Discussion in 'Star Trek Movies XI+' started by T J, Nov 19, 2008.
But that's the way it *does* work. We've seen it.
Uh huh? So it's got mostly the same ranks. That means it's the same?
That's only true if Starfleet both requires people to progress through all the ranks and requires that they spend several years in each of those ranks. If either of these is not true, then it does not follow.
Should Starfleet have such requirements? Clearly, raising people to command rank after only a few years of service worked in other places and times.
Our current arrangements are not necessarily those of the future. See, for instance, Gene Wolfe's short story "Alien Stones," where starship commanders never serve as subordinate officers in any capacity; his future society has determined that serving for years as a subordinate does not prepare one for independent command.
Yeah, Cochrane isn't a great example. I just happened to have his autobiography handy.
But if you take the class elements out, doesn't the system still work? Actually, wouldn't it work even better?
Yes, I think they should. Why do you suppose those ranks are there, if not to be used?
This is not to say that every officer should spend the same amount of *time* in grade. Everyone is different. Some people get promoted faster, it's a fact of life. If Kirk goes up through the chain of command quickly, and makes Captain in only 8 or so years, that's not so bad. We all knew he'd do that anyway.
But to *skip over* ranks? That does not, IMHO, make any kind of sense. Those ranks are there to be used. If Starfleet must do, they can let Kirk spend a relatively short time as an Ensign, Lieutenant JG, etc. But he should still have those ranks, even if only for a few months to a year each. I mean, don't we all agree that it would be completely ludicrous for Kirk to go straight to Captain from Cadet?
I also realize that Kirk could have the position of Captain but have a lower rank, such as Lt. Commander or Commander. When he got his first command, he may well have done. But there's no indication that this would have to be the Enterprise.
Botched the nested quote....
Only true if we project our current personnel management practices -- and, by extension, our cultural beliefs about seniority, careers, and so forth -- into the future. If anything, Starfleet is too similar to our current practices to be believable
Perhaps. But Trek writers must still use a system that those watching the movie can relate to. (Don't even try to tell me that I'd be the only one going "What the FUCK?" if Kirk made Captain right out of the Academy.)
When I said "character driven", I didn't mean within the context of the series. I meant the show's writers and producers determine how fast the characters go through the ranks based on what kind of characters they are, not based on any sort of internal system. Meaning they say "Hey, Kirk is supposed to be an extremely gifted, competent commander, like a Horatio Hornblower, so we'll say he breezed right through the ranks." instead of saying something like "Well, in our Starfleet ranking system, after you've done this or that, you should be promoted." Because Data and Worf didn't do anything different than LaForge, and I think Laforge jumped like at least a rank or two before they did. But they probably said "Hmmmn, we want LaForge to be the Engineering chief instead of the blind navigator. Hey, lets change his rank too!"
I don't know if it's been mentioned elsewhere in this thread because I didn't read some pages quite so closely, but one of the reports from recent presentations over on AICN mentions that several years pass over the course of the film.
But obviously, it's far too early to do anything but speculate over the specifics of the film.
If you want an example of rapid promotion through the Starfleet ranks then Riker's early career is probably a good example. He was an ensign in 2358, promoted to lieutenant in 2361 and then promoted again to lieutenant commander in 2362. He then transferred from operations to command division and became first officer of the USS Hood. Promoted to full commander in 2364 he then joined the Enterprise. In theory if anything to Capt DeSoto during his time on the Hood, Riker could have taken command of that ship just 4-5 years after leaving the Academy.
But it's insane. We know that in this flick, Kirk goes to the academy, and three years later is smuggled onto the Enterprise, still a cadet... and ends up IN COMMAND within a few days.
Ignore, for the moment, issues like "military protocol" and just think about FUNCTIONAL REQUIREMENTS. What possible chance is there for someone to know enough about starship operations, diplomacy, space combat, personnel management... ANYTHING... that you NEED TO KNOW in order to hold a command position... in that length of time?
There's a reason that people get promoted on a schedule... that you have a "minimum time-in-grade" before you're even ELIGIBLE for promotion.
For a great example of how this really works... but one you can enjoy on an entertainment level... go watch "Band of Brothers." (I LOVE that series... and yes, it's a very true-to-life retelling of real events, though certainly somewhat fictionalized like any retelling inevitably ends up being.)
The two main leads start off as second lieutenants, subordinate to other officers. By the end of the war, with combat promotions and TONS of real-world experience behind them, both of these characters have been promoted several times and are in positions of significant responsibility.
But realize, a naval Captain (what Kirk is in the Trek universe) is the equivalent of an Army Colonel (not even a Lieutenant Colonel... but rather a "Full Bird" Colonel). The "old man" you see the leads working with in "Band of Brothers" is a Colonel.
Imagine... 2LT Nixon, after a couple of days in the field, being miraculously promoted to take the position of "the old man" in "Band of Brothers."
That's what we're talking about in this movie. It's NONSENSE.
Today, it take a line officer 20-25 years to reach captain in either the RN or USN, regardless of who they are or what they've done. Officer personnel management has come a long way from how it was done 200 years ago. Those systems had major flaws, which is why we don't use them any more.
Well, no. The qualities and abilities that are needed for higher command are not necessarily those that make for a successful junior officer, and advancing able junior individuals too fast is more likely to highlight their limitations and inexperience than to reveal a successful leader. There are many more technical aspects of the profession to learn today, and more thorough and proven avenues of professional development and education. Not to mention the plain old seasoning that comes with age.
Also, promoting without any regard to seniority has long proven to have a deleterious effect on overall morale. Good personnel like to know that they have chances at advancement that don't depend on being in the right assignment at the right time.
But an organization of 200 years ago is more likely to be similar?
We know that the Starfleet people of the future think enough about seniority and careers to harbor deep resentment about being passed over for promotion (Ben Finney) and be bitter about a temporary demotion (Will Decker). Not so different from current attitudes.
In an organization with a finite number of positions, where an officer is allowed to occupy a preferred position indefinitely, as in the Riker example, the logical consequence is that some number of personnel could be stuck indefinitely in positions they don't prefer. That's just asking for trouble. There has to be a certain amount of flow through the ranks and positions, or the organization stagnates. From what I've seen onscreen, the people of the future are not ambition-less automatons that would be content in such a system.
Well, we have no real idea how big Starfleet is at any given time.
Justin, what you say isn't wrong - indeed, it's a hallowed principle of the armed forces of any given time (at least Anglo-American armed forces) that, as a rule, should you refuse a promotion, your career effectively ends at that point: Never again will you be given a promotion or a significant assignment.
Logically, Riker should never have been offered another promotion or command after he refused the first offer. But we don't know in the least bit how SF operates with "normal" officers. It would be nice to at least hear reference to things like the anxious waiting for promotion lists to be released, promotion or assignment selection boards being convened...things which make up the rhythms and routines of military life.
You also realize that we are talking about a fictional world where the ranks are there so you have more than a captain and ensigns on a starship. The ranks were there to create a sense of realism in an unrealistic (Futuristic Setting)
You know, none of us have stopped think about that...you could well be very right...
This could be a "year of hell" ending...what happens happens, but when Nero's ship is destroyed, everything is reset, or at least most of it.
I was thinking more in the duties and circumstances they'd find themselves in. But I'm thinking that a captain in starfleet would be trained specifically to command, instead of progressing up to command through different duties. Everything onboard a starship would be so specialized that there's no way a captain would be able to do most of the tasks on board. It seems like even with similar ranks, the organization of duties in Starfleet is unlike anything we have on earth.
But if the qualities and abilities that are needed for higher command are not necessarily those that make for a successful junior officer, what exactly is being accomplished by making a possible future commander spend many years as a junior officer?
Straw man. Promoting highly-talented people without regard to seniority does not necessarily imply a system with no regard for seniority. It simply allows certain individuals to bypass the seniority system.
My point was that the organizations of the future are simply not knowable. An argument that Starfleet can't do something a certain way because we don't do something that way has no force.
Oh, yeah, I'm not defending that. However, reasonable people are going to differ on exactly how much variance from our current system makes the system unrelatable. Commanding a ship (not an important ship like the Enterprise, but a ship) in eight years strikes me as being reasonable. Not everyone here is going to feel that way. Which kinda sucks for them, since Pike is presumably an expert on what's doable.
Which would be the worst thing this film could do. If you have the balls to write it, have the balls to stand by it. There is nothing like wasting two hours of my time and find out nothing actually happened.
They may not be able to perform "most" of the tasks on the ship--that'd take a Data-level savant--but several of the captains we've seen have in-depth, specialized knowledge of certain starship systems or career fields that cannot be simply labeled "command."
There's Kirk, who encouraged his officers to know why things on a starship work the way that they do. Even when retired, he was able to reconfigure a rather obscure looking piece of equipment on the Enterprise-B to make something rather arcane happen. He may have been an engineer before becoming a captain (as suggested by some of the DC comics in the 80s).
Then there's Sulu, who was a physicist and a helmsman before captaining the Excelsior. Spock and Janeway were both science officers. Crusher and LaForge were a physician and an engineer in the canonical timeline before becoming captains in alternate futures. Troi's commander's test suggests that moving from a non-command career progression to the command track is a relatively simple matter, even for non-line officers.
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