The Dominion War is a war that took place in an alternate universe. It was between the Federation and her allies and a group of aliens called the Dominion.
The Dominion War was a two-year (late 2373-late 2375) interstellar conflict between the Dominion and the Federation Alliance that consumed the entire Alpha Quadrant in one of the most destructive and bloody wars in galactic history. By the end of the war, the Alpha Quadrant had lost a notable power: the Cardassian Union, the Klingon Defense Force was set back for decades, and there remained a catastrophic death toll for all powers involved.
The Federation-Dominion Cold War was the three year period of Dominion calculated successes at destabilizing the Alpha Quadrant. The Dominion was able to all but obliterate the Obsidian Order and severely weaken the Tal Shiar (see: Battle of the Omarion Nebula), nearly cause a war between the Federation and the Tzenkethi, and later to succeed in causing a conflict between the Federation and the Klingons (see Federation-Klingon War (2372-73)), while concurrently causing a conflict between the Klingons and the Cardassians (see Klingon-Cardassian War).
The Federation-Klingon conflict was resolved when it was discovered that Klingon General Martok was a Changeling. (DS9: "Apocalypse Rising")
Several months later, however, the Dominion gained a physical foothold in the Alpha Quadrant through an alliance with Gul Dukat and the Cardassian Union, arranged in mid-2373. They immediately began sending fleets of warships and supply vessels through the Bajoran wormhole and into Cardassian territory on a weekly basis. The Klingons could not stand against such a foe, and withdrew from Cardassian space. The Khitomer Accords were put back into effect; war was inevitable, and only the Federation-Klingon alliance stood against the forces of the Dominion. (DS9: "By Inferno's Light")
The fortification of the Cardassian Union, combined with the securing of non-aggression treaties with notable powers such as the Miradorn, Tholians, Bajorans, and most importantly, with the Romulans, made Dominion intentions clear. The Federation was forced to act, but could not present the aggressive stance of something so bold as a preemptive strike. Instead, the decision was made to mine the Bajoran wormhole to prevent further Dominion reinforcements from arriving. (DS9: "Rapture", "Call to Arms")
Total War Begins
The maneuver was sure to provoke the Dominion into attack, and this end was achieved. Despite a seemingly successful negotiation between Weyoun and Captain Sisko, which would have limited Dominion vessels from the Gamma Quadrant to medical and economic supplies to help the Cardassian Union rebuild, the Dominion prepared to attack Deep Space 9. Strangely, the Federation turned down Captain Sisko's request for reinforcements, leaving the station to fend for itself against the Dominion fleet. Shortly afterwards, General Martok on board his Klingon Bird-of-Prey near the Cardassian border, contacted Deep Space 9, informing them that a large contingent of Cardassian and Dominion vessels were heading towards the station. His transmission was cut short when the Dominion fleet jammed his communications. Gul Dukat then contacted the station, asking if the Federation was willing to surrender the station and avoid "unnecessary bloodshed". Captain Sisko spurned the invitation, leading to Dukat ending the conversation with the comment "I was hoping you'd say that."
Shortly afterward, the Dominion fleet arrived, and began their attack on Deep Space 9. Despite the Dominion's arrival prior to the minefield's activation, the USS Defiant was able to successfully complete the deployment of the mines and activate it, thus preventing reinforcements from arriving in the Alpha Quadrant. Although the Dominion had failed to prevent the activation of the minefield, they continued their assault on Deep Space 9, eventually forcing all Federation forces on board to evacuate. With the battle over, the Dominion had successfully captured the station, winning the Second Battle of Deep Space 9 (not to be confused with the First Battle of Deep Space 9 that opened the Federation-Klingon War (2372-73) in 2372).
During the attack on Deep Space 9, the Federation-Klingon alliance dispatched a task force to attack the Dominion shipyards at Torros III, which required all available vessels, thus preventing reinforcements to Deep Space 9. Their mission was successful, and the destruction of the shipyards set back Dominion ship production for months. Although the Dominion successfully took over Deep Space 9, the station itself would prove to be of little use during the war, as the wormhole had been mined, the Starfleet officers who fled the station had disabled much of its equipment prior to their evacuation, and the Bajoran contingent fomented an active (though subtle) resistance. (DS9: "Call to Arms", "Behind the Lines")
Dominion Success and Stalemate
During the first few months of 2374, Dukat was leading an extremely successful campaign against the allies, forcing them to retreat on nearly every front. It was projected that even without reinforcements from the Gamma Quadrant, the Dominion would triumph, although the war would take much longer. However, due to a shortage of Ketracel-white in the Alpha Quadrant, Weyoun was adamant about taking down the minefield and reopening the supply lines through the wormhole to guarantee success. In an attempt to stop the Dominion's advance into their territory, the Federation dispatched its Seventh Fleet—a force composed of 112 vessels—to the Tyra system. Unfortunately, a mere fourteen ships were able to make it back to their lines—a disastrous defeat for the Federation. (DS9: "A Time to Stand").
By the second quarter of that year, it was revealed to the Federation that the Dominion was close to deactivating the minefield blocking the wormhole, and Sisko told Starfleet that the station's recapture must be seen as the top priority of the war. Admiral Coburn objected to the plan, fearing too many ships would be diverted away from Earth, allowing the Dominion to attack it. Sisko was able to convince him that the key to winning the war was preventing Dominion reinforcements from the wormhole. With only days before the minefield could be deactivated, the Federation was forced to launch what ships they had been able to gather to attack Deep Space 9. Without any ships from the Klingon Empire to back them up, it seemed like a hopeless cause. Nevertheless, a Federation fleet of over 600 vessels departed from Starbase 375 towards the station. Realizing that the Federation forces were heading towards Deep Space 9, Dukat pulled 1,254 ships off the front lines to crush the enemy fleet and prevent them from retaking the station. With only hours left until the minefield was destroyed and reinforcements could come through, Weyoun assured Dukat that all the ships lost during this engagement would be easily replaced with those currently stranded in the Gamma Quadrant, and that holding onto the station was the top priority. (DS9: "Favor the Bold")
Eventually, both the Dominion and Federation fleets clashed, and the battle to retake Deep Space 9 began. Captain Sisko attempted to draw out Cardassian forces and open a hole in the Dominion's lines, in order to punch through and reach the station in time. Dukat, realizing Sisko's plan, saw an opportunity of his own; he would allow the Federation to force its way through, only to be surrounded and closed in by the overwhelming force at his disposal. With the Federation forces taking heavy casualties, the battle seemed almost lost. In the nick of time, however, a massive Klingon fleet decloaked and engaged the Dominion forces, turning the tide of the battle to the allies' favor and enabling the Defiant to break through the lines to Deep Space 9. Although Dukat made good on his promise to destroy the minefield, it proved useless to the Dominion, as Captain Sisko was able to convince the Prophets to wipe out the Dominion reinforcements entirely. With no reinforcements on their way, and the fleet battle in favor of the Federation-Klingon forces, the Dominion was forced to withdraw from the station. Operation Return was the first major alliance victory of the war, and also saw the end of Dukat's leadership of Cardassia. His underling, Damar, replaced him. (DS9: "Sacrifice of Angels")
The war entered a temporary lull at this point; the Dominion retreated to within Cardassian space, and activity along the border was rare. During this lull, the Dominion sued for peace with the Federation, even offering to withdraw their forces from a sizable amount of territory which would be ceded back. An analysis by a genetically engineered think tank led by Doctor Julian Bashir determined that the Dominion was merely trying to acquire the Kabrel system, which would allow them to produce ketracel-white in the Alpha Quadrant, addressing the supply problem they were facing without wormhole access. However, Bashir's think tank projected that it was actually favorable to take the territory without a fight while they had the chance, despite giving the Dominion the ability to produce ketracel-white in the process, because it would be more difficult for them to retake all of the Dominion's large amount of controlled space without incredible casualties if they did not. Although the Dominion would use the opportunity to regroup its forces, they warned, the Federation and Klingons were in far more need of a respite than the Dominion, and would take away more from a short pause in fighting. Weighing the pros and cons, the augments suggested the Federation accept the peace proposal. Fighting resumed some weeks later. (DS9: "Resurrection", "Statistical Probabilities")
Despite their successful retaking of Deep Space 9, the Federation and Klingon forces were far from victory. Ships patrolling the Cardassian border were frequently destroyed, including the USS Cortéz. (DS9: "Far Beyond the Stars") The Dominion also began breeding Jem'Hadar in the Alpha Quadrant, thereby removing their need for reinforcements from the Gamma Quadrant. (DS9: "One Little Ship"")
In late 2374, the Dominion was able to capture Betazed. With the capture of this system, the Dominion was in a position to invade Vulcan, Andor, Tellar and Alpha Centauri. Furthermore, the Federation was suffering a manpower shortage after sustaining massive casualties up to that point, and many of their shipyards were still being rebuilt. The Dominion's shipyards, on the other hand, were producing at 100% capacity, and legions of Jem'Hadar were being bred at an incredible rate. Without the help of the Romulans, it was only a matter of time until the Dominion would defeat both the Klingons and the Federation. (DS9: "In the Pale Moonlight")
Turning of the Tide
The Romulan Star Empire had to this point declared itself neutral in the conflict, though they were allowing Dominion ships passage through their space. Realizing the war was lost without the assistance of the Romulan Empire, Sisko undertook an act of coercion with the help of Elim Garak, implicating the Dominion in an assassination plot against a high ranking Romulan senator. Their ploy was successful, and the Romulans joined the alliance. Within hours of joining the war against the Dominion, the Romulans attacked fifteen bases along the Cardassian-Romulan border, opening up a new front and drawing forces away from the Federation and Klingon lines. (DS9: "In the Pale Moonlight")
With the Romulans now part of the Federation Alliance, the Allies had the necessary resources, ships and manpower to go on the offensive. Realizing that the only way to achieve a lasting victory against the Dominion was to go on the offensive and begin to destroy their shipyards and cloning facilities, Sisko was able to convince both the Romulans and Klingons to join the Federation in the invasion of Cardassian territory. Having diverted the majority of its defenses to the Romulan front, the Chin'toka system was an ideal target. However, Damar had already begun to deploy Orbital weapon platforms, which would replace the need for starships to defend the system. Although the weapon platforms were nearly successful in defeating the allied fleet, their main weakness was discovered and exploited by Garak, which allowed the allied fleet to destroy the platforms' power grid, thus winning the First Battle of Chin'toka. This was the Allies first push into Cardassian territory, and was a monumental morale booster. (DS9: "Tears of the Prophets")
With Romulan reinforcement, the alliance had forced something of a stalemate. Early and middle 2375 was spent with neither side offering a firm push forward into the other. Sisko had temporarily left his duties as a Starfleet officer after the death of Jadzia Dax and the closing of the Bajoran wormhole by Dukat. With one of Starfleet's major tacticians and leaders out of the picture, the Dominion had time to regroup and hold off against further invasion attempts. The Cardassians were able to halt the Klingon's advance at Monac IV, inflicting at least thirty percent casualties against the Klingons, forcing the Allies to remain bottled up in the Chin'toka system. (DS9: "Image in the Sand")
One very important event that changed the shape of the war was occurring behind the front lines: a debilitating disease was attacking the Founders. It would later be claimed that Section 31 had a hand in the infection. The Founders' abilities as leaders were being compromised just as their military was taking severe punishment from the emboldened alliance. (DS9: "Treachery, Faith and the Great River")
Gradually, Damar began openly criticizing the war effort and deriding the Founders' leadership. It seemed to him that Cardassian troops were withstanding the worst of the assault, and statistics proved him correct. Dominion leaders decided that a change was necessary, and in late 2375 they sought the help of the Breen, a mysterious but powerful race. In the ensuing months, the Breen took more and more of the Cardassian's responsibility, their leadership and even Cardassian territory. The tide had turned in favor of the Dominion, but Cardassians grew more restless by the day. (DS9: "'Til Death Do Us Part")
With assistance from Breen energy-draining weapons, the Dominion won the Second Battle of Chin'toka with ease, destroying all but one of the three hundred and twelve allied vessels, thus regaining control of the system. The Breen even staged an attack on Earth, dealing a heavy blow to Federation morale. Starfleet and Romulan vessels were annihilated by the new Breen technology, forcing the Klingons – whose ships could be modified to be immune to the weapon – to hold the front lines on their own until a countermeasure could be found. To do this, General Martok brought 1,500 starships to the border as the Allies' defense. Even with this sizable fleet, the Klingon force was outnumbered twenty-to-one by the Dominion, Breen and Cardassian forces. To compensate, Martok would have his fleet operate in small battle groups, remaining cloaked until they would engage the enemy, in an attempt to keep them off balance. (DS9: "The Changing Face of Evil", "When It Rains...")
Although the war turned significantly in the Dominion's favor with the Breen's entry into the war, the Dominion's obvious favoring of the Breen finally frustrated Damar to the point that he formed an active resistance on Cardassia. A number of Cardassian officers, including Gul Rusot, who shared Damar's frustration, remained loyal to him. Joining his rebellion, they attacked the cloning facilities on Rondac III. Although the fleet was successful in destroying the facility, half of Damar's entire military force was destroyed in the battle. Despite this, the Dominion realized they could not hope to win the war against the allies until the internal rebellion was crushed. This gave the allies the time they needed to obtain a counter measure to the Breen's energy dissipator. (DS9: "The Changing Face of Evil")
Realizing Damar's rebellion would be crushed without a necessary change in strategy and outside support, the Federation dispatched Kira Nerys – with a new commission as a Starfleet commander – Elim Garak, and Odo to help train the Cardassian liberation forces in guerrilla tactics, while also providing food replicators to sustain the rebellion. With Kira's knowledge of guerrilla warfare passed on to Damar's forces, the rebellion began destroying individual ships via sabotage, and was successful in the destruction of the Tevak shipyards. (DS9: "Tacking Into the Wind")
Unfortunately for the allies, Chancellor Gowron took control of the Klingon forces in an attempt to defeat the Dominion without assistance from the Federation or Romulan Empire. During his brief campaign, he ordered General Martok to engage the Dominion at Avenal Seven – a world deep inside Dominion territory. Outnumbered six-to-one, the raid on Avanal Seven was an utter failure, losing seven ships, with another five seriously damaged. Realizing that these useless raids could not continue, Sisko ordered Commander Worf to deal with Chancellor Gowron. After killing him in battle, Worf declared Martok the new Chancellor of the Klingon Empire. (DS9: "When It Rains...", "Tacking Into the Wind")
With the help of Odo, the Cardassian rebellion was able to capture a Jem'Hadar attack ship fitted with one of the Breen's energy dampening weapons from the Kelvas repair facility. With the weapon delivered to the Federation, a counter measure was able to be produced for both Federation and Romulan ships, thus returning the tactical advantage into the Allies' favor. Shortly afterward however, the Cardassian forces were completely wiped out by the Dominion after Gul Revok betrayed them, allowing all eighteen rebel bases to be found and destroyed. Even after this success however, the Dominion realized that the Federation Alliance had developed a counter measure to the Breen's weaponry, and withdrew all of their forces from Klingon, Federation and Romulan space in order to shorten their supply lines and fortify within Cardassian territory until they were able to rebuild a sufficient armada to win the war. (DS9: "Tacking Into the Wind", "The Dogs of War")
Although Damar's military rebellion was crushed, his brief but effective campaign gained massive support from the Cardassian civilian population. After a raid on a Jem'Hadar barracks on Cardassia Prime, Damar was able to rally the support of the entire civilian population on Cardassia, which proved to be vital during the allies' final invasion. The determination was made by the allied commanders that the best hopes of success for an invasion was now, before the Dominion was allowed to strengthen itself any further. A three-pronged attack into Cardassia was organized and led by Admiral William Ross, Chancellor Martok, and (presumably) Velal. (DS9: "The Dogs of War")
The Battle of Cardassia was one of the largest space battles in galactic history. During the battle, the civilian population on Cardassia Prime was able to cause a planet-wide blackout, cutting off all communication from the Dominion Headquarters to their fleets in combat. In retaliation for this, the Female Changeling ordered the destruction of Lakarian City as a deterrent to further acts of rebellion. This action had the opposite effect however – when the Cardassian Guard found out about the fate of Lakarian City, it switched sides and began combating the Dominion and Breen ships along with the allies. The Dominion responded typically – the head Founder ordered the Jem'Hadar to offer no quarter and fight to the last man, as well as commanding the annihilation of the entire planetary population of Cardassia Prime. Finally, members of the resistance were able to break into Dominion headquarters with Kira and Garak. Odo thought he could change the Founder's mind by meeting with her, so he beamed to their location. He convinced the head Founder to give up the war by linking with her and thus curing her of the virus. He also offered to return to the Great Link and cure his people of the virus that had been crippling them. The war was officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Bajor, and all Dominion forces returned to the Gamma Quadrant, with the exception of the head Founder, who was to stand trial for war crimes. (DS9: "What You Leave Behind")
Foremost in the aftermath, however, was the state of Cardassia Prime. Eight hundred million civilians were dead, and the entire Cardassian Union was in danger of total collapse. The Alpha Quadrant had lost a major power, and the effects on galactic politics would continue to be seen for many years to come.