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In the 2009 film, Nero attacks Earth near Starfleet Headquarters with his drill. The drill was previously shown to be extremely fragile and could be incapacitated by two troops with handheld weapons. It was later destroyed by a single craft, albeit one with advanced technology.

Why was Starfleet unable to muster a reponse to the threat? I understand that Nero was able to extract "defense codes" from Pike, and that the majority of Starfleet's fleet had recently been destroyed by Nero, but why was Starfleet unable to mount even a rudimentary defense?

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There are more fundamental questions than this. e.g.: Why did the red matter have to be delivered to the supernova by a geriatric diplomat? –  Dmitry Brant Feb 26 '13 at 19:35
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That geriatric diplomat was still one of the most formidable scientific minds of the Federation. He may have also been the best person for the job at the time... –  Thaddeus Feb 26 '13 at 19:52
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Vulcans can live to be over 220 years old. Spock was only 157 when he captained the Jellyfish. He was hardly a geriatric. –  Bobwise Feb 26 '13 at 21:52
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@Bobwise Funny, he looks to be at least 195. ;-) –  Iszi Feb 26 '13 at 22:45
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2 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

So obviously there's nothing in the movie to answer the question about Starfleet planetary defenses or lack thereof. It could be a plot hole but I'll give the writers the benefit of the doubt and say that the codes extracted from Pike allowed the Narada to bypass them completely; otherwise why was it so important that Nero get them, and why is that scene shown to the audience?

However your assertation that "the majority of Starfleet's fleet had recently been destroyed by Nero" is in fact incorrect. When the alert comes in to Starfleet Academy during the inquiry of Kirk's Kobayashi Maru test it is explicitly stated that the cadets must mobilize to respond to the Narada threatening Vulcan because the majority of the fleet was occupied in the Laurentian system (http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Laurentian_system). If you'll recall the argument between Kirk and Spock that ends up with Kirk being exiled from the Enterprise is over whether or not they should go join the fleet and get ready to respond, or follow the Narada directly to Earth alone.

So the ships responding to Vulcan's distress call are destroyed, the "bulk of the fleet" is regrouping before a counterattack, and I think it's safe to assume the other Federation ships are off doing the things they are known for doing in the 23rd century and are unable to make it to Earth in time.

Of course the real reason is most likely because it makes a more effective film if Kirk and crew save the Earth rather than showing someone at a terminal calibrating planetary defenses :-)

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The question is about rudimentary defense of Earth which should be out from list of primary defenses. –  Sachin Shekhar Feb 28 '13 at 3:33
    
And, it doesn't look like a plot hole. Narada was from 129-years in the future and it's full capabilities weren't shown. –  Sachin Shekhar Feb 28 '13 at 3:35
    
In Star Trek: Enterprise (which is compatible with both old and new timeline), it was shown in mirror universe that one future starship threatened entire empire. –  Sachin Shekhar Feb 28 '13 at 3:38
    
I'm going to mark this as the answer. Nero tortured Pike to get the planetary defense codes, and any Earth-based defense (surface-to-air artillery, small spacecraft, etc) were then deactivated. It seems like quite the security hole, but that's what we get from the movie. –  Bobwise Feb 28 '13 at 14:21
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well it doesn't seem like Starfleet have much logic in its strategy, why doesn't Vulcan have ANY planetary defenses? Even we on primitive Earth have anti-air defenses, so why doesn't Vulcan? One of the most logical races in the universe decided it wasn't worth it to take a few ships and station them in orbit in case shit goes down? How can the most advanced fleet in the solar system have a code which deactivates all Earth defenses, and how can that code be easily obtained from any random captain? 47 Klingon warbirds destroyed on a planet and what does Starfleet send to assist an entire planet's distress call? 10- ships...Also, you might think, that, after they develop warp drives, they might as well invent a space telephone and give it to Vulcan so someone can tell Earth what the planetary distress call is all about. Why would Starfleet send most of its formidable fleet to somewhere far from Earth and leave Earth defenseless? I suppose you should ask J.J.Abrams all these questions...Also in question is Chekhov's trigger finger abilities, which can beam two people falling from the sky but not even 5 people standing still?

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This doesn't really answer the question –  SSumner Apr 1 '13 at 0:32
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