Shortly before the recent readiness review, I spoke with Captain Lorca. I spoke of a ship where the command staff thought themselves above the law. If to achieve a mission - if they found it convenient to use lethal force, cross a neutral zone, violate the Prime Directive, or otherwise ignore Starfleet law, regulation, and doctrine - they would do so. And yet, if a crew member similarly broke with doctrine, strict discipline was applied with humiliating contempt.
We are not following precisely the same path. However, I advised that building a hostile and antagonistic relationship with the crew was inadvisable. It is better to lead by example. If the crew is expected to behave with honor, they should be treated with honor. If obedience to orders and law is expected of the crew, orders and law must obeyed by the command staff. If respect is desired, respect must be shown. The command staff must set the tone and atmosphere of the ship. They should not expect more of the crew than of themselves. Quite the opposite. While the command style of Hawking does not yet match that of the Fek'Lhr, I remain concerned.
I will propose lessons learned. As others are concentrating on the crew, I will concentrate on the test itself, on how the mission effected the crew's response to the mission. There are a large number of things that might have been done differently. Given twenty twenty hindsight, they are simple to find. I will not pretend that my presence as junior science officer would have significantly effected the outcome. It would not have.
Before Joy Seven was captured by Starfleet, she crewed first on an early Marauder and later on a Bird of Prey. Her function was acquiring cargo ships. One necessary step was a pre-boarding checklist. As soon as possible, perhaps before even attacking shields and weapons, the target's communications had to be eliminated to prevent warnings and cries for help. Weapons must be neutralized before shields are dropped. Transporter horns must be destroyed as well. Dropping one's shields to beam a boarding party across allows the opposition to beam a nuclear device or similar threat in the opposite direction. When boarding, one should not park one's ship in front of the opposition. The deflector dish focuses forward, and such placement offers the opportunity to ram. Aft is another bad choice. Some models of impulse engines can be focused into an ion beam weapon. The last bad choice, of course, is to position one's ship in line with warp core and antimatter ejection ports.
This is a checklist of sensible precautions to be taken before boarding. It also implies a list of windows of opportunity if one is about to be boarded. Finally, it is a list of painfully earned lessons learned. I quote it here, as our recent drill was a boarding drill. While we had sufficient time to send Starfleet warning of the presence of a Borg Cube in Federation space, we did not. The simulated Borg Cube was not programmed to avoid ejected warp cores. Thus, we were able to snatch from the jaws of defeat, mutual defeat. If both ships had been aware of the Ferengi boarding doctrine, the end result could have been significantly different.
Of course, USS Hawking is not often in the business of boarding or getting boarded. Tac, Ops and the command staff might review the above list, enhance it, and make it an official doctrine. However, Hawking is a science ship. In combat, one needs rapid, decisive response. In science, one needs careful thorough response. In the past, memorizing lengthy doctrines and lists of lessons learned has not dominated our training or operations. While it was clearly necessary for a pirate ship to master a boarding drill, should Hawking do so as well? Should I continue to cower in terror every time the Hawking boards another ship, knowing of prudent precautions never taken? How easy is it - knowing Ferengi boarding doctrine - to program a readiness review that blows away a crew that doesn't follow the doctrine perfectly? Is it reasonable not to teach Ferengi boarding doctrine, but to judge a crew on whether they can improvise such a doctrine given no warning?
How many other military operations could also be mastered? Commander Bravo of the old Hawking was concerned with dropping the marines on a planet when control of space was not secure. His drills focused on this theme, one of many difficult military missions that might be planned for in advance, with doctrines set up for instant reference. If the doctrine is in place, one might fairly test the crew on how well they implement the doctrine, and how well they improvise when unusual circumstances cause the doctrine to fail. Expecting the crew to improvise such doctrines on the fly without making an error might be excessive. The tradition of Hawking's readiness reviews is to present the tactical problem cold. The tradition of Hawking's readiness reviews is that the crew always dies.
The obvious lessons from the recent session are in pace and chain of command. Combat ops are faster paced than science ops. We have grown accustomed to taking our time. As not all our missions will be science missions, clearly we need to be able to focus better. Also, biannual readiness reviews are faster paced that combat ops. The problem must generally be solved in one hour. Much faster pacing and tighter discipline is required in readiness reviews than in most actual operations, even combat operations. On the other hand, after drilling to readiness review standards, we might perform better on actual operations. The ability to tighten up and act efficient twice a year in drill will be useful in the field.
The 'book' solution to the problem was releasing anti-Borg nanites. Implementing this solution required knowledge that the data to rapidly synthesize such nanites was available. This is an obscure fact. I was unaware of this. The entire crew was unaware of this. The instructors considered it highly likely that the entire crew was unaware of this. The test was set up to induce failure.
One test set up to induce failure is not critical. A series of deliberately induced failures can be critical. On the old Hawking, many felt the biannual reviews deliberately rigged for failure. Sincerely believing this, they ceased attempting to succeed. The crew stopped giving maximum effort. This must not be repeated. The effect of readiness reviews on crew discipline and morale should be measured and carefully considered.
In the recent test, the departments attempted to perform their obvious functions. The marines attempted to buy time. Engineering attempted to secure and maintain equipment. The doctors attempted to minimize injuries. The bridge crew attempted to fight the cube. Unfortunately, all these missions were all in fact impossible. Failure was inevitable. I find it difficult to evaluate how well or poorly an officer or department attempted the impossible. For the most part, I shall decline to do so. Such evaluation is meaningless. Faced with an impossible task, some stuck with routine duties, knowing that sticking with routine would not win, but attempting to do their duty to the last. Some went for long shot irregular methods, with virtually no chance of success, but at least they attempted to innovate. I cannot approve or condemn either choice. I do not approve of a test that gives few to zero valid options.
The function of science was analysis, and seeking a solution to the problem. It is noted that Kyotee queried the computer, "Diagnose current attack by Borg intruders and find defense solution." Given that the computer held the anti-Borg nannite synthesis data, the computer ought to have responded promptly. At the very moment the simulated computer ought to have reported the existence of the nannites, Commander Caine on the observation deck, rather than releasing the data absolutely necessary for the crew to pass the test, commented about how fair the test was.
This unit disagrees. Kyotee is to be commended for a correct approach and for saving the ship. The test is invalid as the holodeck provided an unrealistic response. It is the instructor-programmers that failed. This unit requests that Kyotee test the actual LCARS system to determine if it would have answered his query correctly under the recent scenario. If not, a priority notification of the failure should be sent to Starfleet.
In training science officers, or any officer, their tools must be accurately simulated. Otherwise, the training teaches them the wrong lessons. In this case, what was taught is not to bother asking precisely the correct question. If some of the crew did not show prompt discipline in responding to chain of command, the instructors did not show prompt discipline in responding to student input. Again, leadership must come from example.
A short time later, Ensign Aslan brought up the possibility of using nannites as a defense. In the post mortem, Kyotee correctly stated that development of such a weapon would take weeks. Thus, if nannites were to be used, it would have had to have been a pre developed strain of nannite. The lesson learned is that Aslan might have queried the computer specifically whether such nanites exist and are currently operational. However, if he was aware of Kyotee's earlier query, he might reasonably have assumed that such nannites must not exist. I almost but can't quite commend Aslan for a very near miss.
For Tamacy, I note the innovative, original and startling method of testing phasers by firing them into the ceiling. This procedure is not recommended. The civility and respect shown to others in the department would be and will be considered commendable if it is taken as true civility and respect, or if it results in greater civility and respect in the future. Follow up is requested to confirm and assure that this will be the case.
In post mortem, it was noted that it is the XO's job to make sure a bridge crew is assigned. I am certain our recent MXO has learned this lesson. However, in six months time at the next readiness review, a new and more junior ensign, not having taken part in this session, will get the opportunity to repeat the mistake. Perhaps a brief summary of the XO's functions should be attached to LCARs, and made available before future training sessions. The objective is to learn from mistakes, not to repeat mistakes endlessly. To some extent, giving the student a chance to study before the test might be considered.
Science doctrine is that one scientist shall be on the bridge during normal cruise. On Yellow or Red alert, the senior science officer shall decide (based on threat and the number of officers on watch) whether the unassigned watch should report to the bridge, or whether all but one bridge officer should report to the SIC to act as an Auxiliary Bridge. This policy was well implemented by Ensign Aslan. The proposed lesson learned is that science officers should be ready to assume Tac, Ops or Helm should the need arise. The command staff should be aware of the option of using science personnel as bridge crew. In recent actual combat operations, the commander of marines has wanted every marine officer available for away team combat duty. The doctrine of assigning Tac from the Marines might be reviewed. At minimum, it might be understood that when the Marines for any reason can not or do not man Tac during an Alert, science should not hesitate to fill in until such time as the Marines respond.
In prior readiness reviews, the mission captain's flaws were in lack of delegation and anticipation. If one is going to need an away team, one should anticipate this need ten minutes before the team is needed. One cannot make all decisions one's self. One should push tasks down to department heads and/or away team leaders. Micro-management is the common mistake. The mission captain is often too busy attempting to solve every problem to think through future plans.
In this test, there were few useful tasks to delegate, few meaningful opportunities to anticipate. While the chain of command was not exercised well, there were no meaningful opportunities. Assuming, as the test creators anticipated, that no one would be aware of the nannite defense, there was nothing the acting captain might have achieved. The departments attempted to perform their usual functions, and did so without the need for significant exercise of the chain of command. Thus, evaluation of the acting captain or the function of the chain of command is difficult. This is not necessarily the fault of the captain and crew under test. This results from the nature of the test.
The Borg strategy and tactics were very unusual. Normally, a cube will not attack an individual ship or a planet so lightly populated. When the Enterprise released Hugh, several members of the Enterprise crew went along to say goodbye. This was considered a negligible risk. In the recent training exercise, the prize from the Borg perspective was not worth the risk. A cube was lost in attempting to assimilate a few hundred individuals. While the cube exercised no technical capabilities a cube should not have had, the strategy and tactics used were unrealistic and poor. While other more individualistic races might innovate and vary, this is unlikely of the Borg. In the future, more efforts towards realistic simulation of opposition tactics might be attempted.
Finally, point to point transport within the ship is a significant risk operation. If there is a real emergency, this risk is acceptable. A training exercise should not be an emergency. Both in future tests and in actual operation, use of internal transport should be minimized.
LtCdr Joy Eleven
Chief of Science
Subject : Evaluating the Evaluation
From : Councilor Rachel Morgenstern, Starfleet Academy
To : Commander James Sharti, Bureau of Personnel
No, I distinctly do not think that ongoing Kubiachi Maru training is absolutely useless for Mudd Androids. Yes, Joy is happy when she obeys orders, and miserable when she cannot do what she is told to do. Yes, repeated tests that induce failure regardless of performance are not optimal, not for Mudd androids, nor for others. Joy's paper speaks to that point well enough that I need not amplify. However, Joy's evaluation must be put into the context of Eleven's prior experience. This may be summarized as follows.
At this point, should the series be continued, it is in theory possible that the instructor might, possibly, maybe, undergo a transforming realization. It should be noted that Commander Bravo did apparently undergo such a transformation. After step six, periodic readiness reviews on the old Hawking did for a time stop. Unfortunately for Commander Caine, Joy seems to have continued the series rather than resetting from the top.
An intense but not quite professional curiosity as to whether a transforming insight might occur without external intervention is the sole reason I might discourage no BuPers or BuTrain intervention at this time.