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It seems unlikely that Starfleet officers would be allowed to "take a break" during times of war, such as during the Dominion War. However, Starfleet isn't 100% a military organization, so I could be wrong.

Are there any known scenarios of Starfleet officers going on leave during war?

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3 Answers 3

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The answer is, apparently, yes.

In Deep Space Nine, Captain Sisko takes an extended (~3 month) leave in the middle of the Dominion War and seemingly spends it working in his father's restaurant on Earth. This is shown in the DS9 season 7 opening episodes "Image in the Sand" and "Shadows and Symbols".

Supporting quote from Season 6 Episode 26, "Tears of the Prophets":

BASHIR: This leave of absence you're taking, sir. How long do you think you'll be gone?

SISKO: I don't know exactly.

ODO: We'll be waiting.

Sisko takes an open-ended leave of absence right in the middle of the Dominion War, during the same episode he was tasked by Admiral Ross to plan the invasion of Cardassia. The first part of the invasion has barely, tenuously succeeded, and it is at this point that Sisko takes his leave.

Not only does he take leave from an apparently critical assignment, he takes a leave of unspecified duration. This answers the original question with the most emphatic "Yes, they are allowed to 'take a break' during times of war" possible!

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    The British and US armies both offer leave to people who've recently completed extended overseas assigments. - "This recognises the stresses placed on Personnel and their families during an operational deployment"
    – Valorum
    Oct 13, 2023 at 10:43
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Canon

Ezri states that she's on 'a leave of absence' in DS9: Signs and Shadows, during the Dominion War

EZRI: They gave me some books to read, some counselling, but once a host and symbiont are joined, there's really not very much they can do. My parents, my friends, my crewmates, it's like they don't even know me anymore. Which is understandable since I hardly even know myself. That's why I took a leave of absence to come here. I knew that if there is anyone who can help me through this, it would be you.

Nog goes on 'medical leave' in DS9: It's Only a Paper Moon, again during the Dominion War.

NOG: Maybe more than just tonight. Officially, I'm on medical leave, and according to regulations I can choose my rehabilitation facility.


Extended Universe

Moving down the canon scale, in ST:TNG Tunnel Through the Stars (The Dominion War Book 3), we learn that the crews of ships that are docked for repairs and restocking at Starbase 209 are regularly granted 'shore leave'.

Subconsciously, I was taking longer to schedule ships when I knew their commanders, or their crew had been in a lot of combat. You were right, I wasn't in any hurry to send you back to the front, even after you started to make my life miserable. I was protecting those crews, and it was easy, because there were always plenty of rush jobs to delay them." She shook her head with disbelief. "Some of my own subordinates saw it, but they didn't say anything!

In wartime, the absurd becomes the norm. I mean, somebody was going to have to wait--why shouldn't it be crews we liked? It made crazy sense. Most of the crews didn't complain about a few extra days of shore leave, I can tell you." Her hands flopped to her sides. "That's why I have to resign, Will. I can't be trusted to do this job properly." "I was really hoping you could avoid this," said Riker.

Bashir and O'Brien are 'mandated' to go on leave in Strange New Worlds III: "The Best Defense..."

“Next time,” Bashir sighed to his friend as he inspected his Starfleet uniform. The holographic dust had vanished, but the fresh blisters running down his palms and the pain in his back remained. But it could wait. He had patients to attend to. The Defiant had to have had a hard time of it if sickbay needed him badly enough to suspend his mandatory leave of absence. At least he’d be making himself useful instead of squandering wartime in the holodeck.

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    Medical leave suggests that the officer is not physically able to serve due to the medical condition.
    – Barmar
    Oct 12, 2023 at 14:42
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    @Barmar - OP asked about leave. They did not (originally) specify that this should be shore leave, a leave of absence, compassionate leave or medical leave.
    – Valorum
    Oct 12, 2023 at 14:54
  • They said "take a break". That sounds like voluntary leave, not being excused because they're unable to serve.
    – Barmar
    Oct 12, 2023 at 15:01
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    Comments discussing the meaning of the question have been cleared up. If you want to discuss this situation further please take it to Science Fiction & Fantasy Meta.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Oct 13, 2023 at 12:41
  • @Valorum This is a great answer, but it is still focusing too much on the involuntary form of leave, rather than that voluntary leave that I had originally wanted to ask about. Oct 15, 2023 at 0:47
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It's very likely that Starfleet would have leave policies similar to real military organizations. Leave policies depend on the situation and the duration of the conflict.

When a conflict starts leave is usually canceled, while the military figures out what is going on. There may be exceptions for localized conflicts. There's no point in canceling leave for someone too far away to make any kind of difference. For short conflicts this situation will continue.

However eventually fighting troops will become demoralized and ineffective if they are kept fighting for months on end. Troops are given time off so they can recover. Navies also usually give personnel time off while their ships are in safe ports or being refitted.

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    This feels like guess. Can you offer any evidence from the shows to back it up?
    – Valorum
    Oct 11, 2023 at 20:38
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    @Valorum honestly I think it's okay. Giving leave is, contrary to what the question seems to imply, pretty normal in the real world (for another TV example, look at M*A*S*H ­— there are many instances of characters going on, coming back from, or unfortunately missing out on, R&R in Japan). If in-universe information is scant, it's reasonable to look to real life, and to think that Starfleet is generally not harder on its members than the US Army.
    – hobbs
    Oct 13, 2023 at 2:13
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    In the real world, units are "rotated in/out" of combat theaters, for various reasons. One veteran I know indicated that a unit that was "rotated out" to allow it to be brought back to full manpower was often allowed R&R (in small groups) as part of the process. Oct 13, 2023 at 17:29

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