Under the Radar

11 Things I Learned About Star Trek After Enlisting in the Military

BY BLAKE STILWELL - WEARETHEMIGHTY.COM

Watching Star Trek as a kid was awesome. Space battles, morality plays, explosions… everything about it was what a budding young nerd needs to ensure he doesn’t get a date until after high school.

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We are all Martin Prince.

But when you grow up and enlist in the real military, you start to notice a few things you never considered when you watched the shows for the first time.

1. Almost everyone is an officer. And enlisted people don’t fare well.

Only in the old Star Trek movies did we ever see enlisted Starfleet personnel.

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The guy hanging on for dear life? Enlisted. The people who save the day? Officers.

When we do see enlisted people, they’re usually running away or struggling to survive.

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Sick call is not gonna be packed with enlisted people tomorrow.

2. There was only one main character who was enlisted.

Chief Miles O’Brien was the only main character – who was also enlisted – in any series that warranted a spot in the credits. It still didn’t get him his due respect. Captain Sisko once told him to do something that would take two weeks. He ordered O’Brien to do it in three days.

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No complaints. Just Jameson. Sounds like a maintainer to me.

As a matter of fact, the chief is always working, even when others are just hanging around. He doesn’t even get credit, recognition, or even a thank you. It’s so egregious, there’s even a Tumblr cartoon about it.

3. There are definitely Starfleet hair regs.

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“Get those sideburns pointier, mister!”

4. The entire crew of the 2009 movie were grossly unqualified.

They pretty much went from Starfleet Academy to being the ranking officers on the Enterprise. This is like an entire crew of O-1s being tasked to command an aircraft carrier. And Captain Kirk made it into the academy because he lost a barfight. If that’s the criteria, there’s a fleet of Marines ready to go to Annapolis.

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Pictured: Starfleet Entrance Exam

Everyone in Starfleet should be dead.

5. Captain Kirk was probably not the best captain ever.

Someone actually calculated how many people die under Kirk’s command in Star Trek: The Original Series. Kirk lost 12 percent of the crewmen who served with him. If the USS Gerald Ford lost 12 percent of its crew in five years, that would be almost 600 sailors.

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That captain would likely not be eligible for promotion. This still doesn’t settle one of the Internet’s first controversies: the Picard vs. Kirk debate. Captain Picard lost two Enterprises, and Kirk only lost the one. Picard also rammed his into another ship, without giving the crew time to escape.

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“Did I mention abandon ship? Because we totally should.”

It’s okay. Those yeomen knew what could happen when they enlisted.

6. Starfleet ships explode really easily.

Every space battle will toss around a few crewmen.

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It’s okay, he was probably enlisted.

7. Federation ships are really easy to fly.

Literally anyone can fly these ships. Imagine the cooks on a submarine taking control of the USS Texas. You’d probably just abandon ship right away to save time. On Star Trek, if a helmsman goes down, just a few buttons will keep the Enterprise flying.

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For the uninitiated, that’s the ship’s counselor taking the helm.

8. At least there are some PT standards.

The only overweight officer was Scotty, portrayed by James Doohan who is a national hero, so shut your mouth.

The actor who played Scotty on Star Trek was shot six times on D-Day

Besides, he didn’t put on weight until he was much older, so those Federation PT standards must also be adjusted by age. It should be noted that he and Uhura are the only living red shirts.

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Tough Scotsman.

9. Hand to hand combat is much slower in the future.

Sure, I was in the Air Force, but anyone who’s seen a bar fight knows the stuff hits the fan pretty fast. Much faster than they fight on Star Trek.

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Has this ever worked in real life?

It’s also much slower in the past. Every time a Star Trek crew goes back in time the fighting never seems to get any more intense. When Kirk went back to the 1960s, it took longer for an Air Force officer to pass out than it took to punch him in the face.

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10. Klingon warriors are also not that good at fighting.

Every time the Klingons attack the Enterprise (or any Star Trek crew) they really come up short. In “Generations” they attacked the Enterprise and made the ship’s shields useless. And they STILL lost. Also, they tend to be disposable.

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Running into the laser. Good idea.

Dunning-Kruger in full effect in this barfight.

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11. OPSEC is OPtional.

The captain of the Enterprise routinely goes to the ship’s bartender for advice on the latest missions.

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“We’re going to sneak attack the Romulans tomorrow. Also, can I get a drink?”

Forget that she’s 500 years old, she’s never been in Starfleet and her biggest enemy is an immortal who is not restricted to the limits of space and time. It just seems like a bad idea to tell her everything.

blake stilwell  Blake Stilwell is a traveler, writer, and adventurer with degrees in design, television & film, and international relations. He is a veteran US Air Force Combat Photojournalist who has worked for ABC News, NBC, and HBO. Blake is based in Hollywood, but often found elsewhere.


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