Klingon Defence Force
|Klingon Defence Force|
Since circa 9th century
Combined space and ground force
The Klingon Defence Force (KDF), sometimes referred to as the Klingon Imperial Navy, Imperial Klingon Fleet or the Klingon Imperial Army, is the prominent military arm of the Klingon Empire.
The Defence Forces take orders directly from the Chancellor of the Klingon High Council, or from senior officers who have been appointed to act in his stead, who are usually a member of the Klingon High Command.
The Defence Forces are organised in ways that appear both familiar and dissimilar to the comparable organisations in the Federation and Romulan Empire. The Defence Forces are organised into numerous named and numbered fleets, each assigned specific regions of Klingon space and specific functions to perform. Fleets are usually assigned to the Deep Space Fleet (DSF) branch, which forms the regular naval forces. The opposing branch within the KDF is the Internal Security Fleet (ISF), which operates only internally within the Empire's space and utilises smaller starship designs, with duties such as the policing of rules, border patrols, anti-piracy duties, safety & rescue and customs, along with tariff regulations. The ISF's duties also extend to watching over client or conquered worlds to ensure they do not rise up against the Empire. However, despite the importance and wide variety in its duties, the ISF is considered as being inferior to the Deep Space Fleet in political, military and even social standing.
Though the KDF operates under a shared organisational and command structure, personnel are divided into two distinct fighting forces; the Navy which operates the KDF's vessels and the Army which consists of ground troops used in both planetary deployment and in the boarding of enemy vessels, sometimes referred to as the planetary regiments. Both branches typically co-exist on every Klingon vessel, and a senior officer from either branch may command any officer or warrior below them, or even entire fleets. Each branch has a distinctive rank structure, but it is rare for a Klingon officer to switch their rank between branches even when their duties require that they themselves do. This has caused many Klingons who began their service in the ground forces to retain their army rank as they become starship officers and captains.
- See also: Klingon Defence Force Ranks
The majority of Defence Force members are common warriors assigned to the ground forces branch of the Empire, whilst those who pass the entrance exam to become officers usually serve aboard the Empires starships or as commanders for large deployments of ground forces - it is very uncommon for an officer of the Army even of the lowest rank to command over a small group of warriors. Until the rise of Chancellor Martok, it was uncommon for a Klingon who was not of noble blood to become an officer in the KDF.
The system of hierarchy aboard ships within the Defence Forces is highly structured. According to one of their systems, one that has operated successfully for centuries, the first officer of any Klingon vessel has the duty to assassinate his captain when and if the captain becomes weak or unable to perform. It is expected that his honourable retirement should be assisted by his first.
Klingon forces typically place a large emphasis on direct offensive assaults, and their ships are equipped for just this role. Klingon battle cruisers usually possess thick battle armour beneath their equally strong shields, and their weapons are usually overpowered, and not designed to disable opponents alone without considerable skill on behalf of the ship’s weapons officer. Klingon fleets typically deploy in large numbers in order to simply overwhelm their foe, regardless of whether one ship alone could perform the task.
However, Klingon tactics are not confined solely to this brute force approach, though covert action beyond the wide-spread use of cloaking devices is not something that comes easily to Klingon officers. Klingon Birds-of-Prey are far smaller than their cruiser counterparts, and bear nowhere near as much armaments, but are far faster and more agile. Their cloaking devices are also usually more effective due to the ship's smaller size and lower power profile. This allows Klingon forces to use these ships in fast strikes, catching enemies unawares behind the front lines, unleashing devastating destruction, and then retreating again in a hit-and-run attack. Birds of Prey operate just as commonly both as single-ship forces and in wings of up to twelve vessels operating in tandem.
The ground tactics of the Klingons follow very similar lines as those favoured by their battle cruisers; ground forces are deployed in large numbers to storm enemy encampments and overwhelm their defences. Though such actions are often disavowed by the High Command, Klingon warriors have been known to commit various atrocities against those they attack, and often loot prizes from their fallen foes.
The uniform of the Klingon Defence Force places a large emphasis on the advantage it provides in hand-to-hand combat. Consisting of black leggings and a black undershirt – in some cases, made of thick black fur from an animal found on many Klingon worlds – covered with a silver armoured vest with large shoulder pads, the KDF usually allowed a large amount of latitude to its personnel in terms of customisation, with the only features remaining on all uniforms unaltered being a large belt buckle displaying six round buttons and a metal emblem of the Klingon Empire; worn on the sleeve when an officer’s uniform choice included them, or on the armour vest or a sash when it did not.
Klingons of a noble house were also permitted to wear a sash over the right shoulder – usually made of metal and leather – upon which can be worn various House crests or personal achievements. Klingon commanding officers are permitted to wear a brown open-front vest called a stole over his or her armour, displaying large rectangular emblems on each side of its chest.
Klingon uniforms commonly include loops and pouches to attach or contain various weaponry, such as disruptors, d'k tahgs, bat'leths and mek'leths, and often include pronged fingerless gloves or spiked boots; all designed to give Klingon warriors an increased advantage in hand-to-hand combat.
Bases and Installations
Aside from its headquarters located on Ty'Gokor, the Klingon Defence Force also maintains installations throughout Klingon territory.
Starbases and Outposts
Starbases - facilities for resupply of the service's vessels and the relaxation of vessel crews - are maintained in numerous sectors of Klingon space. Similar to the practice of Starfleet, the KDF maintains an amount of numbered starbases, but these are mainly arrayed along the border with the Federation, and are either old Federation bases captured in the conflict between the two powers during the 23rd century or are new bases that have been constructed to replace these dated designs.
Far more populous throughout the empire and along the borders it shares with powers considered active threats to the empire are Klingon Outposts. These facilities come in many forms, and can be space installations or ground complexes, but all have a significant KDF presence and serve the purpose of being rallying points and key points of defence or offence by the Empire's forces. Klingon Outposts do not follow the Federation's practice of numbering the installations, and are instead given individual names - Ty'Gokor is technically classed as a Klingon Outpost. The once-neutral Camp Khitomer, located on the same planet as the Klingon colony which was destroyed by a Romulan attack in 2346, is also now a Klingon Outpost.
The Klingon Defence Force maintains - by necessity - a number of shipyards which are used to constructed and maintain their vast array of vessels. Though the rate of Klingon starship design and development is far slower than that of the Federation, with far fewer active starship classes in service, Klingon vessels are produced in larger numbers and receive a great deal more damage than most of their Federation counterparts due in large part to the tactics favoured by the KDF.
The Klingon Defence Forces also maintains several training facilities for both officers and enlisted personnel, with large facilities located throughout Klingon space. Klingon officers and enlisted warriors alike have very extensive training programs, with a heavy focus placed upon combat. Unlike in the Federation, Klingon officers are not required to study the sciences in more detail than would be required to safely navigate a starship, or to make use of spatial phenomena for tactical advantage. Over half of every Klingon trainee's day is dedicated to personal combat, and training facilities have large arenas - both indoor and outside - utilised for bat'leth training.
After its personnel, the KDF's greatest asset is its large fleet of vessels.
By far the most populous of the Empire's vessels, the Bird-of-Prey is a type of Klingon vessel that has been utilised by the Empire since at least the 22nd century. Small, easy to mass-produce and extremely versatile, the bird-of-prey is capable of serving in many roles, including that of a scout, raider, patrol ship and a small cruiser. Some Klingon flag officers even choose to maintain their flag on a bird-of-prey class vessel rather than transfer to one of the larger ships or outposts available to them.
Equipped with a cloaking device and constructed to evoke an image to match the animals of its name-sake, one of the most effective uses of a bird-of-prey is in surprise attacks. The sudden appearance of such a small vessel capable of great speed and destruction and evoking the image of a large predatory animal is a strong one that will often paralyse the less seasoned populations of the vessel's target, and the ship can often re-cloak and move off before their enemy has a chance to react.
The primary disadvantage of the bird-of-prey is that for it to be able to bring its most powerful weapons to bear, the ship has to be angled almost directly at its target. Though the manoeuvrability of the crafts make this tactically possible, it does restrict the tactics of the ships when matched against an equally manoeuvrable opponent.
Often also classified as warships, Klingon Battle Cruisers are the largest military vessels that the KDF is capable of deploying. When first produced, the first examples of the Vor'cha-class and Negh'var-class starships were essentially restricted to being the bearers of important Klingon officials such as the Klingon Chancellor. Leading up to the war with the Dominion, these latest additions to the Klingon fleet began to be produced in enough numbers and deployed throughout the KDF in ways not seen since the end of the war with the Federation in the 23rd century.
Equipped with an impressive array of weaponry, Klingon battle cruisers are designed to be centres of destruction in a battle; capable of launching offensive power in all directions simultaneously, they have multiple potential roles within a battle from defending a captured target to being the primary force in a frontal assault. Klingon battle cruisers are usually only deployed near key Klingon strategic locations or when an overt show of extraordinary force is required. They most commonly serve as flagships for Klingon admirals, generals and High Council members.
Out of necessity the Klingon Empire requires a number of non-military craft in order to survive, such as cargo vessels and other support craft. These ships are produced by the Klingon Defence Force and commonly operated by military officers, though a number of older craft have been known to be operated by individual Klingon houses who are too unimportant to be able to have a hand in the High Council or in military matters.
Due to the lack of focus on this area by the KDF, Klingon support vessel designs are rarely updated, and the vessels themselves are often only replaced when destroyed or so far past repair that their mothballing is necessary.