"Then quite frankly, Mister President, we can clean their chronometers."
Colonel West was a Starfleet officer who lived during the late-23rd century. In that capacity, he was a member of the conspiracy to sabotage peace talks between the Federation and the Klingon Empire in 2293.
West presented Operation Retrieve, the plan to infiltrate Klingon space and rescue James Kirk and Leonard McCoy, to the Federation President after the two Starfleet officers were convicted of the assassination of Klingon Chancellor Gorkon. The president overruled the plan, however, choosing to respect interstellar law in the matter.
Later, at the Khitomer Conference being held near the Romulan border, West disguised himself as a Klingon and attempted to assassinate the Federation President. Taking position behind a large window and taking aim at the president with a sniper rifle, West prepared to fire, but missed at the last instant as Captain Kirk pushed the president out of the way. After Captain Spock announced that another conspirator, Lieutenant Valeris, was in custody, West took aim at Valeris, intending to eliminate her to prevent her from testifying, but was stopped when Montgomery Scott burst through the door, shooting him with a phaser. West was thrown through the glass and fell to the ground, dying on impact.
Colonel West was portrayed by Rene Auberjonois, who later portrayed Constable Odo in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. He noted, "I did it because Nick Meyer is a personal friend and asked me to." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 23, No. 6, p. 39) Recalling how Meyer invited him to play the part, Auberjonois said, "He called months before they started it. He said, 'It would be a hoot if you came and did a day's work on it.' ... I did it as a lark." (Star Trek - Where No One Has Gone Before, paperback ed., p. 173)
West was named after Lt. Colonel Oliver North, who participated in the Iran–Contra affair. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 22, No. 5) In fact, West was styled after North and was essentially a thinly veiled political jab made by Nick Meyer. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 23, No. 6, p. 39)
West never actually appeared in the theatrical version of Star Trek VI, since his scenes were deleted. However, although the VHS, LaserDisc and pre-2009 DVD releases of the movie feature his scenes, his name and character remain omitted from the cast credits at the end. Rene Auberjonois was under the impression West's involvement in the film had been completely cut until he learned, from an audience at a Star Trek convention, that it had been reinstated in the VHS version. (Star Trek - Where No One Has Gone Before, paperback ed., p. 173)
In 2009, The Undiscovered Country was re-released on DVD, omitting the West scenes, as it was the first DVD release of the theatrical cut. The theatrical cut is also the only version released to date on Blu-ray.
While identified in dialogue as a "colonel", West wore the uniform of a Starfleet vice admiral.