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Comparison with Competing Groups

Written: 2000.06.13

The DS9 TM contains a very detailed analysis of the military production and conscription rates of the Cardassian Union:

Item Annual Production
Starships Galor-class battlecruiser 63
Galor-class warship 15
Fighter 352
Freighter 188
Heavy penetrator 443
Troops Base-level troops 583,000
Glinn-level officers 21,600
Gul-level officers 8,900
Miscellaneous Planetary disruptors 430
Photon torpedoes 54,300
Offensive EM devices 230
Biogenic weapons 430

This chart (which presumably does not include the activities of their allies, the Dominion) indicates that the Cardassian Union produces approximately 80 capital ships per year, 350 fighters, and 450 "heavy penetrators", which are apparently long-range strategic smart missiles. We know that Galor-class warships are approximately 370 metres in length (ref. DS9 TM), so we can generate a rough volume comparison with respect to a Star Destroyer, by simply cubing the length ratio of 1600/370. We can easily calculate that a Star Destroyer is roughly the size of 80 Galor-class warships using this method, which should be accurate to within a reasonable degree of error. Therefore, the Cardassian Union's entire yearly capital ship production is equivalent to a single Star Destroyer! This is an excellent example of the laughable industrial capacity of the Cardassian Union. We can compare the Klingon Empire and the Cardassians to see that their fleet sizes are similar. If a typical Cardassian starship has a service life of 20 years like a Federation GCS (ref TM), then an annual production of 80 capital ships would mean that their average fleet size is roughly 1600 ships, assuming that all ships last for their entire service lifetimes without being destroyed in battle. Their annual production of 350 fighters would mean that they can field roughly 7000 fighters. This is completely consistent with the estimated size of the Klingon fleet, at 1000-2000 ships (based on Way of the Warrior). Since the Klingon Empire and Federation both have superior warships to the Cardassian Union, they would each easily overpower the Cardassians even with numerical parity. If either the Klingon Empire or Federation had a much larger number of ships than the 1600 ships available to the Cardassian Union, then they would have been able to overrun the Cardassians almost effortlessly, and without bothering to commit a significant portion of their fleet. Certainly, the Klingons would not have had to commit more than a third of their entire military to their attack on the Cardassian Union if this were the case.

(E1701 here) Once again, the TM falls before onscreen evidence. This applies to the following section as well... The Obsidian Order was able to produce dozens of cruisers that are far larger than Galor-class ships, without having anyone in the Central Government know about it! All in a secret installation, that was probably far less productive than standard Cardassian facilities. (Defiant, DS9).

This is an example of a false dilemma. He claims that we must accept either the TM or the existence of the Obsidian Order's forces, since they are presumably at odds with one another. The problem is that they aren't at odds with one another. The Obsidian Order only had about 20 ships at most, since the combined Romulan/Cardassian fleet had only 30 ships and with its destruction, the Obsidian Order was finished. Suppose they had a single shipyard in that star system, with a dozen construction bays. At one year per ship (given that their ships are smaller than Federation GCS's), they could build 20 ships in less than two years. And that's assuming they started from scratch, instead of doing something a bit more economical and sneaky (like taking damaged ships, declaring them to be write-offs and then rebuilding them in secret).

As for his assumption that the Obsidian Order's facilities were "probably far less productive" than standard shipyards, this is just another in his long list of unsupported claims. What evidence does he provide? None. What reasoning does he provide? None. In fact, since Gul Dukat expressed shock at the performance of the Obsidian Order's ships, it would not be unreasonable to assume that Obsidian Order facilities are more advanced and productive than standard facilities.

This also suggests that since the Federation and Klingons nearly outgun the Cardassian ships on a one to one basis, yet the Federation and Klingons both consider them a significant threat, obviously, the Cardassians are capable of producing more ships than the TM gives them credit for, even before the advent of the Dominion, who's shipbuilding abilities are stunning.

"Stunning". Typical qualitative statement of capabilities. As for his earlier "reasoning", you may notice that he is ignoring quite a few facts. First, the Klingons pushed the Cardassians to the brink of total defeat without the Federation's help. This means that the Cardassians' total forces are undoubtedly weaker than the Klingons' forces. The Federation and the Klingons may have each individually regarded them as a threat, but as a controllable threat (and in the Klingons' case, one ripe for conquest). Furthermore, since the only confirmed estimates of Federation shipbuilding capacity involve a mere five shipyards and at least 178 ships rebuilt during the entire Dominion War, it seems foolhardy to imagine that the Cardassians can greatly exceed the DS9 TM's estimate of 80 capital ships per year.

He is using supposition and unsupported claims to attack the official DS9 TM. This is the height of audacity: to claim that extrapolations drawn loosely from canon episodes and questionable assumptions actually carry so much weight that they can directly contradict and even override an official text! It's one thing to take a direct observation from a canon episode and use it to contradict an official text, but you can't draw loose extrapolations (such as intuitions about hundreds of ships lost off-screen or enormous losses in unseen battles) and treat them as if they are the same as direct observations!

When push comes to shove, the unavoidable fact is that Trekkies hate the TM's carefully estimated industrial figures, and they chafe at the restrictions imposed by the world Gene Roddenberry created. Where Gene Roddenberry envisioned a young and growing organization of a few dozen planets which eventually grew to more than a hundred, delirious Trekkie fanatics imagine thousands of worlds, armed to the teeth. Where Gene Roddenberry envisioned small fleets of intrepid explorers, fanatics imagine monstrous battle fleets of thousands or even tens of thousands of nigh-invincible warships. Conversely, Trekkies chafe at the vast scope of Star Wars, which they simply refuse to accept no matter what George Lucas envisioned. Where George Lucas envisioned a galactic empire whose industrial strength was so vast that it could casually construct artificial moons, Trekkie fanatics imagine a small organization in one corner of its galaxy which is hard-pressed to make a single Executor-class vessel (even though DS2 is millions of times larger). George Lucas envisioned an ancient galactic civilization whose mastery of nature was so complete that they don't explore their galaxy any more; they commute. But Trekkie fanatics see a primitive and backward society whose technology is marginally ahead of 20th century Earth. These fans aren't content to live within the fictional worlds of Star Wars and Star Trek; they must rewrite them to their liking.

(Alyeska here) Excuse me? I seem to recall a single Galor class ship being able to detroy a B'rel class BOP in a single blast. Further more Keldon type Galor class ship was able to be a serious threat to the Defiant. As to their continued power, if they were so weak then the cardassian ships turning sides in the end battle in DS9 would not have made such a difference. Afterall the Dominion and Breen forces and outnumbered the Cardassian ships more then 4-1.

This person tries to use questionable logic to dispute the fact that Cardassian ships are weaker than Federation ships on average. But the disputed conclusion came from "The Wounded", in which the USS Phoenix easily destroyed a Cardassian Galor-class warship despite losing its shields when Picard gave away its access codes. The USS Phoenix was a Nebula-class starship, which was to the E-D what the Reliant was to the E-nil: a saucer with a cross-bar and two warp nacelles tacked on. If a top-of-the-line Cardassian warship can be easily destroyed by a second-tier Federation warship whose shields are down, I would say that's definitely canon evidence that Cardassian ships aren't very powerful.

So how does he attempt to disprove this canon evidence? With false dilemmas, of course. He argues that the Cardassian change of heart in "What You Leave Behind" would have been inconsequential if Cardassian ships were less powerful than Federation ships. But even though they were less powerful, this only means that 50 Cardassian ships is only equal to (for example) 30 Federation ships. It doesn't mean they're totally useless. Furthermore, the practical effect of their defection was doubled by the fact that the Dominion lost their aid while the Alliance simultaneously gained their aid. That's why they had such an effect. To be frank, I grow tired of having to explain such simple concepts. Don't these kiddies have any reasoning abilities at all? Or must we spell every damned thing out for them?

The Federation is a very small organization, which is capable of controlling only a small portion of one quadrant of their galaxy. Their industrial capacity is proportionate to this small scale. Other Star Trek organizations such as the Klingons, Romulans, Dominion, Cardassians, Borg, Kazons, etc. are also similarly limited. Of the major established organizations near Federation space, the Borg is by far the most prolific organization, even though it is limited to only a few thousand star systems. The military-industrial might of the Star Wars Galactic Empire dwarfs all of these organizations combined.

(E1701 here) This conclusion is completely unsubstantiated, because we simply do not know the capabilities of the Borg, Dominion, and other powerful organizations.

He claims that my conclusions are unsubstantiated because I limit my observations of the Borg and the Dominion to what we have seen or at least heard of onscreen. How strange ... am I supposed to base my estimates on off-screen assumptions and pure conjecture instead of onscreen observations? As we shall see soon, this is precisely what he wants me to do.

The Borg can rebuild 20% structural damage to a ship within minutes, all with nanites. This leaves the disturbing possibility that they can build new cubes almost as they need them!

Ah, the infamous Trekkie no-limit mentality. The Borg patched up a hole in their ship in "Q Who" (which we could see onscreen, and which was nowhere near 20% of the volume of the ship, no matter what Worf said). He concludes that they can therefore build new ships at will. How? What is the connection? I could weld a piece of sheet metal over a gaping hole in my car's rear quarter panel in minutes (although it wouldn't exactly be a piece of art, mind you). Does that mean I can build a car from scratch in minutes? Hours? Weeks? At all? No, it doesn't.

There are lots of things you need in order to build a ship, such as raw materials, refining facilities, etc. There are limits to the rate at which you can extract minerals from ore. There are limits to the rate at which you can extract ore from a planet. There are limits to the rate at which you can refine materials. There are limits to the rate at which you can process those materials into useful components, regardless of whether you use nanotechnology or not. I'm sick of Trekkie fanatics whose only concept of technology is to look for a "golden buzzword" that they can use to escape the need for limits. Whether it's "organic" or "bio-technology" or good old heavy metal, any technology can only work at a certain rate. In fact, when it comes to processing very large quantities of material, nanotechnology would probably be slower than heavy equipment. Nanotechnology "grows" things rather than assembling them via brute force. It's good in theory for certain things (particularly repairs), but if you want to make a multi-ton piece of armour plate (for example), nanotechnology would be a ridiculously inefficient way to do it.

The fact that they have millions of cubes in that one dimension, and anyone's guess as to what they have in other dimesions, given that they've been expanding into them, the Borg quite possibly have on the order of billions of cubes!

This is a good example of the Trekkie fanatic mentality. We have never seen more than a few dozen Borg cubes onscreen at once, but he claims it's a "fact" that they have "millions of cubes". Based on what? Does he provide dialogue to support that conclusion? "Scorpion" certainly doesn't support it ...

  1. Captain Janeway says "we don't know exactly how many vessels are out there ... but their space appears to be vast ... it includes thousands of solar systems ... all Borg."

  2. Borg communation: "Species 8472 has penetrated Matrix 010, Grid 19. Eight planets destroyed ... three hundred twelve vessels disabled ... four million, six hundred twenty one Borg eliminated. We must seize control of the Alpha Quadrant vessel and take it into the alien realm."

Nope, no support at all for "millions of cubes". What about "Dark Frontier?" We saw the unicomplex; their central structure and their largest installation. Carrying trillions of drones, and with dozens of cubes visible onscreen at once. Still, no evidence of millions of cubes. And in fact, since Borg space only contains a few thousand star systems, millions of cubes would mean that they have thousands of cubes per system, yet we only saw a handful of cubes around the Borg system visited by Voyager. So we have a claim with no supporting evidence ... that sounds familiar ... oh yes, it's another unsupported claim! Gee, what a surprise.

But is one unsupported claim enough for him? Of course not. He goes on to assume that they've got equally large holdings in thousands of other dimensions, hence his mental leap from millions to billions of cubes. But we have no evidence that they've entered any dimensions other than the realm of S-8472, where they got their asses kicked. We therefore also have no evidence of vast territories in other dimensions. And if they had such holdings, why weren't they calling upon them during their war with Species 8472? Hmmm ... our Trekkie friend seems desperate to concoct tales of superiority, no matter how weak the foundation.

The Dominion was also suggested to have been capable of rebuilding an entire fleet of thousands of ships in a matter of months (What We Leave Behind, DS9), which is why the Alliance pressed the attack, despite staggering losses. In fact, at the end of that episode, the impression is given that Starfleet can rebuild relatively quickly as well.

This is an unsupported claim at best, and an outright lie at worst. I saw that episode, and Martok merely said that the Dominion's shipbuilding capabilities were "impressive". How does this translate into "thousands of ships in a matter of months?" He is taking vague qualitative statements and assigning arbitrary numbers to them. The only thing we can learn from this is that some Trekkies are willing to go to any lengths of desperation in order to exaggerate the numbers. They count on you not having seen the episodes in question, because otherwise, you would know they're just playing games.

All throughout their arguments, you can see the same trend, repeated over and over: they claim that the episodes back up a certain conclusion, but they don't really explain how. They simply mention an episode name, say that it proves something, and leave it to you to disprove that connection even though they've done nothing to prove it in the first place! Do they recount the events of the episode and explain how they support the conclusion? No. Do they describe precisely what they see onscreen or better yet, provide screenshots? No. Do they quote dialogue? No. So the first question you should always asked when faced with arguments like this is "OK, please tell me precisely how that episode supports your claim." It isn't enough to name an episode and then leap straight to a conclusion with no explanation.

The Battle of Wolf 359 is so lamented not because 39 ships were lost, but because it was all to a single ship! While still not on par with the Empire, we can see that the Federation and ST in general industrial production is hardly as limited as MW claims.

At least he is honest enough to admit that the Empire still outstrips all the others. Some Trekkie fanatics actually look at the two Death Stars and inexplicably conclude that they are roughly on par with the Federation! But his statements package assumptions and fantasy as fact. He links them to episode names without explaining the connection. And in the case of Wolf 359, he makes yet another unsupported claim: that the 39 lost ships did not constitute a serious blow to Starfleet. Acting First Officer Shelby didn't seem to think so, when she said it would take a long time to recover from the losses. But apparently, our Trekkie friend missed that episode.

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