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Memory Alpha

The Federation-Cardassian Wars, known in the Federation as the Cardassian Wars, Cardassian border conflict, or simply the border wars, were prolonged border disputes between the United Federation of Planets and the Cardassian Union. These conflicts started as far back as 2347 and lasted well into the 2350s, with smaller skirmishes, not officially considered part of the wars, which continued into the 2360s. The ensuing stalemate by the mid-2360s advantaged neither side in firepower or territory. A 2366 truce and a 2367 armistice enforced an end to hostilities but left key questions unresolved; the finalized treaty, unsigned until 2370, formed a demilitarized zone between the powers, creating a new border and clarifying claims to planets such as Dorvan V. (TNG: "The Wounded", "Journey's End", "Chain of Command, Part I", "Chain of Command, Part II"; DS9: "Tribunal")

The use of the plural "wars" may indicate that cease fires, treaties and declarations of war took place more than once. This also helps to explain the seemingly confused dating.

The wars raged in a series of conflicts of various sizes as the two powers struggled to protect their individual interests. A major incident was the Setlik III massacre. The Federation starship USS Rutledge, under the command of Captain Benjamin Maxwell, was the first vessel to respond to the colony's distress calls. The Rutledge went on to become involved in other conflicts during these wars. Miles O'Brien and many members of the ship's crew exhibited signs of racism towards Cardassians thereafter. (TNG: "The Wounded") The USS Tecumseh, commanded by Captain Raymond, also saw extensive combat. (DS9: "Nor the Battle to the Strong")

Prior to 2355, the USS Stargazer was involved in a truce offering by the Federation in sector 21503. After making contact with a Cardassian warship, Captain Picard lowered the ship's shields as a gesture of good will, but the Cardassian commander ignored the gesture and disabled the Stargazer's weapons and impulse engines. The Stargazer managed to regroup and flee. (TNG: "The Wounded")

This was at some point between the mid-2340s and 2355.

While Kathryn Janeway held the rank of lieutenant, she was a member of an away team defending a Federation outpost from Cardassians during the border conflict. The Cardassians fought for the outpost for weeks, and at one point, ended up in a three-day long firefight. In the end, Starfleet secured the outpost and all members of the away team were decorated by Starfleet Command. (VOY: "Prey")

Much of the fighting went on in the area of space that later became the DMZ. During the war, gravitic mines were deployed near the region later known as the DMZ. (TNG: "Ethics") The Cardassian Union pushed into Federation space, and Federation systems such as Minos Korva were disputed territory during the wars. In 2369, two years after the established truce, the Cardassians unsuccessfully attempted to take the system. (TNG: "Chain of Command, Part II") Members of Starfleet further feared that the Cardassians would try to annex the Igo sector in that year. (TNG: "Realm of Fear")

Losses during the wars left deep scars on both sides. For instance, Gul Evek lost two of his three sons during the Cardassian Wars, and Captain Benjamin Maxwell lost his entire family. Starfleet officers such as Will Kayden and Raymond Boone died during the war. Popular Federation ambassadors Spock and Sarek (Spock's father) disagreed publicly over the Cardassian Wars, which led to a serious divide in their relationship and family. (TNG: "Journey's End", "The Wounded", "Unification I"; DS9: "Tribunal") Tensions remained between the two expanding powers. Many seasoned veterans from both sides were called upon by their respective governments to face each other again during the Dominion War that began in late 2373.

Years after the war, Miles O'Brien noted that field rations was the only thing he missed about the Cardassian front during the war. (DS9: "The Siege")

From what we know of the Maquis and the DMZ, it seems this war started because the Federation and the Cardassians colonized a number of class M planets in proximity to each other. Both sides seem to have recognized a different border line. The Cardassians sought to annex several crucial worlds along the border, perhaps because of the same resource shortages that had led them to the Occupation of Bajor, while perceiving Federation colonization in a similar context.


2347 (date uncertain)
Cardassians attack Setlik III, claiming preemptive strike
Federation citizens (Native Americans) settle on the disputed Dorvan V
Gravitic mines deployed in the Beloti sector
Prior to 2355
USS Stargazer makes a truce offer; it is rejected with force
Prior to 2358
The wars claim many adult Camorite lives and Camor V government records
Prior to 2363
Cardassians attempt to take a Federation outpost, leading to weeks of combat
Mid 2360s
Conflicts settle into an effective stalemate
Open hostilities end
Federation-Cardassian Armistice of 2367
Starfleet notices suspicious activity near Cardassian border
USS Phoenix attacks Cardassian outposts without orders
USS Denver hits a gravitic mine
A truce is established, but questions remain about the border
Starfleet suspects Cardassians of planning to annex Igo sector
The Cardassians attempt to take Minos Korva
The Federation-Cardassian Treaty is finalized and the DMZ formed
Prior to 2371
The Jankata Accord is signed by both parties

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