It occurs to me that maybe I could do a better job of explaining what I mean when I talk about how combat modes might align with ranks in Star Trek Online.
So here's a little chart I whipped up to describe graphically what I've so far used a lot of text to try to communicate. (Note that I've tweaked the language a little bit. Since I think this idea could apply to more than just combat, I've renamed the concept slightly from "Combat Modes" to "Conflict Management Modes". This works better for representing the range of encounters that a given rank might experience.)
I hope this is one of those images that's worth a thousand words or so (because I think I've already spent more than my allotted share of words :) ), but a couple of short comments might be in order.
1. Within each mode (tactics, operations, strategy) the content on the left side (signified by "-") is the easiest, while the content at the right side of that mode (the "+" part of the arrow) is the most challenging.
2. Commanders and Commodores each have duties that significantly span two modes. To some players, this may mark these ranks as transitional -- you're getting a taste of the type of gameplay the next rank up will usually get. This will allow players to decide whether they want to advance in rank or not.
To other players, these ranks could be a lot of fun in and of themselves precisely because they're not just one mode all the time, but something of a hybrid.
3. Although Captains (in this model) wouldn't get much tactical action, and wouldn't get much strategic gameplay, either, they would get some of both... which makes them unique in that they are the only rank that spans all three modes.
Earning the rank of Captain for their character might thus be the appropriate final destination for the "jack of all trades" generalist player.