Starfleet flag officers - what do they do?

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Little_kingsfan, Jun 23, 2018.

  1. Little_kingsfan

    Little_kingsfan Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2015
    Location:
    Sacramento, CA
    Hey, all,

    I've been watching a lot of Star Trek reruns on Netflix and reading a lot of the Trek books that're on my bookshelf and Kindle, and I'm just wondering what exactly most Starfleet flag officers (admirals) do (other then get on the various Captains' nerves)? How is Starfleet Headquarters organized? Do some of those admirals work directly under a senior admiral or do they have their own command?

    In the real-life Navy and other branches of the Armed Forces, each flag and general officer has designated responsibilities, but in Trek, it seems that most admirals are simply there for one episode, give the Captain orders, and are never seen again.

    Of course, throughout Trek, there are positions that seem to require a flag rank: most starbase and/or sector commanders are admirals, and there are posts such as Chief of Starfleet Operations, Starfleet Surgeon General, Starfleet Judge Advocate General, Superintendent and Commandant of Starfleet Academy, and probably a few more that I'm forgetting appear to be fairly straight forward. The 22nd century Starfleet seen in Christopher Bennett's Rise of the Federation has a Joint Chiefs of Staff, represented by a flag officer of every species in the Federation that concentrates on their service branch's specialty (Earth: exploration, Andorian: defense, Tellarite: logistics, etc.). Oh, and the Commander-in-Chief of the Federation Starfleet/ Commanding Officer, Starfleet Command is conjecturally the equivalent of the modern-day Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

    If anybody has any thoughts on the various admirals seen in Trek and what they do in terms of positions or postings, please let me know.
     
  2. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2001
    Location:
    The Wormhole
    They run Starfleet and give Captains their orders.
     
    Kor and Dr. San Guinary like this.
  3. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2001
    We only see most in one episode, so it's hard to tell. Nechayev has some responsibility for operations in the Cardassian border region, for example, based on what she does in "Chain of Command," "Journey's End," "Preemptive Strike," and "The Maquis." I suppose what she does as regards the Dominion in "The Search" would fit into that, too, and she's mentioned in a similar context in "The Abandoned." (Once the war starts, though, Ross is clearly the admiral in charge of all matters Dominion.)

    The odd appearance out, though, is her appearance in "Descent." But maybe the story starts in the Cardassian border sectors as well.

    The fiction (including fiction written by me!) places her in Starfleet Intelligence, but I don't think there's any canonical evidence for that, and I think what we actually see her do on screen pushes against that. I feel like that idea just came about because Nechayev is vaguely pragmatic.

    I feel like the post-Nemesis novels are more consistent about giving areas of responsibility to admirals, as part of their increased focus on the inner workings of Federation politics from A Time to Kill onwards.
     
    TheAlmanac likes this.
  4. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2004
    Location:
    Arizona, USA
    I just double checked and the first Prey book describes Admiral Riker as a "roving diplomatic problem solver".
     
  5. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2003
    Some admirals are explicitly Fleet commanders. that is, commanders of specific formations named Fleets (notably in DS9 when Sisko and Ross try to amass forces for retaking the station). Two and three pips appear appropriate for this job.

    Others may have non-geographic (non-astrographic?) areas of responsibility - Haden in TNG appears whenever Picard deals with Romulans, while Nechayev seems to deal with special ops or below-the-counter stuff. But these could just as well be Sector commands - Haden might command a region close to the Romulans, Nechayev one close to the Cardassians.

    If the latter, then a Sector command wold probably be headquartered at a specific starbase, so that DS9 comes to feature two recurring admirals on two recurring starbases, Rollman of SB 401 and Ross of SB 375. Doesn't necessarily mean said admirals would command said starbases as such; the facilities may have separate commanders, just as Admiral Ross or, say, Hanson may have his flagship commanded by an unnamed Captain. Three pips seems common for the putative Sector command.

    Apart from this, we have specific job descriptions such as Chief of Starfleet Ops, or CinC (of, say, the Klingon Front, as in CINCLANT or CINCPAC, and as opposed to CinC of the whole kaboodle as in President of the US). In the TOS movies, one is a two-pip job, as seen on Kirk in TMP, the other a four-pip one as seen in ST6. Kirk at two may also be Academy Commandant in ST2; the big boss called Commander, Starfleet in ST3 may be separate from CinC and is a four-pipper. Etc.

    Any such system would be in the eye of the audience. But then again, most of Trek is.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  6. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2011
    What do Starfleet Flag officers do? They change the flags!
     
    Jinn likes this.
  7. Jinn

    Jinn Mistress of the Chaotic Energies Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2015
    They are also part-time baddies, but when they're not planning coup d'etas they change flags.
     
  8. Little_kingsfan

    Little_kingsfan Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2015
    Location:
    Sacramento, CA
    Not that I don't enjoy the sarcasm - it's pretty funny - but I was hoping for some more serious answers. For example, I noticed in "Elusive Salvation" that R-Adm. Kirk was once again the Chief of Starfleet Operations in 2283, which, according to all the various TV shows, films, and books, means that he's in charge of organizing, maintaining, and coordinating the fleet throughout the Federation - basically the Operations Manager for Starfleet rather than just a single ship, ala Data or Harry Kim. Meanwhile, in that same book, Admiral Nogura has stepped down from his position as Commander-in-Chief of the Federation Starfleet/Commanding Officer, Starfleet Command (for the second time) and returned to his previous post as Director of Starfleet's Department of Strategic Plans and Policy, where he concentrated on "big picture" interstellar threat assessment. Over in "Forgotten History", we see Rear Admiral Antonio Delgado, the head of Starfleet Science Operations, who seems to concentrate on taking scientific breakthroughs and integrating them into the Fleet (when he's not busy trying to make time travel a legitimate form of exploration and defense). And there's more I'm probably forgetting.

    However, the day before I started this thread, I had just watched "Ensign Ro", and was wondering just what Vice Admiral Kennelly does - was he the Starfleet Liaison to the Cardassian Guard? And since he was never mentioned again in either the television or book series and given just how much he screwed up in that episode, I'm assuming he was asked to retire.

    Again, any thoughts on the subject are welcome.
     
  9. yotsuya

    yotsuya Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2008
    Like Commodore got dropped from the US Navy, it was dropped from Star Trek after TOS. But a Commodore is a fleet commander. Its usage in the British navy in the 19th century was either as an honorific to an exceptional captain or a captain given command of a small fleet. Admiral (of the various levels) are fleet commanders (typically each ship under them would have its own captain whereas a commodore would probably be in command of one of the ships). From just a few ships to the entire navy. So the Admirals in Star Trek command various operations for various ships. Outside of the command structure, they would lead various different aspects of operations, such as Admiral McCoy is/was probably in charge of medical operations while having nothing to do with the various fleets the medical officers were serving in. Scotty, if he hadn't gotten lost, probably would have risen to Admiral in the Engineering and design area and would have been in charge of ship construction or refit.
     
  10. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Location:
    Orbiting Urectum
    What do admirals do? They go crazy!
     
    TIM Thomason likes this.
  11. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2001
    Location:
    The Wormhole
    I'm guessing he faced consequences more of the mandatory nature, no "asking" involved.
     
  12. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2011
    From what was said in the episode, it sounds like he was looking at a long prison sentence. So it sounds like he was probably kicked out of Starfleet once he went through the court-martial process, but would've been held in a Starfleet prison.
     
  13. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2006
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
  14. Little_kingsfan

    Little_kingsfan Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2015
    Location:
    Sacramento, CA
    When I was browsing through Memory Beta's list of Starfleet admirals (and sometimes Googling those characters to see what books they're in), I came across Admiral Kimitake Noguchi, who was said to have served with George Kirk, Sr. and oversaw both Captain Pike and Captain Kirk's promotions to command the Enterprise. One reference was made to him being the Chief of Starfleet Personnel, a position that I felt given what he did for both Pike and Kirk made sense.

    At the same time, I recently got my hands on the Errand of Vengeance and Errand of Fury trilogies, and while I've completed the former, I'm still on Book 1 of the latter. I was wondering if anybody had an opinion on what Admirals Robert Justman and Herbert Solow do at Starfleet Headquarters. From the sounds of it, they were both full four-star Admirals and if it was the modern-day US Navy, I'd say they were something like the Chief of Naval Operations. There was a mention of the fact that Starfleet was (somewhat justifiably) paranoid about having both Solow and Adm. Heihachiro Nogura in the same building or meeting, saying that although Starfleet could survive the loss of both senior Admirals, recovering from such a loss would have significant immediate and short-term repercussions for the Fleet (also, since these books were published a few years before Star Trek: Vanguard came out, there's no mention of Rear Admiral Nogura in command of Vanguard).

    EDIT: While reading "Seven Deadly Sins", there was a chapter set in Adm. Solow's office where he told his aide to send information on the potential Klingon-Romulan Alliance to R-Adm. Nogura on Starbase 47, but unfortunately it didn't mention what exactly Solow did at Starfleet HQ.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2018
  15. Shamrock Holmes

    Shamrock Holmes Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2009
    The equivalent of the "Chief of Naval Operations" has had various titles over the years, usually either the CinC (Commander-in-Chief?) or the "Commander, Starfleet", the former of which at least appears to be a temporary five star posting (based on the five pip braid for the CinC in TUC (Bill Smilie according BTS sources) and Admiral Marcus in STiD. Another position that appears to be relatively senior is the "Starfleet Chief of Staff" which could be the same postion or perhaps something like the "Director, Naval Staff" or "DCNO Manpower, Education and Training" (so the Chief of Personnel).

    TrekLit is IIRC somewhat split on this, as RoTF favours "Chief of Staff" as the senior title, whereas the TNG era books alternate between Commander-in-chief and Commander, Starfleet as the title for the most senior admiral.

    IMO, the most likely explanation for the discrepancy is that the Commander, Starfleet is the senior operational commander (equivalent RW Combatant Commanders) and the various Chiefs of Operations (Kirk and Leyton were at various points ChOpsSol, Ross was ChOpsCard) report to them, but the "Chief of Staff" is the administrative head of the organisation reponsible for overall policy and strategy and the "Commander in Chief" is the annalogous to the National Security Advisor in that their main role is to (potentially) chair top level meetings and act as the UFP President's Advisor on Exploratory Operations. All of these roles can be held by the same person in at least an acting capacity, but it would probably be relatively unusual.
     
  16. Little_kingsfan

    Little_kingsfan Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2015
    Location:
    Sacramento, CA
    I remember reading somewhere - I honestly can't remember which book or website it was - that the Chief of Staff of the Federation Starfleet was the second-in-command to the Commander-in-Chief of the Federation Starfleet, serving as the latter's Chief of Staff, responsible for overseeing Starfleet's directorates. I also don't know if that was just for a single piece of work or if it's been adapted by multiple authors and stories.

    Anyways, over in the Klingon Empire, I believe the Klingon Defense Force's senior officer is the Chief of Staff to the Chancellor and known Klingon Chiefs of Staff include Chang (to Chancellor Gorkon), Martok (to Gowron), and Talak (to Martok). If I'm missing anybody, please let me know.

    Thanks for all of your help.
     
  17. Sgt_G

    Sgt_G Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2013
    Location:
    USA
    I often wondered what my leadership did all day while I was on active duty. Now that I'm retired and have a civilian job, I still wonder what my boss does all day.
     
    The Wormhole likes this.
  18. Snaploud

    Snaploud Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2001
    Location:
    Rhode Island, USA
    It depends on the decade. Pong was popular for a while.
     
    trampledamage likes this.
  19. Little_kingsfan

    Little_kingsfan Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2015
    Location:
    Sacramento, CA
    Having read the teaser summary from "Available Light" (which I can't wait for, along with the other new books for 2019!), I hope at least some of the Admirals at Starfleet Command are given specific jobs instead of just being random flag officers with no given portfolio. This book could be the big chance to show what actually happens at Starfleet Headquarters the same way "Articles of the Federation" gave us a look inside the Office of the Federation President.