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Nine Reasons Why a Starfleet Education Won't Prepare You for the Real Navy

StarFleet Emblem


Humor-- 07.14.2006

By CDR McComas




  1. Unlike Starfleet, where the ratio of officers to enlisted personnel is roughly 100:1, and where the only apparent purpose of enlisted personnel is to provide anonymous crew members to be killed by alien life forms, the Navy is highly dependent on the expertise, skills and efforts of its enlisted members. (Just remember this the next time you are putting together your away team.)
  2. Just like in heaven there is no beer, in space there is no dirt. Judging from the fact that we never witness Starfleet personnel engaged in activities such as cleaning heads, sweeping passageways, or inspecting berthing compartments for old Doritos wrappers and empty soda cans, one can only conclude that dirt and trash are a fairly rare commodity in the rest of the galaxy. Based on this apparent shortage, a terrestrial-style landfill could have good long-term investment potential.
  3. Starfleet captains seem to really like surprises. Whenever the OOD on Voyager has something to tell Captain Janeway, he will call her on her communicator badge and say something like, "Captain, you need to get up to the bridge right away. There's something I think you should see." Without being told in advance whether she is coming up to see a Borg ship powering up its weapons array or a selection of fabrics to reupholster her command chair, the captain invariably freezes her holodeck gothic romance and heads to the bridge with the self-same degree of hair-on-fire urgency. It's hard to picture the Navy skipper who wouldn't rip the OOD's head off for initiating this kind of uninformative summons.
  4. Navy officers are a lot brighter than Starfleet officers (although not, as a group, as photogenic). The sole exception to this rule is our captains, who are not quite up to Starfleet standards. As evidence of this phenomenon, note that whenever they hold wardroom meetings on Deep Space Nine, the officers just sit there with that deer-in-the-headlights look, waiting for Captain Sisko to tell them they need to realign the interstellar diffuser coagulator to prevent the worm-hole from collapsing, do a level four analysis on the data resolution imager to thwart the sneak attack from Dominion hijackers, or reverse the polarity on the integrator field to synthesize replacement DNA to kill the alien virus that is taking over Major Kira's body. The wardroom is incredibly lucky that the captain always knows all this stuff, because it's pretty clear that nobody else on board has a clue what they are supposed to be doing. Unfortunately in the Navy, although most COs are pretty smart people, they aren't anywhere near as smart as Captain Sisko. One consequence of this is that Navy captains don't have the luxury of populating their wardrooms with the merely photogenic, they have to keep a lot of ordinary looking subject-matter experts around to help them analyze the situation, weigh the alternatives, and develop thoughtful plans of action.
  5. With the exception of those whose bodies have been taken over by evil alien life forms (fortunately, an always temporary and completely reversible condition), all Starfleet personnel are sober, reverent, respectful, clean, brave, virtuous and completely deficient as management challenges. The only Starfleet court martial on record turned out to be a terrible misunderstanding. Nobody in Starfleet has ever missed a ship's movement, called their superior officer a "sniveling weenie," taken a kick-back from Quark's bar, brought discredit on the service while having too much fun on liberty, or overindulged in synth-ale and tossed their cookies in the captain's ready room. In addition, Starfleet officers don't have to put up with commuting on 880, the IRS (since they don't seem to get paid), telemarketing calls from rival phone companies, incontinent pets, their neighbors' late-night parties or, (since so few of them ever get married) their in-laws. Because Starfleet leaders have so little experience dealing with adversity on a day to day basis, it's a good thing the Federation isn't currently facing any serious threats in this sector of the galaxy.
  6. In Starfleet, the XO gets first dibs on dating all the ensigns of the opposite gender. In the Navy, for reasons you will no doubt recall from my GMT lecture, we have not found this to be a particularly great idea.
  7. Starfleet doesn't seem to have any clear mission. Sure, there's that explore the galaxy stuff, but as orders go that's pretty darned vague. What are their measures of effectiveness? The fact that they don't seem to have any has all sorts of repercussions on the way they do business. When Captain Picard has orders to take the Enterprise to the Cardassian system to mediate a diplomatic crisis, he still seems to have plenty of leeway, if he wants, to go a few thousand light years out of the way to observe a collapsing neutrino blue dwarf star he's just heard about.
  8. Unlike the Navy, where a new team of briefcase-laden experts can be expected onboard every week a ship is in port, Starfleet ships are never inspected by anybody. With a few rare exceptions they never participate in fleet exercises, and their admirals don't breathe down their captains' necks to get regular updates on their level of training and material readiness. This laissez-faire management style is probably related to the lack of a mission discussed above, and is not likely to be replicated in any segment of the naval service any time soon.
  9. None of the officers in Starfleet went to Berkeley, Stanford, Davis or CMA, or for that matter, to Lake Wobegone State and OCS; they all went to Starfleet Academy. This seems like a bad plan for a variety of reasons:

    • One good cheating scandal, car theft ring conviction or medium sized non- nuclear blast could wipe out the better part of an entire year's commissioning class.

    • Everyone in Starfleet is surrounded by people they knew, and didn't like, when they were 18.
    • SFA doesn't offer a broadly based liberal arts education, have fraternities and sororities, play football (or if it does, the team must not be very good because you never hear Starfleet officers talking about it), have a graduate school, or offer its students a semester abroad or majors like "Product Design" and "Science, Technology & Society."


Related: Life Will Not Be Like Star Trek



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