, she was in charge of the other three members of the Enterprise. You'd think that, if Starfleet or at least their flagship was explicitly military, a counselor/psychiatrist/psychologist wouldn't be managing manpower at that moment. Why not have a system in place that makes either Laren or O'Brien responsible for leading the remainder?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, Ragitsu said:

Uh huh. So, aside from the flagship of the Federation (as of TNG's era, anyhow) being explicitly referred to as a vessel primarily tasked with exploration and diplomacy, there are two other things to consider.

 

1. The Enterprise-D clearly had families aboard it. Unlike a military base, this starship is quite mobile. There were instances when Picard was called upon to take his Enterprise into enemy territory. Note "instances". As in, on occasion...not primarily. I cannot for the life of me think of any real life armed force that has their Navy/Air Force (whichever you prefer to compare Starfleet to for the purposes of this debate) knowingly take the families of soldiers into combat zones.

2. Individuals whose occupation isn't command or warfare lead the Enterprise in a time of crises. Remember that incident when the bridge was staffed by only five people because of unusual circumstances and one person died, leaving four behind to handle a budding catastrophe? Best as I can recall, there was an extra wearing Operations gold, Deanna Troi, Ro Laren and Miles O'Brien. Counselor Troi, at that point, had no real experience in a leadership position and certainly wasn't a space marine. Yet, because of the system of ranking, she was in charge of the other three members of the Enterprise. You'd think that, if Starfleet or at least their flagship was explicitly military, a counselor/psychiatrist/psychologist wouldn't be managing manpower at that moment. Why not have a system in place that makes either Laren or O'Brien responsible for leading the remainder?

 

I never said Starfleet was a *coherent* military organization, or well run. Putting civilian family members aboard a warship is the height of stupdity, in my opinion. But claims that Starfleet isn't military are just willful blindness.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Whatever. I can't jump on board the "let's militarize stuff" bandwagon because, as much as I like a good space battle, this series wasn't about soldiers on a warship. Any kind of fighting was secondary to all other concerns. Matter of fact, I can't even begin to recall all the moments Picard and co. went out of their way to preserve life plus interspecies relations in instances where a real-life military would've just blown or vaporized crap up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, massey said:

In Errand of Mercy, Kirk says "I'm a soldier, not a diplomat."  In Star Trek: TMP, McCoy says they drafted him to get him back into Starfleet.  Those are two examples I can think of off the top of my head, of Starfleet acting like a military.

 

The statements in TNG about Starfleet not being a military primarily come from the first two seasons, when Roddenberry was running wild, throwing in whatever pompous and self-righteous crap he wanted into the show. 

 

"Your revered Admiral Nogura invoked a little-known, seldom-used reserve activation clause."

 

Contractual obligation. McCoy saying that they drafted him was his way of voicing his displeasure at being forced to return. Similar to when Kirk, in The Undiscovered Country, left space dock under impulse instead of using maneuvering thrusters only.

 

And Kirk may well see himself as a soldier over a diplomat. That doesn't mean that he is in the military. It just means that his preferred method of dealing with problems would be to fight instead of talk.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It should also be noted that TOS mentions pay/money on more than one occasion, yet it is obvious that currency as such doesn't exist and isn't required within The Federation itself. They in fact eliminated poverty.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Ragitsu said:

Whatever. I can't jump on board the "let's militarize stuff" bandwagon because, as much as I like a good space battle, this series wasn't about soldiers on a warship. Any kind of fighting was secondary to all other concerns. Matter of fact, I can't even begin to recall all the moments Picard and co. went out of their way to preserve life plus interspecies relations in instances where a real-life military would've just blown or vaporized crap up.

 

That's the thing. Nobody is "militarizing" Star Trek. It was always that way.

 

On the other hand, I agree that Kirk (and Picard even more so) often bent over backward to try to avoid the use of force if it was at all possible. They much preferred peaceful solutions when possible, and preferred exploration and diplomacy--and not having any sort of conflict at all--even more. My argument is simply that while, yes, Starfleet was engaged in exploration and scientific discovery, they were *also* the Federation's military arm.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Greywind said:

Give me a few minutes and I'll go change that definition.

 

Proposing a different definition is easy. Getting people to agree with your preferred definition is another matter.

 

Lucius Alexander

 

And an Air Force Surplus palindromedary

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Ragitsu said:

It should also be noted that TOS mentions pay/money on more than one occasion, yet it is obvious that currency as such doesn't exist and isn't required within The Federation itself. They in fact eliminated poverty.

 

 That's a TNG boast. It's never made in Kirk's time - in fact, we have good evidence that it isn't the case. The miners in Mudd's Women certainly live a spartan and deprived existence, as do the ground dwellers of The Cloud Minders.

In the Original Series, the replicator doesn't exist yet, they are NOT in a post-scarcity environment. They may well have good social policies and safety nets, but that is not the same as eliminating poverty.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Sundog said:

 

 That's a TNG boast. It's never made in Kirk's time - in fact, we have good evidence that it isn't the case. The miners in Mudd's Women certainly live a spartan and deprived existence, as do the ground dwellers of The Cloud Minders.

In the Original Series, the replicator doesn't exist yet, they are NOT in a post-scarcity environment. They may well have good social policies and safety nets, but that is not the same as eliminating poverty.

 

Not to mention the existence of space traders encountered on space stations who sell tribbles for credits, demonstrating the existence of buying, selling, and money. There appear to be people who make a living going from world to world peddling tribbles, miner's wives, etc.

 

Lucius Alexander

 

That guy Mudd would probably sell an unlicensed palindromedary if he thought he could get away with it.

 

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Sundog said:

 

 That's a TNG boast. It's never made in Kirk's time - in fact, we have good evidence that it isn't the case. The miners in Mudd's Women certainly live a spartan and deprived existence, as do the ground dwellers of The Cloud Minders.

In the Original Series, the replicator doesn't exist yet, they are NOT in a post-scarcity environment. They may well have good social policies and safety nets, but that is not the same as eliminating poverty.

 

 

 

Commander Tucker: "How 'bout war? Disease? Hunger? Pretty much wiped 'em out in less than two generations."

 

Okay, he didn't literally say poverty, but it seems apparent that even by the middle of the twenty-second century (long before Kirk's time) that humanity was well on its way to ridding itself of societal ills we consider chronic conditions nowadays. Also, if you think about it, war, disease and hunger are all ultimately symptoms of economic strife.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×