Aha! Thanks to DARCA, I have a bit of an answer.
At a glance, it looks like each ship is assigned a 'role' out of :
I would *guess* these are assigned when ships are designed, since 'Starbase' sounds like it's inherent to Starbases. Each class has the following:
Starting position: Just a very cryptic integer-- I wouldn't be surprised if it's just forward/backward relative to the enemy, but who knows.
Maneuver Type: One of Attacker ( Assault, Interceptor, Capital ), Defender ( Escort, Guardian ) or Stationary ( Support, Starbase, Upgrading)
The Defender types then have a set of "Defend Targets," which I would guess are listed by priority. Escorts defend Capitals, then Support, while Guardians defend Supports first , then Captials.
All types, defenders included, then have a list of "Attack Targets," which I would also guess are sorted by priority. I'm not going to list all of that here, but I will note that 'Upgrading' and 'Starbase' are ALWAYS the last two targets. Support is usually third-to-last, but two (Interceptor and Capital ) prioritize them higher (2nd and 4th, respectively).