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Old January 5 2009, 04:52 AM   #1
Jefferies's Avatar
Starfleet Flag Officers - A Diverse Group?

A recent thread discussing the appearance of an admiral, who wore a yellow department tunic with the likely specialty of security in the DS9 episode ‘The Die Is Cast’, got me thinking about the organisational structure of Starfleet. The thread came to the conclusion that this was the only incident that a non-command admiral was shown in the 24th century. However, it was agreed that it would be very likely that each of the specialist corps would be run by specialist administrators. That is, the medical corps would have an admiral who is a doctor (surgeon general) and who would wear a green tunic, the corps of engineers would be run by an engineer and so forth. This makes sense considering that today in many armies and navies this is also the case.

First let us consider that Starfleet is much larger than any military organisation currently in existence on earth. And, second that Starfleet’s main mission isn’t only combat and defence but that it has a large focus on everything akin to science. Therefore, the number of specialist personnel must be huge. So what does this mean for the structure of Starfleet?

Today, even in the fairly small US Navy (with only just over 300k personnel) the almost tiny specialist corps are run by vice-admirals. For example the medical corps has only about 4000 servicemen and women, yet the surgeon general of the navy is a three star admiral. (I’m only saying they are small when compared to Starfleet.)

Now in Starfleet, I think it is reasonable to assume that the medical corps will be far larger in proportion than it is in the US Navy. The reason I say this is because one of the important roles of Starfleet seems to be the delivery of humanitarian aid and defending the Federation against epidemics and other major health problems. Thus this has to be a huge department if one considers the number of member planets and the amount of non-members that aid and other health services are provided to.

A similar case can be made for the corps of engineers. Starfleet seems to be strongly involved in delivering development aid to its members and beyond. In addition, it is heavily involved in technological research and maintenance often assisting and in some cases even controlling civilian projects and technology.

The remaining personnel that serves in science must also be huge, maybe even the largest group of all, because Starfleet’s central mission is exploration. Therefore, I would argue that it is probably too large to be in a single corps of its own. Instead I suggest that there would be a corps of astrophysics, a core of social sciences, a corps of exobiology etc.

In comparison, the more traditional military departments, like security, command, intelligence, tactical, operations, etc. probably represent a smaller proportion of Starfleet than the science specialties taken together, because the military role of Starfleet is simply one of many, although in recent times this has probably increased (Dominion War, Borg incursions). Also, even amongst these branches, there are quite a few yellow specialists (e.g. security).

Thus in conclusion Starfleet should have a large number of teal and yellow flag officers and that due to the size of their departments many should be admirals of the highest level (4 pips). In fact they should maybe even outnumber the command admirals, due to the broad spectrum of Starfleet departments that goes far beyond the diversity of current militaries.

Now I realise a lot of this is speculation and does not seem to correspond to what we have seen on screen. However, most times when we see admirals they seem to be associated with Starfleet headquarters which is surely dominated by command personnel. This makes sense, because why should a starship or starbase commander be in contact with for example the surgeon general if it is not mainly a medical ship or station? I’m sure the cases where such contact would be necessary would be rare and thus has never come up in any of the episodes.

So what do you think how is Starfleet organised? Do you see it more as a military with the military branches representing the majority of personnel at the higher levels or do you feel that the scientific and technical specialties dominate in numbers as flag officers?
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Old January 5 2009, 09:22 AM   #2
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Re: Starfleet Flag Officers - A Diverse Group?

I think it likely, given Starfleet's stated non-military missions, that you would see a fair proportion of specialist officers heading up branches (security, medical, engineering, sciences, etc.).

But they would still probably be a minority in comparison to the red-shirted (in the 2th c. idiom) line officers who would be given the positions that deal with general implementation of Starfleet's policies and objectives. For each specialist branch, you might have one or maybe a few flag-rank officers in charge. But you'd have many more redshirts driving desks in San Francisco, to say nothing of the fleet or squadron or task force (or whatever) commanders as well as starbase COs and the like.

Long Live The Legion!
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Old January 5 2009, 09:45 AM   #3
Re: Starfleet Flag Officers - A Diverse Group?

Also, a great many things could be bunched up under "Sciences", perhaps to the satisfaction of said scientists who'd feel less annoyed if there wasn't a specific Admiral of Inorganic Chemistry and Admiral of Biochemistry to go through when one wanted to interact with one's Biochemistry colleagues. Just one blueshirt Admiral and perhaps three Rear Admirals might take care of everything from warp studies to cloning research to political analysis.

In contrast, the "military" side would be strictly hierarchial and more rigidly subdivided - probably for a good reason, because such a hierarchy would better serve that side of operations.

And yes, the average starship or space station crew would typically interact with Starfleet through redshirt Admirals, even when discussing medical missions or engineering efforts. Direct access to major Division commanders would be rare.

Timo Saloniemi
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