Strategic Evaluation of
Given a highly asymmetrical situation, the most obvious course of action is to attempt to reduce the magnitude of the asymmetry, hence the notion of coalition-building. However, in this case, the magnitude of the asymmetry is so great that coalition-building would be ineffective. Therefore, we must adopt the controversial tactics of retreat, decentralization, guerilla warfare, and terrorism.
There is enormous political resistance to this course of action, but if we do not plan and prepare for such a contingency now, we will greatly cripple ourselves in the long run. Therefore, we are making four recommendations:
Relocate important assets such as supply depots and spare parts stores to "harsh terrain" (ie- the Badlands, the Briar Patch) or asteroid fields within regions of high electromagnetic activity.
Decentralize our command and control structure. Disperse the functions of Starfleet Academy into "training camps" scattered throughout Federation territory. Disperse the functions of Starfleet Command into multiple, highly mobile command centres.
Declare martial law. Suspend prohibitions against certain types of outlawed activity such as interference in underdeveloped cultures, in order to facilitate the use of their star systems as bases of operation against the Empire.
Disperse Special Ops teams throughout Federation territory as well as neighbouring territories and non-aligned systems, each under the independent control of a Section 31 operative with standing orders to disrupt Imperial operations using any means necessary. Suspend normal rules of engagement to permit tactics of guerilla warfare and terrorism, particularly once the Empire begins moving civilian settlers into our territory.
If we do not take action immediately, we face the very real possibility that the Federation could be completely and permanently replaced by the Empire as the local system of governance in short order, perhaps in as little as two months.
Strategic Option #1: Conventional Warfare
Conventional military strategy calls for direct attacks upon the enemy's military-industrial infrastructure, his logistical train, and his star fleets. However, none of these options are feasible until the Empire has already begun to establish itself in our territory, presumably by capturing Federation outposts and core systems, and even then, such attacks would only be possible on those captured systems, where they could lead to significant collateral damage against Federation citizens. Our inability to directly attack the Empire's military-industrial infrastructure, logistical train, or star fleets is due to the Empire's two virtually insurmountable military advantages:
The Empire has an overwhelmingly large industrial base which is separated by great distances from the theatre of war1. This makes it possible for them to supply a virtually limitless stream of weapons and men to the operational theatre with impunity.
The Empire's hyperdrive technology allows them to move through our territory without impedance. With thousands of times the speed of warp drive, it makes their logistical train immune to attack2, and it allows them the luxury of rapid deployment in force at any arbitrary point anywhere in the operational theatre.
There is no countermeasure for either of the above two Imperial strengths. We cannot intercept supply ships en route, and even if we were to somehow get our forces through the wormhole and into their galaxy, their society is far more dispersed than ours, owing to the speed of hyperdrive. They have scattered their colonies and military bases across their entire galaxy, often with thousands of light years separating them3. Our ships could conceivably find themselves stranded in the midst of enemy territory, months or years away from the nearest inhabited star system. Any attempt to attack any Imperial target, regardless of success or failure, would therefore involve taking capital warships out of the theatre of war for months or years, even if we disregard travel time to the local end of the wormhole!
Strategic Option #2: Chokepoint Defense
One strategic option which has come up repeatedly in council has been the use of the wormhole as a defensive chokepoint, to destroy Imperial reinforcement and supply ships as they emerge from the wormhole. However, the size and location of the wormhole inherently mitigates against such tactics.
Given the historical use of mines against the Dominion at the DS9 wormhole, many have suggested that we repeat this strategy against the Empire. However, if early reports are true that the Empire was able to send its Death Star through the wormhole, then the aperture must have a diameter of at least 1,000 km. Assuming a circular opening, its area would be nearly 800,000 km². This leads to obvious problems: the self-replicating minefield at DS9 was composed of less than 170,000 mines at its peak4, and such a minefield at this wormhole would result in a minefield density of less than 0.21 mines/km², with only one layer of depth. Given the frontal area of a typical Star Destroyer, a fleet of Star Destroyers could simply "bull-rush" through the aperture and each ship would have only a 3% probability of striking a single mine. Even a huge vessel such as an Executor-class "Super Star Destroyer" would strike less than four mines! Given the fact that a large number of mine impacts would be necessary to inflict serious damage on a vessel as large and powerful as a Star Destroyer, an Imperial fleet could easily fly through such a minefield with zero losses, thus rendering it useless.
The DS9 minefield had other weaknesses. It was only capable of withstanding a "swarm detonation" of up to 20 mines without opening a permanent hole5, and in many ways, tentative Dominion tactics contributed to its success. The Dominion never even attempted to force its way through the minefield, even though they could have theoretically "bull-rushed" through it and suffered acceptable losses. Furthermore, their fleet was largely composed of small attack ships rather than large battlecruisers, and these ships would have been heavily damaged or destroyed by a single mine impact. The Imperial fleet, on the other hand, is composed almost entirely of one-mile long, heavily armoured, heavily shielded vessels which could have flown through the DS9 minefield with only minor losses.
Another problem relates to the location of the wormhole. Despite the vast distances in the Empire, their propulsion technology makes the remote end of the wormhole much closer (in terms of travel time) to their military-industrial assets than the local end is to our own military-industrial assets. The Empire has already placed a large force there, and we would have to defeat this force in battle before we could attempt to lay any minefield. Moreover, since this is the only legitimate Imperial target in the entire galaxy, the Empire has concentrated most of its forces there, with more reinforcements undoubtedly on the way. Given the isolation of the wormhole in Federation space, it could take months or years simply to reach it6. Moreover, the Empire's industrial, numerical, and propulsion superiority (not only in relation to the Federation, but also to all of our potential allies combined) means that they can supply ships to the wormhole far more quickly than we can, so a chokepoint defense is not a realistic solution.
Strategic Option #3: Technological Duplication
Some civilians have such faith in our technological abilities that they believe we could capture and then duplicate Imperial hyperdrive in time to affect the outcome of a war, thus nullifying the Imperial speed advantage7. However, that is exceedingly unlikely, and no knowledgeable observer would adopt that interpretation. The capture of intact hyperdrive-capable Imperial warships is not likely, for the simple reason that they will undoubtedly use their speed advantage to attack in force where we are weak8, thus ensuring victory in fleet engagements. Moreover, their crews are undoubtedly under orders to destroy sensitive technology in the event that capture is imminent. Fighters are more likely targets of capture, but most Imperial fighters are not hyperdrive-capable. Even if we do succeed in capturing an Imperial vessel with its hyperdrive intact, we would have to reverse-engineer it, and that alone could take months or years (it is impossible to make a reliable estimate, given that we know nothing about how hyperdrive works).
And finally, even if we were to determine precisely how it works, we would still be unable to produce our own version. The analogy of jet propulsion is applicable here. If Julius Caesar were given the complete specifications and working principles of a 20th century jet engine, he would be unable to build it. He would lack the necessary high-temperature alloys and technologies for precise manufacturing and control of the engine's various components, not to mention the refined jet fuel necessary for its operation. Similarly, we have known for decades about the principle of transwarp drive, yet the support technologies of our starships (structural integrity fields, power sources, navigational deflectors, etc) lack the precision and/or power level necessary to apply these principles.
This was demonstrated most recently when the USS Voyager attempted to deploy transwarp drive with the aid of a captured Borg drone who was completely familiar with Borg transwarp drive; the USS Voyager could not maintain the necessary precision of control over its warp field and power supply, and only a last-second warp core ejection prevented its total destruction9. A similar phenomenon was encountered when the USS Voyager attempted to install an alien quantum slipstream propulsion system on their ship10: they completely understood the underlying principles, but they had trouble supplying enough power to the deflectors11, the strain on the ship's structure was so great that it damaged the ship12, and they had to discontinue the project for fear of permanently damaging or perhaps even destroying their vessel13. Since the characteristics of hyperdrive strongly resemble those of a greatly advanced form of quantum slipstream14, we have theorized that we would need dramatic improvements in hull materials and structural integrity fields before we even attempted to deploy hyperdrive, or the technology would rapidly destroy our ships.
Strategic Option #4: Biological Warfare
Our ultimate victory against the Dominion was assured the moment Section 31 developed a lethal biological weapon for use against the Founders15. In a similar vein, some have suggested the use of biological warfare against the Empire. However, this course of action is highly inadvisable. Imperial stormtroopers are human16, which is an obvious impediment to the use of biological weapons. The only effective weapons would be human-targeted weapons, and the use of truly effective human-targeted biological weapons could be the proverbial Pandora's box.
There is also the problem of deployment. Biological weapons are useless against starships, so they can only be deployed against Imperial troops on the ground, where they would presumably be attempting to seize control of Federation cities and bases. However, planetary surface deployment of human-targeted biological weapons on Federation worlds could lead to heavy collateral damage against our own citizens. This could lead to a shift of political support away from the Federation and toward the Empire. In short, the potential benefits of biological warfare are far outweighed by its potential costs.
Strategic Option #5: Guerilla Warfare
Asymmetrical warfare, such as that which the Maquis waged successfully against the Cardassians until the arrival of the Dominion, is the only realistic option when faced with an enemy who possesses overwhelming military superiority. We cannot realistically hope to destroy or cripple the Imperial star fleet, nor can we hope to defend our territory against an attacker who can use his speed to engage only when and where he enjoys an overwhelming numerical advantage. Therefore, we need to accept the inevitability that the enemy will capture all of our key systems.
Many parallels can be drawn to a surface conflict which was fought on Earth in the late 20th century. When the powerful Soviet Union invaded the relatively tiny nation of Afghanistan, it used its tactical superiority to quickly seize control of all the cities, thus driving resistance fighters into the mountainous countryside. From there, the Afghan resistance, fuelled by nationalistic and religious fervour, successfully fought a guerilla war against the invaders, using the irregular terrain of the countryside as cover against the invaders' superior weapons. They effectively "bottled up" the invaders in the cities, sapping their strength over time until the economic and political cost of the Afghanistan campaign was simply no longer worthwhile for the Soviet Union's leadership, and they removed their presence in the country.
While such tactics will be highly unfamiliar to Starfleet Command, they are effective, and they will be necessary against the Empire. If we relocate our military assets to "rough terrain" such as the Badlands, the Briar Patch, or regions of high electromagnetic interference and navigational hazard such as the Devolin system's asteroid belt, we can make it very difficult and costly for the Empire to "flush us out", thus emulating the successful tactics of the outgunned Afghan rebels on Earth. However, we should keep in mind that the Afghan rebels could not do it alone. Existing supply depots were either destroyed or used up, and they needed a constant supply of weapons from external sources such as the United States in order to resupply and compensate for their lack of an industrial base. In our case, we would need a similar source of support, since our own industrial base would fall under Imperial control, major supply depots would be swiftly targeted, and hidden stores of weapons, parts, and fuel would eventually be used up. This is where coalition-building comes into play; for this to work, we need at least one major external power to provide covert logistical support.
The principle of redundancy is also critical. Our centralized command and control system has long served us well against the Klingons, the Romulans, the Dominion, and other neighbouring powers. By centralizing all of our valuable assets such as starbases, training facilities, and command and control centres at key systems well inside our borders, we have made them very difficult targets for neighbouring military powers. The layout of our subspace relay network has also been designed in similar fashion, with the most heavily cross-linked nodes well inside our borders. However, against an Empire which can move about in our territory at will, these critical assets will be destroyed or captured in short order. We must therefore reduce or eliminate our reliance upon them.
And finally, we need to adopt more flexible rules of engagement. The Afghan resistance fighters obeyed no rules of engagement at all, and that is one of the hallmarks of asymmetrical warfare: the inferior combatant must use any means necessary to sap the strength of the superior combatant. Strict ethical limits on combat behaviour will cripple our forces and eliminate countless tactical and strategic options.
Strategic Option #6: Terrorism
Once the Empire seizes control of key star systems, it will undoubtedly begin moving civilian settlers into those systems. This serves the two-fold purpose of accelerating the integration of captured territory and cultures into their larger framework, and strengthening their political claim upon the occupied territories. The 20th century nation-state of Israel repeatedly used this tactic to claim ownership of land that it had conquered through military aggression, albeit with one serious error: they made no attempt whatsoever to integrate the occupants of the captured land into their society, since their ideology was driven by racial and religious fervour and they insisted upon treating the Arab/Islamic occupants of the occupied territories as a marginalized sub-class. This led to a deep-seated antipathy in the occupied territories, particularly in the second generation after the occupation, which had grown up seething with resentment over its situation.
We should expect the Empire to be more pragmatic and less irrational in its approach (aided by the fact that Imperial humans are visually and genetically indistinguishable from Federation humans), since it lacks the peculiar ideologies of religious superiority and racial territorial birthright that characterized Israel. This would mean that they will make an effort to ease the transition so that they do not fuel popular resentment. However, without popular resentment, a resistance movement will be stillborn. Military actions after the surrender of individual systems may even be condemned by their civilian leaders, which would sap long-term support for our cause.
The solution to this conundrum is the use of terrorism. Terrorist actions such as assassination and bombings which appear to originate from the general population will often lead to government reprisals against the general population, which will erode support for an Imperial occupying regime and build support for our cause. To put it bluntly, we must incite the Imperial occupiers to mistreat the population so that we can build a strong resistance. Any semblance of normalcy must be eliminated through the judicious use of violence, or the population will become apathetic or perhaps even hostile to our cause.
We must also make every effort to perpetuate antagonism between Imperial settlers and Federation citizens. This happened naturally in the infamous 20th century Arab/Israeli conflict, but in this case, we may be forced to use covert means to artificially sustain it. Amicable intermingling of Imperial settlers and Federation citizens must be prevented at all costs. Imperial settlers must not be allowed to become too numerous, or the Empire will find itself politically obligated to defend its settlers regardless of the military cost. Achievement of these objectives will require acts of violence committed against Imperial civilian settlers, as well as acts of violence against Federation citizens by covert operatives posing as Imperial settlers (this would require infiltration of Imperial governments, so that we can forge the appropriate documents) and prepared to accept incarceration or worse as a result of their actions.
While it may not be possible to achieve victory in direct warfare against the Empire, we can use a combination of guerilla warfare and terrorism to make their occupation so expensive and politically costly that they rethink their expansionist plans in this galaxy. We cannot ignore the fact that the necessary strategies would run counter to our current political ideology, but it has been said that "desperate times call for desperate measures", and this is no exception. Victory seems an unrealistic goal, but defeat can be staved off indefinitely, as long as we maintain the will to resist.
1This is precisely analogous to the USA in WW2, which had a very large industrial base separated from both the Pacific and European theatres of war by thousands of kilometres of ocean. That industrial base, which many dubbed the "Arsenal of Freedom" or "Arsenal of Democracy", was the single biggest contributor to Allied victories in both theatres of war. Admiral Yamamoto saw this before the attack on Pearl Harbour, hence his sage prediction that he could deliver six months of victory, after which the industrial superiority of the USA would overwhelm them.
2Some have suggested that a slow ship could "lie in wait" for a fast ship and then launch something which the fast ship would run into, but that is highly unrealistic. In order to "lie in wait" for a fast ship, one would need foreknowledge of its precise flight plan, and given a large disadvantage in speed, one would need this foreknowledge long before the target vessel even began its trip. It would be like a helicopter attempting to intercept a supersonic fighter jet. Moreover, any intelligent supply-chain officer would undoubtedly use his speed advantage to lay out supply routes far from the Federation star fleet's grasp.
3The core systems are actually near the core of the galaxy (from "Dark Empire 2", we know that Byss is actually close to a mass of antimatter and supermassive black holes near the core), yet the Corporate Sector Authority controls 10,000 systems on a "spiral arm of the galaxy" (from "Han Solo at Stars End"), yet it is easily reachable by passenger vessels or smuggler ships like that of Han Solo.
4According to the non-canon DS9 TM, each mine carried enough material to repliate 1/65 of a mine, and the entire field was capable of replicating 2500 mines. Therefore, the minefield must have been composed of 162,500 mines. The technical manuals are non-canon and their reliability has been spotty; the canon episodes suggested a somewhat smaller figure; Gul Dukat began his minefield deactivation program in "Favor the Bold", and he estimated it would take 78 hours. We could see the mines being deactivated, and they were being deactivated at a rate of one mine every few seconds. This leads to an estimate of less than 100,000 mines.
5See the DS9 TM.
6In my fanfic, I deliberately placed the wormhole close to the Federation's core systems, for obvious dramatic purposes. However, if you examine the size of Federation territory (which takes years to cross at warp speed) and consider that most of its key systems are clustered towards its border with neighbouring military powers (much as Canada's population is almost entirely clustered around its border with the United States, thus leaving vast tracts of sparsely inhabited northern tundra), you will see that the probability of a wormhole in Federation space being located close to its key systems and within reach of its star fleet is negligible. It would be like randomly placing a point somewhere in Canada and then assuming that it's within 100 km of Toronto, Calgary, or Vancouver. Realistically, a random wormhole placement somewhere in Federation territory would probably drop it so far from the key systems that it would take Starfleet months or years to reach it.
7This is a common newsgroup argument.
8An old airman's adage is that "speed kills". If you have the speed to engage or disengage at will, in a time and place of your choosing, then you can choose to do so only when you have a decisive tactical advantage. For example, if your fleet shows up at an enemy system and they have guessed your move so that a huge fleet awaits you, then you can simply turn around and jump to the next target on your list, which will be far from the current system and which will not be defended by this huge fleet.
9See "Day of Honour", in which Voyager attempted to deploy transwarp drive with assistance from 7 of 9.
10See "Hope and Fear".
11They had trouble getting it to work at all, and Tuvok was forced to order more power to the deflector before they were able to jump into the slipstream.
12Ensign Kim reported that the structural integrity field was losing strength, and that the hull would buckle in less than an hour. Given the fact that hyperdrive is hundreds of times faster than quantum slipstream (mere hours to cover 60,000 light years, instead of three months), it seems likely that its deflector and hull requirements would be commensurately greater, and a Federation ship would be destroyed in a matter of seconds.
13Janeway told 7 of 9 that it was "impossible" to use quantum slipstream propulsion with Voyager's existing technology (without destroying the ship).
14The visual "light tunnel" effect of quantum slipstream is very similar to the "hyperspace tunnel" effect, albeit less intense, as one would expect for the much slower speeds involved. Both hyperdrive and quantum slipstream require a "jump" into another state. Both hyperdrive and slipstream states are extremely hazardous (the Voyager was under great structural load and suffered significant damage as a result, and the Star Wars Encylopedia describes extremely dangerous energies in hyperspace which would quickly destroy ships without protective shielding).
15See "Treachery, Faith, and the Great River".
16All but the most naïve and ignorant interpretations of biological evolution will recognize that the statistical probability of incompatible species separately evolving on different worlds with visually and audibly indistinguishable outward characteristics is so small that it can be considered entirely negligible.