The Battle of Cardassia, the final battle of the Dominion War, was an incredibly hard-fought and savage campaign that, by its end, resulted in the death of over 800 million Cardassians and the near-total destruction of the entire Cardassian infrastructure. In late 2375, a combined armada consisting of starships from the United Federation of Planets, the Klingon Empire, and the Romulan Star Empire carried out an operation that was intended to be a knock-out punch, ending the war in one decisive battle. This battle, fought over the home system of the Cardassian Union, Cardassia Prime, succeeded, at great cost, in finally ending the bloody conflict between the Federation Alliance and the Dominion and its Breen and Cardassian allies as, with the capture of the Founder, the Dominion forces in the Alpha Quadrant surrendered unconditionally. The long and bloody Dominion War was finally over.
The Battle of Cardassia, however, was not just a set-piece battle fought between fleets of starships. Events taking place on Cardassia Prime played a crucial role in the successful resolution of hostilities. The insurgents participating in the Cardassian Rebellion led by Legate Damar played a vital part in disrupting Dominion communications and support. The Rebellion proved to be such a thorn in the Founder's side that she issued orders to the Jem'Hadar to exterminate the Cardassian population, leading to the deaths of over 800 million Cardassian civilians. This act of genocide caused the Cardassian ships participating in the battle to turn on their former Dominion allies at a crucial point, leading to an Alliance victory in space. Finally, without the actions of Legate Damar's group, the battle would have been a far bloodier affair than it already was. A team of insurgents including Elim Garak and Kira Nerys successfully stormed the Founder's headquarters, taking her prisoner. With the timely intervention of Constable Odo, the Founder was convinced to surrender unconditionally, averting a costly ground campaign that would surely have resulted in even more horrific loss of life and destruction than had already taken place. (DS9: "What You Leave Behind")
By late 2375, the Dominion War had settled into a war of attrition as the Dominion's offensives had run out of steam. Stalemate appeared to be the order of the day as, thanks to the Prophets closing off the Bajoran wormhole at the beginning of the war, reinforcements from the Gamma Quadrant would not be forthcoming (q.v. Battle of Deep Space Nine), and the Cardassians did not possess the industrial capacity to support an offensive posture over an extended period.
However, the Dominion found new life with a new alliance it had formed with the Breen Confederacy. The Breen possessed a unique weapon in the form of an energy dampening device that rendered Alliance ships, with the exception of the Klingons, without power or weapons. Its first use at the Second Battle of Chin'toka took the Alliance forces by surprise, resulting in their decisive defeat as the Dominion retook the Chin'toka system. However, the Dominion and their Breen allies could not exploit their victory as Legate Damar's rebellion forced the Founder to shift forces from the front lines to deal with the growing insurgency. Legate Damar's insurgents also aided in smuggling an energy dampening device stolen from the Breen to Federation and Romulan scientists who were able to develop effective countermeasures, rendering the device useless. (DS9: "Tacking Into the Wind")
Having determined that an offensive strategy was no longer effective, the Female Changeling ordered all Dominion forces to withdraw back into Cardassian space. It appeared that the Founder was planning on engaging in a phony war for an extended period of time as the Dominion rebuilt its forces and infrastructure. A potentially effective strategy, Dominion forces would have the advantage of interior lines of communication and strong fortifications while built up its forces for a second round at the time of its own choosing.
Typically, this would have marked the beginning of the end of the war as both sides were exhausted by the lengthy conflict. Certain Allied commanders, most notably the Romulans did indeed see this as a signal for hostilities' ending. However, Captain Benjamin Sisko and Admiral William Ross understood the true intent behind the Founder's actions and pressed for the invasion of Cardassia Prime and a decisive end to the War once and for all. (DS9: "The Dogs of War")
Phase One: Invasion
- See also Battle of Getha
The Allied fleet launched their attack from Deep Space 9, steering a straight course for Cardassia as the Female Changeling ordered all Dominion and Dominion-allied vessels to meet the oncoming armada.
Again illustrating how the actions of a few individuals shaped this entire battle, insurgents led by Legate Damar, accompanied by Elim Garak and Kira Nerys, succeeded in rallying the Cardassian populace in a mass revolt as the two fleets closed in for battle. This revolt caused the loss of power of almost every Dominion installation on Cardassia, leaving the Founder, her Vorta aide, Weyoun, and the commander of the Breen forces, Thot Pran isolated in Dominion Headquarters just as they were issuing their final deployment orders.
The battle in space was a crowded and savage affair as the more agile Starfleet vessels. Klingon Birds of Prey, and Jem'Hadar attack fighters darted between the larger starships. While all participants took heavy losses, the Romulans bore the brunt of the action as the Jem'Hadar drove hard against the Star Empire's lines, destroying the Romulan flagship IRW D'ridthau. Concerned about the possible collapse of the Romulan position, Captain Sisko, acting in a timely manner, sent several Klingon and Starfleet attack wings to reinforce their lines, giving the Romulans time to firm up their position as Admiral Ross and Chancellor Martok's struck the now vulnerable Dominion center with their combined forces.
After regaining communications access, the Founder ordered immediate reprisals on the Cardassian population, ordering the Jem'Hadar to bombard Lakarian City, killing in the process two million men, women, and children in a matter of seconds. Following this punitive action, Weyoun announced to the Cardassian public that for every act of sabotage, another city would be destroyed.
As events were proceeding on the ground, in space Alliance fortunes had appeared to take a turn for the worse as Dominion right and left flanks appeared to be on the verge of turning the allies' positions, engulfing their forces. But, just as the Allied commanders were preparing to issue orders to withdraw, the Cardassian fleet, angered at the destruction of Lakarian City at the hands of the Jem'Hadar, turned on the Dominion and Breen forces. Taking advantage of this sudden shift in fortune, the allies launched one last attack, finally breaking the Dominion center. The Founder ordered her still loyal Jem'Hadar and Breen forces to retreat to Cardassia Prime, leaving the allies in possession of the field, but with the battle still not won.
Phase Two: Final Solution
Realizing that the war would not be won until Cardassia had fallen and the Founder had surrendered, Captain Sisko prevailed upon Chancellor Martok and Admiral Ross to press on towards Cardassia Prime, despite having already taken heavy losses to the tune of 30% of the total allied forces. Conceding Sisko's point that the Dominion would only rebuild, even if restricted to just Cardassia Prime, Martok and Ross reluctantly agreed to continue the offensive as orders were given for the combined fleet to continue to Cardassia.
As Ross and Martok were deciding whether to proceed with the offensive, the Founder, suffering from the final stages of the morphogenic virus she had been infected with, ordered the Jem'Hadar to begin exterminating the entire Cardassian population. Following her orders, the Jem'Hadar carried out a campaign of extermination, sparing no one and no structure in their path. Bearing witness to the unfolding carnage, Damar, accompanied by Kira Nerys, Elim Garak, and volunteers, attacked the Dominion headquarters compound, intending to capture the Founder alive in an effort to end hostilities. In her desire to eliminate the Cardassian population, the Founder had ordered almost all of her guards out to kill the Cardassians, leaving few to guard her person, providing a ready opening for Damar and his party to exploit, carrying the day and capturing the Founder and Weyoun, albeit with the loss of their leader, Damar who was killed during the fighting.
As the allied fleet closed on Cardassia Prime, they encountered the remaining Breen and Jem'Hadar warships in orbit, accompanied by the same Cardassian orbital weapon platforms they had earlier had to contend with First Battle of Chin'toka. Determined to press on to the bitter end, the allies prepared to launch a massive three-prong attack with projected 40% casualties, and that was before the launching of the anticipated ground assault.
Unwilling to surrender, the Founder outlined her plan to Garak and Kira. She intended for the Jem'Hadar and the Breen to fight to the very last, resulting in such high casualty figures for the allies that their victory would be nothing but a hollow one, ensuring that the allies would never consider the prospect of revenge for fear of having to pay such a great cost again. Just as the allied commanders were preparing to issue their final orders to attack, Odo, recently cured of the morphogenic virus thanks to the efforts of Dr. Julian Bashir, pleaded for an opportunity to try to convince the Female Changeling to surrender. Through the Great Link, Odo cured her of the plague and persuaded her to end the fighting, and hence, the war.
The Treaty of Bajor, officially ending hostilities, was signed at Deep Space 9 only days later. According to the terms of the treaty, the Dominion had to withdraw its forces back to the Gamma Quadrant. The Cardassian Union was placed under the occupation of Federation Alliance forces.
A costly and expensive campaign, the Battle of Cardassia was by no means a foregone conclusion for the allies. Without the actions of Legate Damar's insurgents and the accompanying rising of the Cardassian people and the resulting brutal Jem'Hadar reprisals, the battle could easily have gone the other way. Had the Founder not been swayed by Odo's words and actions, an expensive and savage battle first in orbit and then on the ground would have to have been fought, resulting in prohibitive casualties. Finally, a campaign fought to the bitter end would have exhausted all three allied powers far more than they had already been weakened, leaving them open to predations from other aggressive entities. The battle was devastating for Cardassia as its population was slaughtered, the environment ruined and its infrastructure devastated. In turn, the allies suffered the loss of numerous warships and the loss of tens of thousands of lives. Had the final battle envisioned by the Founder took place, those losses would have been even higher. It was indeed only through the intervention of Odo that the final assault on Cardassia, and the bloodshed that would have come with it, was avoided.
- USS Apara (The Dominion War Sourcebook: The Fires of Armageddon)
- USS Bellerophon (Star Trek: Prometheus)
- USS Cuffe (Dark Territory)
- USS Dauntless (NCC-71879) (Star Trek: Bridge Commander)
- USS Dauntless (NCC-75310) (Star Trek: Dauntless)
- USS Defiant (DS9: "What You Leave Behind")
- USS Exeter (Star Trek: The Quarterdeck Breed)
- USS Farragut (What You Leave Behind novelization)
- USS Galaxy (DS9: "What You Leave Behind")
- USS Janeng (Ship Recognition Manual, Volume 1: The Ships of Starfleet)
- USS Midas (Star Trek: Independence)
- USS Miyazaki (Harry Potter and the Return of James T. Kirk)
- USS Nelson (What You Leave Behind novelization)
- USS Ticonderoga (Star Trek: Black Hawk)
- USS Yorktown (Starbase23.net)
- Klingon Defence Force
- V'korran Command Wing (The Dominion War Sourcebook: The Fires of Armageddon)
- Ko'nar (The Dominion War Sourcebook: The Fires of Armageddon)
- D'daen (Ship Recognition Manual, Volume 5: Starships of the Romulan Star Empire)
- Rataxos (Ship Recognition Manual, Volume 5: Starships of the Romulan Star Empire)
|Major battles of the Dominion War|
|Second Battle of Deep Space 9 (2373) | Battle of Torros III (2373) | Battle of Rumarda (2374) | Battle of Tyra (2374) | Operation Blue Room (2374) | First Battle of Vulcanis (2374) | Operation Return (2374) | Raid on Coridan (2374) | Kalandra Offensive (2374) | Battle of Betazed (2374) | Second Battle of Vulcanis (2374) | Battle of Benzar (2374) | Battle of Sybaron (2374) | Liberation of Benzar (2374) | Battle of the Tibor Nebula (2374) | Raid on Tohvun (2374) | Third Battle of Vulcanis (2374) | First Battle of Chin'toka (2374) | Battle of Ricktor Prime (2375) | Battle of Chudala (2375) | Kalandra Campaign (2375) | Invasion of Septimus III (2375) | Breen attack on Earth (2375) | Second Battle of Chin'toka (2375) | Battle of the Three Suns (2375) | Liberation of Betazed (2375) | Battle of Getha (2375) | Battle of Cardassia (2375)|
|Battles of the Cardassian Rebellion|
|Battle of Rondac III - Battle of Lessek - Battle of Cardassia|