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Civilians on a Starfleet vessel: what do they do?

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10 hours ago, sinanju said:

 

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.

 

To further muddy the waters, we have "Captains" and "Admirals" who's backgrounds are first-and-foremost centered around cerebral non-military pursuits such as archaeology, exobiology, medicine, paleontology, psychology and the like. Sure, they know how to command and how to fight to varying degrees (otherwise they wouldn't hold those ranks) if for no other reason than they're Starfleet Academy qualified, but they don't give off a vibe of "career military man/woman". There are Captains and Admirals that fit the mold of what we twenty-first century humans consider Captains and Admirals in our armed forces, but they tend to be more antagonistic/less sympathetic and oftentimes in the darker-and-edgier series (such as Deep Space Nine).

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I'm willing to accept Earth has become a virtual paradise by now, maybe the whole of Sol system. The heart systems of the Federation, Andor, Vulcan, sure. 

But the whole Federation? When Kirk was a young officer, he and Kevin Riley were on a colony world that wasn't even able to ensure it's own food supply (Conscience of the King).

 

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Humanity may have rid itself of many of its societal ills by Archer's time, but encountering war-centric alien species necessitated the construction of a competent military. This was even more necessary once it was no longer only Earth that needed protecting, but an entire Federation of united planets, not all of which had the resources to deploy their own space navies.

 

Just because the Enterprise (NCC-1701), a Constellation-class heavy cruiser (a warship class), had been given an exploration mission does not mean Starfleet was solely--or even primarily--an exploration organization. The Enterprise's mission reflected only one small corner of Starfleet's overall charter.

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I was discussing the Enterprise-D, as the topic creator has a slightly post-TNG frame of reference in mind. Also, that's Constitution class and not Constellation class (good googly moogly, i'm a geek).

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17 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.

 

I was going to respond directly but I know you were on a literary roll, but you might throttle back a bit and look at what you're tossing out there ;) 

 

Generalities in discussion is cool.  Jumping into personal attacks based on fictional stereotypes is not. 

 

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1 hour ago, Ragitsu said:

I was discussing the Enterprise-D, as the topic creator has a slightly post-TNG frame of reference in mind. Also, that's Constitution class and not Constellation class (good googly moogly, i'm a geek).

 

Ah, right, thank you for the correction. They are easy to confuse when the only difference in their names are three or four letters in the middle.

 

Nevertheless, it is one thing to say that Starfleet has de-emphasized its military culture post-TOS, but another thing all together to say Starfleet was never a military organization (which you might not be saying, but which others definitely seem to be saying or at least strongly implying). Even with its subsequent peace-pursuing posture, Starfleet was still a military entity at its core, just with an expanded non-military role to play. After all, maintaining a galaxy-wide peace requires walking softly and carrying a very big stick (i.e., an effective military).

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Starfleet fulfills all the functions of a military, and has most of the trappings of a military.  Now, it does other things as well.  They are clearly involved with exploration and scientific research.  But when the fighting starts, they are the ones who do all the shooting.  There isn't another force that steps up and shoots at Romulans.  It's Starfleet that does it.

 

The presence of civilians on the Enterprise D is really a commentary on the type of combats that Starfleet expects the Enterprise to be involved with.  Remember that at this point, the Federation was ending a long-term border fight with the Cardassians.  Now, based on what we see onscreen (Federation ships kicking the dog crap out of anything Cardassian they come across), it seems to me that the Feds didn't expect to encounter much that could threaten the Enterprise when the ship was commissioned.  The Borg hadn't been discovered.  The Dominion was unknown.  The Klingons were allies.  The Romulans hadn't been seen for 30 years.  The Enterprise wasn't expected to enter into heavy combat at all (though the Galaxy class was a very capable warship).

 

The Enterprise D was also sent on a lot of diplomatic missions.  Everything about it was a prestige assignment.  Captain Picard was a career man who didn't make waves, did everything perfectly by-the-book.  Will Riker was a top-of-his-class rising star who was squeaky clean (except for the fact that he supported a guy who was now an admiral during a mutiny).  He has the image of a playboy, but really we see him hook up with one, maybe two women per season.  The Enterprise gets every token you can find, from the only android in Starfleet to the only Klingon in Starfleet.  It's a showpiece of what the Federation wants to present itself to be.  It's the sales pitch, "join us and this is what life is like".  The bridge crew are basically all people who graduated at the very top of their class and who have all the right political opinions and connections.  In modern terms, they'd all be Harvard and Yale grads who have very well connected families and lots of money.  They listen to NPR, voted for Hillary, donate to Amnesty International, etc.

 

Now, fortunately these guys are all quite competent at their jobs.  But it's gotta be the most pretentious crew in Starfleet.

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Forgive me, I skipped a few posts and this might have been mentioned before. Perhaps Starfleet is closer to the US Coast Guard? The Coast Guard isn’t considered military except in times of war it can be called upon. It uses Naval rankings. It has warships. Yes Cutters are some of the smallest warships out there but still warships. They are more of a Police/Defensive Force than say the US Navy.

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Forgive me, I skipped a few posts and this might have been mentioned before. Perhaps Starfleet is closer to the US Coast Guard? The Coast Guard isn’t considered military except in times of war it can be called upon. It uses Naval rankings. It has warships. Yes Cutters are some of the smallest warships out there but still warships. They are more of a Police/Defensive Force than say the US Navy.

thou the US Coast Guard is part of the United States Armed Forces.  Under the Navy too like the United States Marine Corp.

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Forgive me, I skipped a few posts and this might have been mentioned before. Perhaps Starfleet is closer to the US Coast Guard? The Coast Guard isn’t considered military except in times of war it can be called upon. It uses Naval rankings. It has warships. Yes Cutters are some of the smallest warships out there but still warships. They are more of a Police/Defensive Force than say the US Navy.

 

My high school physics and chemistry teacher, who was a combat engineer in Vietnam, told us a few stories about his time there, including about guys he knew there who'd joined the Coast Guard to avoid the war.  As he put it, "But they never told them *whose* coast they'd be guarding." I remember stories of CG cutters traveling rivers so narrow and overgrown that the foliage practically brushed the boat as it passed, and it was impossible to see past it. Fun times for the coast guard guys.

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On ‎13‎/‎01‎/‎2018 at 6:19 PM, Ninja-Bear said:

I just wanted to add that Firefighters have a ranking system and are not considered military.

 

Likewise commercial shipping and airlines. Though they don't use or need the higher operational ranks like Admiral.

 

Police also have a rank structure. Starfleet certainly has a law-enforcement role within Federation space, too, though in the same mode as Navies do (i.e. dealing with crimes that happen on the high seas.

 

Actually, as far as rank structures go, any bureaucracy mirrors military structure, even if the titles differ. Team Leaders and Subject Matter Experts are NCOs, Managers are Officers.

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That's true, but only militaries conduct courts martial. If Starfleet had not been a military organization, then Lt. Cmdr Spock would not have been tried by a court martial in The Menagerie. In fact, it could be argued that the Federation would never have empowered any other type of organization to establish a service order with so extreme a sentence as General Order 7.

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On ‎1‎/‎13‎/‎2018 at 9:24 AM, Tom Cowan said:

thou the US Coast Guard is part of the United States Armed Forces.  Under the Navy too like the United States Marine Corp.

 

Actually, they're under Department of Homeland Security. They used to be under Department of Transportation.

 

Lucius Alexander

 

At one time, the palindromedary was under the Air Force.

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If it makes you guys feel any better, I did some googling on the question of whether Starfleet is a military organization or not, and... this isn't the only place where the question has come up, without a clear answer.  ;)

 

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My take on it, based off of watching what they DO in the shows and movies, is that Starfleet is very much a military organization, BUT they have exploration and research as part of their job to a much greater extent than our current Earth navies do. By way of example, the US Navy--clearly and definitely a military organization--operates research vessels. It would make perfect sense for a research vessel operated by a military to have civilian science specialists on board. It would be kind of silly to try to combine defense and research roles into one ship, but that fits Roddenberry's vision of a more peaceful future.

 

I won't pretend that I've answered the debate, or that anyone is obligated to accept my opinion. I'm just relating how I've settled the question in my own mind so I don't have to keep gnawing at it.

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