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Starfleet is supposedly an exploratory and defense** fleet representing the entire Federation. Yet its command hierarchy is dominated by humans, its headquarters are on Earth, its flagship is a human-dominated vessel and almost all major battles are led by human commanders.

I understand that the Vulcans are not into exploration and Andorians tend to be isolationist. But I'm surprised that none of the many races that make up the Federation seem to mind humans controlling their primary defense fleet, especially given that the Federation is about as cohesive as the UN security council when it comes to political matters.

** Or, in the alternate timeline, a scientific, humanitarian and peacekeeping force.

(A related question, which I came across while checking for possible duplicates asks about non-human Starfleet vessels)

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    Humans were probably the only ones who wanted the job. – Xantec Apr 12 '12 at 14:19
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    This question could almost go further and include "Why is the KDF dominated by Klingons" and "Why is the Romulan Fleet dominated by Romulans"? – Xantec Apr 12 '12 at 15:36
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    Except the Federation consists of over a hundred voluntary members. Wouldn't that be like the UN forces being dominated by the US military... oh wait. – HNL Apr 12 '12 at 15:45
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    @HNL - Except that the UN forces aren't dominated by the US military. Of the 117 nations that supply personal to the UN Peacekeeping forces, the US ranks 56th. While the US does justify its actions with UN Resolutions, the fact that its forces aren't using the UN Rules of Engagement show that they aren't UN Peacekeeping missions. Back on topic. While there may be 100 member nations, the Federation is very Sol centric. Both Starfleet HQ and the academy are on Earth. Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards are Starfleets main shipyards and located at Mars as well. – Cam Apr 12 '12 at 17:35
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    While people would likely disagree... I'm pretty sure the answer is that the other species are fairly stupid and stagnant. The max speed of ships pre-humans was like warp 5 and the other species have been around for thousands of years. The same is true of Delta Quad species for the most part. We know humans go from warp 1 to Time travel in 500 years. Vulcans developed Warp and then split, warred, and barely developed up to Warp 5 in 2 or 3000 years. Klingons advanced quicker than that. Everything in ST points to Humans being uber special, even Q says so... – Durakken Sep 11 '16 at 6:48
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There are numerous angles to go at this, and almost all of them place humans at the forefront:

  • In the original series, Roddenberry wanted to depict the future of humanity, so the Federation really was mostly humans at that time. (This has since been retconned away)
  • Both TNG and ENT state that the Federation was founded on Earth, in San Francisco, in 2161. As a founding member, humans naturally would extend their reach distantly.
    • Additionally, Starfleet was originally an Earth organization. The first joint venture between the founding members had been initiated and orchestrated by Captain Archer of Earth Starfleet.
  • Of the species in the Federation, humans were the most interested in exploration. Especially compared to the other three founding members, the Vulcans, Tellarites, and Andorians.
  • Human biology is extremely flexible, compared to other species, so humans can survive easily in a greater variety of environments.
  • Humans tend to have lifespans on the shorter end of the spectrum. This means more reproduction, and larger fluctuations in population - and with more room to grow (space colonization), a fairly quick increase in population.
    • It certainly helps that war, poverty, and disease were all eliminated on Earth before 2113, right around when humans began expanding into space. The same couldn't be said of even the Vulcans, who had internal struggles with the Syrranites, among other things.
  • Just a note - the Syrranite situation was likely a result of Romulan interference. – Derek Sep 12 '16 at 4:30
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A puzzling question indeed.

  • During the Dominion war all "Federation" vessels shown were of the 'nebula', 'excelsior', 'ambassador', 'defiant' and 'galaxy' classes, known to be of Human and Starfleet origin. Even the proud "all-Vulcan" crew of captain Solak/Sovak served on a 'nebula' class apparently Human ship.

  • In both the original series and TNG, the crews of the Enterprise is almost entirely Human. Sometimes I wonder weather it really is a ship serving the purpose of an 'interstellar' organization like the UFP or weather it is just a exploring ship from little old Earth.

  • I don't think Humans are the most warlike or balanced species in the ST universe. I doubt a species like the Andorians would develop space travel technology in order to isolate themselves from other species either, nor would they do this by fighting Vulcans for planetary bodies between their worlds.

  • The TNG series portrays countless species that are basically Human with varying levels of technological achievement, and sometimes silly looking cranial features.

  • For something as grand, proud and important as the UFP, it really isn't all that well developed on the show (all series are guilty of this, bar ENT) We don't know much else other that it is a interstellar organization, consisting of many species that both pre date the Humans in space travel, are overtaken by a post-devastation Humanity and apparently are being 'lead' by Humans under a 'Earth based' democratic system, most likely based on American democracy. Kinda wishful thinking, but I guess it had to be relate-able for 20th century humanity for which the show was made. Another indication of this is the inclusion of the Soviet Union in the show (Cardassian Union) and the frosty relations with the Federation.

  • During the newest ST movie (2009) Human dominated Starfleet dispatch 7 apparently Human vessels from Earth, which go to defend Vulcan - and that is funny because as peaceful as Vulcans supposedly are, they are portrayed as downright stupid and naive for a race that is supposedly superior to humans in terms of strength, speed and INTELLIGENCE. Why is Vulcan undefended for a starter? And it can't defend itself from a single Romulan mining ship? They need Humans for that. Silly, I know. Also traveling at WARP 6-8 the ships get from Earth to Vulcan in 6 minutes! What? 16 light years, in 6 minutes? And it supposedly takes 65 years to reach the Gamma quadrant at Warp 9.4?!! Which is 65,000 light years away. The math doesn't add up.

But yeah, who knows?

  • So... you're agreeing with the reasons for the question, but providing no answers to it (except maaaaybe the 3rd bullet point)? – Izkata Oct 4 '12 at 14:17
  • And it can't defend itself from a single Romulan mining ship? The Mining ship had centuries of advance technology. Also traveling at WARP 6-8 the ships get from Earth to Vulcan in 6 minutes! Nu-Trek distances and warp speed are not the same as Classic Trek. – user16696 Jul 1 '14 at 5:34
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    'During the Dominion war all "Federation" vessels shown were of the 'nebula', 'excelsior', 'ambassador', 'defiant' and 'galaxy' classes, known to be of Human and Starfleet origin.' - this is on the verge of circular reasoning, but the ship types you list are Starfleet ship types, and Starfleet is not something specific to Earth, but of the whole federation. Moreover: 'inclusion of the Soviet Union in the show (Cardassian Union)' - it was rather the Klingon Empire that was meant as an allegory of the Soviet Union. Cardassians were reminiscent of Nazi Germany. – O. R. Mapper Jan 25 '15 at 20:43
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Starfleet and the Federation itself are very Sol centric. The HQ of the Federation itself is on Earth (apparently split between San Francisco and Paris). Starfleet HQ and Starfleet Academy are also on Earth. Starfleet's main shipyards are located at Mars. Likely part of this reason is based upon how the Federation and Starfleet were formed. While the Federation was founded with both Humans and other cultures, many of these other cultures were already space faring races. They already had their own programs for science, exploration and military defense. Humans on the other hand, poured everything they had into building the Federation. The Vulcans still have the Vulcan Science Academy and likely a small fleet of science and exploration vessels. It would not be surprising to see many other races keep things such as this. Unless you are a private group on Earth, you don't have this option. The government itself is bonded with the Federation, so anyone who has strong interests in science, exploration or the military is going to become part of the Federation's forces.

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It's a combination of unique suitability (humans are both a warlike species by nature, with high levels of aggression - compared to a modern emotion-suppressing Vulcan - AND a perfect balance of that with the ability to control said aggressiveness compared to, say, Klingons), historical circumstances (humans obtained Warp shortly after they completed their wars); human predilection for discovery which makes them stick their noses into situations requiring warfighting efforts, and human rate of progress.

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    Yeah, I knew you wouldn't be able to stay away from the site.... – Tango Apr 12 '12 at 18:14
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Out of universe: because it makes the best television being human centric, because the only viewers are humans.

If you're looking for an in universe explanation, then it could be argued that when the Federation was founded, the Vulcan and Andorian people had just come out of a prolonged conflict, tensions were high all around the Alpha quadrant.

Earth being relatively new to intergalactic politics was seen as a neutral party, and when the planet's decided to unite together they founded the Federation Council and Starfleet HQ on Earth so as not to show any favouritism towards either side.

As depicted in Star Trek, Humans seem to be much more predisposed towards exploration when compared to most other species, and so a higher proportion of Starfleets exploration arm consists of Humans. They make it appear on the show that most species seem to stick to their homeworlds.

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    because the only viewers are humans [citation needed] I would like a reliable source on that theory ;) – Falco Jan 26 '15 at 11:48
  • I think a better out-of-universe explanation would be that it would be too expensive to put most of the human actors in alien make-up for every episode. – jamesdlin Feb 27 '15 at 21:10
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I think in this case the actual reason isn't really very scientific or political. I would imagine it's that way because it was a human who came up with the Star Trek idea and therefore wrote the script this way. I suppose there could be a more scientific reason but I am guessing that Gene Roddenberry originally wrote the series from the viewpoint of us humans and our futures in space, therefore we became the primary defense force. If not no one would have related to it back in the 1960's when it was created.

  • This is pretty much identical to izkata's first explanation. – phantom42 Oct 7 '13 at 6:00

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