The Klingons are not known for being defensive, so why is their space fleet named for defence? It should be called the Klingon Imperial Expansion Force, or the Klingon War Fleet.

I have some hypotheses:-

  1. The name is a translation artefact. The Klingon name actually sounds very aggressive, but Federation translators decided on a more euphemistic name. Out-of-universe, this is a reference to contemporary use of the same word. Is the Klingon name of the KDF actually mentioned anywhere, and if so, does it really include the word Hub?

  2. The name was imposed on the Klingons as part of the second Khitomer accord, like the Japanese after the Second World War. Is the name ever used before peace with the Federation (i.e. in TOS or Enterprise)?

I'd like confirming or disconfirming information for my guesses, or an official answer if one exists (e.g. quoting an interview), or a more plausible in-universe explanation.

  • 3
    Possibly a reference to the Israel Defense Forces
    – Kevin
    Jan 12, 2014 at 17:49
  • 11
    Next time you see a Klingon ask him why they're such wussies. ;) Jan 12, 2014 at 19:15
  • 4
    @Meat Trademark, perhaps today is a good day to die...
    – Valorum
    Jan 12, 2014 at 19:26
  • 1
    This is a reassuring translation adopted by the Federation. The original Klingon term could be more accurately rendered as "Relentless and Merciless Warmaking Force". ;-) Oct 31, 2014 at 12:23
  • 1
    The name is probably just a small bit of propaganda for conquered or un-allied worlds/civilizations. Much like how the US renamed the Secretary of War position to Secretary of Defense. The implications are different between the two, even if offensive military action is a large part of the responsibilities. I have no Trek sources for this, which is why this exists as a comment.
    – Ellesedil
    Oct 31, 2014 at 13:15

4 Answers 4


I can answer the question of whether the Klingon term for the KDF contains the term Hub - the answer is yes. The KDF is called tlhIngan Hubbeq in Klingon.

  • Cool. That rules out the translation artefact hypothesis: Hub is pretty unambiguously "defence".
    – Dan Hulme
    Jan 14, 2014 at 18:44

There's actually a reason why they are known as the Klingon Defense Force..

As stated here : http://memory-beta.wikia.com/wiki/Klingon_Defense_Force

This could be a reason as they are named this way:

The Defense Force was known to consist of two elements, the first of which is the Deep Space Fleet (DSF) which consists of the regular naval forces. The second military group is the Internal Security Force (ISF) which operated smaller ships whose duties include policing rules, border patrols, anti-piracy duties, safety & rescue and customs along with tariff regulations. Their duty also extends to watching over client or conquered worlds to ensure they do not rise up against the Empire. However, despite its duties, the ISF is inferior to the DSF in political, military and even social standing. (TOS video game: Starfleet Command II)

The name could derived because they defend the empire through the ISF.

  • Nice detail. I don't see that it follows that the umbrella body would be called "defense" something, if it contains both the internal and the external fleets. It would make more sense if the KDF was originally the fleet that ran border patrols, alongside a Deep Space Fleet, and somehow took over the duties of the latter (through internal politics, or because the DSF mutinied or was completely destroyed in action).
    – Dan Hulme
    Jan 13, 2014 at 17:56

Because this is what the armies of even the most expansionist empires tend to be called? One could argue that Nazi Germany had an ideology of racial superiority and expansion that was in some ways similar to that of the Klingons. Still, its army was called "Wehrmacht" which quite literally means "defense force", and afaik there never was an effort to change it to something more aggressive sounding. I know that this is not in-universe, but because of this real life example (I'm sure there are others) I do not think the name is paradoxical in any way.

  • Note that the Wehrmacht was basically a follow-up of the pre-Nazi Reichswehr. If Hitler had made up an entirely new name for his army, I'm not sure it would have been such a "defensive" one. Oct 31, 2014 at 8:57
  • 2
    It could just be what it's called. My German isn't 100%, but in my own language (Afrikaans), every country's army is called its "weermag," meaning "defense force." The word "defense force" == the word "army," there's no other way to say it. As for why such a non-aggressive-sounding term would be used in Klingon, or why it would be a linguistic feature of Klingon, perhaps they mean to suggest that their military actions are always justified. Even if they're the aggressors, they're defending their own interests; the fact that you're in their way is your problem, not theirs.
    – Wolfie Inu
    Oct 9, 2015 at 6:43
  • Not true. Many state military forces are called "the military forces" or "the armed forces" without the word "defense".
    – einpoklum
    Oct 24, 2020 at 22:17

It is true that in war (and indeed, in most things), Klingons prefer offence to defence. However, there is one thing Klingon's do constantly talk about defending: their honour. Defence of one's honour is the most important Klingon virtue.

Therefore, it seems reasonable to infer that the 'Defence' in the KDF name refers not to Klingon territory or battle, but rather to Klingon honour. The role of the Klingon Defence Forces is to defend the honour of the Klingon Empire. Qapla!

  • 4
    Can you offer any evidence to back up these bold statements?
    – Valorum
    Apr 20, 2020 at 19:52
  • 1
    @Valorum: Klingons are not cowards who require evidence to make bold statements!
    – einpoklum
    Oct 24, 2020 at 22:15
  • 1
    @einpoklum - You sound like a Ferengi, hiding your dishonour behind words.
    – Valorum
    Oct 24, 2020 at 22:20

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