The Battle of Chin'toka
Last revised: 2000.07.27
Dominion Objective: Hold the Chin'toka system against a combined Federation, Romulan and Klingon fleet.
A large number of starships, but unfortunately there are no reliable figures on the fleet size. We can assume many hundreds of ships, given that they faced hundreds of orbital weapons platforms.
Heavily shielded orbital weapons platforms, numbering into the "hundreds" and spread throughout the star system. According to Damar, each platform was equipped with "generative forcefields" and armed with "a thousand plasma torpedoes." When the battle began, we saw that they also had some sort of beam weapon, either a phaser or disruptor. The platforms were quite effective, using their torpedoes to hammer down the shields of target ships, and then finishing them off with long blasts from their energy weapons.
Five squadrons of Jem'Hadar fighters, for a total of perhaps 50 to 80.
The allied fleet arrived before the weapons platforms could be brought on-line. They attacked and destroyed many of the inert platforms while the Klingons engaged the Jem'Hadar fighters. The Jem'Hadar fighters used kamikaze attacks to destroy 15 Klingon ships (as reported by Martok).
The weapons platforms came on-line. At least three starships were destroyed almost immediately, with more to come.
<Technobabble>Garak notices that none of the platforms has a power generator, and that they must therefore be getting power from an external source. A tiny asteroidal moon is identified as the power source, but they are unable to penetrate its shields. They use the swiss-army knife deflector dish to mark the asteroid with a Federation warp signature, thus fooling the weapons platforms into firing on the asteroid and destroying it. The destruction of the asteroid leaves all of the weapons platforms powerless and inert.</Technobabble<>/li< >
Chin'toka was left totally defenseless, and the allied fleet was able to land ground troops.
Interestingly enough, Martok informs Sisko that ground troops will land immediately, even though there are no specialized troop transports in sight. One can surmise that he was not speaking accurately, or that the ground troops were all being carried aboard their warships. If this was the case, then their ground forces could not have been very large (but then again, the Romulans tried to capture Vulcan with three small transports once, so why quibble?).
In any case, the battle was a total failure for the Dominion. They failed to hold Chin'toka, and they failed to inflict enough casualties on the allied fleet to make it a pyrrhic victory.
How could the Empire have succeeded where the Dominion failed? We might imagine the following tactics:
Forget the ridiculous orbital weapons platforms, and build a large planetary energy shield on Chin'toka instead. The comprehensive protection of a full planetary shield means that the Empire wouldn't have to rely on allied scruples to protect against orbital bombardment.
Use the great speed of hyperdrive to recall huge numbers of ships to defend the system (an option which was unavailable to Damar).
Alternatively, an Imperial leader might choose to take advantage of the time that a planetary shield would buy. A large allied fleet at Chin'toka translates to weakened home defense fleets, so he could use this opportunity to assemble a huge fleet and attack Romulus, Remus, Quo'nos, or Earth (or all of them, in succession). His ships can reach their targets in minutes or hours, while the allied ships would need days or weeks to return.
Flip side: how would the Empire have fared in place of the allied fleet?
It's a moot question. The allied forces needed Chin'toka as a stepping stone for their big push toward Cardassia Prime. However, the speed and range of hyperdrive makes such piecemeal "baby steps" unnecessary. An Imperial fleet can achieve the objective of getting within striking range of Cardassia Prime without having to take Chin'toka.
Although the battle is totally unnecessary, we could always insist on making it happen anyway (say, if the Emperor overrides his generals the way Hitler did). If we do so, we must remember that the approach would be a lot different. Instead of trying to blast all of the platforms between the outer planets and the target, they would simply skip by them, dropping out of hyperspace in orbit around the target planet itself. From there, they can either force them to disarm the platforms with the threat of a BDZ, or they can concentrate the entire fleet's firepower on the power-generator asteroid (remember that the allied fleet was unable to attack the asteroid with more than a handful of ships because the rest of the fleet was tied up with the platforms). However, as I have mentioned previously, this whole battle would be unnecessary.
Conclusion: The Empire's planetary shield and hyperdrive technology would have completely transformed this battle. In the Dominion's place, they could have held Chin'toka and used the opportunity to smash strategic targets in Alliance territory. In the Federation's place, the Empire would already have achieved the mission objective without having to fight. If they insisted on fighting anyway, their hyperdrive and willingness to employ orbital bombardment would have given them the pointless victory. I would give the Empire 2 for 2 in this battle.
Michael January, for suggesting that I discuss potential strategies for an Imperial attack on Chin'toka despite the unnecessary nature of the battle.