O'Brien

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine' started by hux, Sep 17, 2012.

  1. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I always figured Ro was ready to "defer" to O'brien not because of his rank, but because he was the man who'd been around and would know what to do in a crisis. She's pretty much repeatedly demonstrated she has little use for the chain of command.

    O'brien played the part of a knowledable noncom pretty much running the show by virtue of leading an ignorant officer along with his "suggestions" and what not.
     
  2. Wally

    Wally Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Here's my thought:

    To make him more relatable. O'Brien was fairly rare character on Star Trek, he was the Everyman. Sure, most folks may think of themselves as the Captain, or the doctor, or some super smart, strong, attractive character...in the end most of us are O'Brien.
    On a station and a starship full of statesmen, androids, shapeshifters, centuries old symbiotic aliens, genetically engineered humans, alien terrorists, blind geniuses etc. he was just a guy doing his job well and had been doing it for years.
    He wasn't top of his class. He had prejudices. He had a wife and kids, and would have a nice drink after work with his buddy. At work, the sleeves are rolled up and he was one of the guys.
    And another way of showing that is making him a non-com. He's not the manager, he's the foreman. Star Trek plays fast and loose with its titles, and doesn't exactly sync up with present-day military, so it really only needs to be measured against itself.
    As a non-com in command situations he subservient to the lowest Ensign (established when he told this to Ensign Nog, fresh from the academy), but his position makes him top dog in Operations and Engineering. I can't think of any examples, but I'm sure he's been in charge of ensigns and lieutenants when it falls under that umbrella.

    Just my take.
     
  3. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    That would rather easily fit a consistent pattern. His rank is Chief (more specifically Senior Chief Petty Officer), Specialist (more specifically, his speciality is Ops). It's just that the current USN word for both the level of seniority and the line of work of an enlisted person is "rating" rather than "rank".

    But "rank" is simpler, and it's partially in line with Royal Navy tradition, and both these arguments are good ones for Star Trek which wants to portray a simple to understand, improved future whilst suggesting the adventurous days of the sailing ship era.

    O'Brien could thus be excused for saying the same thing in different ways: his rank is

    Senior Chief (Petty Officer), Specialist (of Operations) ["Playing God"],
    (Senior) Chief (Petty Officer), (Specialist) of Operations ["Tribunal"] or
    (Senior) Chief Petty Officer, (Specialist of Operations) ["Hippocratic Oath"],

    depending on how much of the mouthful he decided to swallow at a given instance.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  4. t_smitts

    t_smitts Captain Captain

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    O'Brien's rank is kind of a mess, and I don't think there's much point in trying to make sense of it. Riker apparently addressed him as "Lieutenant" in an early TNG appearance. For much of his time on the show, he had two full pips, and his uniform was basically identical to Worf's (Personally, I think engineering and security should've had different colors, but that's another matter).

    When Sergey Rohzhenko comes aboard, he somehow recognizes O'Brien as a non-com, despite his son (whom they talk about being an officer in that very scene) having the exact same rank insignia.

    Still, O'Brien's uniform stays the same until season 6's "Realm of Fear", when he goes from two full pips to one dark one, presumably to make it clear that Barclay (whom O'Brien interacts with quite a bit in the episode) is a superior officer.

    Supposedly, O'Brien got some sort of promotion when he moved to DS9: In an early ep, he offers to take a transfer, since his wife obviously hates the place, but she says he'd have to give up his promotion.

    Then in the 4th season, O'Brien trades his one dark pip for this weird little square thing I don't think we've seen on anyone else. Whether that was another promotion, or just some uniform change, no one knows.

    BTW, is it me or does it seem like the officer to crewman ratio on starships is a lot higher than it is on a real navy ship?
     
  5. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    It's an embroidered patch featuring three chevrons and two dots. http://images4.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20051112202417/memoryalpha/en/images/0/05/Ds9_scpo.png
    It corresponds to a master chief in the U.S. Navy.
    http://www.dodfire.com/graphics/insignia/navy-enl/Master_Chief_Petty_Officer.gif
    Trek tends to focus on officers, but it could easily be that the majority of crewmembers we see in the background with no discernable rank insignia are enlisted personnel. In that regard, the ratio between officers and enlisted could be the same, except when it comes to away missions.
     
  6. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Actually, it ought to correspond to senior chief. Which would be nicely consistent with what he says about his rank in "Playing God".

    Namely, in the USN system, those three chevrons would mean that he has collected all the Petty Officer ranks (or ratings), but his next step would be to gain a "rocker" to indicate the first Chief Petty Officer rank. That is, he would move from >>> to (>>> at that point. And two little dots (stars in USN) atop that would mean the third Chief Petty Officer rank, Master CPO.

    But the thing is, Starfleet doesn't use rockers. So >>> is Petty Officer 1st Class, but >>>. is CPO, >>>: is Senior CPO, and >>>:. is Master CPO.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  7. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    But unfortunately it doesn't. Only master chiefs have an insignia with two stars with three chevrons. Senior chiefs only have one star in the US Navy. So either O'Brien was really a master chief or that Starfleet enlisted insignia differed from today's system more than the officer insignia did.
    In an earlier discussion we had about this subject, I proposed that in lieu of rockers, the particular shape of the chevron was different for chiefs in Starfleet, with pettys having a more simpler-shaped chevron.
     
  8. matthunter

    matthunter Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'm not military, but my understanding is that NCOs like O'Brien who have a wealth of experience in the service command a certain level of respect from officers who technically outrank them. Ro - or Nog, once he becomes an Ensign - do supercede O'Brien in the chain of command, but nevertheless any young officer who fails to listen to a much older NCO is seen as foolhardy.
     
  9. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    More in which way? The officer insignia are almost completely different from today's system. The TOS movie pins bear no real resemblance to anything (great imagination there!), the TOS sleeve stripes have different numbers of features (that is, stripes) than the "corresponding" USN insignia for any given rank (generally, it's USN minus one, but not with Captain!), and the TNG pips sort of resemble the modern stripes (even if they are completely unlike the matching modern collar insignia) but LtCmdr is arranged differently (with the "narrow stripe"/dark pip at the outer end rather than in the middle).

    Saying that the first dark pip in a Starfleet Chief Petty Officer collar plate equals the rocker allows us to speculate that the plate (as per late DS9) is a specific rank symbol, while the single dark pip on a uniform collar (as per TNG and early DS9) generically means you're dealing with a person who has earned his rocker...

    Since Starfleet is such an officer-heavy organization, perhaps everybody knows the very few CPOs by face and thus they don't need the sort of exact symbols for their training and competence that today are part and parcel of enlisted insignia? In today's situation, the few officers are the ones supposed to be known by face, and their insignia tell little about their specific training; in contrast, the enlisted are one-field specialists, essentially tools in a toolbox, and their faces mean nothing whereas their specialty is everything, and is prominently displayed on their sleeves. If Starfleet is the exact reverse of that, the generic "I've got a rocker! Ask me anything about machinery! Or about anything, really!" pip would make quite a bit of sense.

    Further fun detail: O'Brien's plate clearly has room for three pips/stars, judging by the placement of the first two. There's no room for a fourth. This is perfect if the three regular CPO ranks are to be expressed by this plate, and two pips is the middle rank. That is, SCPO... We don't know if "MCPO of Starfleet" even exists.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  10. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    The circular pips generally correspond with the stripes used by officers in the U.S. Navy (the two sets of boxed pips worn by admirals generally correspond with the number of stars worn by admirals there too). They're not identical, of course, but you can see how the four stripes for a Navy captain matches the four pips for a Starfleet captain and the two-and-a-half stripes for a Navy lieutenant commander matches the two solid pips and one hollow pip of a Starfleet lieutenant commander and so on. There's much more parity there in the rank insignia between Navy and Starfleet officers.

    In comparison, O'Brien's insignia corresponds with a master chief rather than a senior chief. So as I said earlier, either O'Brien is really a master chief or Starfleet based its insignia for noncoms on a different system than today's Navy.
     
  11. Mr_Homn

    Mr_Homn Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    i think another reason to make him enlisted was to make him more of an "everyman", which he was thought of by the writers on ds9
     
  12. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    ...Although in this particular case, this makes him stand out rather than blend in! As an Ensign, he would be a comfortable "bluecollar" nobody; as matters stand, he's almost a celebrity already just by virtue of his rank.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  13. Mr_Homn

    Mr_Homn Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    true, but i meant in relation to the real world, since most military people are enlisted, not commisioned officers. (at least in the US military)
     
  14. Nick086

    Nick086 Captain Captain

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    It a shame they never show him giving orders to anyone under his rank not that I remember it been a while since I've seen the entire series.
     
  15. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    He does have a couple of Bajoran underlings without the collar brass to suggest a commission or a high rating of other sort. Two of these are even plot-related characters, one turning out to be an assassin in "In the Hands of the Prophets".

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  16. t_smitts

    t_smitts Captain Captain

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    What about the guys in "Starship Down"?
     
  17. Distorted Humor

    Distorted Humor Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The Chief even if they took a while to get his rank/rating correct shows a good idea of what a NCO does.

    As the old joke goes, a Lt. is ordered by a commander to have a flagged raised by 8 am, he turns to his NCO and says "I need the flag raised by 8 am" and the NCO make sure it gets done.

    also officers, mostly Jr. Officers (like a ensign or a Lt.) would be trained to listen to his NCO's, who will have years of experience in actually doing something, while the officers have years of schooling at the academy, but less time doing stuff.

    Yes, a Jr officer can order O'Brian to do something, but a wise officer will concider what he has to say before giving out a order. Good examples of this is TNG Disaster where the NCO gives ideas to the officer, and in DS9 in Hippocratic Oath, where the NCO disobeys a order from a Lt. and if the officer wanted to, could put him to court martial.
     
  18. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    And "The Ship"
     
  19. MikeH92467

    MikeH92467 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I remember a documentary about the relationship between officers and NCO' s in the Marine Corps. Basically it boils down to what DH says: officers give orders and set policy, NCO's see that they are carried out. As far as the relationship in terms of young officers ordering NCO's about, it's a little more complicated than that. If you think about it, the young officers are seen as go-betweens for the senior officers who set the goals and objectives and the troops. Thus a sergeant isn't really giving up any dignity by following orders because he knows who's really giving them. On the other hand, a young officer who tries to cross the line between passing on what needs to be done and telling an NCO how to do it, is probably asking for a considerable amount of resentment and subtle contempt.

    If the writers had really wanted to put O'Brien somewhere just outside the command structure box, they could have made him a warrant officer. Warrant ranks are traditionally issued on the basis of merit to deserving enlisted personnel. Compared to a regular commission they are career dead ends, since you can't make general or admiral on that line, but it is a way of giving the equivalent of commissioned officer's privilege and pay to people who otherwise would be stuck in the senior NCO ranks. Unfortunately the only person involved with any of the Trek franchises who probably understood that was GR and he didn't even want enlisted personnel...he figured Star Fleet was an elite organization and that anyone serving on a star ship would be a commissioned officer.
     
  20. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Well, if Starfleet doesn't pay its personnel anything, or even if it just doesn't pay its personnel in accordance with the amount of brass on their collars, the concept of warrant officers becomes rather meaningless.

    All you really need is the doers and the deciders - and you need both in the "experienced" and "inexperienced" variety, so you can't just have one rank scale or career ladder where the top end decides for the bottom end. Starfleet might be egalitarian enough not to pay the deciders more than the doers simply because of silly historical ballast, but the organization might still see the need to give different types of insignia for the top deciders and the top doers, rather than have a Commander give orders to a fellow Commander to get that flag raised on that hill, or for a Master Sergeant to listen to orders from a fellow Master Sergeant on whether the flag needs to be raised, on which hill, when, and at what cost to men and equipment.

    Although we have seen our share of Starfleet doers who hold a commission...

    Timo Saloniemi