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Starfleet Crewmen

In most STA references, the writers use the phrase ‘Star Fleet officers’ when talking about Star Fleet personnel. But, as any veteran will tell you, there is a big, wide chasm between ‘we and thee’, as the saying goes.
And with the TNG and DS9 character of Chief [PETTY OFFICER!] O’Brian, creating a 'Fleet enlisted man ought to be a no-brainer.
Look at it this way:

  • Starfleet has better than 500 ships in commission at any one time. Most very likely more than that.
  • Each of these ships is crewed by 50-1500 personnel
  • Educating a Star Fleet officer is expensive. First they spend 4 years at the Academy, then another two years with the 'Fleet before they’re allowed to do anything without supervision [every military NCO’s career is replete with ‘what the eff’ing lieutenant/ensign did this time’ stories]
  • It is a complete waste of that money to have a Lieutenant JG doing work that a Petty Officer 3 could do at half the expenditure of time and resources. The Federation may have moved beyond ‘money’, but they still can’t replicate training time and resources spent are gone for good.
  • The whole mission of officers is to LEAD, not turn wrenches. Even Starfleet Engineers are supposed to be supervising work parties and ensuring work is performed to a given standard and on time. You don’t get to be ‘Scotty’ without learning how to boot the occasional ■■■. And anyone want to bet that B’Ehlanna didn’t have to occasionally ‘wall-to-wall counsel’ a former Maquis who wasn’t performing up to snuff?

My point in this post to twofold:

  1. Could some of the writers of STA entries give a little respect to the poor, suffering E5’s and below of the Fleet? and
  2. How about some character generation on enlisted personnel?
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Well, Star Trek is very inconsistent on the question if enlisted personnel and petty officers exist in Starfleet. According to Roddenberry this is not the case and you can clearly see this in TOS. The situation in LD is similiar to the one in TOS. There we also have ensigns doing the jobs of crewmen. But all of the other shows and movies have crewmen (VOY, ENT, DIS) and and sometimes even petty officers (all TOS movies, TNG, DS9), but with the exception of Chief O’Brien they are always minor characters.

Well, except for that poor Crewman 1st who got put on trial in TNG… not the way to become a ‘major player’. :slight_smile:

How about some character generation on enlisted personnel?

Page 127 of the Core Rulebook has enlisted personnel character generation options.

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Well, snot. Didn’t see that. Thanks for the look-up.

There are also tidbits in at least some of the Division Supplements on enlisted personnel and character creation.

Btw Kirk had a Yeoman in TOS. :wink:

You’re right.
I was always under the impression that YEO Rand was an officer, but I just looked her up at M-Alpha and she was an NCO in the TOS and became an officer later in her career.

But we only know that because we see her as a petty officer in TMP. Until then you could believe that Rand was an ensign during her short time on the Enterprise in TOS.


Roddenberry said somewhere that all members of Starfleet graduated from Starfleet Academy…. And many people took this to mean they were all commissioned officers.

As a former soldier, commissioned officer AND police officer, Roddenberry himself would have known this is impossible for several reasons, even if Starfleet is more paramilitary like a police department than military.

First, no warfighting force (Starfleet does fight wars whether they want to or not) can take 4 years to train all replacement personnel.

Second, you can’t put someone thru four years of academic and leadership training and expect them to be happy turning wrenches in the bowels of a starship. It’s a waste of resources.

Third, too many chiefs not enough Indians. What is the career path for an officer when EVERYBODY in the organization needs the same billets to advance? Who are all these officers in command of?

Even in a police department, there are civilian personnel supporting the commissioned officers. Can’t really do that on a ship.

There have to be the equivalent of enlisted personnel to do the behind the scenes work, the scut work and the drudge work that is still important and still has to be done…. Because most newly commissioned Ensign isn’t going to spend his entire career and retire as a lieutenant doing it. Most will find something else to do.

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Just two remarks:
1.) There are NCO’s and enlisted on screen; they’re canon. Not sure whether Roddenberry’s statement qualifies as “on screen canon”. :wink:
2.) Nobody says that all courses of Starfleet Academy are officers’ courses. Yes, contemporary warfighting forces (thanks, @tanksoldier, that’s a nice way to evade the tiring “military vs paramilitary” discussion! :smiley: ) do split their educational facilities. Yet there’s no reason why you could not have a huge educational facility, call it “Starfleet Academy” and train officers for 4 years and crewmen for six months.

Bottom line: If one wants to have enlisteds and NCOs in their games, doesn’t make their games less Star Trek. :slight_smile:


Well, I could certainly see ‘Fleet Petty Officers going to the Academy for training on a course-by-course basis… "Antimatter Power Generation and Containment Theory 105’ or some such… But I would tend to think that, given the number of enlisted personnel needing to be trained in order to cover the 'Fleet’s many responsibilities, there are Basic and Advanced Training facilities all over the place.
Now that I think of it, a restricted deck in a StarBase would be the perfect place for it. Training companies [or ‘watches’ as the USN puts it] wouldn’t be on a given species homeworld, thus forcing the recruits to get multi-cultural right from Day One. This is done in the US Army today. The Army makes a concerted effort to assemble troops from as diverse a background as they can in a training platoon… city ghetto kids training with rich kids training with Pacific Islanders and so on.

Last time I was in the military, they used to have administrational units that were actually spread over multiple locations.

Sure. Wherever there’s a military base there’s an E3 [PFC /Lance Corporal] grinding paperwork to make it function.
If Sergeant are the ‘backbone’ then privates are the muscles that make it go.

Sorry, I think I chose the wrong vocabulary. Things you do in foreign languages… :wink:

My point is: There is no necessary contradiction between “all go to Starfleet Academy” and “there are Basic and Advanced Training Facilities all over the place”. Starfleet Academy could be a single organisation that is spread over multiple physical locations. Just like a Fleet is a single military… (i don’t know, probably not a “unit”, but you probably get what I mean. What’s the technical term for “Batalion or Regiment”?) that consists of multiple ships and boats.


Ah, sorry I misunderstood.
And trust me, you do not want to hear my attempts at 30-year-old StraBedeutsch :rofl: So I completely understand what you’re saying about foreign languages.

I agree that Starfleet Academy would have satellite campuses in multiple locations for various specialist coursework. But I also think that enlisted training is a wholly separate thing from an Academy education.
One of the key differences between ‘training’ and ‘education’ in the modern military sense is that training teaches a skill-set, whereas ‘education’ implies getting a college degree. A West Point cadet in the US Army is awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in a whole host of disciplines [and it was founded as a hard-core engineering school]. I imagine that Starfleet Academy does the same and it’s clearly a degree that’s highly regarded.
Training, OTOH, means that the Crewman 3rd Grade has learned how to function in a military environment, has some basic safety training [vacc suit operations, zero g movement, etc.], damage control training, and some basic tactical training. Advanced Training is the specific skill training that eventually leads to the awarding of a skill rating [as in Yeoman Rand’s case].

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Warum nicht? :rofl:

See, I completely agree with you.

Point is: There are contemporary militaries without Academies in the sense of e.g. West Point. Nothing prevents someone from having Starfleet only “Starfleet Academy” as an umbrella term for a combination of different training facilities. After all, also first-year cadets need training in vacc suits, comms protocols and hand phasers – just like soon-to-be-Crewemen. In comparison with Crewmen, Cadets just stay a little longer. :wink:

I’m not arguing to change positions. I want to broaden perspectives. Having (amongst others) a military background myself, I tend to draw from that experience first, when I think of how Starfleet is set up and works. But, sometimes I also love to do things just differently from what I know. Because it’s SciFi and the Starfleet Academy in our minds can just be something completely unknown! :slight_smile:

Btw. thinking of Crewman Mortimer Harren: Some Enlisted at least in Starfleet are actually really educated and their expertise can excel that of Starfleet Officers by far. In case you can get your hands on the STA Player’s Guide, have a look at e.g. the Expert Role for such a Crewman. :wink:

Weil ich alt bin und mein Gedächtnis ist! [thank you Google translate] :rofl: :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: :grin:

I agree with your first point about first year cadets. In the US military academy system, cadets report for duty in June before their first academic semester [which begins in September]. During the summer, they go through a very intense basic training period, think of it as standard Basic Training on steroids. THEN they begin their Academy coursework after Labor Day [in the US this is the first Monday in September].

OTOH, Germany and the UK’s officer schooling is vastly different. As I understand it, the Bundeswehr uses the Fahnenjunker system [NCO service as an officer candidate combined with year-long courses at an officer school] and the UK uses officer’s academies that only award what in the US would be called ‘a bachelor’s in liberal arts’… basically a well-rounded but non-specified education. Note some of this info may be out of date…
I think that Harren [good reference btw] is something of an outlier. Clearly, he’s a genius [and most enlisted people are definitely not…], and his antisocial behavior would have long since bought him to the attention of the ship’s executive officer. And Chakotay wasn’t the type to put up with selfish embittered whining from one man when every single person aboard the ship had lost something. Janeway’s motherly instincts aside, Crewman 3rd Herran would have found himself manning a mop rather than a plasma relay.
Nevertheless, I do see your point about the phrase ‘Star Fleet Academy’ meaning the whole spectrum of Starfleet educational programs. I disagree with you for one large reason:
All iterations of Star Trek talk about the special reputation that ‘Star Fleet Academy’ has. About how difficult it is to get into, how difficult it is to stay in, and how difficult it is to live up to the ideals of the Academy. It is constantly repeated that Academy graduates are the Federation’s ‘best and brightest’, with an education as rigorous as the Vulcan Science Academy coupled with a sense of duty to the Federation as a whole, not just one’s home world. I submit to you that this reputation would not want to be confused with enlisted Basic Training.

Oh, I completely take that point. :slight_smile:

Some off-topic regarding Bundeswehr officers' training

As it happens, I know a thing or two about the German Armed Forces. :slight_smile: You’re perfectly correct, officer candidates regularly start their career with the rank of “Soldat” (soldier; NATO OR-1) and get promoted to OR-2 and OR-3 before earning the rank of Fahnenjunker (NATO OR-5). Fahnenjunker would be their first rank coming with command authority/responsibility by rank, as in the German military, there’s a rather strict division in between enlisted personnel (six, in the near future eight ranks that [mostly] come without authority by rank) and the two types of NCOs the German military knows. They would go through two ranks at NATO OF-D that are equivalent to OR-6 and OR-8, respectively, within the German Armed Forces. On a sidenote: It’s “Fahnenjunker” in the Army and Air Force, while the Navy calls this rank the “Seekadett” (composite: See-Kadett; See translating to Sea and Kadett to cadet). German officer candidates would then go to officers’ schools, earning nothing but their commission, there. Until about 10–15 years ago (not sure), officer candidates would go through basic training alongside all other recruits, regardless of track. So in a basic training unit, there were officer candidates, NCO candidates and enlisted, training alongside with the same rank. Most German officers have studied and earned a university degree. The Bundeswehr owns two universities (one at Hamburg, one at Munich) for this matter. Yet, the universites are civilian institutions, led and run by civilians and also, to some extent, open to civilian students. There are some courses of study that are not offered by those two universities (medicine is the most prominent). Thus, there’s a (small) number of officer candidates who study on regular, normal, civilian universities in parallel to their military training. Both officers’ school and studies are interrupted by weeks/months of practical training at a regular unit and at a function suitable for their respective rank.

Sorry about the wall of text within the details; apparently, I’m not allowed to structure via line-breaks. :frowning:

Edit: @Svensson It’s use it or lose it! :rofl: Trainier Dein Deutsch! :smiley: :smiley: :smiley:

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Boothby can’t be everywhere.
(Species 8472 notwithstanding)


The comments about Bundeswehr and British officer training was just to illustrate how different they are from the US model. And it’s pretty clear that the US /UK ‘officer colleges’ are the models for Starfleet Academy.
My point is that there are other ways to educate an ensign /lieutenant than just putting them through a 4-year training grinder, and those alternate models might share some features with Trek education.
I could, for example, see a Starfleet Academy cadet doing a year as a Petty Officer 3rd aboard a starship for practical experience, and this would be a hybrid of the American and German systems.