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Dominican Republic: Defense Spending
Country Study > Chapter 5 > National Security > The Role of the Military in Public Life > Defense Spending


The military budget for 1987 was US$64 million. This amount represented approximately 11 percent of central government expenditures, well in keeping with the levels maintained over the 1975 to 1987 period, which ranged between 7.8 and 11.7 percent. Defense expenditures, as a percentage of gross national product, averaged between 1.2 and 1.9 percent over the 1975 to 1987 period. In comparison with other Latin American countries, the nation spent a lower than average proportion of GNP for defense.

The value of military spending in Dominican currency rose steadily during the late 1970s; it held at relatively constant rates during the early 1980s and then rose rapidly in the late 1980s. These trends reflected the effects of inflation more than any real increase in military funding, however. When adjusted for inflation, the value of military spending actually fell at least 20 percent during the 1980s. The effects of shrinking financial resources on military readiness were exacerbated by a severe decline in the value of the peso. This resulted in a 40-percent drop in the United States dollar value of defense spending from 1983 to 1987, which greatly weakened the nation's ability to finance the arms imports necessary for modernization, not to mention replacements and spare parts.

This problem was made even more acute by the fact that most of the military budget was allocated to current operations. In 1986, for instance, capital expenditures accounted for only 3.3 percent of total military spending. The low proportion of the budget devoted to funding capital improvements was reflected in the following statistic: during the 1980s, military equipment never accounted for more than 0.7 percent of total imports. Until the early 1980s, the Dominicans imported most of their arms from the United States. Although the United States continued to be an important source of military equipment, the nation's principal arms supplier during the 1982-1987 period was France.

Trujillo had established the nation's defense industry just after World War II. By the late 1950s, the Dominican Republic had the capacity to be nearly self-sufficient in small weapons. Although that capability had deteriorated by 1989, the nation still had a modest arms manufacturing industry, limited mainly to producing small vessels, ordnance, uniforms, and personal equipment. The arsenal at San Cristóbal, twenty-four kilometers west of Santo Domingo, could produce carbines, machine guns, mortars, and antitank guns, and could also rebuild heavier weapons and manufacture munitions. The nation produced military equipment for domestic use only, and it did not export any arms.

The United States government provided the Dominicans with military assistance on a continuing basis. During the 1958 to 1988 period, assistance totalled more than US$15.6 billion. A portion of these funds defrayed military training for 5,391 of the nation's uniformed personnel during the same period. During the 1970s and the early 1980s, this assistance focused mainly on improving counterinsurgency capability. After that time, United States security assistance increasingly sought to foster bilateral cooperation, especially in antinarcotics programs. As part of an overall decline in security assistance worldwide, United States military assistance to the nation fell sharply during the mid-1980s. Foreign military sales credits were phased out in 1986, and funds provided under the military assistance program were eliminated in 1988. Proposed United States security assistance for fiscal year1990 consisted mainly of economic support funds that were intended to help build a stable political climate, foster economic growth, and strengthen democratic institutions. Funds were also allocated to provide military training for ninety-two members of the Dominican armed forces, many in United States military schools.

Data as of December 1989

Last Updated: December 1989

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Dominican Republic was first published in 1989. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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