Benjamin Sisko is prone to emotional outbursts. He has a foul temper and has poor emotional control compared to Picard. Why was he put in command of DS9 given these weaknesses?

Bosses with foul tempers make poor leaders because they are unpleasant to work with. Would you want to work under such a boss?

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    Benjamin Sisko had the rank of Commander when he was assigned to DS9, and served as its commander, not as its captain. He was promoted to the rank of Captain three years later in recognition of his work there. Are you asking why he was promoted to captain, of why he was assigned to DS9 in the first place? Dec 16, 2016 at 7:08
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    Yeah, no one with a temper ever gets very far in military service. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_world_wonders
    – ceejayoz
    Dec 16, 2016 at 13:59
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    "Benjamin Sisko is prone to emotional outbursts." Is he? I don't recall seeing Sisko throwing temper tantrums or attacking fellow officers. Examples posted on Youtube (see youtube.com/watch?v=ibGOGifvbdU) don't seem terribly egregious to me. He was certainly more emotional than the stoic Captain Picard, but you could say that about any officer in Starfleet.
    – RobertF
    Dec 16, 2016 at 15:12
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    What poor emotional control?? Dec 16, 2016 at 18:24
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    I concur in disagreement on the premise of the question. First, it assumes Sisko has a foul temper with poor emotional control. Next, it assumes that leaders who have a temper cannot be good leaders, which is demonstrably untrue. Finally, it assumes that Picard does not have a foul temper, or poor emotional control: youtube.com/watch?v=HVd-U1sAwvo
    – DBPriGuy
    Dec 16, 2016 at 19:12

4 Answers 4


Following the death of his wife during the battle of Wolf 359, Sisko was on the verge of leaving Starfleet. We clearly see the trauma he was grappling with during his interactions with Picard. Before he resigned his commission, however, he was nominated for the commanding position at Deep Space Nine by Vice-Admiral Leyton.

Leyton was Sisko's former commanding officer, the two having served together onboard the USS Okinawa. It's worth noting that Sisko was originally an engineer, and only joined the command division after Leyton recognized his potential and promoted him to executive officer. Leyton also ended up being an antagonist later in the series when he tried to initiate a coup against the Federation.

Sisko certainly didn't want the assignment at DS9; he said in the pilot episode that he was still considering leaving for civilian service on Earth. But I think he very quickly got irrevocably caught up in the situation when he was named the Emissary of the Prophets--a position which made him uniquely well-suited for facilitating the Bajoran entry into the Federation.

Therefore, we can infer that he given the assignment because Leyton was pushy and kept it because of his ties to the Bajoran religion.

Out of universe, I'd say his propensity for emotional outbursts was a deliberate attempt to distinguish the character from Picard and to emphasize the literal and figurative distance between DS9 and the Federation proper. As I recall, his attitude was more help than hindrance on many occasions!

  • Although I like your answer and we wrote similar points simultaneously, I don't think that the issue of Bajoran religion matters in this case, as the OP asks why Sisko was appointed as the commander, not why he was kept after DS9: Emissary. Still, just a suggestion :) Dec 16, 2016 at 7:57
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    @EdmundDantes No, it doesn't address the point of why he was given the position, it addresses what I see as the logical follow-up, which is why he kept the position given all the reasons against him taking in the first place. Dec 16, 2016 at 8:00
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    Before he could resign his commision, however, he was nominated for the commanding position at Deep Space Nine by Vice-Admiral Leyton There were several years between Wolf 359 and him getting the transfer as I recall, that's plenty of time to quit; Data, Troi and Dr. Crusher have all resigned effective immediately before (Measure of a Man / The Loss / Sub Rosa) Dec 16, 2016 at 11:17
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    Equanimity is a virtue, but it's not the only virtue. A man like Sisko (or Kirk) is able to accomplish things that Picard would simply fail at, or possibly wouldn't deem as worthy of accomplishing. Dec 16, 2016 at 17:15
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    WRT differentiating him from Picard by his temperament, I can't help but remember a certain scene involving Q. "You hit me! Picard never hit me..." / "I'm not Picard!" Dec 16, 2016 at 18:41

Sisko was appointed as the commander of DS9 because he was highly regarded by Captain/Admiral Leyton

As the previous answer states, Benjamin Sisko was given the command of Deep Space 9 while having the rank of Commander.

At the beginning of his career, he was more interested in engineering than in command. It was then-Captain Leyton of USS Okinawa that promoted him to the rank of Lt. Commander and position of Executive Officer.

LEYTON: Ironic, isn't it? When you came on board the Okinawa, you were more interested in engineering and ship design than command. But I promoted you to lieutenant commander, gave you the post of executive officer, and taught you everything I knew about being a leader.

DS9: Paradise Lost

Which would mean that Capt. Leyton was satisfied with Sisko in the command division and saw potential in him.

Later on, Benjamin Sisko was given the position of XO on USS Saratoga. Which would once again suggest, that he was still a good material for a Captain, or the position of commander of a station/ship.

After the events of Battle of Wolf 359, Benjamin Sisko was given an assignment at Utopia Planitia shipyards.

PICARD: [...] I have been made aware by Starfleet of your objections to this assignment. I would have thought that after three years spent at the Utopia Planitia yards, that you would be ready for a change. DS9: Emissary

We can see that at least Capt. Picard thought that a change in position would be suitable for Sisko, even if it was only his personal opinion (it might not be included in the decision process).

LEYTON: Captain Sisko. This is my adjutant, Commander Benteen. Benjamin was my executive officer aboard the Okinawa. And a damn fine one too.

SISKO: I did all right.

BENTEEN: Ah, don't be modest. Admiral Leyton has had his share of executive officers and you're the only one he ever speaks fondly of.

LEYTON: Present company excluded.

SISKO: Admiral Leyton is the one who recommended me for the job on Deep Space Nine.

LEYTON: One of my better ideas. You must be Odo.

DS9: Homefront

I think we can reach the conclusion that since Sisko and Leyton served together on USS Okinawa, until DS9: Paradise Lost (or maybe even further in a way), Benjamin Sisko was highly regarded as an officer and commander of Deep Space 9 by Captain/Admiral Leyton and it is stated clearly that his recommendation was a major factor in choosing the commander of the station.

  • Ah, excellent, you went and found the actual quotes. +1 from me. Dec 16, 2016 at 8:01

Remember that at the time when he was appointed, DS9 was in no way a place of any importance.

Here is what Major Kira says in DS season 1 Emissary (ep 1):

KIRA: I don't believe the Federation has any business being here.

SISKO: The provisional government disagrees with you.

KIRA: The provisional government and I don't agree on a lot of things which is probably why they've sent me to this god-forsaken place. I have been fighting for Bajoran independence since I was old enough to pick up a phaser. We finally drive the Cardassians out and what do our new leaders do? They call up the Federation and invite them right in.

So actually, commander of DS9 is a backwater post. It would be a good place to recover from the emotional trauma with all the work that needs to be done to repair DS9 and make it operational without endangering any significant Starfleet missions.

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    DS9 would have been considered "god forsaken" to the Bajorans, it being basically a concentration/labor camp for them during the occupation. But would the federation have felt the same way, that it was a place to dump problematic officers? We know that Captain Picard cared strongly about the Bajoran entry into the Federation. Dec 16, 2016 at 8:14
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    I'd disagree with that answer. The station to Kira was off planet and where she'd have to play diplomat to foreigners, and diplomacy was never he strong suit. To the federation, DS9 was important. It was on the Cardassian border with a new ally and on the outer edge of the federation. It was perhaps a boring/not exploring job for a captain, but it was an important position. Picard made that clear to Sisko that it was a important job. Now, Picard was also fond of the Bajorans, so he may have felt that more than others, but it was still an important post.
    – userLTK
    Dec 16, 2016 at 14:05
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    Picard cared about the Bajoran people for his own reasons (I think the reminded him of his flute playing life). But the Federation certainly thought of DS9 as a backwater assignment. Didn't they even try to replace Sisko about 30 seconds after the wormhole was discovered.
    – coteyr
    Dec 16, 2016 at 22:00
  • The Federation cared so much about DS9, they staffed the role of repairing and maintaining an alien space station with one transporter chief. Mar 1, 2019 at 14:42
  • This could've been better laid out as a matter of the importance or lack thereof of Bajor in general. Most industry and infrastructure had been wrecked by uprising or the withdrawal, the Cardassians evidently didn't think it useful enough to have it anymore. Until the wormhole was discovered it was just a long term relief operation that could quietly tick away to itself while more important stuff happened elsewhere.
    – IG_42
    Jul 4, 2020 at 12:22

He was in command after Wolf 359 because he had good connections in the top tiers of government (like Curzon Dax) and don't forget that Admiral Layton personally recommended Sisko for the assignment.

He wasn't captain when he was appointed to run DS9. By the time the wormhole is discovered he is too much involved in the Bajoran culture to just replace him.

After time passes he is promoted for his accomplishments despite him being a hothead.

  • All of this is correct but it doesn't address the actual question, which is why he was given the assignment in the first place. Dec 16, 2016 at 7:26
  • @ApproachingDarknessFish he had good connections. Dax and Layton for one thing.
    – Cherubel
    Dec 16, 2016 at 7:39
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    Can you find the source that Curzon Dax had any influence in choosing Sisko as the commander of DS9? Or have you just mentioned all of his high-ranking friends? :) Dec 16, 2016 at 8:05
  • @EdmundDantes Having an Ambasador to the Federation is not a bad thing to have in your corner. no I'm not going to ist all of his high ranking friends. There is no point after I mentionet Leyton and Dax. I thing an admiral and an ambassador could be pretty formidable if they wanted the same thing. Even with Sisko being angry all the time. But as I said his wife got killed in ront of him so he has a right to be angry at the world.
    – Cherubel
    Dec 16, 2016 at 9:28

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