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The Klingons were a humanoid warrior species that originated from the planet Qo'noS (pronounced Kronos). Originating from the planet Qo’noS in the Beta Quadrant, the Klingon Empire was a warrior dominated species and one of the major powers in the Galaxy. While there had been hostilities between the Federation and Klingons in the past, since the signing of the Khitomer Accords in 2293, the two powers had been considered allies despite several small skirmishes. One of the major powers of the galaxy, the Klingons were a proud, tradition-bound people who valued honor and combat. The aggressive Klingon culture had made them an interstellar military power to be respected and feared.

In 2381, the Klingon Defense Force was the modern successor to the '''Klingon Imperial Fleet''', which was the Empire’s primary space-based military force in the 22nd and 23rd centuries. It was a multi-faceted organization charged with protecting the Klingon people from all external threats as well as those originating from within its borders.

For information on Klingon Great Houses, see this page.


Klingons were a species of bipedal tetrapod with a head, neck, torso, and four limbs that made up their body plan. They were a species that possessed anatomy and physiology remarkably similar to humans, but with several noticeable divergences. The most striking feature of Klingon anatomy was their cranial regions, which possessed striking sagittal crests which varied greatly between individuals, though familial lineages may possess similar crests. This was largely due to a protective exoskeletal casing which enveloped their craniums, though a shattering blow to the tricipital lobes of these casings can result in certain death. The rest of Klingon external anatomy was heavily ridged, with ridges on their feet, chests, and notably, a crest of ridges and spines which ran down their backs. Furthermore, male Klingon genitalia, while similar to humans, also possessed a series of ribbing and ridges along the shaft. Klingon skin tones tended to range from an olive tone, to brown, to an almost charcoal-black. Both sexes possess hair on their heads which was typically black or brown, and turned grey with age.

Internally, Klingon physiology was markedly different from human anatomy, and possessed numerous redundancies in a biological principle called brak’lul. Klingons possessed eight-chambered hearts, two livers, multiple stomachs, three lungs, and even redundant neurological functions. This rendered a Klingon with incredible stamina to resist injuries which would be debilitating for a human. However, unlike humans, Klingons possessed a notably decreased tolerance for cold temperatures, largely due to their own lower body temperatures.


There was a time when the Klingon military was geared toward little more than conflict and conquest. Indeed, the history of the Empire was built upon the conquest of other worlds and their people. After enduring the Hur’q invasion, the plundering of Qo’noS, and near annihilation, the Klingon people marshaled sufficient numbers and resources to mount a resistance against their oppressors. The costs of rebellion were high, nearly extinguishing altogether what remained of the Empire, but eventually, the slaves turned back their masters.

After expelling the Hur’q from Qo’noS and reverse-engineering the technology they left behind, the Empire took to the stars, expanding outward first to colonize uninhabited planets and later to worlds that already were home to indigenous sentient populations. Unlike the Federation Starfleet and its overtures of peace and cooperation for mutual benefit, the Empire was driven by a single goal: conquest. The Imperial Fleet was the instrument of this agenda, establishing military garrisons on dozens of planets, forcing their native civilizations into line, and ensuring they acted to serve the Empire’s interests. Most of these societies fell into line, motivated either by simple self-preservation or the realization there actually were benefits to being jeghpu’wI’, or “the conquered people.” Indeed, by 2381, it had been more than two centuries since a subjugated world has attempted to overthrow Klingon rule.

War was not uncommon to those serving in the fleet or its associated ground forces. While many worlds yielded to the banner of the Empire, others fought with the same conviction which had fueled the Klingons’ fight against their Hur’q oppressors centuries earlier. These civilizations mounted their own defense, vowing to resist subjugation at all costs.

More often than not, such pledges were fulfilled and Klingon occupation forces took what remained of the world anyway. On other occasions, a people managed to defeat Klingon forces to the extent that the Empire showed its respect by halting invasion attempts. In some instances, accords were reached and treaties signed, while other worlds were left to pursue their own destiny free from further aggression. It was the ultimate compliment the Empire could pay to an enemy who fought with such tenacity.

Inevitably, these expansion efforts brought them into contact with space-faring civilizations capable of matching Klingon warships in terms of military capabilities. Chief among these potential rivals were the Humans of Earth and the Romulan Star Empire. The Humans in particular posed an interesting challenge, in that while they displayed the technology and the ability to fight when pressed, they preferred non-aggressive action to conflict. In the two centuries since first encountering Humans, many Klingon commanders have commented on the seeming inconsistency of their attitudes and actions. While they can be duplicitous, Humans also are capable of demonstrating their own form of honor. Early encounters were characterized by actions taken regardless of the risk to their personal safety while being of benefit to the Empire. Their contradictory nature was at times confusing, intriguing, and frustrating, and numerous Klingon military leaders cautioned against underestimating these seemingly weak specimens. This prudence was justified on more than one occasion when the Empire found itself at odds and even at war with Earth, the people of which by then had assembled an interstellar coalition, the Federation, to extend its own influence farther away from their homeworld.

The Human ability to foster collaboration was amply demonstrated in the 22nd century when they enlisted the assistance of the Andorians to defeat the Xindi, disrupting that species’ agenda of destroying Earth. Humans followed this with an alliance of the Vulcans, Andorians, and Tellarites to defeat the Romulans and send them retreating behind their borders for more than a century. By the time this coalition grew into the United Federation of Planets, wise Klingons realized this new union was not to be taken lightly. Those charged with maintaining the readiness of the Klingon military apparatus began altering their training, tactical studies, and resource allocation and development with an eye toward the challenges posed by the Federation as a formidable adversary.

Historians considered this era the impetus that forced the Empire to enter a period of reflection and assessment. Klingon leaders began to examine their priorities. War and skirmishes of varying intensity with the Federation, the Romulans, and other prominent neighbors forced expansion and resource location and acquisition initiatives to turn away from these rivals and toward other, largely uncharted regions of space. Despite a strong desire for conflict and the base need to fight so as to avoid being vanquished, efforts at outright conquest slackened. By the time the Empire signed the Khitomer Accords in the late 23rd century, such ventures were on the decline. Decades later, after the Federation demonstrated its willingness to stand with their allies, first during key battles at Narendra III and the Khitomer outpost and later during the Dominion War, Klingon leadership began to realize this bond – forged from conflict, tested by mistrust and uncertainty, and ultimately sealed by standing together before a common enemy – was not a fleeting aberration. With that in mind, the mission of the Klingon Defense Force was realigned to reflect what its name implied: protecting the security of the Klingon people, a mandate broadened and strengthened by its ability to unite with the Federation Starfleet during times of crisis while still upholding its promise to safeguard the Empire.

Unlike Starfleet and similar organizations authorized by their respective governments, the KDF was a purely military organization. It was by far the Empire’s single largest recipient of funding, resources, and personnel. Despite what some argue was a “softening” of its agenda with respect to expanding Imperial influence, the KDF still symbolized the warrior ethos espoused not just by its soldiers but also all Klingons. The lessons of the past continued to inform the actions of the present and the visions for tomorrow. Even if it meant fighting to the last breath of every man, woman, and child, the Klingon Empire will never again bow before an enemy.

In 2376, a coup against Chancellor Martok was designed to throw the Klingon Empire into chaos and allow the two Klingons Morjod and Gothmara to become the new rulers of the Klingon people. This coup against Martok was ultimately unsuccessful, and Morjod and Gothmara were killed. Instead, the alliance with the Federation continued to prosper. In 2379 the two worked together in the construction of the Unity One station. The Unity base was an advanced starbase, representing the accomplishments of the alliance. As part of the design, the station's sophisticated sensor array allowed it to detect even cloaked vessels that were many sectors away.

In 2380, as the Romulan Civil War raged in full, Chancellor Martok accepted the Remans as a protectorate of the Klingon Empire, resulting in Klingon vessels entering Romulan space. Through the year, Klingon forces were involved in a number of skirmishes within Romulan space. After continued attacks and the failure of the Remans to successfully settle on the Ehrei'fvil continent of Romulus, the Klingons allowed the Remans to settle on a planet within the Klingon Empire.

Later in 2380, Chancellor Martok attended a conference with the Federation President and the Romulan Praetor regarding the founding of the Imperial Romulan State. Rather than denounce the new government of Commander Donatra, now Empress of the Imperial Romulan State, Martok instead gave his approval to the new state, recognizing its sovereignty.


Each of the Great Houses maintained its own military forces, descended in many ways from the armies which once fought one another across the surface of Qo’noS for territory and resources before the Age of Kahless. In the modern day they served as militias of limited size and scope, tasked primarily with defense of the regions from which their parent Houses resided and served as first response organizations in the event of natural calamity. Additionally, these units maintained their training, vessels, equipment, and preparation activities, available at a moment’s notice to be called into Imperial service by direction of the chancellor or the High Council. Training consisted of deployment readiness exercises away from the homeworld where their ships and ground units carried out mock battles of the sort they will be expected to fight once called to action. Until activated, these armies remained separate entities from the KDF.

Likewise, the KDF existed as a self-contained military structure, falling under the authority of the Military Commission of the High Council. This commission, known as the High Command, was led by the Chancellor and consisted of the KDF’s uppermost leadership cadre. Staffed by five generals, this command also served as the Chancellor’s direct military advisors and also counseled other members of the High Council as needed. All military action directed by the Chancellor was based on information and counsel provided by the generals of the High Command, who in turn communicated the chancellor’s orders and intent to the KDF’s senior commanders for implementation.

Originally located in the First City on Qo’noS, the KDF Command Headquarters resided on the planetoid Ty’Gokor. The installation consisted of a heavily fortified command center, the bulk of which was constructed beneath the planet’s surface. Ty’Gokor was protected by a defensive shield as well as an orbital network of unmanned defense craft charged with protecting the planetoid itself, as well as the spacedock and shipbuilding and maintenance facilities parked in high orbit. An armada of thirty warships including flagships for the generals of the High Command were also deployed to the region at all times. In addition to the KDF’s leadership cadre, the planet was also home to a robust command, control, and communications center tasked with overseeing the movements of every vessel in the Klingon fleet. All orders and other dictated from the chancellor, the High Council, or the High Command were funneled through this organization. Imperial Intelligence also had facilities located here, though this contingent operated independently of the KDF command structure. The Hall of Warriors occupied a revered chamber within the central command facility and played host to various ceremonial functions, upholding traditions that had been a part of the KDF and its predecessor organizations dating back to the Age of Kahless.

The first of two elements composing the KDF was the Deep Space Fleet, which was a provisional component that was only activated by calling the militaries of the Great Houses to service. At this point, the High Command assumes authority of this assembled force, which was comparable in size and capabilities to the Federation’s Starfleet or the Romulan military. When the Empire finds itself prepared for conflict, these were the first warriors sent to battle far from the homeworld.

Operating in parallel with the Deep Space Fleet was the Internal Security Force. This was a permanently staffed element, with its own command hierarchy, assets, and operational mandates. Also answerable to the High Command, the ISF was responsible for patrolling Imperial space, staffing and maintaining observation and tactical outposts along the borders, colony support and defense, law enforcement including anti-piracy and interdiction, customs and other regulatory enforcement, and search and rescue. Vessels and personnel from the Great House fleets could be called upon by the High Council to augment ISF assets. In times of conflict, the ISF operated in tandem with the Deep Space Fleet, acting in accordance with the direction of the High Command.

While rank and station were obvious components of Klingon's military structure, both of these were viewed in tandem with an individual warrior’s commitment to the principles of personal honor and dedication to the accomplishment of any assigned mission for the glory of the Empire. Failure to meet such expectations was viewed as a grievous assault on one’s own honor as well as that of their fellow warriors and superior officers. Warriors who demonstrated an inability to meet these demands and commitments were expected to be disciplined if not executed as punishment for their actions. Indeed, any Klingon who failed to address such deficiency stood the risk of being penalized.

Klingon Oversight Council

Usually composed of a dozen officers, all ranked commander or higher, the Oversight Council was tasked with approving the selection of officer candidates for the KDF. This group was often viewed by many veteran warriors as a “simple formality,” particularly when considering most defense force officers were applicants drawn from one of the Great Houses. Legacy selection – the practice of accepting new recruits from families possessing a long history of honorable military service – filled most available openings for new candidates. After completing the standard entrance examination, would-be officers only required a recommendation from a sponsor, usually an active or retired officer in good standing with the High Command. Once this was obtained, the recruit was sent on for the basic training required of all warriors at one of the KDF’s indoctrination centers. Upon completing that initial phase, officer candidates received additional instruction at veS DuSaq, the “School of War.”

While this aspect of the selection process was indeed routine and largely predictable, the Oversight Council also reviewed applications and entrance examinations submitted by instructors at the various indoctrination centers. If a recruit showed unusual aptitude or potential to succeed as an officer, they were flagged for additional scrutiny while still undergoing basic training. Upon graduation and assuming they had passed all of the entrance and review requirements, they were transferred from the enlisted ranks to veS DuSaq to receive officer candidate training in the hopes of earning a commission. Fewer than fifty recruits received this recommendation each year as the review process was rigorous. Potential candidates were not even informed they were being considered for this program until they graduate basic training.

Order of the Bat’leth

An elite group within the Klingon Defense Force, the Order of the Bat’leth was a recognition bestowed upon those warriors who had demonstrated remarkable courage and achievement in battle. It was considered one of the highest awards any Klingon could receive, subordinate only to the Order of Kahless or being declared a Dahar Master. It was created by Lukara, wife of Kahless the Unforgettable, after his death, vowing that this exclusive fraternity would always exemplify the warrior ethos and the highest measure of personal honor and courage as personified by her husband. Today, selection of new inductees was conducted by a committee of six elder members and overseen by the Chancellor of the High Council. Requirements for entry were arduous and cloaked in secrecy, known only to those charged with verifying the worthiness of potential inductees. Warriors admitted to the Order were forbidden from speaking of its members, practices, and ceremonies. Of the fewer than twenty Klingons admitted each year to the Order, as few as a third and as many as half of the selections were posthumous inductions.

Induction ceremonies were held once a year at the Klingon Defense Force’s command headquarters on Ty’Gokor, with mandatory attendance for all living Order members as well as the general staff of the Klingon Defense Force’s High Command and even the Chancellor. The official ceremony was conducted following a day of celebration that included the consumption of much bloodwine, friendly contests of strength and fighting prowess, and raucous fellowship. All of this tended to be viewed by the Order’s older members in somewhat more than light-hearted fashion as but one more test for new inductees, a final means of verifying their worthiness to join their respected comrades in arms.

As the Order of the Bat’leth was a distinction reserved to those who had served with valor far above even the strict demands of duty and honor, once the award was bestowed even the Chancellor was prohibited from rescinding it. Display of the Order’s symbol on one’s uniform signified to all who saw it that its bearer was recognized as one of the Empire’s truly elite warriors.

Order of Kahless

More exclusive in nature than even the Order of the Bat’leth, those Klingons selected for the Order of Kahless were recognized for honorable service to the Empire over a sustained period of time, during which the warrior was shown to have conducted themselves with unwavering bravery and selfless sacrifice regardless of personal risk. Only the Chancellor of the High Council carried the power to so recognize an individual. Those who earned the distinction received the Star of Kahless, one of the highest decorations the Empire can bestow, and its wearer was to be known for all time and without question as a warrior in the finest tradition of Kahless himself. As of 2381, fewer than ten living warriors held the Star of Kahless, with Chancellor Martok being the only Klingon to earn the honor before ascending to that position.

Imperial Intelligence

On par with other secretive organizations such as the Federation’s Starfleet Intelligence, the Romulan Star Empire’s Tal Shiar, or the Cardassian Union’s Obsidian Order, Imperial Intelligence was a clandestine component within the Klingon Defense Force. Its primary mission was the gathering and analysis of information obtained from other interstellar powers using all manner of covert means. Though it did occasionally conduct sanctioned activities against Klingon citizens, its main focus was observing, studying, and even acting against individuals and activities deemed to be of concern to the security of the Empire.

A significant aspect of Imperial Intelligence efforts involved espionage utilizing agents surgically altered to appear as members of the species being spied upon. Individuals trained for such duties underwent rigorous screening, evaluation, and training processes to determine their ability to work independently for extended periods of time. Agents who received these types of assignments were embedded behind enemy lines, often pursuing their mission for years without support. Such operatives were tasked with finding ways to insert themselves into low-level positions within a government or military organization. From these vantage points, agents collected relevant information, either from first-hand observations or by infiltrating facilities, computer systems, and data storage archives. On infrequent occasions these individuals may have been called upon to take actions designed to undermine the efforts of an adversarial power. This could take the form of simple disruption of political agendas to outright sabotage of installations or ships and even assassination of key individuals. Agents killed or captured while on assignment were disavowed, and failing to carry out one’s mission was considered a grave dishonor not just to the operative but also their family. Those who managed to return to the Empire often faced severe consequences, including discommendation and exile.

The life of an intelligence agent was not for every Klingon, but those who choose to answer this call to duty knew that they and others with similar convictions played a vital role in safeguarding the Empire and all Klingon people. In 2381, Councilor K'Tal of the House K'Tal was the Head of Imperial Intelligence.


Those wishing to serve as soldiers in the Klingon Defence Force had to first complete a grueling training regimen that taxed body, mind, and warrior spirit to their absolute limits. For uncounted generations, candidates had submitted themselves to the unforgiving instructors of the KDF’s basic military indoctrination centers. Raw recruits spent nearly four months suffering through all manner of tests measuring their physical strength, endurance, mental acuity, and psychological readiness to undertake the demands of military service. What might appear as vindictive if not absolutely sadistic actions on the part of the instructors was in fact a meticulously choreographed exercise. No detail was overlooked as teachers and drill masters put recruits through their paces day after grueling day.

The Mok’bara

A key aspect of training that began during basic indoctrination and continued throughout a warrior’s career was acquiring and maintaining a proficiency in the Mok’bara. This ancient fighting discipline was the foundation upon which all Imperial hand-to-hand combat techniques are built. It was as much about mental focus as it was physical prowess, forcing the student to become attuned to their body’s every movement, not just when practicing the form but in all other aspects of one’s life. It had been compared to Vulcan techniques of Suus Mahna or the Human disciplines of tai chi or aikido. However, those forms were noted for their emphasis on defensive techniques, whereas Mok’bara students learned how to attack as well as protect themselves. Introduction to the form began within the first days of basic training, and as the cycle progressed candidates learned unarmed fighting techniques before incorporating bladed weapons. Recruits had to advance to the first recognized Mok’bara rank level, chu’wl’Hey or “advanced novice,” as a requirement of graduating military indoctrination. From there, warriors were expected to maintain their studies and advance their ranks and skills. It was not uncommon for senior officers and enlisted soldiers within a unit or ship’s crew to be recognized as Mok’bara masters.

Bladed Weapon Training

Once recruits were comfortable with the initial techniques and forms, instructors began integrating knives and swords into training exercises that brought an added dimension to hand-to-hand combat. While the term implied and was often used to describe fighting without the aid of weapons, blades were often employed in such situations. Thanks to family heritage and upbringing, many Klingons had already received an introduction to a variety of bladed weapons before arriving at an indoctrination center. Such exposure paled in comparison to the grueling drills and other exercises designed to hone each warrior’s proficiency with these implements. Many warriors considered fighting with a bat’leth, mek’leth, or d’k tahg to be battle in its purest form, challenging an enemy face to face and fighting until there was but one undisputed victor. It was a mindset which had defined Klingon heritage and supremacy in conflict from the time of Kahless the Unforgettable. As with other facets of recruit training, instruction and drills in this area increased in difficulty to the point that when a candidate graduated, they were able to wield such weapons as if they were extensions of their own body.

Energy Weapon Training

For energy-based weapons, the training was no less important or focused. Warrior candidates received their initial instruction within the first weeks of basic indoctrination. Laced through this instruction was a continuous, extensive series of weapons familiarization classes. Candidates began with static, known-distance marksmanship instruction using disruptor rifles and pistols. Scores were tracked throughout the entire training cycle and competition among classes was fierce. Subsequent phases of instruction included scenarios designed to mimic planet-based battle conditions. It was here that candidates learned basic battlefield survival skills and received their first lessons in the art of ground combat. Days of training incorporated small unit fire and maneuver principles such as infiltration, assault, and force protection tactics. Each stage of training built upon those preceding it until the final phase, when recruits were tested on their ability to successfully apply all of the lessons learned both individually as well as while operating within their ground combat team. As with marksmanship testing, inter-class competition was intense, with a long tradition of trophies and other recognition for candidates and instructors alike.

An effective soldier never ceased being a student, and the learning process did not end with a recruit’s graduation and transfer to the Klingon Defense Force. Basic indoctrination was a process of establishing a foundation upon which a warrior was built and maintained. All warriors regardless of rank, posting, or area of technical expertise undertook regular class instruction and refresher training designed to test their continued aptitude in a host of essential military subjects.

As with so much else about these training methods, the failure rate among candidates remained a closely guarded secret. However, it was rumored for every one hundred recruits who entered an indoctrination center’s portals, fewer than half succeed in navigating the course curriculum. The reward for reaching this goal was to be designated a basically trained warrior ready for greater, more targeted instruction. Depending on the chosen field of specialization, students could spend more than a year attending such courses before being deployed to the KDF’s ground forces or aboard one of the warships in the Empire’s vast fleet.

Officer Training

Officers of the KDF generally were drawn from one of the many prestigious Houses, with new candidates often carrying on a family tradition of service dating back generations. Klingons choosing to pursue a military commission had to first complete training at one of the military indoctrination centers as any other recruit. Only then would they be then sent to the veS DuSaq, or “the School of War.” Here, the focus shifted from simple basic military training to specialized curricula designed to prepare officers for the demands of successfully leading Klingons in times of peace and conflict.

Instructors emphasized developing the character of every candidate so they came to fully understand the special trust and expectations placed upon them as an officer. Students embraced an ethos which has defined the Klingon soldier for uncounted generations. They studied history and tactics, learning from the victories and failures of warriors past in order to prepare for leading their charges toward future conquests. The training was a crucible, honing a warrior’s body and mind so they are able to think, act, and persevere when faced with the unremitting chaos of battle. Graduation requirements for veS DuSaq were even more demanding than basic training, with a successful completion rate of less than thirty percent. Only those who completed this course of instruction could consider themselves worthy of standing alongside the Empire’s distinguished officer corps.

Rank Comparisons

The Klingon Defense Force rank structure was largely a holdover from that of the Klingon Imperial Fleet, at least so far as officer grades are concerned. Combining ground and air/space operations into the KDF’s mandate required formalization of enlisted ranks for ground troops as well as ship-based support personnel.

Ranks and titles always followed the name, e.g. Qugh HoD for Captain Kruge. A ra'wI' was - directly translated - "someone who gives an order", thus does not indicate a rank. The rank of Sogh and higher could be called ra'wI'. Names of profession like QumpIn (communication officer) or yaS (officer) were not used as titles.

While there were some similarities to the rank structure of other military organizations such as Starfleet and adversarial powers, most ranks were not truly equivalent across these entities. These charts attempt to draw as close a comparison.

Hierarchy of Officers
English Klingon
Supreme Commander la'quv
Admiral 'aj
General Sa'
Commodore totlh
Brigadier 'ech
Captain HoD
Commander la'
Lieutenant Sogh
Ensign lagh
Yeoman ne'

A retired officer bore the title 'utlh, i.e. qarghan 'utlh Kargan, officer emeritus.

Hierarchy of Soldiers
English Klingon
Sergeant bu'
Corporal Da'
Soldier mang
Recruit Bekk

Assignment in the Klingon Defense Force

While undertaking basic instruction, enlisted recruits in the KDF and its officer candidates selected a military specialty for which they would receive additional training before being posted to their first duty assignment. While every member of the KDF was expected to carry out the base functions of a warrior – fighting the Empire’s enemies – the reality of modern-day military readiness was that each member received intensive skills training in a chosen area of expertise. Selection of these occupational fields was based first and foremost on the needs of the Empire but also the qualifications and aptitude of the individual warrior. Those who demonstrate proficiency with technology may have found themselves learning to be an engineer or sensor systems officer aboard a warship assigned to the Internal Security Force or Deep Space Fleet. Others who displayed a propensity for mentoring or assisting other recruits with test or drill preparations were screened to serve as instructors themselves, dispatched to schools devoted to weapons or other vital equipment. Areas of specialization that remove any Klingon from a position where they might see battle were frequent targets of disdain by young, inexperienced soldiers eager for their first taste glory. Elder warriors know better.

Once their training was complete, warriors assigned to the Internal Security Force quickly found themselves posted to a ship, ground installation, or space-based facility such as a forward base or observation outpost along the border. The typical tenure of service at any one location was two years, though hardship assignments such as border posts and other remote stations rotated personnel every six months. Ship duty was also a two-year assignment, though members of a vessel’s crew spent approximately half of that time deployed. When not on patrol or engaged in other activities, a ship would be undergoing refit or repair while its crew undertook the complicated process of inspecting the vessel’s onboard systems and other equipment and assets in preparation for its next deployment. Klingons posted to the Deep Space Fleet returned to the military forces of their respective Great Houses or the region in which those resided.

KDF Duties

Whereas the Deep Space Fleet was typically constituted only during a time of conflict for deployment in defense of Imperial interests well away from the homeworld, the Internal Security Force was the KDF’s active element that undertook a variety of responsibilities. Force projection was the ISF’s primary mission, in the form of patrols through Klingon space and the use of forward observation outposts and other bases along the Empire’s borders. The military was also tasked with surveying and evaluating newly discovered worlds at the edges of Klingon territory, assessing their resource potential. Though the Klingons of 2381 rarely engaged in outright conquest of inhabited worlds, they did invite those populations to reap the benefits that come with life under Imperial rule. The main exception to this practice came on the rare occasion a planet challenged the Empire’s security or sovereignty.

During times of crisis, all priorities of the KDF shifted to the defense of the Empire. A recent major conflict, the Dominion War, posed a threat to all Klingon people and brought about unprecedented military action on multiple fronts. Whereas in the past the KDF stood alone while fighting these battles, on this occasion alliances with the Federation and eventually the Romulans ensured victory. The war was hard-fought and the costs were high, but the coalition which came together to defeat the Dominion proved that working together – even with those the Empire once called an enemy – could achieve positive results. In 2381, KDF vessels worked in concert with Federation starships, participating in joint training exercises, personnel exchange and outreach programs, and combined service aboard vessels, as well as ground installations and space-based outposts.

For the individual Klingon serving in the KDF, training, and proficiency in a dedicated area of military expertise was the primary factor taken into consideration when directing a warrior to a ship or base. Once posted to such an assignment, a Klingon’s duties were dominated by the demands of their primary billet. Duty while serving at a ground or space-based installation was somewhat similar to a ship assignment, with the main difference being that for warships on patrol duty, shifts were shorter and there are few if any diversions from a daily schedule.

Those not serving in their primary role often undertook any number of ancillary tasks such as maintenance of weapons and equipment, safety drills, or combat simulations. Given that whenever a ship went into battle everyone aboard had to be ready to participate in the fight, even the lowliest cabin steward aboard a battle cruiser became proficient in their vessel’s tactical and defensive systems. Every member of a ship’s crew was further required to demonstrate competence in emergency procedures, including the repair of vital systems. There were also training requirements in a number of essential subjects in which crew members had to requalify or recertify at regular intervals. Most of these subjects related to each Klingon’s status as a warrior first. Prominent examples of the areas in which ability was evaluated included weapons and personal combat, physical fitness, and survival in space as well as a host of planetary conditions.

Landing Parties

For Klingons assigned to warships on long patrols, arriving at a previously unknown or uncharted planet brought with it an often welcome change from what can be long periods of mundane existence. When a vessel assumed orbit over such a world, it was for one of two reasons: the planet must be surveyed and explored to determine its value to the Empire, or its usefulness has been ascertained and it was to be claimed. Sensors and other technology aboard a warship could provide information about a new world, but planting the Empire’s flag on new soil required Klingons to venture to the planet’s surface. This was especially true when confronting an indigenous population. Honor demanded nothing less.

Survey Parties

This was one of the few landing party functions where a military mission was not the primary focus but instead, concentration was shifted to a warship’s scientific contingent. While sensor scans conducted from orbit could collect a great deal of information about a planet’s properties, they often failed to provide a comprehensive picture of everything a newly discovered world has to offer. Once initial scans were completed and a determination was made as to the planet’s potential value, survey parties are sent to the surface. There, they could spend days or even weeks gathering specimens and collecting data, gaining first-hand observations and knowledge from local flora and fauna, atmosphere and water, and mineral resources. If there was a native population, it was also studied from both a scientific and military perspective. Although this was the sort of duty that many warriors find distasteful, experienced leaders understood the value of such missions. Survey parties and their findings were often the determining factors in whether a planet was deemed worthy of inclusion in the Empire.

Occupation Forces

In the modern age, Klingons had curtailed the practice of simple conquest when an indigenous population of sentient people was involved, but this had not stopped the Empire from claiming a world in the time of critical or strategic need. If a pre-existing civilization was pre-industrial, occupation forces were still sent to assert Imperial authority, but the days of simply subjugating a native population were long past. Treaties with the Federation ensured this process remained peaceful. When an advanced society needed to be considered, a delegation from the Klingon Diplomatic Corps was dispatched to negotiate an agreement with representatives of the world’s leadership, whether a single entity or multitude of nation-states. It was a rare occasion that native inhabitants declined an offer to join the Empire. Once in place, an occupation force’s primary responsibility was to enforce Imperial rule, but even that process had changed over time and bore little resemblance to similar missions from ages past. Even the occupation armies of a century ago were far more unforgiving than they were in 2381. Many a seasoned and cynical warrior blamed this “evolution” on the Federation’s continuing presence and influence in Klingon affairs.

Boarding Parties

It has been said that Klingons did not take prisoners. In many cases during conflict that was most certainly true, particularly in the case of ship-to-ship combat where there was little time or quarter to accommodate prisoners. However, if a determination was made that an enemy vessel harboured personnel or materiel deemed by higher authority to be of importance, a warship’s commander would dispatch a boarding party to secure that target. Perhaps it was the other vessel itself that was the target, in which case a boarding force had to be sent to seize control of the other craft and ready it for transport to a secure location. There was also the possibility that an adversary may elect to send its own assault force to attempt seizing a Klingon vessel, requiring a ship’s complement to repel these potential boarders. It was exceedingly rare for the crew of a warship to fall before such an attack. Training for these and other scenarios were a regular component of shipboard life, drawing on centuries of interstellar conflict against a broad spectrum of adversaries to develop methods for quickly and decisively achieving the desired objective.

Image: High Chancellor Martok.