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 Posted:   May 24, 2013 - 1:33 PM   
 By:   Octoberman   (Member)

Some of the comments on the other side of the board got me thinking that the question really deserved its own thread.

In the TV shows and films there has been a lot of evidence to support a yea-or-nay, either way.

What do you all think?

 
 Posted:   May 24, 2013 - 1:45 PM   
 By:   Grecchus   (Member)

Well, well, well. I have not seen the latest offering. At least, not yet.

The crew of the Enterprise would need to be as varied a skill-set as you're ever likely to encounter. Military, civil, tech and possibly even 'clean' spiritual. They'd certainly need 'the right stuff' to cover every possible contingency imagineable.

But to answer your question, I think, yes. Discipline as only military service can procure.

 
 Posted:   May 24, 2013 - 1:48 PM   
 By:   Adm Naismith   (Member)

According to Memory Alpha:

Starfleet (abbr. STFL) was the deep-space exploratory and defense service maintained by the United Federation of Planets. Its principal functions included the advancement of Federation knowledge about the galaxy and its inhabitants, the advancement of Federation science and technology, the military defense of the Federation, and the practice of Federation diplomacy.


Defense is one of its top three purposes, even as exploration and scientific inquiry are clearly it's first order of business.
It is modeled after and run like the US Navy. It is military in design and hierarchy, but not solely relegated to being a Federation fighting force.



If you drill down, it's kind of scary how much power the Federation gives to Starfleet. I consider it a hallmark of Roddenberry's vision that his enlightened characters can concentrate this much power in one organization without creating a fascist military dictatorship.
People like Nicholas Meyer have had a hard to accepting that, but science fiction and Star Trek is just the place to pose that kind of 'What if we were that enlightened?' question.

 
 
 Posted:   May 24, 2013 - 1:53 PM   
 By:   Ado   (Member)

Some of the comments on the other side of the board got me thinking that the question really deserved its own thread.

In the TV shows and films there has been a lot of evidence to support a yea-or-nay, either way.

What do you all think?


OM

Roddenberry was pretty anti-military, and pro-exploratory - scientific in his view of this thing he created. TNG had some episodes where Picard ran against more military leaders in Starfleet. A good one was were he was replaced with Ronny Cox, cannot recall the title of that one.

But it seems it is military in terms of the formality of training, oath to a set of rules and ideals, and there seems to be a career ladder. There is not anything like it now otherwise. I suppose you could argue you need military type formality and structure to commit people to space travel for years at at time.

JJ has tilted it more towards militarism in terms of combat etc. The first two series were very much exploration and not military though. So that is the push back against the current movie, there just is not much exploration there beyond the Klingon world, and we have already been there, so not a lot of unseen territory.

 
 Posted:   May 24, 2013 - 1:59 PM   
 By:   solium   (Member)

The Enterprise was designated as a science vessel on a science mission, yet it was equipped with an array of weapons, Phasers and Phonton torpedo's and other defense mechanisms.

I don't know of any NASA or civilian vessels that were ever equipped with weapons. So I would say Starfleet was always a military organization. Though they used "battleships" for science exploration.

I guess one could argue Starfleet started out as a military/defense organization, but with relative peace (at least at home) it's inventory was re-appropriated for peaceful scientific exploration.

 
 Posted:   May 24, 2013 - 2:26 PM   
 By:   mastadge   (Member)

The Enterprise was designated as a science vessel on a science mission, yet it was equipped with an array of weapons, Phasers and Phonton torpedo's and other defense mechanisms.

I don't know of any NASA or civilian vessels that were ever equipped with weapons. So I would say Starfleet was always a military organization. Though they used "battleships" for science exploration.


I think that's a false equivalence. NASA wouldn't equip its craft with weapons because there's no reason to. A better equivalent might be exploratory naval voyages a few hundred years ago -- in which case, yes, explorers, even those without a military mandate, carried weapons because it would be foolish to go into potentially hostile territory without them.

 
 Posted:   May 24, 2013 - 2:39 PM   
 By:   Ron Pulliam   (Member)

Let's see:

There are uniforms
Different paygrades
Officers
Enlisted

Yes, it's military. No question about it, although it's not really on a wartime mission. Space exploration is its mission, but protection of the ship and its personnel require military training/discipline.

 
 Posted:   May 24, 2013 - 3:04 PM   
 By:   solium   (Member)

The Enterprise was designated as a science vessel on a science mission, yet it was equipped with an array of weapons, Phasers and Phonton torpedo's and other defense mechanisms.

I don't know of any NASA or civilian vessels that were ever equipped with weapons. So I would say Starfleet was always a military organization. Though they used "battleships" for science exploration.


I think that's a false equivalence. NASA wouldn't equip its craft with weapons because there's no reason to. A better equivalent might be exploratory naval voyages a few hundred years ago -- in which case, yes, explorers, even those without a military mandate, carried weapons because it would be foolish to go into potentially hostile territory without them.


I know hardly anything about early naval history. Did the Bounty have cannons? At least in modern times there is a distinction between an armed warship and a unarmed science ship. I know you say NASA is not a good example but it is. NASA shuttle, unarmed, Air Force shuttle, armed. (At least I think they have that capability) Obviously its still top secret. There's no reason for the Federation (Which lets face it is based on American protocols) to combine the two disciplines. If a science ship needed protection then it would have a military escort.

 
 Posted:   May 25, 2013 - 9:29 AM   
 By:   Dyfrynt   (Member)

Well if one takes it from the source -

Roddenberry believed the Federation's primary mission was one of exploration. The analogy with the great voyages of exploration in the Age of Sail is very appropriate. Starships were armed because they were sent deep into unexplored territory, often cut off from Starfleet command for long periods of time. The captain of a starship could find himself in over his head, and needed to make judgement calls on the spot if force was necessary. Thus the ships did need the firepower to defend themselves.

Roddenberry was also vehement that Starfleet was never meant, and would never be, a fleet of warships. One of his quotes (which I am quoting loosely from memory) was that we would never see a Dreadnaught class Starship. (You listening JJ? Apparently not!). But to be fair JJ was not the first to put a very heavy military element into the story lines.

When Roddenberry was forced out of control after the STTMP debacle, other producers and directors (both in the later TV series, and the movies) had their own interpretations, which varied from Roddenberry's vision from respectful to extreme.

 
 Posted:   May 25, 2013 - 12:16 PM   
 By:   WILLIAMDMCCRUM   (Member)

The first REAL 'Enterprise', as everyone knows, was a US Navy aircraft carrier. All the rankings and drills are clearly based on US Navy routines.

The thing was conceived during the cold war, when space exploration was inextricably linked to security concerns. Only the military had the personnel and the experience and the technology and funding, that was the default setting.

Roddenberry is the type who'd run with a zeitgeist if it was profitable, and of course in that era he'd end up playing the pacifist card IN RETROSPECT when spoofing interviews.

But no-one would have separated the two concepts of space exploration and the miltary in the '60s. I seem to recall there's an episode of TOS where Kirk declares 'I'm a soldier'.

As far as the allegory goes, Kirk is the 'ego' who makes the journey into the unknown. He had to be totally 'defence' in that sense, against the dangers of 'space' (the unconscious and unknown). In several variations it was his duty to pull people back to reality ('Who Mourns for Adonis?' and the first one with the roll-neck sweaters about the dangers of 'inflation' and 'deification'). He had to be defensive and adventurous to do that, and he had to be a miltary type. Spock was the science officer, Kirk was the soldier.

Think in terms of mythology. The Ra-boat sailing the 'waters of chaos' against the great dangers in the darkness. The thing about Kirk, as OPPOSED TO a lot of the New Age dilettantism of the 1960s in California, was that he had discipline and remembered the 'duty', and frequently prevented the ship from capsizing against the chaos.

There's even an episode where he has to deal with hippies, and they don't come off too well, more the enemies of the 'quest' than the enlightened ones they claimed to be.

 
 Posted:   May 25, 2013 - 12:32 PM   
 By:   Dyfrynt   (Member)

"The first REAL 'Enterprise', as everyone knows, was a US Navy aircraft carrier. All the rankings and drills are clearly based on US Navy routines".

Uh, no. The first REAL Enterprise, as apparently not everyone knows, was the Sloop of War sailing vessel of 1775. (I think there was an even earlier vessel named Enterprise, but that ship was French). The 1775 ship was the first U.S.S. Enterprise.

 
 Posted:   May 25, 2013 - 2:01 PM   
 By:   TM2-Megatron   (Member)

The L'Enterprise was rechristened the HMS Enterprise after being captured in 1705, and was destroyed not long after in 1707. I'd say that was the first real Enterprise. The Royal Navy then launched another HMS Enterprise in 1709, with quite a few following after, including an Echo-class survey vessel that's still in service today.

As for whether Starfleet is a military or not, personally I'd say it isn't. At least not a military as we define it today. Defense is undeniably one of its functions, but its primary function is still exploration and scientific discovery, even for Starfleet's command division, who also need to take security concerns into consideration. But it makes sense, from a practical standpoint, to kind of merge these things together in a single organization. Building fleets of starships is an expensive proposition, even in an economy of surplus like the Federation. And Federation space is quite vast; today our militaries only need worry about a single country on a single world. To have a separate fleet of warships, sitting idle or acting as escorts for the hundreds of exploratory vessels gallivanting around the Alpha and Beta Quadrants, kind of wouldn't make a lot of sense. It's resource-intensive enough just building a single fleet of ships, and training the people to crew and operate them.

And there is a type of military disciple in Starfleet, but that in itself doesn't make it a traditional military either. A service of people as large as Starfleet is, crewing hundreds of vessels, outposts, and bases on more than 150 different planets, couldn't possibly operate without some kind of discipline. And human military discipline no doubt provided a good model when Starfleet was being formed, although it doesn't seem to be quite as extreme as what's practiced today.

Did the Bounty have cannons?

It had four 4-pounder cannons and ten swivel guns, according to Wikipedia.

 
 Posted:   May 25, 2013 - 5:26 PM   
 By:   WILLIAMDMCCRUM   (Member)

Of course there were earlier 'Enterprises', and the historic ones.

It's amazing how the whole concept has changed from reality to 'inside the fantasy'.

I was assuming that the question related to Roddenberry's creative process, and why he chose that name for the ship, and what HIS concept might have been. But some of you are talking inside the box, as though she were real, and Starfleet was a bona fide phenomenon.

Only in Roddenberry's creative gun and your minds does it exist. And at the time of its inception, the USS Enterprise that would serve in VietNam and which was the tracker and pick-up vessel of choice for the Gemini splashdowns was the one in the limelight. And maybe one of the WWII incarnations that he'd remember too? The whole shuttlecraft bay scenario was developed around the aircraft carrier's lower decks.

But still, it all goes to show that, originally, in the early '60s, it was conceived as a military fleet vessel. Romulan's 'n all? Only afterwards did it all evolve to mean this microcosm of peaceful tolerance. What would one expect from a fella as opportunistic as Gene, in the middle of the civil rights era etc.? Then of course, it 'evolved' into the therapy '80s with TNG, and political correctness etc.. So the whole thing was revisionised in hindsight.

Sometimes it was the cautious 'aliens' who embarrassed Starfleet by highlighting the Enterprise's apparent aggressive nature ('The Menagerie' etc.). Kirk was forever having to reassure everyone that her mission was peaceful?

You don't fly by the seat of your pants and 'develop' what will be a 'franchise' (there's that ugly word again) without playing it by ear, and if 1970s audiences want it to be less militaristic, then you bluff along and develop it that way. But we can see how it started out.

Ron Pulliam up there says he sees it as naval, and he should know.

Perhaps some Trekkie out there can remember the episode where Kirk says, 'I'm a soldier', in response to some crisis of command or the like?

Bottom line is that these things are created to appeal, and if the fan 'loves' the concept, he'll project whatever virtues are needed, and make excuses for whatever he feels he needs to explain away. If only the real world were so easy.

 
 Posted:   May 25, 2013 - 5:44 PM   
 By:   TM2-Megatron   (Member)

Well, the question wasn't "Did Gene conceive Starfleet as a military organization or not", so I assumed it was an in-universe type of question.

I don't know what he intended, personally (although I'm sure there were interviews and whatnot over the years which could clarify it). But he did serve during WWII, and there are undoubtedly military, specifically naval, influences in Starfleet; and I don't think anyone would deny that. The hull lettering used on Starfleet vessels during the TOS era was even the same as that used on US Navy aircraft.

Maybe Starfleet could be called a military by virtue of the fact that it's the closest thing to a military left in Federation society. But even so, when I watch the show I tend not to think of it as a military organization; and that doesn't appear to be its primary purpose.

 
 Posted:   May 25, 2013 - 5:54 PM   
 By:   WILLIAMDMCCRUM   (Member)

It had four 4-pounder cannons and ten swivel guns, according to Wikipedia.


In the 18th Century, and until and beyond the 1815 war etc., most 'scientific' vessels were military ('Master and Commander' had scientists aboard.) It'd be foolish otherwise, with pirates and international tensions, and quite different rules of capture and ransom on the High Seas than in landlocked politics.

When NASA sent up their early explorations, there were hardly likely to be marauding UFOs attacking, or Russian missiles! Certainly not Romulans and other nasties from other civilisations! It was established from season 1 that there was a need for 'defence' against the Romulans and Klingons who were both warlike.

It's only because of modern comfort and relative safety (in the WEST at any rate ....) that scientific ships can travel unarmed. Look at Somalia. Try deepsea operations off the coast of Taiwan without permission, and see how long it takes to hit a sticky wicket. For most of our history the layman was also a 'warrior' and really didn't make any such differentiation.

It's all a big allegory y'know. And entertainment. Nothing could please the franchise people more than to think it's debated. But the later series (I gave up a long time ago) all tended towards a nerdy relish at wargames rather than the deep allegories of the originals. That's when the plug should've been pulled, before it all got silly.

 
 Posted:   May 25, 2013 - 6:57 PM   
 By:   Dyfrynt   (Member)

Quoting WilliamMc again,
"But still, it all goes to show that, originally, in the early '60s, it was conceived as a military fleet vessel. Romulan's 'n all? Only afterwards did it all evolve to mean this microcosm of peaceful tolerance."

What? What goes to show it was conceived as a military fleet????? Where are you getting this stuff from? Don't know how old you are, but I was there for the original series. Your comments are simply wrong. Roddenberry said from the beginning that Star Fleet was primarily an exploration organization. The "peaceful tolerance" you speak of is an entirely different part of the show.

WilliamMc: "What would one expect from a fella as opportunistic as Gene, in the middle of the civil rights era etc.?"

Yes, Roddenberry showed that in the future mankind had risen above petty differences like race, religion, etc. This show was aired during a time of great upheaval between the races in the U.S. Violence and riots were an all too common occurrence. I'm not sure why you think it was being "opportunistic" to show a future where people had evolved beyond this.

Believe me, at the time it was refreshing and uplifting to think we humans could achieve to be better in the future, even if just on a television show.

 
 
 Posted:   May 25, 2013 - 8:31 PM   
 By:   Nightingale   (Member)

I'd like to know how Starfleet is financed? big grin

 
 
 Posted:   May 26, 2013 - 6:30 AM   
 By:   (Member)   (Member)

Some of the comments on the other side of the board got me thinking that the question really deserved its own thread.

In the TV shows and films there has been a lot of evidence to support a yea-or-nay, either way.

What do you all think?


This is a globalist army: the New World Order before its time.

 
 Posted:   May 26, 2013 - 7:43 AM   
 By:   Adam B.   (Member)

I've always thought of Starfleet as military, first and foremost. Exploration and star charting come second.

Kirk - "I'm a soldier, not a diplomat." (Errand of Mercy)

The episode The Ultimate Computer was centered around the Wargames trial and testing the M5 computer for military maneuvers. You don't equip a starship with phasers, photon torpedoes, deflector shields, etc. unless you expect to go into combat.

Balance of Terror was basically a submarine thriller set in outer space and mentioned military battles with the Romulans a hundred years beforehand.

In the sixth film, Spock talks about the Klingons' "enormous military budget". We had better have one to counter theirs.

Commodore Decker said it best. "Our primary duty is to maintain life and the safety of Federation planets."


That's the way I see it.

 
 Posted:   May 26, 2013 - 7:54 AM   
 By:   WILLIAMDMCCRUM   (Member)

Believe me, at the time it was refreshing and uplifting to think we humans could achieve to be better in the future, even if just on a television show.


You were THERE.

So was I.

I repeat: it'd be impossible for an exploration of this type (what am I SAYING? I'm falling for the Maguffins by even talking like this ...) to be conducted outside a military scenario.

'Star Trek' was CENTRALLY based on allegory. It stares us in the face. So much so that I don't want to even go there. The 'journey' was analogous to an inner one, discovering the human psyche. The 'better world' was an add-on, a maguffin, a future that was needed to make the stories believable.

If a writer says he created a world that was free from racism etc., it doesn't follow that this was the raison d'etre of the show. It simply means that this was the framework chosen IN WHICH TO WRITE the real stories. Since then the publicity people have blown this up to high heavens, because they think that's the selling point of the stories, the 'ennobling' thing. But the REAL thrust of the series (and Roddenberry wrote many episodes himself) was a big psychological allegory about our self-discovery collectively but mainly INDIVIDUALLY.

None of this actually affects the basic fact that Starfleet was military in its organisation and operating modes. People still assume that a military organisation must inherently be aggressive and destructive. The word is DEFENCE. In the 20th century, only military agencies had the money and the resources to carry out space exploration. Where would NASA have been without the Air Force and the US Navy? They needed them. And of course, as I said, 'Star Trek' was not set entirely in a vacuum. The Apollo missions had no defence systems because they didn't believe in a million years that there were any 'aliens' in the vicinity to threaten them! Star Trek has a different premise, namely that the 'Federation of Planets' is a political umbrella, with many nations, species and worlds, who occasionally need to defend themselves both inwardly and outwardly.

Of COURSE Roddenberry will say, 'Oh, it's not primarily military' in the 1960s. What else would he say? But the screenplays, especially Kirk's role in those story dynamics, are clear.

What is so odd about a military vessel conducting exploration? It is NEVER right or desirable to have non-military, untrained people using weapons, no country with any sense allows it, and they won't 200 years from now either. It'd be a step AWAY from Utopia, not towards it. Scientific ships don't have photon torpedos and a licence to use them! It'd be madness. She's a military vessel on a scientific voyage. Perhaps you should think 'UN peacekeeping forces' when making this connection. They aren't all aggressors y'know.

 
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