The war was primarily instigated by a Dominion changeling infiltrator, masquerading as celebrated Klingon General Martok, as part of an overall Dominion strategy to destabilise the political landscape of the Alpha Quadrant.
The war was born out of rapidly deteriorating relations between the Federation and the Klingon High Council as a result of Dominion political manipulation that triggered an unprovoked Klingon invasion of Cardassian territory, an action the Federation harshly condemned.
A ceasefire was agreed after General Martok was exposed as a changeling formalised after a brief skirmish on Ajilon Prime. After the Dominion established a foothold in the Alpha Quadrant, the Klingons and the Federation revived the Khitomer Accords against the Dominion, officially ending the war.
Though the war was primarily confined to brief, savage skirmishes along the Federation-Klingon border, with the Klingons concentrating the bulk of their efforts against the Cardassian Union, the triggering of open war between two close allied powers remained one of the most successful coups of Dominion infiltration in the Alpha Quadrant.
Following Dominion manipulation, the Obsidian Order and the Tal Shiar launched a joint pre-emptive invasion of the Gamma Quadrant, intending to destroy the Founder's homeworld and sever effective Dominion leadership. The joint fleet was destroyed at the Battle of the Omarion Nebula in 2371, severely weakening the Tal Shiar and ending the existence of the Obsidian Order entirely.
The power vacuum left behind by the absence of the Obsidian Order enabled a coup on Cardassia that shifted power from the Cardassian Central Command to civilian authorities in the Detapa Council. Encouraged by a changeling posing as General Martok, the Klingon High Council became convinced the coup had been engineered by the Dominion. Fearing the further spread of Dominion influence, Chancellor Gowron ordered a massive invasion of the Cardassian Union in early 2372.
The Federation Council vehemently condemned the unprovoked invasion, and in response, Gowron withdrew from the Khitomer Accords, recalled his ambassadors and expelled all Federation citizens from the Empire, thereby formally ending official relations between the two powers. After Starfleet rendered aid to the Detapa Council, the Klingons launched a large, but ultimately unsuccessful attack against Deep Space 9.
Throughout the rest of the year, the Klingons began to show increased aggressiveness against other powers, particularly the Romulans, the Federation and the Bajorans. In particular, Klingon ships fired on the Starfleet vessel USS Defiant when escorting a humanitarian convoy to Cardassian space, in an attempt to discredit Starfleet's integrity among other Alpha Quadrant powers.
Tensions rose so much, that in late 2372, Federation colonies along the Federation-Klingon border began pressing the Federation Council to authorise Starfleet to launch a pre-emptive strike against the Empire. (DS9: "The Way of the Warrior", "Broken Link", "Rules of Engagement", "The Die is Cast")
Open war beginsEdit
With the Federation Council unable to establish a dialogue with Chancellor Gowron, encouraged by General Martok, an ultimatum was issued to the Federation; a complete withdrawal from the Archanis sector, upon which the Klingons had previously claimed, within ten days, or face war. (DS9: "Broken Link")
The Federation refused to acquiesce to the demands of the Klingon Empire, and in response, the Klingons launched an invasion of Federation territory, committing all resources it had available. Federation defences along the border proved woefully inadequate; several dozen starships and colonies were engaged by Klingon forces, across a wide swath of territory from Archanis to the Bajoran sector. Recovering from the initial shock of the invasion, Starfleet rallied its forces and repelled the Klingons from Federation space.
With the bulk of the Klingon Defense Force committed to the war of attrition in Cardassian space, Starfleet was able to launch a counter-offensive into Klingon territory itself, winning a notable victory at Ganalda IV. Although the Klingons were successful in blunting the speed of Starfleet's advance, they were not able to fully expel them from their territory. It was predicted that, eventually, the Federation would emerge victorious from the conflict, with the Klingons unable to disengage from the Cardassian front.
Martok changeling exposed Edit
Meanwhile, acting on information provided by Odo, having recently linked with the Founders, the Federation became aware of a Dominion infiltrator in the Klingon Empire, believing it to be Chancellor Gowron. Unwilling to ignore the possibility of such a breach of Alpha Quadrant security, Starfleet approved a covert operation to expose the changeling, led by Captain Benjamin Sisko, aided by Gul Dukat in a captured Bird-of-Prey.
The team infiltrated the Klingon military headquarters on Ty'Gokor, intending to expose the changeling at an awards ceremony. However, it was ultimately discovered that Martok, not Gowron, was the real infiltrator. The information Odo had been privy to in the Great Link had been deliberately misled, hoping to have the Federation assassinate the Chancellor of the Klingon High Council. For helping to expose an enemy spy, Sisko's team was allowed to leave Klingon space unhindered, and Gowron convinced the Klingon High Council to affect a cease-fire. (DS9: "Apocalypse Rising")
End of hostilities Edit
The ceasefire was briefly violated several weeks later, when Klingon forces landed on Ajilon Prime, allegedly as revenge for the Federation victory at Ganalda IV. Starfleet also prepared to retake the still-occupied Archanis sector, an effort spearheaded by the Starfleet vessels USS Tecumseh and the USS Rutledge. However, before the attack could be launched, the ceasefire was reinstated, but not without heavy casualties on Ajilon Prime, and the destruction of the USS Farragut.
An unexpected, game-changing event occurred months later, when it was revealed that Dukat had, in fact, successfully negotiated Cardassia's joining of the Dominion, with himself as military leader of the Cardassian Union. The repercussions were swift; with the entry of the overwhelmingly superior Dominion forces into the Klingon-Cardassian War, the Klingons quickly suffered severe casualties. Their erstwhile allies, the Maquis, were completely annihilated by the Jem'Hadar, and the Cardassians were able to re-establish full military control over all of their territory. In response, Chancellor Gowron ordered his battered forces to affect a complete withdrawal from Cardassian space, intending to fortify the Empire and fight the impending Dominion invasion.
However, Captain Benjamin Sisko was able to convince Gowron to re-instate the Khitomer Accords instead, formalizing a defensive alliance between the Empire and the Federation once again, including a permanent Klingon military detachment assigned to Deep Space 9 -- commanded, ironically, by the real General Martok, who had recently escaped with several other prisoners from Dominion Internment Camp 371. (DS9: "Nor the Battle to the Strong", "By Inferno's Light", "Blaze of Glory")
Though brief, the skirmishes fought in the war were savage and brutal in nature. The fact that Dominion political manipulation had been able to bring two close allies into open conflict, as well as concurrently causing a destructive war between the Klingons and the Cardassians is testament to their strategic initiative and prowess.
Although the Khitomer Accords had been reinstated, arguably an antithesis of Dominion intentions, Starfleet had been spread thin across the Alpha Quadrant, while the Klingon Defense Force had suffered severe casualties, enabling a Dominion foothold to be made far easier than prior to their involvement. As a result of the Klingon invasion of Cardassia, weekly convoys of Dominion military personnel and equipment were made from the Gamma Quadrant to Cardassia, forcing the Federation and the Klingons to mine the Bajoran wormhole.
|Federation-Sheliak Conflict • Federation-Klingon War (2267) • Federation-Cardassian War • Galen border conflicts • Federation-Tzenkethi War • Dominion cold war • Federation-Klingon War (2372-73) • Dominion War • Temporal Cold War • Federation-Klingon War (alternate timeline)|