I don't want to start in a lousy runabout, I want to start in a real ship.
There's nothing really wrong with the progression now except missing a rank or two. You get experience to get ranks. What do experienced officers get? Promotions! It makes perfect sense and no matter how many of these I read, I can never tell what anyone is trying to fix, when it's hardly even broken.
Couldn't the game become an open-ended affair with no end in sight? Once a player makes Admiral, he becomes responsible for sending players out on missions and for promoting players who he feels really deserve it?
I've only made LC1 as of now so haven't had the privilege of seeing the game from the top-down, but could we not make an complete virtual Starfleet heirachy, made entirely of players? Furthermore, couldn't this be done with the Klingons, and maybe even the other factions too - with each faction run and operated by the most dedicated players - the game could theoretically never end. Seeing as it'll be the most dedicated players who achieve the highest ranks, they'll have the most say - leaving the lower ranks free for the more casual player.
Then, when a Captain logs in he can see the latest orders and requests from their Admiral - and respond to them accordingly.
This could also make for more interesting re-playability - as the missions will never be the same even if you choose to play in the same faction!
I agree with you, HOWEVER, that is what Fleets and The Foundry are for ;-)