OSFI Player's Handbook Chapter 7: Intelligence Agencies of Foreign Powers
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WRITING GROUPS: Star Fleet: PRIME (SD- 2427) | Star Fleet: ORIGINS (SD- 2261)- DEFUNCT | Star Fleet: BEYOND (SD- 2771)- DEFUNCT
Intelligence Organizations of Foreign Powers
Tal' Shiar (Romulan Star Empire)
The Tal Shiar, the intelligence arm of the Romulan Star Empire, is known as much for its ruthlessness and cunning as for its efficiency. They behave in a typical Romulan fashion- with deadly secrecy and resourcefulness. They are master of counterintelligence, having been extremely successful in using phony information planted through communications, moles, etc. to ferret out OSFI agents or clarify Star Fleet ship dispositions or tactical plans. They are also quick to strike when they sense a weakness, which has hurt them as often as it has helped.
Despite their reputation for efficiency, the Tal Shiar was almost wiped out in the joint Tal Shiar-Obsidian Order attack on the Founders in 2371. It is only a testament to their importance to Romulan security and the strength of their support in the government that allowed them to continue operating after this debacle.
Such types of missions mesh well with their general cultural habits and tendencies, which explains the high degree of success they have achieved in such operations. As such, Star Fleet Intelligence does not know, with any degree of certainty, specific numbers or assignments of Romulan ships and fleets. Some analysts believe that the Romulans are using phony ship ID beacons and the like to fool OSFI into believing their navy is much larger than it actually is, literally giving a single ship several identities; while the cloaking technology employed by the Romulans certainly could make this a possibility, there is no firm proof to this either.
The Tal Shiar also acts as the internal security force of the Empire, insuring loyalty to the Empire through fear and intimidation. Again, their methods of intimidation are more subtle than direct- they don't threaten the target, but rather something that the target holds dear, usually a loved one.
Tal Shiar agents, when encountered, are to be considered potentially hostile- in other words, one should expect Tal Shiar agents to be working directly against Federation interests- and all due care should be taken in any dealings with them.
Obsidian Order (Cardassian Union)
The Obsidian Order is the legendary intelligence force of the Cardassian Union. Though it has been some time since the Order's golden era under Enabran Tain in the 2360's-70's, they remain as a whole efficient, secretive and cunning. The Order lacks much in the way of morality and ethics, making them ,perhaps, a bigger threat than the better-resourced Romulan Tal Shiar.
Their legacy springs from the rise and fall of Enabran Tain, the spymaster of the Order almost 50 years ago. Possessing a keen mind that saw all variable of an operation, Tain molded the Order into its present form; indeed, it is due to Tain's influence that OSFI has had great difficulty in establishing any deep-cover agents within Cardassian space. However, it is also Tain who is most responsible for the fall of the Order and, in turn, the Cardassian government in 2371; his failed joint venture with the Tal Shiar to destroy the Founders essentially destroyed the Order and took the military government on Cardassia with it.
Reborn, the Order still owes much of its methods of operation to Tain. Still recovering from their fall from favor, the Obsidian Order struggles with resource issues, limiting their ability to conduct operations. A typical Obsidian Order operation is often complex, costly, and cloaked under multiple layers of fronts, false reports, and dead-end contacts, making it difficult to track and even harder to expose. As with the Tal Shiar, significant time and energy is spent on counterintelligence operations; however, they have often indulged in deep-cover and even assassination operations when deemed necessary. Again, as with the Tal Shiar, the Obsidian Order also acts as the Cardassian internal police force.
Obsidian Order agents are shrewd and extremely loyal to Cardassia, making them difficult to turn at best. They should be considered hostile and appropriate actions taken.
The Klingon Empire have no formal intelligence unit; this is an outgrowth of their hatred for "sneaky and underhanded" combat- they prefer their fighting to be done in the open, facing one's opponent. The very nature of intelligence operations goes directly against the Klingon code of honor, and as such they try to avoid such things as a general rule.
However, this does not mean that the Klingons do not conduct any intelligence operations. Despite their aversion, the Klingon High Command and individual fleet commanders recognize the importance of having information on enemy fleet movements and strengths, etc. Therefore, they will conduct surveillance and other information-gathering missions on a limited basis, as needed- and ONLY if such information would give them an advantage in head-to-head fighting. Therefore, it is usually left up to the individual fleet commanders to organize and run their own operations. This leaves them little resources available to them, as they have no official governmental support.
The Klingons do have an internal police force, however, whose job it is to ferret out traitors and criminals. However, this force is used solely for policing its own citizens and searching for spies within its own ranks, and not with nay matters external to the Empire.
Because of their aversion to such things, the High Council will cooperate with the Tal Shiar if deemed necessary. this suits the Klingons just fine- it gets them the information they need, and it keeps them from acting without honor; since the Romulans generally have no honor (for the same reasons intel ops don't), it is of no consequence to the Klingons.
Gorn Confederacy/Gorn Hegemony
As of yet, no formal external intelligence agency has been found to exist in either of the Gorn governments. Any information-gathering is done by the military itself in both cases- or at least this seems to be the case. Regardless, basic physiological differences would make it difficult for a Gorn agent to operate outside of the Gorn sphere of influence in the first place.
The Gorn Confederacy does have a formal internal security organization, whose job it is to protect its citizens from any inside threats. It does not, as a rule, spy on its own citizens, but will do so if it has just cause. The Hegemony, more of a totalitarian regime than the Confederacy, is assumed to have a police force as well, but whose scope of powers is much broader- and more ruthless.
7.5- Other Powers
There are certainly other foreign powers in the galaxy. However, there has been little or no contact between OSFI and The Tholian Holdfast, The Sidhe Imperium, the Echen F'don (or "Fardons," in Federation standard) and the Borg Collective for several reasons:
- Politics: The political situation between the Federation and these governments presents problems for gathering information; as these governments are considered potential threats in varying degrees (though an official state of Truce does exist between the Federation and the Dalriadan Alliance), information is not freely exchanged between these governments, thereby minimizing contact between agents of intelligence services.
- Physiology: each of the powers listed above are made up largely of non-humanoid species. As a result, undercover and deep-cover missions are difficult at best to undertake, which means that actual physical observation and surveillance is essentially impossible. It also means that, since OSFI can send no agents in on such missions, there is no contact between them and the intelligence and security services of these powers.
- Galactic Geography: some species, particularly the Borg, are centered in areas far from the Federation's sphere of influence, providing a natural barrier to conducting any physical operations.
This does not mean that OSFI is "in the dark," so to speak, about the internal organization of these governments; SigInt is widely used to obtain information of this nature regarding these powers. However, it DOES mean that interaction between agents of Star Fleet Intelligence and those of the aforementioned powers is significantly reduced- after all, SigInt does not provide opportunity for such interaction as a rule.
This also does not mean that there has been NO contact between the Federation and these governments. However, OSFI operations involving said powers have been essentially non-existent.