It may seem like a somewhat nerdy and pedantic issue, but with the new Star Trek series set to premiere at the beginning of 2017, I would like to take a moment to comment on the rank structure of Starfleet.
This is not an issue of design, or aesthetics, but rather an issue of accuracy and detail. This page describes continuity issues across the ST universe, including the nonsensical issues with Miles O’Brien. And the chaotic mistakes made during the first season of Voyager.
My (very passive) concern is that the new series will be so intensely focused on being fresh and entertaining, they will gloss over an issue that has been debated and picked apart for decades. As a US military veteran, I am very familiar with Naval ranks and how they apply to basic units and ships. That being said, I would very much like to see the writers and producers take the time to get it right from the beginning of the series. Firstly, there need to be enlisted. The sloppy way TNG handled having enlisted personnel, and the awkward way ENT tried to wedge in a few crewman in weirdly meaningless plot-lines…it’s all a bit off-putting.
I do not believe there need to be any retconning or ex post facto explanations. Simply put, establish early in the series that there are officers and enlisted and have ready the appropriate uniform rank insignia that allow for the addition or removal of any possible crew (actors). If we are to assume this series exists between TOS and TNG then we should assume that the crew will have either the ranks of either STVI or something similar to TNG. In either case, continuity will be a welcome change from the somewhat haphazard way this aspect has been dealt with.