|USS Sitak (bottom left) is destroyed and USS Majestic (center) is badly damaged during "Operation Return", one of the hard-won victories by the Federation Alliance|
|Federation Alliance||Dominion-Breen Alliance|
Captain Benjamin Sisko
Admiral William Ross
Senator Kimara Cretak
Cardassian Liberation Front:
Legate Damar† (later rebelled)
|Unknown number of ships.||At height: 30,000 starships|
|Casualties and losses|
|Unknown, severe||Over 807 million Cardassians, near complete destruction of Jem'Hadar forces in the Alpha Quadrant, unknown number of Breen losses|
|Federation Alliance||Dominion-Breen Alliance|
"Imposing your type of 'order' on the Alpha Quadrant...may prove more difficult than you imagine."
The Dominion War was a two-year interstellar conflict fought between the Federation Alliance and the Dominion from 2373 to 2375. The war was instigated by the Founders of the Dominion, who sought to bring the Alpha Quadrant under their control. One of the most destructive and bloody wars in galactic history, by the end of the conflict all sides had sustained catastrophic losses and the Cardassian Union, devastated and verging on total collapse, had been eliminated as a major power in the quadrant.
"You have no idea what's begun here.'
- - Eris, 2370
Following the Federation's first official contact with the Dominion in 2370, a cold war developed between several of the Alpha Quadrant's major powers and the Dominion. A Dominion invasion through the Bajoran wormhole was widely regarded as inevitable, as the Founders of the Dominion were driven by the need to exert absolute control over all other civilizations. (DS9: "The Search, Part II") By replacing important Alpha Quadrant individuals with Changelings, in the course of three years the Dominion was able to wipe out the Obsidian Order, drastically degrade the Tal Shiar, nearly trigger war between the Federation and the Tzenkethi, and manipulate the Klingon Empire into invading the Cardassian Union and the Federation. (DS9: "The Die is Cast", "The Adversary", "The Way of the Warrior", "Apocalypse Rising")
The war between the Klingons and the Cardassians paved the way for the Dominion to gain a foothold in the Alpha Quadrant. In mid-2373, Gul Dukat, frustrated by the losses his people had taken from the Klingons, negotiated the entry of the Cardassian Union into the Dominion. The Dominion immediately began fortifying Cardassia with weekly convoys of warships and troops from the Gamma Quadrant. With his new Jem'Hadar allies, Dukat made good on a promise to drive the Klingons from Cardassian space and eliminate the Maquis resistance in the Demilitarized Zone. At this point, the Federation and Klingons renewed their alliance and agreed to stand side-by-side against the Dominion threat. (DS9: "By Inferno's Light", "Blaze of Glory")
Violence along the Cardassian border escalated in the ensuing months, with ships such as the USS Tian An Men and the IKS B'Moth being destroyed or reported missing. The Dominion began increasing its influence by securing nonaggression pacts with several Alpha Quadrant powers, including the Tholians, the Miradorn, the Bajorans, and perhaps most significantly the Romulan Star Empire. Realizing that they would soon face an impossible strategic situation, in late 2373 the Federation decided to mine the entrance to the Bajoran wormhole to stop the flow of Dominion reinforcements. Both sides knew that this act would lead to open war. (DS9: "Soldiers of the Empire", "In the Cards", "Call to Arms")
Total war begins Edit
"We're losing the peace, which means a war could be our only hope."
- - Benjamin Sisko, 2373
Intent on stopping the Federation from completing the minefield, a large Dominion fleet commanded by Dukat and Weyoun was dispatched to capture Deep Space 9. Trusting that Deep Space 9 personnel would be able to complete the minefield in time, Starfleet and the Klingon Defense Forces opted not to reinforce the station but rather use the distraction to destroy the Dominion shipyards at Torros III. The minefield was successfully activated, but the Federation was forced to abandon Deep Space 9 and the Bajoran system.
In the wake of the evacuation, Major Kira Nerys activated Program Sisko 197 to sabotage the station's systems, rendering it a nearly lifeless hulk before turning it over to Dominion control. The station was subsequently repaired and, under its original Cardassian name Terok Nor, served as Dukat's command post as he directed the war. However, initial Dominion efforts to dismantle the minefield proved futile due to the self-replicating nature of the mines. (DS9: "Call to Arms", "Behind the Lines")
Dominion advances Edit
Over the next three months, Federation and Klingon forces clashed with the Dominion across multiple sectors but were repeatedly forced to retreat with massive losses. In one battle, an attempt by the Federation Seventh Fleet to stop the Dominion advance in the Tyra system failed with 98 of 112 ships destroyed. Morale among Starfleet and the Klingon Defense Forces plummeted. While the Federation News Service apprised citizens at home of the grim situation on the front lines, the reality was even worse. (DS9: "A Time to Stand")
Allied victories were few and far between; these included the destruction of the Dominion's primary ketracel-white storage facility in Cardassian space and the destruction of a massive Dominion sensor array in the Argolis Cluster. Their dwindling supplies of white greatly concerned the Dominion, with Glinn Damar even proposing that the last rations of white be poisoned if new supplies could not be secured. Nevertheless, the Dominion continued to push deeper into Federation territory, approaching the Vulcan and Bolian home systems by the end of the following month. On occupied Deep Space 9, Dominion efforts to dismantle the minefield surrounding the wormhole were beginning to bear fruit, and the Female Changeling arrived to oversee the war effort. (DS9: "Behind the Lines", "Favor the Bold")
By the second quarter of 2374, the Allies were in desperate straits. Knowing that they needed a major victory, Captain Benjamin Sisko argued to Starfleet Command that they must go on the offensive. Termed Operation Return, Sisko's plan was to recapture Deep Space 9, the most strategically important site in the entire quadrant due to its control of the wormhole. Despite misgivings about pulling forces away from Earth, Starfleet approved the plan and Federation forces began assembling at Starbase 375.
Unfortunately, Starfleet soon received intelligence from resistance members on Deep Space 9 that the Dominion was three days away from deactivating the minefield. Only two-thirds of the Federation task force was in place, and the Klingons had not yet committed to the plan. Still, given that defeat would be inevitable if the Dominion were allowed to gain reinforcements from the Gamma Quadrant, Sisko launched Operation Return with the 600 ships he had. In response, Dukat recalled 1,254 ships from the Dominion front lines to intercept the Federation fleet. (DS9: "Favor the Bold")
Outnumbered two-to-one, Starfleet took heavy casualties as they attempted to fight their way through the Dominion lines. With the timely arrival of Klingon forces, the battle began to turn in the Allies' favor. The USS Defiant was the first ship to break through, but reached Deep Space 9 too late to stop the destruction of the minefield. Seeing no other options, Sisko took the Defiant into the wormhole, where they were faced with 2,800 Dominion ships. Unexpectedly, Sisko was able to persuade the Prophets to remove the Dominion forces in order to save Bajor. With no reinforcements inbound and 200 more Allied ships approaching the Bajoran system, the Dominion position on Deep Space 9 became untenable and the Female Changeling ordered a general withdrawal. Dukat became mentally unstable following the loss of both his ultimate victory and his daughter Tora Ziyal, and was captured by the Federation. Damar succeeded him as leader of the Cardassian Union. (DS9: "Sacrifice of Angels")
Temporary stalemate Edit
The war entered a temporary lull after the Dominion forces fell back behind their lines. (DS9: "Resurrection") During this time, Weyoun and an unwilling Damar sued for peace with the Federation. Weyoun proposed to redraw the Federation-Cardassian border to give disputed star systems to the side with de facto control, an arrangement which on the balance favored the Federation. However, a think tank of genetically engineered individuals led by Doctor Julian Bashir ascertained that the Dominion's true goal was to obtain the Kabrel system, which would enable them to produce ketracel-white in the Alpha Quadrant. Bashir advised that the Federation accept the peace proposal to forestall an immediate Dominion attack, buying time for Allied forces to rebuild. Instead, the Federation made a counter-proposal and the talks ended inconclusively. (DS9: "Statistical Probabilities")
Some weeks later, Dominion activity began to increase all along the border, putting lie to hopes that the war would end with the retaking of Deep Space 9. Allied losses mounted, including the destruction of the USS Honshu and the USS Cortez. (DS9: "Waltz", "Far Beyond the Stars") Dominion agents established ties with the Orion Syndicate in an unsuccessful plot to undermine the Federation-Klingon alliance. (DS9: "Honor Among Thieves") Since obtaining reinforcements from the Gamma Quadrant remained impossible due to the Prophets, the Dominion began to breed legions of Jem'Hadar in the Alpha Quadrant, and pushed shipbuilding to full capacity. (DS9: "One Little Ship", "In the Pale Moonlight", "The Reckoning") The issue of ketracel-white shortage was eventually mitigated via new supplies manufactured by the Son'a. (DS9: "Penumbra"; Star Trek: Insurrection)
In late 2374, the Dominion successfully invaded Betazed from the Kalandra sector, overrunning the planet and its outlying colonies in under ten hours. With control of this key Federation territory, the Dominion was in a position to threaten Vulcan, Andor, Tellar, and Alpha Centauri. For the Federation Alliance, suffering from shortages of ships and manpower, defeat now seemed only a matter of time unless the status quo changed. After the loss of Betazed, Captain Benjamin Sisko concluded that the Allies had to bring the Romulans into the war by whatever means necessary. (DS9: "In the Pale Moonlight")
The tide turns Edit
"Think about it, they're in the perfect position. They get to sit back and watch as their biggest rivals slug it out in a long, bloody war. No one's threatening their interests. Why should they risk their necks? There's simply no reason for them to get involved in our war."
- - Jadzia Dax, 2374
The Romulan Star Empire had to this point remained neutral, though they were turning a blind eye to Dominion ships crossing their space to ambush Federation ships. Sisko and Elim Garak, with the approval of Starfleet Intelligence, carried out a covert mission to implicate the Dominion in the assassination of Senator Vreenak. The Tal Shiar recovered from Vreenak's belongings a supposed recording of a top-level Dominion meeting planning the invasion of Romulan space. In response, the Romulans declared war on the Dominion, opening up a second front and relieving pressure on the Federation and Klingons. (DS9: "In the Pale Moonlight")
The Federation continued to reach out for more support from neighboring species. In 2374, the Federation Council conveyed an official diplomatic message to Grand Nagus Zek through Ensign Nog, the only Ferengi in Starfleet, which Jake Sisko speculated was a proposal for an alliance. The following year, the Federation accepted the Evora as a protectorate despite their having achieved warp drive only the previous year. (DS9: "In the Pale Moonlight", "Valiant", Star Trek: Insurrection)
With the Romulans now part of the Federation Alliance, an offensive into Cardassian space became possible. The Romulans had reservations that such an attack would inflict unacceptable casualties, but Sisko convinced them that the only path to victory was to eliminate the military infrastructure that allowed Dominion to make war. The Chin'toka system was chosen as the target, as its defenses had been thinned to provide more ships for the Romulan front. However, the Cardassians had recently deployed a network of orbital weapon platforms in the system, which came online during the Allies' attack. The platforms wreaked havoc on Allied ships until Garak and Chief Miles O'Brien devised a way to destroy their central power source. Once the platforms were neutralized, Allied forces took control of the system. (DS9: "Tears of the Prophets")
The invasion of Chin'toka was a tremendous boost to Federation Alliance morale, yet stiff Dominion resistance prevented the Allies from advancing further into Cardassian space as had been hoped. At Monac IV, a Klingon fleet was repulsed with at least thirty percent casualties. (DS9: "Image in the Sand") The system continued to be a war zone due to constant counterattacks by Dominion ships and ground troops. One significant gain for the Allies in Chin'toka was the capture of a Dominion subspace relay station, AR-558, which in time provided a trove of military intelligence. (DS9: "The Siege of AR-558")
On other fronts, the Federation Alliance enjoyed more success. Based on intelligence provided by Garak, Allied forces launched a new offensive in the Kalandra sector and retook the Kalandra system from the Dominion. (DS9: "Afterimage", "The Emperor's New Cloak") Capitalizing on the speed and stealth of Klingon Birds-of-Prey, General Martok launched a raid into Cardassian space that damaged several key targets. (DS9: "Once More Unto the Breach") Cooperation in the war also led to improved diplomatic relations between the Federation and the Romulans. (DS9: "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges") On the other side, Legate Damar was becoming increasingly disillusioned by the Dominion and embittered by Weyoun's callous disregard for Cardassian lives and interests. (DS9: "'Til Death Do Us Part")
In early 2375, the Federation learned of a development that would ultimately determine the course of the war: the Founders had been afflicted with a morphogenic virus that would soon destroy the Great Link. (DS9: "Treachery, Faith and the Great River") Later, it was discovered that the virus had been engineered by Section 31. Doctor Bashir and Chief O'Brien managed to obtain a cure from the Section 31 operative Luther Sloan, but the Federation Council decided to withhold the cure from the Dominion for strategic concerns. Some within the Federation Alliance protested this act as abetting genocide. (DS9: "Extreme Measures", "The Dogs of War")
New allies Edit
"Legate Damar may be the key to saving the Alpha Quadrant."
- - Benjamin Sisko, 2375
Seeking to rescue their war effort, in late 2375 the Female Changeling began secret negotiations with the reclusive Breen Confederacy for an alliance. She promised the Breen unspecified Cardassian territorial concessions in exchange, to which Damar objected but was summarily overruled. (DS9: "Penumbra", "'Til Death Do Us Part") The new alliance further sidelined the Cardassians, which, along with the massacre of the Eleventh Order at Septimus III, finally spurred Damar to rebel against the Dominion. (DS9: "Strange Bedfellows", "The Changing Face of Evil")
The Breen entered the war with a shocking attack on Starfleet Headquarters on Earth. Though their attacking force was destroyed, the Breen inflicted significant death and destruction on San Francisco, and dealt a heavy psychological blow to the Federation. The Breen subsequently joined Dominion forces in a massive counterattack on the Chin'toka system, breaking through the Allied defenses in two places before a relief force of 312 starships could be dispatched from Deep Space 9. In the ensuing battle, the Breen unleashed a hitherto unknown energy-dampening weapon that disabled all but one of the Federation Alliance ships. The Dominion thus easily retook Chin'toka, but at their hour of triumph Damar announced the formation of the Cardassian Liberation Front and their attack on the Dominion cloning facility on Rondac III. (DS9: "The Changing Face of Evil")
The only Allied ship at Chin'toka to escape the effects of the Breen energy-dampening weapon was the Ki'tang, owing to a chance modification of the ship's engines made before the battle. General Martok ordered every Klingon warship to make the same modification, and had 1,500 ships ready for deployment the following day. With the Federation and Romulan fleets effectively useless for the time being, the Klingons were left to hold the front lines at twenty-to-one odds. Martok ordered his forces to form into small battle groups and engage in hit-and-run attacks, aiming to keep the Dominion off-balance and prevent them from organizing major offensives. (DS9: "When It Rains...")
However, the Allied defense was soon jeopardized by Chancellor Gowron, who had become threatened by Martok's popularity. Gowron took direct command of the Klingon forces and repeatedly sent Martok on hopeless offensives, intending either for him to be killed or for him to be disgraced by multiple defeats. These battles, such as the attack on Avenal VII where the Klingons were outnumbered six-to-one, wasted Klingon ships and lives for no gain. With the outcome of the war at stake, Captain Sisko ordered Lieutenant Commander Worf to deal with Gowron. After Gowron announced plans for what would have been a disastrous attack on Sarpedion V, Worf challenged his leadership and slew him in single combat. Worf then handed chancellorship of the Klingon Empire to Martok. (DS9: "Tacking Into the Wind")
Meanwhile, the Cardassian rebels had gone into hiding after losing half their forces in the assault on Rondac III. The Federation supplied replicators and weapons to the rebels, and dispatched Kira Nerys (newly commissioned as a Starfleet commander), Garak, and Odo to Damar to train his troops in guerrilla tactics. (DS9: "When It Rains...") With their help, the Cardassian liberation successfully carried out a number of sabotage attacks on Dominion targets, and was able to deliver an intact Breen energy-dampening weapon to the Allies. (DS9: "Tacking Into the Wind") Unfortunately their success was short-lived, as Gul Revok's treachery allowed the Dominion to find and destroy all eighteen rebel bases. (DS9: "The Dogs of War") Damar, Kira, and Garak took refuge on Cardassia Prime after the end of the military rebellion. There, they learned that Damar's brief but effective campaign had left quite an impression on the Cardassian people. After bombing a Jem'Hadar barracks, Damar was able to rally the Cardassian civilian population into overt resistance against the Dominion.
End of the warEdit
Although the Cardassian rebellion had ostensibly been crushed, the development of a countermeasure to the Breen energy dampening weapon by the Allies again put the Dominion at a disadvantage. Consequently, the Female Changeling ordered all Dominion forces to withdraw from all occupied territories and establish a new fortified defense perimeter within Cardassian space. The hope was that the Federation Alliance would balk at cost of breaching the perimeter, giving the Dominion time to rebuild. While the prospect of containing the Dominion within its present borders was discussed among the Allies, Captain Sisko, Chancellor Martok, and other commanders successfully argued that the Dominion must not be allowed a respite due to its superior shipbuilding and troop recruitment capabilities. Instead, the Federation Alliance committed to a decisive, three-pronged strike toward the heart of the Dominion in the Alpha Quadrant: Cardassia Prime. (DS9: "Tacking Into the Wind", "The Dogs of War")
The Allied invasion fleet launched from Deep Space 9 and engaged Dominion and Breen forces in the battle that would decide the war. As the battle raged, over a third of the Allied ships were destroyed, including the Romulan flagship. At the same time, in a coordinated effort Cardassian rebels sabotaged power, transportation, and communications systems across Cardassia Prime, causing a planetary blackout and cutting off Dominion Headquarters from its forces engaged with the Allied fleet. In retaliation, the Jem'Hadar annihilated Lakarian City and its two million inhabitants. Instead of quelling the rebellion, this atrocity led to the Cardassian fleet switching sides in the midst of battle. With the Cardassian military turned against them, the Dominion had no choice but to order a full retreat back to Cardassia Prime. Infuriated, the Female Changeling ordered the Cardassian puppet leadership executed and the entire Cardassian population exterminated. Jem'Hadar troops began to destroy Cardassian cities building by building, slaughtering millions.
The war was effectively lost for the Dominion, yet the Female Changeling remained unswayed in her goal of neutralizing the Alpha Quadrant powers. She ordered her Jem'Hadar and Breen forces to fight to the last, resolving to make victory so costly for the Allies that they could pose no threat to the Great Link in the Gamma Quadrant for the foreseeable future. As Federation, Klingon, Romulan, and Cardassian ships surrounded Cardassia Prime, Cardassian resistance fighters breached Dominion Headquarters, though Damar was killed in the process. Kira and Garak captured the Founder, and Odo beamed down and linked with her. Odo convinced her to surrender her forces and stand trial for war crimes, in exchange for him returning to the Great Link and saving the Founders from the morphogenic virus. (DS9: "What You Leave Behind")
"This is a moment worth savoring. To victory! Hard fought, and well earned."
"Suddenly I'm not thirsty."
"Neither am I"
- - Martok, Benjamin Sisko and William Ross, 2375
The instrument of surrender, the Treaty of Bajor, was signed on Deep Space 9 days after the Battle of Cardassia. The end of the war saw the Dominion withdrawing back to the Gamma Quadrant, the strength of the Klingon Empire set back by a decade, and a nascent struggle for influence between the Federation and the Romulan Star Empire that erupted into a short conflict in 2379. However, foremost in the aftermath was the state of Cardassia Prime. Eight hundred million civilians had been killed by the Jem'Hadar, including many of the best and brightest minds in the Cardassian Union. The Alpha Quadrant had lost a major power, and the effects on the galaxy would be felt for many years to come. (DS9: "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges", "What You Leave Behind"; Star Trek Nemesis)
|Major battles of the Dominion War|
|2373: Second Battle of Deep Space 9 • Battle of Torros III|
|2374: Battle of the Tyra system • Operation Return • Battle of Betazed • Liberation of Benzar • First Battle of Chin'toka|
|2375: Battle of Monac IV • Siege of AR-558 • Battle of Ricktor Prime • Invasion of Septimus III • Breen attack on Earth • Second Battle of Chin'toka • Battle of Rondac III • Battle of Avenal • Battle of Cardassia|
Background information Edit
Ira Steven Behr and Ronald D. Moore were the writers most involved with the creation and development of the Dominion War. Rick Berman wanted the war to be over within three or four episodes at the most. Behr and Moore knew the series would never be able to wrap up the war in that many episodes. Berman also criticized the "depressing" and "violent" stories. Moore later said "It's a f___in' war! What do you mean it's too violent?!" 
Armin Shimerman had hoped to have seen the Ferengi involved more in the Dominion War arc. Shimerman commented: "It would have been very interesting to see how people made profits off of wars, to see a black market during the war, to see how the Ferengi, who were basically neutral during the war, behaved. We did a bit of that but we didn't delve into that as much as we could have". ("The Once and Future Ferengi: Armin Shimerman Reflects on Quark", Star Trek Communicator, issue 130)
Majel Barrett criticized the arc in a letter published in Star Trek Communicator, claiming that Gene Roddenberry would have never approved of a continuing war in a Star Trek series. Berman has espoused similar sentiments, noting that his opposition "was all based purely on the fact that Gene had been very specific to me about not wanting Star Trek to be a show about intergalactic wars, interspecies wars. He didn't want it to be about humans fighting wars against other species."  Responding to the former, Moore admitted, "She's probably right. It would've been very hard to argue Gene into going this way and maybe he'd have never gone for it. However, I would've still argued for doing the Dominion War with him and if he'd rejected it, I would've thought he was wrong. I respect Gene and his work, but I don't think he was always right and I'm not going to pretend that I do. The Dominion War has been one of the better storylines we've come up with whether Gene would've agreed or not." (AOL chat, 1999)
Bjo Trimble commented: "I feel that Gene might have come to like DS9, had he lived to see it. There might have been some changes. Majel recently said that GR would have hated the war in DS9, but frankly I am amazed that she cannot see the same theme in much of what Gene did, including his recent "discovery" of Earth: Final Conflict. The only reason there were not full battles in early Trek is lack of funds to pull it off, and lack of technology to show it. Otherwise, GR would certainly have added it; he knew what audiences liked. I don't know about Voyager; I can't see where it's going, and I don't feel GR would have liked that. I don't think he would have liked the last couple of movies; they were very far removed from the Trek Gene came up with". 
In Rising Son, it is revealed that the inhabitants of the Gamma Quadrant refer to the war as the "Quadrant War".
- Tales of the Dominion War
- Star Trek: The Dominion War
- What You Leave Behind
- The Battle of Betazed
- Hollow Men
Video games Edit
See also Edit
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