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Old July 9 2013, 03:38 AM   #77
Crazy Eddie
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Re: Marines and Combat Personel?

neozeks wrote: View Post
A governmental research fleet that conducts war (and conducts war as the main combatant, not just in some sort of supporting capacity) is a military. At least a de facto military.
Which is why, LEGALLY, Starfleet would be equivalent to the JMSDF even though OPERATIONALLY it is managed as a NOAA-style exploration fleet most of the time.
So you do agree Starfleet is at least de facto a military?
Absolutely, although I think the term we're looking for is paramilitary.

But the Federation has no separate institutions. It has just one institution, Starfleet, that is tasked both with exploration and fighting wars. You could easily reverse everything you said - at a certain point you have to ask whether fighting wars is something an exploration organization should do?
Which is why I don't believe that Starfleet has principal responsibility for the Federation's ground wars (seeing how it is, you know Starfleet, not Dirtfleet). This is also why I tend to believe the MACOs still exist well into the 24th century, and why I believe that "the military" is a term that refers primarily to a highly versatile land army that possesses automated systems capable of adequate space superiority missions.

Which is to say that Starfleet may actually be a much less important organization than we give it credit for; if you only had movies about the Mercury/Gemini/Apollo astronauts to go by for a snapshot of what was going in the 1960s/early 70s, you probably wouldn't even be aware of the Vietnam War or the Watergate Scanadal; you'd see Kennedy's "We choose to go to the moon" speech in "The Right Stuff" but never be aware of the Cuban missile crisis or Kennedy's assassination.

Star Trek doesn't really show us the state of affairs for the Federation except for a limited bubble around the main characters themselves; even our slightly wider angle in DS9 isn't nearly as large as we think it is, given that Sisko and company apparently fight on a battle front that revolves entirely around the Bajor/Cardassia systems.

So I'm thinking Starfleet is just a smaller piece of a much larger puzzle, and may not even be the most important piece. If nothing else, the scarcity of Andorian or Tellarite space forces in the 24th century is indicative that we are definitely NOT getting the whole story.

They could if their ships were armed, and it wouldn't take much to "up gun" a NOAA vessel to a configuration comparable to a Starfleet vessel without sacrificing its science sensors.
I sincerely doubt you could make a NOAA vessel capable of going toe-to-toe with hostile combat ships (which Starfleet ships do on a regular basis).

But leaving that aside, you failed to address the part of my post where I said that if you somehow did make NOAA combat-ready, that very thing would turn it into a military.
That depends on their legal status. The Coast Guard, for example, is only considered a branch of the military because U.S. law says it is.

Also, I'm thinking the definition of "war" in the 23rd century may also be somewhat different than the rest of us expect. For example, it seems to be the case that flying around and blowing up other people's space ships is NOT generally considered an act of war (Hence Archer does this with surprising regularity without causing a diplomatic incident). On the contrary, war is conducted exclusively for the control of PLANETS; thus, getting the Klingons to shoot down the Enterprise probably wouldn't be enough to set the Federation to war, nor would the destruction of a Klingon vessel by Kirk. But bombing the Klingon home world would definitely do the trick.

My belief, however, is that in the 23rd century, space battles are not nearly as important as one might assume. Most wars are actually fought on the ground and most fronts of those wars may never require the presence of an actual starship from either side (shuttles or long range transports are more than enough).
I can't speak about the 23rd century because we haven't seen a war in that timeframe but the Dominion War pretty clearly shows space battles are the primary way one fights a major war in the 24th century.
How sure are we about that?

Bashir's think tank apparently states that the Federation stands to loose up to a trillion lives if they aren't victorious over the Dominion. A war fought primarily in space wouldn't have those kinds of stakes; it is evident, therefore, that MOST of the fighting in this war is actually taking place in ground engagements throughout the Federation and that the space combat phase is mainly fought over strategically valuable transport routes -- e.g. the Wormhole -- through which invading armies would normally travel.
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