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Old December 30 2012, 12:40 AM   #1
The Overlord
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Ferengi Military

What kind of military does the Ferengi Alliance have? Because it seems the Ferengi were fairly aggressive and militaristic in early TNG, but by the DS9 era, they were total wimps and cowards.

In early TNG, a Ferengi ship stole Federation property in "The Last Outpost" and in "Peak Performance" a Ferengi ship attacked the Enterprise out of the blue. Also in early TNG, a Ferengi Marauders were supposed to be equal to most Federation Star ships, which one would assume would include fire power and defense.

However in "Magnificent Ferengi", Ferengi military history was presented as being pathetic, with no real military victories under their belt. In fact it seemed like no Ferengi had any real military experience. This seems to contradict some of the early TNG episodes, if the Ferengi had technology comparable to the Federation, surely they could have gone to a less developed world and taken some of their resources or forced them into an unfair treaty that benefited the Ferengi Alliance economically, similar to what the European colonial powers did in the 19th century.

Also it would make sense for the Ferengi to have some sort of military, even for just defensive purposes. Even if the Ferengi are not good fighters, there is no reason why they couldn't hire a horde mercenaries to fight their battles for them or build an army of robots, similar to what the Trade Federation did in the Star Wars Universe. Now if the Ferengi Alliance didn't want to hire mercenaries or make robots, you think they could hire outsiders to train Ferengi to be better fighters. Without a military, you almost have to wonder why the Ferengi have never been victims of "gun boat diplomacy" with another more militaristic power coming along and demanding tribute from them.

So how does one explain this change in Ferengi military policy from early TNG to DS9?

Last edited by The Overlord; December 30 2012 at 04:13 AM.
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Old December 30 2012, 12:44 AM   #2
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Re: Ferengi Military

Certainly the Ferengi aren't very martial at all, but there seems to be nothing stopping them from having good ships and posing a threat that way.

But in ground combat situations they almost always seem to outsource it. Like when Brunt showed up at DS9 with a pair of Nausican mercenaries to threaten the union with. Though those lightning whips they had in that one episode were pretty cool.
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Old December 30 2012, 12:48 AM   #3
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Re: Ferengi Military

"Military" might imply a tool for political work, that is, centralized and controlled adjusting of national borders or the attitudes of neighboring nations. We don't really see anything political in the combat actions of the TNG Ferengi. They just steal stuff, and blow up other stuff that stands in the way of a good theft.

It seems unlikely that Ferengi combat vessels are in any way "military". They might sell their combat services to the highest bidder (say, the Grand Nagus) in a mercenary manner, but as you point out, the history from "The Magnificent Ferengi" suggests they don't.

A rather good defense against gunboat diplomacy is to hail the gunboat and tell the skipper that his payment for the engines is two days overdue... And the small print in the contract allows a better-paying customer (both the Klingons and the Breen are lining up) to come confiscate the engines unless suitable amends are made.

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Old December 30 2012, 12:52 AM   #4
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Re: Ferengi Military

I did always figure the Ferengi Marauders were pretty much "rented" out to the best businessmen with the Nagus/Alliance getting a percentage of their haul.
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Old December 30 2012, 03:51 AM   #5
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Re: Ferengi Military

Timo wrote: View Post
"Military" might imply a tool for political work, that is, centralized and controlled adjusting of national borders or the attitudes of neighboring nations. We don't really see anything political in the combat actions of the TNG Ferengi. They just steal stuff, and blow up other stuff that stands in the way of a good theft.

It seems unlikely that Ferengi combat vessels are in any way "military". They might sell their combat services to the highest bidder (say, the Grand Nagus) in a mercenary manner, but as you point out, the history from "The Magnificent Ferengi" suggests they don't.
Except you can use military force to achieve a financial end. India was originally colonized by the British East India Company, a private company rather then a government, its only later that the British Crown took India away from the British East India Company.

Or look at Opium Wars, those wars were not about conquering China, but forcing China into a bad treaty where they would be forced to expand the opium trade in China.

So it seems a bit silly for the Ferengi not to have a military, it seems like those are kind of rotten things you would expect from a society that is ultra capitalist and has no moral restrictions on doing business. Why wouldn't the Ferengi act like a 19th century colonial power that mixed military with business?

Timo wrote: View Post
A rather good defense against gunboat diplomacy is to hail the gunboat and tell the skipper that his payment for the engines is two days overdue... And the small print in the contract allows a better-paying customer (both the Klingons and the Breen are lining up) to come confiscate the engines unless suitable amends are made.

Timo Saloniemi
Except that wouldn't work if they are dealing with power that they don't have a business connection. If Federation Starships were harassed by random hostile aliens, doesn't make sense other civilizations would be attacked as well?
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Old December 30 2012, 04:05 AM   #6
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Re: Ferengi Military

Perhaps the Ferengi military scaled back from one which roamed through space in early TNG to a defense force which patrols strictly within Ferengi Alliance space later on. The reason for this could be simple, the military demanded pay premiums per every light year outside Ferengi space, plus danger pay every time they got into a hostile situation with a certain percentage depending on who they fought (an extra 25% if they went against the Federation, 50% if against the Romulans, 75% if Klingons 90% if the enemy was a first contact). Eventually it was decided that it wasn't worth paying so much money, so the military just patrols Ferengi space. The crews of the ships don't get paid extra since they don't leave Ferengi territory, and in home space there's less of a chance of running into enemies. Since military life is no longer profitable, recruitment's at an all-time low.
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Old December 30 2012, 04:17 AM   #7
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Re: Ferengi Military

I got the feeling that all the Ferengi ships that the Enterprise encountered were renegades.

I think most of the Ferengi Alliance ships were probably used as escorts. They would rather get rich than be involved in any kind of war. Didn't Quark say the Ferengi Alliance had never been involved in any kind of interstellar war with another species unlike the Federation?
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Old December 30 2012, 04:21 AM   #8
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Re: Ferengi Military

I figure a Ferengi Marauder for a privateer. A mercenary ship who obtains profit the old fashioned way, through a bigger gun. Of course once they bumped up against the Federation, Romulans or Klingons their Starfleets would tend to suppress Ferengi pirates. But should any merchants need a gunship to back up their play the local DaiMon and his Marauder is the tool most easily acquired.
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Old December 30 2012, 04:27 AM   #9
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Re: Ferengi Military

Dream wrote: View Post
I got the feeling that all the Ferengi ships that the Enterprise encountered were renegades.

I think most of the Ferengi Alliance ships were probably used as escorts. They would rather get rich than be involved in any kind of war. Didn't Quark say the Ferengi had never been in a space war with another species unlike the Federation?
People have made money through war though, look at the British East India Company, Black Water and Halliburton.

I wonder how much control the Ferengi Alliance has over its own ships, because that Ferengi ship in Peak Performance attacked the Enterprise for no good reason. Also Quark said that the Ferengi never engaged in slavery, but the Ferengi crew in "Rascals" where planning to use the Enterprise crew as slave labor, so clearly some Ferengi have no problem with slave labor. Quark is not the most objective source on this issue.

I always thought it would have made more sense if the Ferengi Alliance was governed by a bunch of different mega corps, rather then a central government. So one corporate fleet could be friendly to the Federation, while another could be hostile.
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Old December 30 2012, 05:58 AM   #10
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Re: Ferengi Military

The Overlord wrote: View Post
What kind of military does the Ferengi Alliance have? Because it seems the Ferengi were fairly aggressive and militaristic in early TNG, but by the DS9 era, they were total wimps and cowards.

In early TNG, a Ferengi ship stole Federation property in "The Last Outpost" and in "Peak Performance" a Ferengi ship attacked the Enterprise out of the blue. Also in early TNG, a Ferengi Marauders were supposed to be equal to most Federation Star ships, which one would assume would include fire power and defense.

However in "Magnificent Ferengi", Ferengi military history was presented as being pathetic, with no real military victories under their belt. In fact it seemed like no Ferengi had any real military experience. This seems to contradict some of the early TNG episodes, if the Ferengi had technology comparable to the Federation, surely they could have gone to a less developed world and taken some of their resources or forced them into an unfair treaty that benefited the Ferengi Alliance economically, similar to what the European colonial powers did in the 19th century.

Also it would make sense for the Ferengi to have some sort of military, even for just defensive purposes. Even if the Ferengi are not good fighters, there is no reason why they couldn't hire a horde mercenaries to fight their battles for them or build an army of robots, similar to what the Trade Federation did in the Star Wars Universe. Now if the Ferengi Alliance didn't want to hire mercenaries or make robots, you think they could hire outsiders to train Ferengi to be better fighters. Without a military, you almost have to wonder why the Ferengi have never been victims of "gun boat diplomacy" with another more militaristic power coming along and demanding tribute from them.

So how does one explain this change in Ferengi military policy from early TNG to DS9?

During the American Revolution, An American battleship managed to reach and terrorize several villages along the British coastline and captured a British warship before bolting to France.

The American navy then was still pitiful compared to the British Navy....


Just because a small number of Ferengi managed to up the Starfleet types, doesn't mean all of Ferengi have a superior military ability. They survive by bribing and buying. They bought warp drive instead of having some legendary Ferengi as their version of Zefram Cochrane. In the process, very small number of Ferengi manage to learn strategies and techniques which we saw on TNG. It obviously hasn't been embraced by the greater Ferengi society, since bribing, scheming and buying is too ingrained into their society.
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Old December 30 2012, 09:44 AM   #11
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Re: Ferengi Military

I'm sure they have a substantial military force. It takes a lot of power to protect trade routes and I bet the alliance charges the routes owner for the protection.

On the other hand a society like this doesn't reward self sacrifice, and so what's the encouragement to serve? Other then money not much. So this fleet probably just explores new economic possibilities.

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Old December 30 2012, 10:02 AM   #12
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Re: Ferengi Military

timmy84 wrote: View Post
I'm sure they have a substantial military force. It takes a lot of power to protect trade routes and I bet the alliance charges the routes owner for the protection.
I'm sure the Ferengi have large armies of droids to protect trade routes to outlying systems and enforce their blockades.
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Old December 30 2012, 12:34 PM   #13
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Re: Ferengi Military

I think its a bit hard to draw conclusions from what we saw of the Frengi military in TNG.

Do remember, TPTB tried to establish the Frengi as "The next big threat" earlier on but through execution, we learned they weren't a huge threat, just potentially annoying.

I'd think it would be a fun topic to delve into since Nog has been Nagus for about a decade now in the current story.
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Old December 30 2012, 01:29 PM   #14
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Re: Ferengi Military

Except that wouldn't work if they are dealing with power that they don't have a business connection.
In such a case, it suffices that they have business connections to other powers. As long as it is convenient for a number of big boys to have the Ferengi survive, it is inconvenient for others to hurt the Ferengi, even without any sort of an explicit mercenary arrangement. And these facts of life can be explained to the intruder of the week, too, inviting him into the game where he has nothing to lose from participating, and nothing to win from throwing the game.

Oh, on occasion, somebody might conquer the planet. But that wouldn't last, because if the Ferengi didn't exist, somebody would have to invent them. Especially now with the Minosians gone from the local market...

Perhaps the Ferengi military scaled back from one which roamed through space in early TNG to a defense force which patrols strictly within Ferengi Alliance space later on.
Or perhaps the Ferengi scaled back armed piracy in UFP turf when they lost the cover of anonymity in this particular region, and the effort was transferred to open business instead - freeing the pirate vessels to prey on new "market areas".

I wonder how much control the Ferengi Alliance has over its own ships
We never witnessed any. Sure, Starfleet did send Nog and Jake Sisko to a covert mission to negotiate an alliance with the Grand Nagus, but we never learned whether the Nagus would be capable of delivering things like combatants. It sounds more likely that the Ferengi Alliance would have been asked to deliver things they excelled in, such as intelligence. And covertly so, or else the alliance with the Alliance would have been negotiated more overtly - and it's easy to deliver intelligence covertly, but damn difficult to deliver warship sorties the same way.

Also Quark said that the Ferengi never engaged in slavery, but the Ferengi crew in "Rascals" where planning to use the Enterprise crew as slave labor, so clearly some Ferengi have no problem with slave labor.
Well, Quark in "Jem'Hadar" spoke about cruelty towards one's own species. "Rascals" thus probably wouldn't apply.

It takes a lot of power to protect trade routes
Yet nations like Japan and South Korea have none, despite being among the most dependent on sea trade. Their navies are not bluewater-capable, either out of choice or out of economic and technical necessity.

I'm sure the Ferengi have large armies of droids to protect trade routes to outlying systems and enforce their blockades.
Unlike the Federation, the Ferengi seem to understand the value of the money, though. So they wouldn't be so callous about sending yet another division of expensive combat droids down to value-decreasing engagements...

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Old December 30 2012, 01:57 PM   #15
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Re: Ferengi Military

Lighthammer wrote: View Post
Nog has been Nagus for about a decade now in the current story.
You mean Rom.
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