The final page I’ll be taking a look at is Virus-X’s take on Federation and Imperial logistics.
With all those worlds at the disposal of the UFP, there is a vast network of commercial and government owned and operated manufacturing facilities, and their distribution throughout space helps keep commerce and resupply efforts flowing smoothly. Since there is no one manufacturing/scientific center, this insures that wartime losses can be more easily recouped. Even Starfleet Command, itself, while it’s main hub in located on Earth, is distributed well enough throughout space as to insure a contiguous chain of command, in the event of catastrophic loss, as well as to provide direct theater of war operational command.
Perhaps one of the UFP’s greatest assets is the replicator. These devices permit replication of virtually any inanimate object with incredible fidelity and relatively low energy cost, and, generally, come in 2 types: food & hardware. Coming in a variety of sizes, they can reproduce a wide variety of supplies and even foods, keeping areas well-supplied. A command with an industrial replicator can keep it’s troops almost completely supplied, if not actually completely. Weapons, armor, medical supplies, foodstuffs, etc. can all be easily reproduced. *Utopia Planitia Shipyards on Mars has a replicator with an emitter delivery pad measuring 50.3 meters by 72.6 meters, and is probably going to be instrumental in rapidly mass producing large starship framing assemblies.
-*Star Trek Deep Space Nine Technical Manual, pages: 62-63. Written by Herman Zimmerman, Rick Sternbach & Douglas Drexler. Published November 1998.
The industrial replicators are optimized for most inorganic substances, though organic analogs are used in some optronic devices, insulating materials and clothing to name a few. *Smaller, transportable units have been installed on starbases and fleet vessels, and mainly used to produce original and replacement hardware for space and planetary operations. Very large replicators, such as class 4 CFI industrial replicators can be employed for large scale replication. They’ve become so common, Starfleet utilizes Replicating Centers aboard starships (such as the Galaxy-class) contain several terminals at which crew could order a wide variety of products that would be produced on command. A modification of the food replicator can be found in most Starfleet/UFP sickbays and science laboratories for synthesis of certain pharmaceuticals and other scientific supplies. Food replicators, in order to minimize replicator power requirements, utilize raw stock stored in the form of a sterilized organic particulate suspension that has been formulated to statistically require the least quantum manipulation to replicate most finished foodstuffs.
Virus-X vastly overstates the benefits of the replicators. Yes, they are useful and can produce a great many items, and yes, they have industrial uses too, but they require raw materials and therefore the Federation would require supply lines. There are also limitations – ribosomes, despite being basic biological material, cannot be reproduced, whilst Mike of SD.net had this to say on replicators:
Replicators are a low-resolution version of transporters, which transport raw materials from storage through “waveguides” (ref. TM) to “replication terminals” where the raw material is reorganized at the molecular level into a new form based on stored data. This means that replicators can reconfigure existing elements into new molecular compounds and perform rapid-prototyping by rapidly assembling those molecules into programmed configurations. However, replicators cannot change one element into another. The TM supports this theory by stating on page 91: “While transporters (which operate in realtime) recreate objects at quantum-level resolution suitable for life-forms, replicators store and re-create objects at the much simpler molecular-level resolution, which is not suitable for living beings.” Many Federation cultists claim that replicators can cheaply manipulate matter at the subatomic level to achieve elemental transmutation, but this can be shown to be untrue:
- Latinum is a highly valuable substance, as seen in DS9. Obviously, it would not be valuable if anyone could replicate arbitrary amounts of it at will. Therefore, the energy costs of latinum replication must be so high that it is actually cheaper to physically mine and refine the material. In fact, it may not be possible at all, because otherwise, Quark would probably have attempted to tap into DS9’s station power to obtain the necessary energy.
- Quark once stated that gold is still valuable (ref. Little Green Men), although not as valuable as latinum. Again, Quark would simply replicate large amounts of gold if it were feasible for him to do so.
- The USS Voyager is constantly searching for sources of energy, including deuterium. If replicators could arbitrarily transmute any element into any other element without exorbitant energy costs, they would be able to manufacture huge amounts of deuterium by extracting any random substance from any planet or nebula. Instead, they had to search for planets where deuterium could be found naturally, as seen in Demon.
So replicators clearly cannot reproduce everything, and cut off the supply of raw materials and they become useless.
As far as Starfleet Command is concerned, it appears to be centralised around earth, along with the Federation headquarters. The Sol system is home to at least one major shipyard and very few shipyards are ever mentioned. It is certainly not unreasonable to believe a fleet with several thousand vessels would have multiple shipyards, but the ones in the Sol system appear to be particularly large, judging from their brief on-screen appearances, and there isn’t much sign of Starfleet Command being decentralised. There are Admirals at starbases and facilities across the Federation, but the core leadership of both Starfleet and the Federation is on earth.
The Galactic Empire, however, now a shadow of it’s former self, was reduced to a fraction of it’s power in it’s woefully unsuccessful war against terrorism. An ignominious defeat, to be sure, as their crushing defeat was brought about by a terrorist organization calling itself the Alliance to Restore the Republic. When the terrorist Maquis organization surfaced, it was easily controlled and confined to the Badlands; when confronted by the Jem’Hadar, it was completely destroyed.
The industrial capabilities of the New Republic and Galactic Empire, however, are seriously in question. However, Imperial manufacturing capabilities are virtually non-existent. Section 31 has obtained surveillance transcripts by penetrating Imperial Intelligence installations, including this, spoken by a high-ranking Imperial Navy officer:
“The point is that they’re not being manufactured by the Empire,” Pellaeon said. “They’re being scrounged from who knows where — probably some fringe pirate or mercenary gang. And they’re being scrounged precisely because we’re down to a single major shipyard and it can’t keep up with demand for capital ships, let alone starfighters.”
-Captain Pellaeon plaintively speaking to Captain Ardiff. -Star Wars: “Specter of the Past”, page: 7. Written by Timothy Zahn; published by Bantam Spectra, 1997.
Once more we have the desire to place a heavily weakened Empire against a full-strength Federation, which once again has to be taken as a tacit admission that the Federation couldn’t defeat a full-strength Empire. The misrepresentation of how the Empire fell is also noteworthy – in both the Legends EU and Disney canon, the Empire began to splinter when the Emperor died, but it still took years for the Rebellion to rise into the New Republic and defeat the remaining Imperial forces. The note about the Maquis is interesting, as it was made clear the Maquis were never trying to expand beyond the Badlands and sought only to maintain their worlds in peace – as a point of note, the Federation couldn’t stop the Maquis from doing what they wanted, and they more or less ended up in control of the DMZ.
Last, but certainly not the least of the pieces of this puzzle, come finances. The fiscal policies of the United Federation of Planets have always proven sound. No significant troubles have occurred in hundreds of years in regards to finances. Though we don’t do everything for money, anymore (at least some of us), money still exists and is a vital part of galactic commerce. Back in the 1980s-1990s, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, back on planet Earth, spent the vast majority of it’s budget on it’s military, as was common among Communist countries. The People’s Republic of China: same thing. The biggest portion of their financial capital went to their military. North Korea: even worse; their country was starving to death, but their military was still going. This is the same stupidity that plagued the ‘Galactic’ Empire, a political fiasco that never at any time controlled the entire galaxy.
Their Emperor Palpatine cared about nothing but keeping his own pockets full, and therefore, virtually all money had to go to him. The Corporate Sector Authority, a ‘mini-empire’ paid him countless trillions to maybe quadrillions, annually, as they gouged their own people to keep him (and themselves) happy. It is precisely this fiscal policy of stupidity that helped run the ‘Galactic’ Empire right into the ground, where it remains, today, and quite probably shall forever remain. The Soviets of the USSR believed there shouldn’t be any rich people, and yet their Communist Party high officials were some of the richest men in the world, living in palatial opulence and decadent splendor that some of the juiciest capitalists couldn’t even touch. In the end, it was this kind of financial irresponsibility and stupidity that broke the Soviet Union, left North Korea in rags, and ran China ragged.
It is the same stupidity that the ‘Galactic’ Empire died from, partially, as our autopsy reveals. That, and many other stupidity-related ailments.
The Federation appears to use some form of currency when dealing with other powers, but must have some kind of resource/materiel system to fund the development of ships and facilities. This has never been fleshed out. Meanwhile, the Empire is a dictatorship that sought to rule the galaxy with an iron fist, and had the resources to develop and build the Death Star, without going bankrupt, even if some worlds were poverty-stricken (though we see only a snapshot of these worlds, and some, like Tantooine, were poor even under the Republic). The Republic (which of course became the Empire) was able to wage a galactic-wide war, and the Empire absorbed those resources, along with the CIS, once it rose to power. At its height the Empire had the means to run itself without any apparent or obvious signs of difficulty.
What follows is a huge amount of speculative guessing about the cost of star destroyers and Imperial wages, followed by guesses as to Federation costs, which would expand this article to the point of insanity. By all means, check out the link to review it, but be warned, it’s lengthy.