O'Brien's career

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine' started by Grendelsbayne, Nov 15, 2018.

  1. Grendelsbayne

    Grendelsbayne Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    So I was rewatching TNG's The Wounded and I suddenly can't help wondering: what the hell is with O'Brien's career path, anyway?

    He's enlisted and apparently served as basically a ground troop during some part of the Cardassian wars. But under Captain Maxwell he was 'Tactical Officer', like Worf or Yar. Then later, on the Enterprise, he's in charge of the transporters (and only the transporters, despite having apparent flashes of engineering brilliance). And from there he goes to being in charge of the entire engineering dept. of a station, plus being in charge of all repair and maintenance efforts on all visiting ships. Still as an enlisted man, seemingly with the same rank as on the Enterprise.

    That the writers never bothered to think about what it means to be 'enlisted' in Starfleet is clear enough, but the yoyoing in responsibility levels here is just weird.
     
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  2. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It's closer to the truth to say that they were slow to develop the character. They liked Meaney and kept casting him to fill what were smaller roles. It was only with Data's Day and The Wounded that they decided to commit to giving OBrien a story. Depending on the size of the ship, chief engineers and tactical actions officers can be NCOs. And Worf was a strategic operations officer, suggesting something different than the minutiae of momentary defense.
     
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  3. KennyB

    KennyB I have spoken............ Moderator

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    It is NOT uncommon for military members to cross train into a different career field. I have had 3 so far. I started off in aircraft maintenance, went into operations, and then finally into what I do now. So I can let it slide, although @Bad Thoughts nailed what REALLY happened.
     
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  4. phantomeagle

    phantomeagle Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Being a transporter chief didn't mean that he couldn't run an entire ship, it was just the only position available when they decided to broaden his role. If LeVar had left he could've easily become Chief Engineer.
     
  5. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Even in-universe, job opportunities aboard the E-D would probably be limited in scope - yet working aboard the E-D would be prestigious and worth doing even when you were doing just a niche job...

    Hard to tell what O'Brien was initially. He claimed that his transfer from that landing party job where his heroism with the transporter counted was what gave him the gold shirt. So clearly he wore some other color for that landing party! Perhaps he was a field technician in blue? Just one not accustomed to transporters specifically. Or did he get "TOS movies gold", the color of Sulu's shirt collar? In that case, he could have been in Marines indigo or whatever originally. But TOS movie gold isn't the same TNG gold that O'Brien wears when discussing the transfer with Sisko - it's the TNG red that Sisko wears!

    Once in gold, he indeed got the one out-of-the-line job, as a Tactical Officer despite not being an officer at all. But it's in this stage of his life that he gets the reputation of being a soldier: his Setlik III heroics described in "Empok Nor" take place around 2362, only eight years before "Tribunal", and some fifteen years after his first unhappy visit to Setlik III, the one involving the field transporter thing.

    Aboard the E-D, he's the transporter guy. Except in "Encounter at Farpoint", where the ship was explicitly short on staff and may have made use of O'Brien in temporary red for that reason. And then we see him doing "security" stuff in "Lonely Among Us", but that's probably incidental: he'd be the dedicated transporter guy for either the Selay or Anticaan delegation, and would be there to notice something amiss for that very reason.

    As for rank, that can be fudged in various ways, including pointing out he was never really called Lieutenant, not even in "Where Silence Has Lease" where Riker would be more likely to be talking to Lieutenant Worf instead. But we still see weird ups and downs, from one pip to two and then back (even if those are "enlisted pips", the same as in his collar plate later on, next to the chevrons).

    Timo Saloniemi
     
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  6. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    O'Brien was first given a name in TNG's second season, the only "small roles" he had before that were the Conn Officer in Farpoint (who was retconned as O'Brien in AGT) and a security officer in Lonely Among Us.
     
  7. flandry84

    flandry84 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Maybe the first year of the mission was a time when many of the crew were given the chance to work in different departments to acclimatise to the new ship.A veteran like O’Brien would be an asset to any department head ..steadying the ship,so to speak.
    I like to think that the many chief engineers were being rotated through Enterprise before being assigned to other Galaxy class projects.Holodeck training only goes so far.
     
  8. Grendelsbayne

    Grendelsbayne Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I don't really have a problem with the fact that O'Brien tried out a bunch of different specialties. The ground troop part doesn't really seem to fit with the rest, but that could just as easily have been a 'requirement of the service' kind of thing, since it was wartime.

    I just find it strange for someone to go from one of the top (but possibly still somewhat junior) officers of a starship to, apparently, a minor officer doing various things in the background of another ship and then suddenly on the basis of that he's basically the third most important officer on an entire major installation. Especially since he goes straight from Enterprise to DS9 - he doesn't seem to have the experience he ought to have for that post. But realistically he doesn't seem to have the experience he should have had based on his early career trajectory, either, because for some unknown reason after being one of Captain Maxwell's most trusted, he just kind of fades into the background in a bunch of lesser departments.
     
  9. Sgt_G

    Sgt_G Commodore Commodore

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    Was he THE tactical officer, or simply A tactical officer???
     
  10. flandry84

    flandry84 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Maxwell called him the best and in a shooting war you want the best guy to be your number one guy.
    Maybe O’B himself decided to ‘float’ as a general crewman rather than be tied to a career in tactical.Perhaps he was a little traumatized from the Cardassian war and wanted to experience a more general Starfleet career.
     
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  11. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    His own words: "Next thing I know I'm the tactical officer on the Rutledge".

    Now, either O'Brien or Meaney could be blurring there, saying "the" when meaning "a". Or then O'Brien is one of many, but still "the", that is, this specific guy he has now become. "First I was the cello player, then the field tech, then the tactical officer, and now I'm this engineering guy and finally at peace."

    Or then he could be the one and only Tactical Officer aboard that ship. This "the" part isn't our problem, after all - the idea that he would be officer of any sort is.

    Or then he never was ground trooper. Might be he was a starship Tactical Officer all along, and heaven knows those have to beam down with the top officers often enough to do footwork.

    Kirk was a "soldier" and "warrior" once, too. Did he do the legwork, phaser himself a foxhole in the ground, eat MREs in the warmth of a glowing rock with thirty of his best buddies in camouflage? Or did he just beam down in red shirt when the skipper told him to establish Phaser Station on the hilltop and cover the landing party, making sure to shoot without any hesitation whatsoever at the earliest sign of, oh, say, threatening clouds?

    Timo Saloniemi
     
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  12. Mojochi

    Mojochi Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Is it mistaken somehow if I just assume that at some point, directly after the Cardassian war, a war-wearied Tactical Officer O'Brien chose to resign his commission as a Starfleet officer, for personal reasons, only to decide later to come back to Starfleet, deliberately opting to NOT be an officer anymore, given that a tactical officer kind of has a lot of blood on his hands?

    Maybe he didn't want that burden of conscience, & purposely chose to be a tool pusher for a while, & then when jobs popped up like a transporter chief, he thought it would be a good change of pace, pulling people out of danger, instead of putting people in it

    Some people figure out that there are some things that they'd rather not do, & maybe he associated being an officer with that war, but as Philippa Louvois once said, Starfleet is still the place to be. So he thought he could still play a part... Over the years, that part grew significantly, & he started to be ok with that. :)
     
  13. Jayson1

    Jayson1 Admiral Admiral

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    Hey let's not forget he was a temporary Tactical officer on the Enterprise as well during "Redemption" while Worf was off fighting with the Klingons. I see him as being a jack of all Trades type but whose best skills turned out to be engineering though he did not know it at the time he joined Starfleet. He learned it in the field, hence his transporter story he told Sisko. My guess is after his time with Maxwell he became part of engineering staffs of other ships or bases. Like the one in which he saw The Klingon pain stick in use for the first time and the time he meet his pet spider.
    He got a chance to go to the Enterprise as Transporter Chief and took it and then got promoted again with DS9. Also it's easy to easy to also see how it helps to get promoted in how he kind of sucks up to the boss. He once said Maxwell and Picard were the best Captains in Starfleet. Then years later he tells Sisko the samething. I am guessing he will be telling the same story to Admiral Brand at the Academy if she is back in charge.:)


    Jason
     
  14. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I kinda suspect that O'Brien started off as a flight controller or shuttle pilot, who was pulled into security duty for the Cardassian War (especially Setlik III), where he then discovered his technical skills (fixing a field transporter to save his team) and also took his first life (thus altering him forever). After Setlik, he was made the tactical officer, where he stayed until the end of the war, after which he focused on becoming an engineer. Over the years, that was what he specialised in, though still kept up with his piloting and tactical training, making him a valued "jack-of-all-trades", which saw him assigned to the E-D as relief flight controller, then taking over as chief transporter operator.
     
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  15. arch101

    arch101 Commodore Commodore

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    I’ll always be disappointed that they didn’t have Admiral Ross reward O’Brien with a field commission at the end of the war. He certainly earned it. Still, I wonder how many enlisted guys get to instruct the future officers at the academy?
     
  16. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    In Past Tense O'Brien indicates he's been offered a commission in the past which he turned down, preferring an enlisted man's life over that of an officer's.
     
  17. kkt

    kkt Commodore Commodore

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    Meetings with the brass, dress uniforms, all things that would not appeal to O'Brien.
     
  18. Mojochi

    Mojochi Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I don't have much to base it on, but I'd say it might be more than that. I'm kind of reminded of Troi's bridge command exam. Being an officer carries with it certain heavy responsibilities with other people's lives. As a tactical officer in a war, I have no doubt he learned that lesson very harshly. So maybe he decided that he could still be in Starfleet, but not be the guy calling the shots that get other people killed. I kind of identify with that mentality myself, to be honest. It's rather suspect that all this enlisted chief business comes on the heels of a war he has pretty dark feelings about his role in
     
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  19. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Here's the quote from Past Tense:
     
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  20. Mojochi

    Mojochi Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Thanks for that. I'd been wondering if there were some stuff about it I'd forgotten. The thing is, that seems like a really superficial comment, only half-serious, so to speak. I'm sure that it IS an aspect of being an enlisted man that he does appreciate, but it seems really overly simplistic to think he'd pass up an advancing career because of just that. Heck, Worf don't care for that stuff either.

    If there were more to his choice than that, it's probably some deeply personal stuff, not for light conversation, like that scene. I'm out on a limb here, because there's not much to it, but I like to think Miles is a more well rounded guy than that, & that there's maybe some history there he's just keeping private. It's nobody's business why he doesn't want to be a Starfleet officer, really, but an aversion to fancy formalities is as good an excuse to bat around in chit chat as any