Relative miltary strengths of the Great Powers in Trek

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Relative miltary strengths of the Great Powers in Trek

Post by JM1776 » Sat Feb 04, 2006 3:44 pm

I wonder how other authors view this, and to what degree it colors their storytelling.

My assumptions are thus:

In the 22nd century, the Federation is a fledgling power, but its fleet is already formidable due to support received from its various member worlds and their individual navies.

The Klingons and Romulans, at this point in time, both possess vaster militaries, but the preponderance is far less than either would like. If there had been a time for them to have allied and hit the Federation, this would have been it.

In the 23rd century pre-Praxis, there's very much of a triangle in place. The Federation posseses a large and still growing fleet, and its already prodigious economy allows for the maintenance and construction of additional units with a minimum of fiscal flexure.

The Klingons' military is, at this time, perhaps slightly larger than that of the Federation (when the House Fleets are taken into account) ... but they consist of ships anywhere between state-of-the-art and centuries old. A large portion of the Klingon GNP is devoted to military expenditures, and this allows them a parity they require to feel relatively "safe."

The Romulans are more of an enigma, and that's just the way they like it. While one would assume they have ships in sufficient numbers and tonnage to give pause to an invading Klingon or Federation fleet, they tend to do what they can to disguise their disposition and displacement, feeling that uncertainty will accomplish what sheer strength might not. Behind the Neutral Zone, though, is a fleet that, while still an impressive force, lags behind those of its neighbors ... and this contributes mightily to Romulan paranoia.

Post-Praxis, the Klingon military enters a period of slow decline, as its support system is diverted to the more pressing needs of restoring Q'o'nos to full viability. Eventually, though, with this great task complete, the Klingon Empire returns to prominence, its fleets replenished in large part due to its economic compact with the Federation.

The Romulans snipe at Klingon territory for the next few decades, before the Tomed Incident. Then, they are essentially gone from the scene for 50 years ... but return sporting a new vessel, the D'Deridex-class warbird, in great numbers.

The Federation Fleet, lacking a serious foe, devolves over the next few generations from perhaps the most formidable navy the Alpha Quadrant has ever known into a large but somewhat flabby instrument, awakening and regaining its leanness only slowly as new threats manifest themselves.

The Cardassians appear on the scene in this period, and while their own military machine is efficient and motivated, its technological and numerical inferiority prevents the Union from attaining the respect it wishes to achieve. Simply put, they feel there are now four Great Powers. The other three don't see it that way, though ... and the Klingon invasion of Cardassia in the early 2370's renders the point a moot one.

In the latter 24th century, the brief but devastating war with the Dominion/Breen/Cardassian Alliance leaves an incredibly destabilized quadrant behind. Cardassia is no longer even a "wannabe" power; their brief renascence under the Dominion has been followed by military impotence and irrelevence. The Klingon navy, reduced to less than 1,500 ships late in the conflict, is further shredded before final peace is declared. The Empire's future as a Great Power is, whether the Klingons realize and wish to admit it or not, in serious jeopardy. The Romulans, having entered the conflict later, are somewhat less depleted, but still in no shape to wage war for some years to come. The Federation, despite having had many of the battles fought in its space and on its worlds, still emerges into the postwar galaxy as by far the strongest of the Great Powers, having converted over to wartime production throughout its enormous territories (including shipyards hundreds and even thousands of light years away from the fighting) and for the first time truly exploiting its near inexhaustible resources to produce ships, ordnance and other required materiel.

The quadrant is in flux, and races such as the Breen, Tamarians, Gorn, Tholians, Miradorn, Tzenkethi, Magna Romans and others may well rise to join the elite, or even displace the Klingons and Romulans from their Great Power status. Only the Federation seems secure, and poised to become even stronger than before.

And that's the way I see it.
Last edited by JM1776 on Tue Feb 07, 2006 6:22 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by CalicoMeezer » Sat Feb 04, 2006 11:02 pm

Other than the fact that the Breen also took some pretty heavy blows during the Battle of Cardassia, and are thus not likely to become a Great Power anytime soon, not a bad summation. Nice.
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Post by JM1776 » Sat Feb 04, 2006 11:16 pm

CalicoMeezer wrote:Other than the fact that the Breen also took some pretty heavy blows during the Battle of Cardassia, and are thus not likely to become a Great Power anytime soon, not a bad summation. Nice.
I'll disagree strongly concerning the Breen. They may have suffered grievously at the battle to take Cardassia, but they were engaged in full-scale war for a matter of perhaps two months, as opposed to two years.

They're still very much a threat, CalicoMeezer.
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Post by RichMerk » Sat Feb 04, 2006 11:39 pm

The Federation (United States) has the resources and high tech. The Klingons (USSR) have lower tech but more brute force. The Romulans (China) have extremely high tech and could smoke the Federation and Klingons if they weren't so isolationist.

The Cardassians may have once been more enlightened, but devolved into a cruel militaristic culture with delusions of grandeur.

I imagine the Breen to be easily the equal of the Federation in tech and probably a little higher. They have biological ships, cloaking technology, and energy draining weapons. Their language is indecipherable. They are mysterious to the point of no one even being sure if their homeworld is hot or cold, and that level of secrecy suggests to me considerable political and military power. They could very well be the next major power the Federation has to deal with.

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Post by lukedev75 » Sun Feb 05, 2006 1:22 am

I pretty much agree with Rich though I believe the Romulan's would rather make gains with more subversive tactics than an all out war.

That being said - What about the Borg? How would they fit in? With the Quadrant is disarry it seems they should/could play a serious part.

I don't have the Borg answer, just posting the question.
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Post by RichMerk » Sun Feb 05, 2006 1:29 am

The Borg as presented in the old TNG episodes were literally unstoppable by any technology the Federation had. Luckily, they were way off on the other side of the Galaxy. Unfortunately, VOY pretty much ruined the whole concept by making them nothing more than yet another stupid alien race to fall before the supreme cleverness of one small ship. Fortunately for us fanfic writers, the VOY series finale closed the Borg's transwarp door, shutting them once more on the other side of the Galaxy where they belong.

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Post by JM1776 » Sun Feb 05, 2006 1:59 am

From what I've seen, cutting edge Federation technology, resources and numbers are superior to anything else in the Alpha Quadrant. They're supposed to be the baddest boys on the block, and it's only their restraint and ethical compunction that prevents them from being the Empire they are in TOS' (and Diane Duane's, not the insipid DS9) Mirror Universe.

The idea that the Breen have superior technology doesn't work for me. They had one piece of mechanical/electronic legerdemain---the energy dampener---and the Federation overcame that in the same fashion they did the Dominion's polaron beam weaponry ... with their superior innovation and cleverness. From what I can see, the Federation had pretty much caught the Dominion in technical prowess by war's end, mostly because intelligent people coming together in the spirit of fellowship and desperation will always get it done over a totalitarian society---at least in an idealistic universe like Star Trek.

The biological ship thing's obviously been dropped; it was a throwaway line in Voyager as I recall, and has as much legitimacy as the idiotic "Dreadnought has quantum torpedoes" line from the same series. We see no evidence that the Breen are employing organic tech in their ships, unless it's something like bio neural gel packs. The Federation has a phase cloak, remember, which is in advance of Breen and Romulan tech in that area. Perhaps you're mistaking the more relentless application of tech for superior tech. They're two entirely different things.

And the idea that Romulan tech is superior to Federation is out of left field. There's no evidence to support that position---in fact, much the reverse. And if the Romulans are China, then I'm not certain how you can hold the stance you do: The Chinese do not have superior tech to the United States ... and definitely didn't have anything even near it in the era when this analogy was applicable---an era long past, by the way.

There's no way Klingon ship numbers are superior to, or even distantly approach, those of the Federation in the post-Dominion War era. They had 1,500 ships in late 2375. That's significantly fewer than those the Federation had in the field, if we extrapolate from numbers of fleets, and the makeup of each.

Interestingly enough, I think the Borg are genuinely afraid of the Federation, and humanity in particular. They have a sense that there's an intangible, almost spiritual power behind them, and that it'll eventually be the Borg's downfall.
But yes, Voyager did ruin them. Seven of Nine is the locus of my disdain for the series, with her magical nanoprobes and unlimited database. The character strayed beyond ridiculous into sublimely absurd.

It seems to me that if the Romulans had, at any point, genuinely thought they could take the Federation, they'd probably have tried it. The fact that they haven't is quite telling: They know they're no match in a stand-up fight, and that's why they're so underhanded. Even in the 23rd century, when certain statements in "The Enterprise Incident" implied a brief Klingon/Romulan alliance, the two never worked up the nerve to attack the UFP.
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Post by lukedev75 » Sun Feb 05, 2006 2:28 am

RichMerk wrote
. . . shutting them once more on the other side of the Galaxy where they [Borg] belong.
So then, the Borg is on the fringe borders of the Klingon and Romulan Empires. We can assume that the Romulans have the resources to defend against the Borg but if the Klingons are so weakened then the possibility exists the Borg will 'attack' the Klingons. At least these could be story lines.

JM1776 wrote:
It's my opinion that they [the Federation] were in the position the US was at World War Two's end
While the US could have 'rolled' over most directly following WWII, the US could not have rolled over Russia and/or China. So as some have compared, both on these boards and else where, if the Klingons and Romulans equate to Russia and China then couldn't we say they are still the Super Powers. Look at two facts that developed.

First the Klingons were in deep with the Federation much like the Soviet Union and the US post cold-war. While there are different opinions there is/was still open trade and a good exchange of technology.

Second, the isolantionist Romulans, for however a brief time, allied themelves with the Federation against the Dominion. During this period there was sharing between the Romulans and others.

As today's current affairs has shown, information is the key to power. While the Federation knows alot about the Romulans and Klingons, it is in my opinion that the Romulans and Klingons know 'more' about the Federation. They still have their secrets.

Of course this train of thought brings the secretive Breen back into the possible 'super-power' picture.

The challenge to the Federation is going to come from who has the best information and the best means to exploit it. Maybe even the Ferengi or Orions.

I guess it will be up to your story line, as clearly there are few canon facts going forward. In the spirit of Star Trek - the future travels many paths and has yet to be written.
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Post by JM1776 » Sun Feb 05, 2006 2:31 am

Actually, I have a bad habit of editing my posts after placing them.

I'd already removed that line as not part of my final draft.

My bad.

Actually, I'm still working on my response. :wink:

Oh, and, by the way ... most military historians are of the opinion that we could have rolled over the USSR at that point, had we committed to it.

They're right.

I do think you wildly underestimate what the Federation knows about the Klingon and Romulan Empires. If you'll recall, the Chairman (or Vice Chairman) of the Tal Shiar is a Federation spy.

Seems to me that the Federation is quite adept at gathering intelligence. Starfleet Intelligence is intact, and getting info. The Tal Shiar and Obsidian Orders are decimated.

Oh, and note that the Dominion thought the Romulans and Cardassians were no threat without their major intelligence branches. That's a clear indication that their militaries were less respected than those of the Federation and Klingon Empires.

Odo says to the Female Founder that the Federation "wouldn't allow" the Klingons and Romulans to cross into the Gamma Quadrant. Gee, how would they stop them? With fast talk? Obviously he meant that, militarily, the Federation could say, "Cut the crap," and the combined force of the Klingon and Romulan Empires, at that point, would be insufficient to gainsay them.
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Post by lukedev75 » Sun Feb 05, 2006 2:33 am

Guess I type slow. Hope you see my point anyway.

Hope this makes it: JM wrote:
Oh, and, by the way ... most military historians are of the opinion that we could have rolled over the USSR at that point, had we committed to it.
True, however history had also shown invading Russian to be a bad idea in the end. Moreover, the mass destruction that would have resulted could have set the US back too far. The economics and home politics of a continued war with Russia is what prevented any further conflict. Similar to the probable circumstances within the Federation following the Dominion War - yes?
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Post by JM1776 » Sun Feb 05, 2006 2:40 am

Of course I see your point, and respect your opinion.

We're all just bullshitting our perspectives.

I phrase things as if they're foregone conclusions and obvious facts, but Rich's take and yours are just as valid.

It's a freakin' TV franchise, for goodness' sake. :D
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Post by lukedev75 » Sun Feb 05, 2006 2:42 am

Clearly I type too slow.

Regardless - it is (will be) your story. So, keep the faith and steer your story in the Star Trek tradition .

Best of luck.

(this post is looking like a chat page)
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Post by JM1776 » Sun Feb 05, 2006 2:43 am

lukedev75 wrote:True, however history had also shown invading Russian to be a bad idea in the end.
Oh, I absolutely agree with that. "Could" and "should" are two different things. Patton was a megalomaniacal warhawk ... and in my opinion, overrated as a military commander.

Many people didn't understand that the Soviets really didn't want to take over the world and reign supreme. They wanted a buffer zone so they could deflect any invasion of their territory. They've suffered a lot historically.
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Post by omegasixafcommand » Sun Feb 05, 2006 4:13 am

Here my two cents..or two slips are the case goes.

Fact:

ST:Intell proably knows the current Romulan fleet strength and thus is recommending Federation levels to match or greater. Also, with the cross-population of smaller "Escort" warships like the defiant. The federation could rebuild its strength by numbers at a faster rate. In the amount of time it takes to build on Sovereign class vessel you could build a hand full of defiant or Steam Runner, etc.

When it comes to overall fleet strengths and fanfic it comes down to the universe the writer is working in or created. For example if you had a universe where Praxis never happened the fleet number would be different to support the social and political climate of that universe. In my writing I work with a group of ships and officers that are Covert and thus won't show up on any Fleet Roster and Strength charts. I also assume that in fact every power in the Trek universe has such type of groups. They exist today so far as military units that the general public has no knowledge about that fall in the relam of Special Forces.

A side note in my fiction I don't see Section 31 as one such group, although it undoubt was at one time. I instead threat them as a terrorist group for my writing.

War also brings about techonlogical advancements and as such the powers of the Alpha Quadrant have a tricks up there sleeves. I suspect that the next major threat to the Federation will come from either with in or a smaller power who fought the Federation in the past and has time to like there wounds.
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Post by JM1776 » Sun Feb 05, 2006 7:46 am

In the postwar era, I think a now-gunshy and unwilling-to-fool-around Federation, with its unmatched and un-matchable production capabilities, may well resort to the policy of the pre-20th century Royal Navy---which insisted on, and maintained, double the vessel tonnage in capital ships of the world's next largest fleet. By, say, 2390 or so, Starfleet will probably be back up to prewar strength ... and by 2410, not a power we've already seen will have the nerve or stupidity to challenge them. It'll be a new race.

In my opinion (and it's only my opinion, obviously), entire shadow fleets of long-standing are all well and good for most governments ... but the Federation? No way. It's a direct contradiction of the UFP's (and Star Trek's) true spirit, from where I sit. The idea that people think this is acceptable proves what damage Deep Space Nine did to the franchise, with its creeping immorality and ethical bankruptcy disguised as "realism." In many ways, the "blessed" Emissary of the Prophets was a pig (cf. "For the Uniform" and "In the Pale Moonlight" for irrefutable evidence of this) ... and anyone possessing a smidgen of moral discernment should damned well know it.

Star Trek is supposed to be about a better future, not a realistic one. That's what made Trek truly great, and what it's clearly lost. In the words of Gene Roddenberry, "Starfleet does not go sneaking around."

I do, however, believe that the idea itself is a reasonable one, objectively speaking, given the franchise's canonical direction. The Federation's honor and class has been taking a nosedive over the last dozen or so years, and actions that would have been vilified and overturned by Picard and Kirk are now implemented sans eyelash batting.

More's the pity.
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