Marines and Combat Personel?

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by SarYehudah, Jun 23, 2013.

  1. arch101

    arch101 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I really liked the idea of the MACOs, who could be assigned to a starship whenever military force was necessary. I hope a future Trek series will employ some form of this plot device as well, as it helps maintain Starfleet's "primarily exploration" theme while allowing for an occasional shoot-em-up.
    Of course, the MACO's are yet another device borrowed from Yamato. See season 2 and the addition of Sgt. Knox (american version) and the "Space Marines". They don't quite fit with the crew at first but prove to have enormous strategic value as the story unfolds.
     
  2. Nob Akimoto

    Nob Akimoto Captain Captain

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    There's nothing that really precludes a military organization from also being the principal exploration agency for a government. Afterall the Royal Navy was rather instrumental in the charting and exploration of the Pacific, and contained a multitude of captains with a scientific bent. Though fictional, the character of Jack Aubrey and his intense interest in astronomy, hydrography and mathematics to the point of being a member of the Royal Society while also being a RN post captain had plenty of real precedent ranging from James Cook to Matthew Flinders and George Vancouver. And in piece time the RN's complement of marines, and crew composition tended to be substantially different from what their wartime activities and crew manifests looked like.
     
  3. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Uhura: "Commander Reliant, this is Enterprise, surrender and prepare to be boarded.

    Starfleet is the uniformed armed forces of the Federation. When there is a time of war, Starfleet doesn't step to the side. It stops exploring and fights. They drop their secondary job and concentrate on their primary duty.

    Actually, in quite a few episodes some kind of ground level wheeled/hover vehicle would have been handy. Something in between a shuttle and simply walking. Creating a believable "future jeep" for the TV show just wasn't going to happen.

    This is basically my explanation for the variations we see in the application of the Prime Directive in different episodes.

    Every few weeks, a Starfleet Captain will receive the latest interpretations, amendments, and court decisions concerning the PD.

    :)
     
  4. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    There's even less that precludes an exploration agency from also being the principal military organization for a government. If an organization can be one thing and moonlight as the other, the overlap works both ways.

    The thing is, the Federation is rarely at war and its prime directive prohibits it from proactively engaging forces that do not pose an immediate threat to Federation citizens. It could be said that Starfleet has a military role, but they exercise that role VERY infrequently and spend almost all of their time exploring and charting space.
     
  5. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    "Uniformed armed forces" is a specific legal category used in international law that distinguishes the officially sanctioned armed forces of a country from irregular armed cadres such as terrorist organizations and resistance movements. The two are judged by different standards in the ICC and war crime tribunals; uniformed forces can be held as prisoners of war while irregular militants are unlawful combatants and/or terrorists.

    The United Federation of Planets probably isn't based on the Geneva Conventions and old Earth notions about the legal status of uniformed armed forces would be considered quaint and primitive, especially by the standards of, for example, the Vulcans, who were already exploring space when humans were still fighting over hunting grounds. However the Federation chooses to regulate its war-fighting capability, there's little reason to assume their standards will be the same as ours, or even BASED on ours, especially since Earth was the least advanced and the least mature both technologically and politically of the Federation's four founding members.

    What's very interesting, also, is that the Vulcan High Command in ENT doesn't appear to be a military organization either. To the extent that the Vulcans even have a CONCEPT of "military" it's clearly an armed uniformed force, but whatever the Vulcan word for such an organization it clearly bears little resemblance to conventional Earth definitions, despite the fact that it very CLOSELY resembles Starfleet.
     
  6. Herkimer Jitty

    Herkimer Jitty Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Is Starfleet a military?

    By 24th Century Definitions - No, Maybe? Banana? Cantaloupe?

    By 21st Century Definitions - Emphatically, yes.
     
  7. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    21st century definitions imply legal statutes that the Federation does not (and probably never did) recognize. Nor would OUR definitions meaningfully override theirs, since the Trek universe bears very little resemblance to our own.

    IOW: Starfleet is a military inasmuch as Jedi Knights are police officers.
     
  8. Herkimer Jitty

    Herkimer Jitty Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    So what you're saying is that Starfleet is a military. :p
     
  9. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'm saying that Starfleet can lend itself to a military role if and when it needs to but otherwise isn't an organization that actually fits the modern definition of "military" and apparently doesn't even fit the 24th century definition.
     
  10. neozeks

    neozeks Captain Captain

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    I'd say Starfleet fits that definition. And I'd say this distinction of "if and when it needs to" is meaningless because it always needs to. Even when there is no war. The Neutral Zone always has to be patrolled, for example, and that's a military operation. As long as the Federation has potentially hostile neighbours, the need for a military role is permanent. The fact that most of the fleet might be doing something else (which I don't think is even true much of the time) doesn't make Starfleet non-military any more than the fact that the USCG spends most of it's time doing search and rescue, disaster response and so on makes the USCG non-military.
     
  11. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    It fits the modern definition of military because it's a permanent, governmentally-established organization that defends the state and fights wars. Military organizations, especially navies, have historically taken on various additional duties and still do today. The roles of exploration and defense in Trek would seem to be even more intertwined that any in real-world history, since many of the greatest threats to the Federation have come out of the unknown. What that means for the definition of "military" in that world is up for speculation.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2013
  12. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    So do resistance movements and terrorist organizations, but nobody ever confuses them with "the military."

    Mainly this is a feature of current international law and not simply of definitions: the Geneva Conventions requires the clear separation between military and civilian operations at all times and states that military operations are prohibited from damaging civilian infrastructure.

    The Starfleet doesn't normally distinguish between "civilian and non-civilian" targets in its normal operations. Their much greater concern involves the prime directive, which tells them when they can and cannot interfere with other cultures. This is a VERY important difference, because if the Federation was following anything similar to the Geneva Conventions, we have effectively seen the Enterprise turning its weapons against civilian installations quite a number of times, often in the absence of declared hostilities. There are various races such as the Borg, the Dominion, the Klingons and even the Ferengi where the distinction between civilians and military forces is either vague or totally non-existent.

    Strictly speaking, that's a border security operation, which is usually a job for law enforcement, not the military.:vulcan:

    And that is distinct from the need for a permanent military, the existence of which is necessitated less by the practical need for a fighting force as for the need to distinguish between fighters and non-fighters. In a society where that distinction has become irrelevant (if said society was surrounded by people/things that don't recognize the difference anyway), so too would the concept of a permanent military.

    Put that another way: if the United States were suddenly threatened by a species of hyper-intelligent sharks who thought the American obesity epidemic made us especially tasty, which organization would be best suited to respond to that threat? My first guess would be NOAA; my second guess would be the Coast Guard. And after a hundred and fifty years of having to deal with weird shit like that on a regular basis, it seems to me that NOAA and the Coast Guard would probably merge at some point.

    The thing that makes the U.S. Coast Guard a military organization is the U.S. law says it is. Nothing more, nothing less. It is one of the very few coast guard organizations in the world that has this feature; most other nations -- Japan, for example -- operate theirs under civilian ministries.

    This also appears to be a difference between Starfleet and its neighbors: most spacefaring powers incorporate their space fleets under military jurisdiction, while the Federation -- for whatever reason -- does not.
     
  13. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It's not up for speculation. Starfleet officers understand that definition and have said point blank that Starfleet does not fit that definition. I have no reason to disbelieve them.
     
  14. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    Really? I can't think of any civilian organizations whose personnel are covered by a separate judicial system and tried by courts-martial. Outside of martial-law states, anyway.

    It's not up for speculation? Many pages of text have been typed in these forums speculating on it. There are enough contradictions in how Starfleet personnel have described their roles and missions that it is still speculative for purposes of this 21st century discussion.
     
  15. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The Japanese (and also Chinese) Coast Guard, to which I have already linked. Both can be tried before military tribunals under certain circumstances.

    OTOH, German and Dutch soldiers are tried exclusively before civilian courts (often special assemblies of civilian courts that specialize in military matters), as are Indian soldiers accused of rape or murder of a civilian. Very few countries actually convene court-martials on an ad hoc basis; most have a permanent judicial body that handles those cases.

    Interestingly, the Klingons -- arguably the most militaristic race apart from the Dominion -- do not convene court-martials, as they prefer to settle their disputes with sword fights. The Cardassians, on the other hand, try EVERYONE in military courts. :cardie:

    What's generally speculated on is whether or not Starfleet meets OUR definition, and to what extent the 21st century definition is even applicable.

    That it doesn't fit THEIR definition is just a matter of canon; it is, in fact, one of the very few things that has ever been clearly stated on screen that (some) Trek fans simply refuse to accept.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2013
  16. neozeks

    neozeks Captain Captain

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    No, not really. Resistance movements and terrorist organizations aren't authorized by their greater society, ie. they are not legal organs of a state.

    I'm not sure what your point regarding international law is. The 24th century interstellar law might not have it's own equivalent of the Geneva Conventions but what does that have to do with current definitions? Under current IL Starfleet would most definitely be considered an armed force in a conflict. (Not that IL actually gives a definition of a military - it just says "combatants = regular military + other armed groups that fulfil certain criteria").

    Though I highly doubt the highly moralistic Federation wouldn't have rules that protect non-combatants - which, incidentally, is not the same as "civilians". Civilians can be combatants too. And some military personnel can be non-combatants.

    I'm not talking about stoping smugglers or other civilians crossing the border, I'm talking about preventing military forces of a hostile neighbour from getting into your territory. That's why I specifically chose the Neutral Zone. The Neutral Zone is much more similar to the real world DMZ between the two Koreas than to a normal border between two countries.


    Those other coast guards don't have the traits of a military that the USCG has - they don't fall under a separate legal and judicial system and they don't fight in wars. The law doesn't treat the USCG as part of the military just because. There would be little point in declaring the USCG a military organization if it didn't also have certain traits that are inherent in the term "military". So yes, there is more to it than just a specific legal provision saying "this is a military".

    Any sources for that? As far as I know not even members of the actual Japanese military are tried before military tribunals. Actually, Japan's military technically isn't even a military, they're considered civil servants under Japanese domestic law. Yet everyone recognizes they are de facto a military. Which might actually be a nice fit for 24th century views on Starfleet (except Starfleet is then more military-like than the JSDF, since Starfleet also has court-martials while the JSDF doesn't).
     
  17. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    "State" and "greater society" are not at all the same thing. Stateless ethnic/political groups that have their own combat forces are not considered to have a military organization for that very reason: the lack of recognizable legal statute authorizing those organizations on behalf of any government.

    Current law require governments to make a clear distinction between military and non-military organizations. Interstellar law does not, which is probably why many species rarely bother to make that distinction. They create organizations with capabilities that best suit the priorities of their government, and apparently they find it more efficient to consolidate those capabilities into a single larger body than a whole bunch of smaller ones with separate command structures and logistics chains. Thus we have people like the Ferengi, whose military is also synonymous with its trade unions and probably its banking industry as well.

    And "armed force", as I said above, is not always the same thing as "military." The Hagannah and the Irgun were an armed force a full ten years before the state they came to represent ever existed on paper.

    Which is still a law enforcement issue, since said vessels are typically intercepted, stopped, inspected and sometimes impounded. In the United States it is one of the very few capacities in which a military entity (the Coast Guard) is empowered to act domestically in a law enforcement role. In other countries, it is a role filled by both civilian coast guards and regular military units, whoever happens to be closest. Short of a full blown war, this is usually sufficient.

    Considering we don't actually KNOW anything about the legal system of the Federation, this is a guess on your part.

    And yes, the coast guards of those countries DO fight in wars, and have at many times participated in military operations in their nations' coastal waters. Interestingly, the original Revenue Cutter Service -- the civilian law enforcement service that is the immediate predecessor of the Coast Guard -- also participated in war prior to its formalization as a uniformed service.

    The Coast Guard was never "declared" to be a military organization; it was CREATED as one in 1915 when two civilian agencies were incorporated into it and was intentionally modeled after the U.S. Navy.

    Very true. Except that Starfleet's operations, ships, mission roles and even its rank structure (the suspicious absence of enlisted crewmen on the Enterprise-D) are a better fit for an armed version of NOAA.

    Which basically gives you a good model on how Starfleet came to exist in the first place. United Earth came out of the post-atomic horror with a fresh prohibition on the formation of a military space force (much like Japan's Article 9). Since there was no prohibition on the creation of space research agencies, United Earth created Starfleet; since there was no prohibition on ARMING research vessels, Starfleet became Earth's only active combat force in space.

    The question of whether or not the Federation has OTHER military forces apart from Starfleet is an interesting one, however. It could go either way, but I find it difficult to believe the Andorians or the Tellarites would give up their fleets and play second fiddle to Earth. THEIR space fleets are almost certainly military in nature, which would probably be more apparent if they ever showed up more than once or twice in 20 seasons of television.:vulcan:

    I would go so far as to speculate that the 24th century version of an Andorian battle cruiser would probably resemble a slightly smaller and noticeably more agile version of the Battlestar Pegasus. :D
     
  18. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    When has it been stated that Starfleet isn't a military and which series did it apply to?
     
  19. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Enterprise: the distinction between "the military" and Starfleet, the former referring exclusively to the MACOs

    STXI: Scotty taking issue with Starfleet performing an exclusively military mission.

    TNG: Picard's exact words "Starfleet is not a military organization. Its purpose is exploration," followed by Riker's statement: "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.".

    DS9 Kira says "I thought starfleet doesn't believe in warships?" to which Sisko replies "Desperate times breed desperate measures, Major."

    Voyager is the only one I can't find a reference for, mainly because I detest Voyager and can't watch more than two episodes in week without becoming disoriented.:evil:
     
  20. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    So basically the evidence indicates TNG-related shows/continuity and nuTrek have a non-military Starfleet while the TOS and the TOS Movies have a military Starfleet.