Until the early 23rd Century the mighty Centauri Republic controlled a vast empire. When the Centauri became decadent and corrupt their empire began to decline and the Centauri military began gradually to withdraw from large areas of the galaxy. As this happened another alien race, the Dilgar, moved in to fill the void left by the Centauri. The Dilgar were a xenophobic race who displayed little except contempt for alien species. Although not as advanced technologically as the Minbari or Centauri, the Dilgar were still more advanced and powerful than most of the other alien species they came into contact with. As the Centauri retreated in the early 23rd Century, the Dilgar slowly increased the size of their own empire by conquering or simply annexing nearby worlds.
In the 2220s the Dilgar learned that their sun was about to go into a supernova stage, an event which would completely destroy their world. To ensure the survival of their species, the Dilgar greatly accelerated their campaign of conquest and expansion. Although they had already proven themselves to be a ruthless opponent, the threat of their sun going nova caused them to abandon any pretense of morality or decency. Believing all species that were not Dilgar to be nothing more than potential slaves at best, the Dilgar quickly began attacking and destroying the outposts of many alien worlds.
The Dilgar Invasion
By 2228 the Dilgar raider attacks and rumors that the Dilgar were preparing for a major war quickly brought the League of Non-Aligned Worlds together. In 2230, the Dilgar openly attacked a number of League worlds, including the Narn and Drazi. Despite combining their forces, the League of Non-Aligned Worlds fought a losing battle as world after world succumbed to Dilgar conquest and experimentation. The Dilgar's tactics in this war were ruthless, and included the destruction of entire worlds and the use of conquered races as subjects in cruel medical and biological experiments. The League races were overwhelmed by the Dilgar assault and suffered heavy losses. The desperate league then called upon the major galactic powers for assistance and help in fighting the Dilgar.
Even the Narn spacefleet could not halt the Dilgar offensive; and the large Narn colony of Halax VII was captured by the Dilgar. By the time Narn forces arrived at the fallen system it was learned that the Dilgar Warmaster, Jha'Dur, had experimented and infected the entire colonial population with biogenic weapons, killing almost everyone on the colony.
After this attack, the Narn, not wishing to provoke the further wrath of the Dilgar, sent a Narn delegation to the Dilgar homeworld to seek a negotiated peace. The first two Narn ambassadors were used in scientific experiments by the Dilgar. The third Narn ambassador was allowed to live and finally opened diplomatic relations with the Dilgar Empire.
At the Tyree system, a fleet of League ships with some Narn ships present attacked a Dilgar warfleet. Losses for the combined League-Narn fleet were heavy and with the tide of battle turning against them the allied fleet was on the verge of defeat. At the last moment, however, a fleet of Earth Alliance warships jumped out of Hyperspace to join the fight (an event known as the 'Omega Incident'). With this surprise assistance from Earth, the allied fleet won their first major victory over the Dilgar in nearly a year.
The Tide Turns: The Earth Alliance Intervenes
When the Dilgar War began, the Earth Alliance had only recently emerged as an interstellar power, having acquired Jumpgate technology from the Centauri. In 2230, Earth decided to intervene in the Dilgar War on the side of the League. At first the Earth Alliance was motivated only by a desire to establish a reputation for themselves as a major player in galactic affairs. However, as human soldiers and fighter pilots witnessed first-hand the atrocities committed by the Dilgar on civilian populations, the Earth Alliance came to see the Dilgar Empire as an immoral, evil force not unlike the Nazis of Earth's twentieth century. Thus, the war effort on Earth took on a clear rationale of defeating a despicable enemy with a fierce enthuasism in an arguably just war.
In revenge for Earth's interference in the war, the Dilgar sent an assault force against the Earth Alliance's Orion Colonies. The Dilgar fleet included more than 180 warships; their plan was to reduce the Orion colonies to ashes and convince humanity to stay out of the war. Unfortunately for the Dilgar, they were unaware that their communications had been intercepted and descrambled by EarthForce intelligence. When the Dilgar attack fleet emerged from hyperspace, instead of facing a small colonial garrison, they faced more than 600 Earth warships and thousands of Starfury fighters. Against such overwhelming numbers the Dilgar were forced to make a hasty retreat.
Earth's entry turned the tide of the war. Assisted by EarthForce, the League worlds succeeded in driving the Dilgar away from their territories and pushing them back to their homeworld. The final battle of the war was the Battle of Balos in 2232; after this defeat the Dilgar were forced to surrender. All Dilgar Warmasters were captured and tried for their crimes, except for one, Jha'dur, who disappeared during the fighting at Balos.
As part of the surrender terms, the Dilgar agreed to let Earth warships blockade the Dilgar jump-gate, thus trapping the Dilgar in their home solar system. Shortly after the war ended, the Dilgar sun went supernova, vaporizing the Dilgar homeworld and wiping out the entire species. Unknown to Earth and the League, a single Dilgar survived both the war and the supernova eruption: Warmaster Jha'dur, nicknamed "Deathwalker", the most infamous Dilgar leader of the war. Jha'dur had been the foremost proponent of using captured aliens as live "guinea pigs" in sadistic medical and scientific experiments. Approximately twenty years after the Dilgar War ended, Jha'dur would reemerge on the Babylon 5 space station, where she claimed to have invented a serum that gave its users immortality – but at a terrible price.
The immediate effect of the Dilgar War was to make the Earth Alliance a major galactic power; the League of Non-Aligned Worlds would forever look to the Earth Alliance as its protector and benefactor, even during current Babylon 5 timeframe. However, the war also created an arrogant belief among Earth's military and civilian leaders that they could defeat any alien threat. Earth's victory over the technologically superior Dilgar gave the Earth Alliance an inflated view of its military capabilities.
As a result, the Earth Alliance ignored the warnings of the Centauri Republic to avoid contact with the reclusive but extremely advanced Minbari race. In 2245 an EarthForce task fleet would encounter a small group of Minbari warships; this disastrous contact would lead to the bloody Earth-Minbari War, in which the Earth Alliance would be almost exterminated by Minbari forces. This was considered to be the ultimate revenge of Jha'dur, who by this time was helping the Minbari, on Minbar.
- The origin of the Earth-Minbari War is shown in the movie In the Beginning.
- The number of humans killed in the Earth-Minbari War is stated by journalist Cynthia Torqueman in the episode "And Now For a Word".
- Bassom pp66
- Bassom pp59
- Bassom, David The A to Z Guide of Babylon 5. Bantam Doubleday. March 1997. ISBN 978-0-440-22385-6