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Old October 10 2013, 02:31 AM   #44
Nob Akimoto
Location: The People's Republic of Austin
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Re: Starfleet Procurement Policy Draft

Here we go again...

From Golden Age to Looming Threats
The decade starting in 2361 appeared to hold infinite promise for Starfleet. Shakedown of the prototype USS Galaxy was proceding smoothly despite the Manraloth incident. Her five sisters Yamato, Enterprise, Odyssey, Challenger, and Venture were on schedule for commissioning by 2365. Other Galaxy-class spinoffs had completed their initial tours of duty with glowing reviews. Starfleet capabilities along its turbulent Alpha Quadrant border were such that there seemed to be two Starfleets at once: one dedicated to charting new frontiers and another defending the Federation's territory.

The politics that had so thoroughly influenced Starfleet procurement policy in the 40s and 50s remained in the background. A succession of single-term presidential administrations more focused on various disputes between member worlds were happy to follow the T'Pragh Administration's 2355 Decennial Plan calling for a starship ready cadre of 1.5 million personnel by the end of 2365. Stability within the upper echelons of Starfleet ensured the continuation of the 2350s trends of modernization, diversification, and expansion. Still, some think tanks such as the Andorian Strategic Engagement Institute (ASEI), the Foundation for Federation Defense, and the Brookings Interstellar Institute raised concerns that Starfleet's tactical posture lagged behind its expanding fleet capability.

A succession of crises in the early 2360s seemed to reinforce this gloomy view. The Romulan Star Empire came out of its isolation in 2364, revealing their massive D'Deridex class Warbird. An alien conspiracy within Starfleet Command, the rising concern of the stability of the Thallonian Empire, and rising instability in the Klingon Empire added to a steady stream of problems piling up on the Long-Term Threat Assessment Division's docket.

The final and most spectacular blow to Starfleet complacency came in 2365 when the Enterprise made first contact with the Borg. Demonstrating contemptuous ease in dealing with the most powerful starship in the Federation arsenal, Starfleet Command ordered the implementation of several contingency plans originally established in case of renewed Beta Quadrant instability.

Orders for starships at civilian dockyards was accelerated, while fleet deployment size was augmented by putting off modernization refits for several ship classes. Recruiting gained pace with doubling of Academy officer training cohorts and the opening of additional satellite Starfleet training facilities outside of the original Starfleet core worlds. Starfleet Command authorized ASDB to accelerate design studies of next generation starships into full fledged construction and prototype projects.

The Federation also tried to bring its extensive Alpha Quadrant border conflicts to an end. Starfleet participated in this process by stripping its core world fleets of non-explorer modern designs and reassigning most of its advanced fleet strength to its borders. Substantial demonstrations of strength were coupled with well-timed concessions bringing the Tzenkethi War to an end in 2365 and the Cardassian War to a settlement in 2368. Federation President Amitra set her entire presidential term with the goal of bringing Federation's border conflicts to an end, choosing several politically unpalatable decisions such as the creation of the Cardassian Demilitarized Zone.

The border control emphasis happened to rob Starfleet of most of its frontline starships during the Borg Incursion of 2366. Admiral J.P. Hanson's hastily assembled task force at Wolf 359 featured an ecclectic mix of ships both new and old. The loss of 39 ships, roughly half of them facing retirement within several years, was less of a set back than the loss of 11,000 trained personnel. As a result Starfleet's deployment patterns and ship commissioning schedule fell largely behind schedule compared to the original timeline set in the 2365 decennial plan. Historical opinions are mixed about this outcome. While revisionists criticize the Amitra Administration for failing to recall more of Starfleet's assets after 2365, most modern historians acknowledge that given the performance of even cutting edge ships like Bellerophon, Starfleet might have suffered greater casualties in materiel and personnel.

After the Borg Incursion, the Federation Council and Starfleet Command were at loggerheads on how to proceed. Led by Fleet Admiral Taela Shanthi came into conflict with members of the Federation Council led by Councillor Jaresh-Inyo on the level of resources required by the fleet. Though given backing by Amitra, the President's fading popularity in the face of the Federation's near brush with assimilation and numerous border concessions to the Cardassians and Tzenkethi made it difficult for Shanthi to sustain the 2365 escalation plan. This was particularly clear in the Council's reluctance to continue expanding Starfleet's training programs. New satellite campuses for the officer training program were rejected, and the effort to recruit Merchant Marine crew as reservists was curtailed by request of the Commerce Committee.

Despite these difficulties, Starfleet continued to modernize and expand its fleet. The disconnect between its ship procurement and personnel policies were brought to the fore on several embarassing occasions, the most significant being the Klingon Civil War of 2368. When the Federation Council authorized the use of force to prevent Romulan border incursions into Klingon Territory, Starfleet found that it didn't have enough qualified officers to lead the Task Force. Ships were available in abundance at Starbase 234, idled or undergoing final fitting lacking but sufficient crew to operate. Unorthodox personnel shuffling was conducted by task force commodore Jean-Luc Picard allowing the blockade to proceed and sparing Starfleet public embarrassment and saving Chancellor Gowron's government.

The 2368 election showed the doves in ascendance when Jaresh-Inyo won the popular vote with a five-point margin. Taela Shanthi was replaced as commander in chief of Starfleet with Vice Admiral Ruah Brackett and Starfleet's mobilization plans further scaled back. The decision would have profound implications as the turbulent 2370s approached.
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