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In DS9, we're introduced to Red Squad:

An elite group of cadets at Starfleet Academy. Red Squad members received special classes and advanced field training.

Are they a special black ops unit for Starfleet? My first thought was that after receiving special classes and training they would be brought into Starfleet Intelligence and more exceptional students be secretly brought to Section 31.

Is their any canon explanation as to what Red Squad was supposed to be? Are they like Seal Team Six?

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    prob somewhat similar to cadet wings at the AFA - usafa.edu/military/squadrons - if this squad is particularly called out as 'elite' then they are likely more suited for fast tracking to higher ranking officer positions, etc...they were NOT intended to be in combat situations (see the episode in question) and were dubiously used earlier in the series by Admiral Leyton
    – NKCampbell
    Sep 16, 2021 at 15:28
  • ^looks like an answer to me...
    – FreeMan
    Sep 16, 2021 at 15:44
  • "Are they a special black ops unit for Starfleet?" Surely they'd be a special red ops unit, if anything. But "black ops" usually means stuff that's secret and unethical — Red Squad didn't seem to be either. (I don't think SEAL Team Six is black ops either — although its activities are classified, its existence is acknowledged.) Sep 16, 2021 at 15:55
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    @NKCampbell - They weren't created for the Dominion War, correct? If I remember correctly, they formed Red Squad before the war, and Admiral Leyton just used them.
    – user144649
    Sep 16, 2021 at 16:21
  • @PaulD.Waite - Did Star Trek ever have a black ops unit? Section 31, I would assume is more along the lines of Jason Bourne. You work alone, and should you be caught or capture, they disavow you.
    – user144649
    Sep 16, 2021 at 16:23

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All signs point to them simply being a group of high-fliers (literally and figuratively), being prepped for early leadership roles. There's no mystery prize being handed out here, such as an all expenses paid trip to Section-31, just accelerated learning leading to a better chance of receiving a 'prestige posting' upon graduation.

Elite squadrons

Though every cadet is expected to excel, the Academy also operates elite programs for its very best and brightest. Such schemes have been beset with problems, however, due to the intense pressure to succeed felt by the selected few. One such set was Nova Squadron—a group of cadets with expert piloting skills. In 2368, when a member of the squadron was killed during an unsanctioned maneuver during training, the other four members of the group conspired to cover up their part in the accident. Another, more wide-ranging elite group was Red Squad, whose members underwent extensive specialized training, but were unprepared for the realities of field duty when they were thrust into action. Their unquestioning approach to duty contributed to an attempted coup on Earth in 2372, and to the eventual loss of most of the team during the Dominion War two years later. Fortunately, such incidents are so rare that they have not undermined the wider mission or standing of Starfleet Academy and its many illustrious graduates.

The Star Trek Book

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    I agree. They were never intended for covert ops but were co-opted for that purpose by Leighton. Sep 16, 2021 at 20:09
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    @EmsleyWyatt - Yup. Just hungry for recognition and easily swayed
    – Valorum
    Sep 16, 2021 at 20:10

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