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Lessons Learned from the Siege of AR-558

Carnage1138

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Report this Mar. 12 2010, 11:29 pm

I was recently going through my DS9 7th season DVDs and it occured to me while watching the episode titled "The Siege of AR-558" that Starfleet's combat record on the ground is appallingly dysmal. ¿Indeed, the term "redshirt" was coined by Star Trek fans because of all the Starfleet personnel deaths that occured during away missions on unknown planets in the original series. ¿As I pondered Starfleet's combat record on the ground I became increasingly puzzled because from an in-universe perspective such high casualty rates amongst Starfleet ground personnel should not be happening.

The United Federation of Planets of the 2370s is an incredibly advanced society both culturally and scientifically. ¿It has managed to perfect the means by which energy can be transformed into solid matter in replicator technology with a single Federation replicator being able to make things ranging from a hot cup of earl grey tea to a phaser rifle making the need for starships to carry large stores of supplies unnecessary. ¿Humanity has even advanced to the point where the impossible has become reality as apparently humanity has evolved beyond the need for money resulting in a what is referred to in Star Trek as the New World Economy. ¿Yet despite these unprecedented leaps forward it appears that they have made no significant advances militarily in ground warfare and in fact appear to have regressed in that area when compared to today's military.

The Battle of AR-558 is a perfect example of Starfleet's inability to deal with the realities of ground warfare. ¿Below I have listed some examples to illustrate that.

1. Lack of armor-No matter what series of Star Trek from the original through Voyager (haven't seen much Enterprise so please inform me as to whether it is was an exception or not) every episode that involved Starfleet personnel going into situations where they knew beforehand that there was a high probability of danger they have always gone in wearing the same duty uniforms that they wear in normal day-to-day situations. ¿Has Starfleet not considered the usefulness of combat armor? ¿With the Federation's advanced technological base they should have no problem using advanced materials and design methods to result in armor that is extremely light, flexible, form fitting, and at the same time would be far more effective at protecting it's wearer than today's latest protective gear. ¿Given how much value the Federation puts on life the absence of combat armor seems rather odd.

2. ¿Apparent lack of combat training-While this doesn't really apply to the forces who were stationed on AR-558 as the dialogue indirectly indicated that they were more or less trained as ground troops and five months on the front line would at the very least lead to a severe case of combat weariness the sharp contrast between Nog and Lt. Reese in their scenes together does highlight the fact that in general Starfleet personnel regardless of series are not particularly well-trained for combat situations. ¿Even Starfleet Security officers do not appear to be trained well as I've lost count of the number of times I've seen Security teams casually waltz into a room/down a ship corridor only to have someone pop out from behind a crate/out of a side room and shoot the man on point in the chest dead with a phaser.

I had several other points I was make and was going to include personal rationales as to why something is the way it is but I feel as though I've already written long enough and would like some feedback from others as to what they think.

NOTE: This thread is intended as a discussion from an in-universe perspective so please keep comments that way.

ssmukhi

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Report this Mar. 13 2010, 7:15 am

I can attribute to a theory I learned when I was in college. I read an article about "The Vanishing Middle". ( this has nothing to do with weight loss! :laugh:  )

The theory is like this, as technology advances, the "middle" disappears. Example, when instead of walking we started riding horses ( or mules or elephants or camels ) , then invented the carriage, then ultimately the automobile. The middle here is the carriage. The carriage disappears. If for some reason we can't use our cars anymore because of no more oil, we would resort back to walking then have to reinvent the carriage.

Same with computers. People used to write, then type, then use word processors, then full computers. If your compute no longer works, we resort back to writing since I for one have not seen a typewriter in years!

Applying this to Trek, they're so used to space battles that perhaps they're not used to ground battles anymore thus have to get their barings again.

TheDriver

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Report this Mar. 13 2010, 12:18 pm

When an extremely powerful engergy weapon can either (A) disintegrate you or (B) shoot right through you, immediately cauterizing the wound? Yeah, I don't think armor's really gonna help.

That said, personal shields would be a plus.

In the PC game "Deep Space Nine: The Fallen," the characters could acquire personal shield units (belts).

In the PC MMORPG "Star Trek Online," the characters also wear personal shield units. And interestingly enough, there is armor in that game. But the armor looks too much like the "Mass Effect" suits and, in my humble opinion, just looks really out of place in the Star Trek universe. (Therefore, my crew only uses shield units.)

Carnage1138

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Report this Mar. 13 2010, 3:29 pm

Quote (TheDriver @ Mar. 13 2010, 12:18 pm)
When an extremely powerful engergy weapon can either (A) disintegrate you or (B) shoot right through you, immediately cauterizing the wound? Yeah, I don't think armor's really gonna help.

That said, personal shields would be a plus.


Actually I imagine that in the Star Trek universe there are materials that are highly resistant to energy beams/pulses in addition to being effective against kinetic weapons or if not both then perhaps an alloy could be created that is effective against both. ¿Although to be honest I wasn't really thinking that much about kinetic weapons as the only infantry projectile weapon that was used by any of the major galactic powers at the time of the movie Nemesis (I'm not counting Star Trek or Star Trek: Online as the former seemed to be too different stylistically from the other films and I won't trust the latter until a TV series or movie has been made that confirms its story making it officially Grade-A canon) was the TR-116 rifle (although it was only made in limited batches and never went beyond the prototype stage) and since it was produced by Starfleet I don't think Federation soldiers would have to worry too much about bullets. ¿Maybe protection from light concussive blasts or shrapnel would be more appropriate as it is a well documented fact that the majority of Starfleet casualties are caused by the ubiquitous "exploding console." ¿In terms of how I thought the armor should look like I envisioned it looking like the armor worn by that special commando team from the Star Trek: Elite Force PC games (which actually did incorporate a personal shield system).

As far as personal shields go, with the return of the USS Voyager Starfleet now has the opportunity to pick Seven of Nine's brain about Borg technology and I suspect that with her knowledge of the Borg's own personal shielding technology Starfleet stands a good chance of creating its own personal shield technology through reverse-engineering (that's the bad thing about having a Collective where all information is shared equally amongst all the drones-if one of the drones goes rogue you've got a big problem).

As to what the first responder wrote about forgetting how to conduct large-scale land warfare after so many years of never having to conduct such a campaign I completely agree. ¿In fact, that was one of those personal explanations that I mentioned I wanted to write but didn't get to. ¿After all, the first series to feature large scale ground combat (correct me if I'm wrong) was Deep Space Nine's Dominion War as all the other wars the Federation fought in were mostly space-based. ¿I can understand and even agree with Starfleet High Command if it's assessment was that its Security branch was doing a satisfactory job before the Dominion War based on its performance in the episodes of the other series they've been in.

I believe that ultimately Starfleet Command needs to create a Marine Corps branch to serve as ground troops and let the Security branch be responsible for ship and space station defense. ¿In the last century as of Star Trek: Nemesis the Federation has been at war with every known major galactic power in the galaxy. ¿They've been at war with the Romulan Star Empire, the Klingon Empire, the Borg Collective, the Cardassian Union, the Dominion, and the Breen Confederacy. ¿As much as it wants to pursue life, liberty, and happiness it has to face the reality that the rest of the galaxy doesn't want to play that way and therefore Starfleet needs to shift its priorities accordingly from being primarily focused on exploration to focusing on protecting those ideals that it holds so dear. The creation of a Marine Corps branch would in my opinion need to be a major part of Starfleet's restructuring if it wants to avoid a repeat of the Dominion War, which according to Memory Alpha, the Star Trek wikia, was the bloodiest and most destructive conflict the Federation has ever been involved in.

tribblenator999

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Report this Mar. 13 2010, 8:01 pm

I see you're really in to military strategies and tactics and trying to apply that for star trek. The thing is the most important wins for starfleet are space battles. ¿Ground battles are really moot when you can just bombard the whole planet from space. ¿In addition armor is obsolete with phasers or plasma weapons. The only thing I would suggest that red shirts utilize is cover and have faster reflexes. ¿The thing in TOS was they were ambushed constantly that's the only reason they ever died (they had 100% shooting accuracy). ¿In TNG, VOY, DS9, not enough cover and not enough time practicing shooting. the misses in trek are really horrible. so that's my 2 cents to add on to your whole improve trek ground forces post. Enterprise actually did quite a good job with redshirts in terms of using their brains. they did use cover and shot decently (in some episodes)

OtakuJo

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Report this Mar. 13 2010, 8:14 pm

Quote (tribblenator999 @ Mar. 13 2010, 8:01 pm)
Ground battles are really moot when you can just bombard the whole planet from space.

Not in all cases. To use AR-558 as an example, one of the primary reasons they are fighting ground battles is that they are protecting the Dominion's communication array in order to study it. Sometimes it is necessary to keep the ground, or at least something on the ground, intact -- and so a space battle strategy would be inappropriate.

Think about it another way. The allied forces could have used nuclear weapons in the Vietnam War. They did not.

tribblenator999

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Report this Mar. 13 2010, 9:36 pm

Quote (OtakuJo @ Mar. 13 2010, 8:14 pm)
Quote (tribblenator999 @ Mar. 13 2010, 8:01 pm)
Ground battles are really moot when you can just bombard the whole planet from space.

Not in all cases. To use AR-558 as an example, one of the primary reasons they are fighting ground battles is that they are protecting the Dominion's communication array in order to study it. Sometimes it is necessary to keep the ground, or at least something on the ground, intact -- and so a space battle strategy would be inappropriate.

Think about it another way. The allied forces could have used nuclear weapons in the Vietnam War. They did not.

in your example yes I agree ground forces are needed for certain operations. However with trek it seems if they have enough people it would seem enough to overcome their defficiency in tactics.  I mean if you ever noticed a trek episode only features a handful of people (several main characters and several red shirts).  In AR-558 they had like 20 people holding off a waye of at least 100.  So another thing I wanted to add was that in ground forces you need numbers too which in trek seem to be lacking.

The only reason why the allied forces didnt' use nukes in vietnam because it would cause too much collateral damage to the environment and that USSR also had nukes and they would retaliate. If USSR didn't have nukes the US would've nuked more often.

Pooneil

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Report this Mar. 13 2010, 9:40 pm

I never figured on Starfleet even having ground armies at all until DS9 came around. What's the point when a starship can vaporize a planet's atmosphere or beam soldiers to any location it wants to? I agree with tribblenator999 that ground battles ought to be obsolete by the 24th century, perhaps explaining the Vietnam-era tactics we see.

The writers of DS9 were either totally inept and unimaginative, or they decided that it would be more effective to show the war in old-fashioned terms. The director of "Siege of AR558" was apparently a Vietnam veteran, IIRC.

TheDriver

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Report this Mar. 13 2010, 10:47 pm

Quote (Pooneil @ Mar. 14 2010, 12:40 am)
The writers of DS9 were either totally inept and unimaginative, or they decided that it would be more effective to show the war in old-fashioned terms. The director of "Siege of AR558" was apparently a Vietnam veteran, IIRC.

You're right. And I think they wanted to show the human cost. So it had to be dirty and in-your-face.

But ground combat is really nothing new. In "Arena" (before the one-on-one battle between Kirk and the Gorn captain), we see the remnants of a ground battle. And we see Kirk et al. dodge mortar shells and whatnot before the Metrons intervene.

chr3335

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Report this Mar. 14 2010, 9:39 am

Quote (TheDriver @ Mar. 12 2010, 1:18 pm)
When an extremely powerful engergy weapon can either (A) disintegrate you or (B) shoot right through you, immediately cauterizing the wound? Yeah, I don't think armor's really gonna help.

That said, personal shields would be a plus.

In the PC game "Deep Space Nine: The Fallen," the characters could acquire personal shield units (belts).

In the PC MMORPG "Star Trek Online," the characters also wear personal shield units. And interestingly enough, there is armor in that game. But the armor looks too much like the "Mass Effect" suits and, in my humble opinion, just looks really out of place in the Star Trek universe. (Therefore, my crew only uses shield units.)

Dont be stupid if those abilities could have helped why didn't they use them in Ar-558 where they would have been extremely helpful.

Quote
in your example yes I agree ground forces are needed for certain operations. However with trek it seems if they have enough people it would seem enough to overcome their defficiency in tactics.  I mean if you ever noticed a trek episode only features a handful of people (several main characters and several red shirts).  In AR-558 they had like 20 people holding off a waye of at least 100.  So another thing I wanted to add was that in ground forces you need numbers too which in trek seem to be lacking.
 The romulans felt they could have invaded Vulcan with only 2,000 ground troops :laugh:

chr3335

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Report this Mar. 14 2010, 9:44 am

To all those the bring up orbital bombardment as a replacement for ground forces I give you WW2 when strategists felt that they could win the war just on air power alone bombing targets from the air rendering ground forces useless.  This didn't happen.  

I also would like to point out that the transporters are regularally stopped by all sorts of things such as electrical storms, ECMs, natural radiation, stars.

tribblenator999

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Report this Mar. 14 2010, 11:14 am

Quote (chr3335 @ Mar. 14 2010, 9:44 am)
To all those the bring up orbital bombardment as a replacement for ground forces I give you WW2 when strategists felt that they could win the war just on air power alone bombing targets from the air rendering ground forces useless. ¿This didn't happen. ¿

I also would like to point out that the transporters are regularally stopped by all sorts of things such as electrical storms, ECMs, natural radiation, stars.

the difference between starship bombardment and WW2 is that with photon torpedoes you can wipe out the whole surface and turn the planet into a smoldering desert. You can't do that with low yield bombs that can't even totally destroy a building.

well the stuff you mention is just for plot convenience only but under normal circumstances the transporters work for the most part. the only thing I would ever have interfering with transporters are high radiation or dampening fields or deflector shields.

tribblenator999

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Report this Mar. 14 2010, 11:18 am

Quote (chr3335 @ Mar. 14 2010, 9:39 am)
Quote (TheDriver @ Mar. 12 2010, 1:18 pm)
When an extremely powerful engergy weapon can either (A) disintegrate you or (B) shoot right through you, immediately cauterizing the wound? Yeah, I don't think armor's really gonna help.

That said, personal shields would be a plus.

In the PC game "Deep Space Nine: The Fallen," the characters could acquire personal shield units (belts).

In the PC MMORPG "Star Trek Online," the characters also wear personal shield units. And interestingly enough, there is armor in that game. But the armor looks too much like the "Mass Effect" suits and, in my humble opinion, just looks really out of place in the Star Trek universe. (Therefore, my crew only uses shield units.)

Dont be stupid if those abilities could have helped why didn't they use them in Ar-558 where they would have been extremely helpful.

Quote
in your example yes I agree ground forces are needed for certain operations. However with trek it seems if they have enough people it would seem enough to overcome their defficiency in tactics. ¿I mean if you ever noticed a trek episode only features a handful of people (several main characters and several red shirts). ¿In AR-558 they had like 20 people holding off a waye of at least 100. ¿So another thing I wanted to add was that in ground forces you need numbers too which in trek seem to be lacking.
¿The romulans felt they could have invaded Vulcan with only 2,000 ground troops :laugh:

I always felt that the people using the phasers didn't turn their settings up high enough or the writers are constantly forgetting what phasers can do. In enterprise phase pistols are low yields so I'll let that slide. In the new movie a phaser can chip off bulkheads. in TOS a phaser on medium setting can melt rock.  Then later on in the 24th century the phasers can't go through packing crates.  Then riker says a phaser on level 16 can destroy half a building.  so there's quite a bit of continuity mistakes here.

well do vulcans even have troops or weapons in the 24th century??? I mean you can round up all the hippies in the world with 2000 soldiers if hippies don't have weapons and they're non violent.

captbates

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Report this Mar. 14 2010, 3:04 pm

ATTENTION, WEAPONS IN STAR TREK ARE ALMOST ALWAYS SET TO STUN!!!!!!!


As Marshall says starfleet upgraded everything, from weapons to ships, transporters to shields, during the Dominion war almost everything was upgraded.

tribblenator999

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Report this Mar. 14 2010, 3:57 pm

Quote (captbates @ Mar. 14 2010, 3:04 pm)
ATTENTION, WEAPONS IN STAR TREK ARE ALMOST ALWAYS SET TO STUN!!!!!!!


As Marshall says starfleet upgraded everything, from weapons to ships, transporters to shields, during the Dominion war almost everything was upgraded.

exactly.

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