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Flag officers

Andorian and Caitian flag officers in 2286

A flag officer was both a historic naval and military rank and a more modern Starfleet title. It generally referred to all officers of commodore/rear admiral rank or higher, collectively known as the admiralty. Those that were found within the highest echelons were generally regarded as military leaders.


The term flag officer stemmed from the historical naval practice that when a person of admiral rank was posted to a ship, a flag denoting his rank and presence was flown. In an age of visual signals, the ships under the admiral's command would look to the flagship for orders and instructions. The term traditionally denoted any officer that commanded a squadron of starships, possibly in addition to one under their direct command.

Not all flag officers were required to have commanded a starship in their career, as shown by the case of Commodore Stocker. (TOS: "The Deadly Years")

Starfleet regulations as of the mid-23rd century stated that "when a captain is unfit, physically or mentally, a competency hearing is mandatory," convened by the first officer and headed by a Starfleet flag officer. Additionally, when all senior officers are incapable of commanding a starship, an individual of "flag rank is forced by regulations to assume command." (TOS: "The Deadly Years")

In 2267, while pretending to be his mirror universe counterpart, Kirk was asked by "Captain's woman" Marlena Moreau how far his ambitions extended, including advancing to the admiralty or even to the cabinet. (TOS: "Mirror, Mirror")

In the 23rd century, a procedure existed that if a Starfleet Admiral took command of a single starship, they would revert to the rank of Captain, displacing the current Captain who then reverted to the rank of Commander. By 2285, this practice appears to have no longer been in place, given that when Admiral James T. Kirk assumed command of the USS Enterprise, he continued to be addressed as an Admiral and wear a flag officer's uniform, this having not been the case when he similarly had assumed command of the same ship in the 2270s. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

Starfleet General Order 15 stated that "No flag officer shall beam into a hazardous area without armed escort." (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

According to Captain Kathryn Janeway, with regard to the Omega molecule and Omega Directive, "Only starship captains and Federation flag officers have been briefed on the nature of this threat." (VOY: "The Omega Directive")

Flag officer ranks[]

Andorian Imperial Guard
Bajoran Militia
  • General
Cardassian Guard
Klingon Defense Force
Romulan military
United States Armed Forces

See also[]

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