Episode 22 – Operation Watchtower orders

To: USS Axanar actual
From: Starfleet Tactical Operations Command, Admiral Ross representing
Re: Offensive operations against The Dominion presence in the Beta Quadrant

Well, Captain Lombardo, Commander Reed, this is it – the great test of our time.
As you read this, the officer commanding station Deep Space Nine has received authorisation to mine the entrance to the Bajoran Wormhole. The amount of Dominion shipping transiting from the Gamma Quadrant is deemed too great a risk – if we allow such an unchecked military build-up, it is plain that Dominion forces will over-match Starfleet by an unwinnable factor within a matter of months. Captain Benjamin Sisko has offered an operational plan that should effectively cut off the forces here from further reinforcement, though it will likely sacrifice the station – and Bajor – itself.
We can only hope the Dominion respects Bajoran neutrality.
However, such a defensive operation is only part of the equation. Long range observation and intelligence suggests that the Dominion is already constructing a number of ship-building facilities – we need to strike at these as well. That’s where Watchtower comes in.
I cannot stress the importance of deception in this operation. The four vessels you see before you have been refitted not with offensive operations in mind, but rather as – well – stalking horses. Their power output, energy profiles, and warp signatures have been altered to match those of your own task force. They will take your place in the Rolor Sector, while the real Task Force 77.4.3 enters the Badlands, infiltrates Cardassian space, to strike at the shipyards at Torros III. They are about to come on line, and have been heavily defended, but we expect the Dominion to react strongly to the mining of the Wormhole, and attack Deep Space Nine.
And that’s your opportunity.
But there’s a catch. To maintain the masquerade that the TF 77.4.3 is in fact in place, one further detail needs to be in place – you, Captain Lombardo. You’ll miss out on the action, but you’ll be making a massive contribution to the operation. Your broadcasts will convince Dominion signals intercepts that nothing’s out of place – when your people attack, they should achieve almost complete surprise.
I’ve attached our scans and projected enemy dispositions of Torros III, but the details of the attack I am leaving up to you, Commander Reed – Lombardo will have to leave immediately if we are to have a hope of success. Maintain a chain of relay probes as you enter the Badlands, and we’ll signal Go/No-go based on events at Deep Space Nine. However, I am convinced the Dominion will react.
Regardless, I wish you all good luck – and good hunting.
Ross out.
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