Nob Akimoto wrote:
- The conversation about "mothballing" Starfleet never made a lot of sense outside of it being the typical bureaucratic scare-mongering that institutions like the military like to do. Afterall the end of the Cold War and even the recent budget sequester have also been likened to dismantling the entire military when clearly that hasn't been the case.
If you examine the US Navy's ship force levels
after the end of the Cold War you'll find that the navy downsized from 500+ to 300+. During the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis the navy had nearly 900 active ships. During WW2, 6000+.
So if you can imagine Starfleet having to deal with hostile Klingons for 70 years then going to a peace-time stance there is plenty of opportunity at that point to retire most of their military ships and downsize to just exploration and science oriented ships. With fewer ships you get the "overstretched and overreached" Starfleet in TNG trying to police their own space.
The other thing to also consider is with a changed Starfleet comes changed training priorities. As Riker put it in "Peak Performance", combat training isn't high on their priorities:
RIKER: I prefer brains over brawn as well. I think it's a waste of effort to test our combat skills. It's a minor province in the make-up of a starship captain.
And this is proven when Riker while in charge of the E-D gets defeated by two BOPs run by Ferengis. IIRC, even Odo makes fun of this.
But if you go back to the Klingons we know that they have very long lives. Kor, Kang and Koloth and all their generation of warriors would've been able to contribute to battling the Federation whereas Starfleet would be in a scramble to train up new warriors.