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Dominican Republic: Armed Forces Organization, Training, and Equipment
Country Study > Chapter 5 > National Security > Armed Forces Organization, Training, and Equipment


Under the Constitution, the president of the republic is the commander in chief of the armed forces. The chain of command extended from the president to the secretary of state for the armed forces and then to deputy secretaries of state for the army, the navy, and the air force. The secretary and the three deputies were all military personnel. The secretary, usually an army lieutenant general, was appointed by the president; the secretary also served as chief of the armed forces general staff. The deputies were appointed by the secretary with the approval of the president.

Each of the deputies controlled his service through a chief of staff and a general staff. Each general staff had five principal sections: personnel, intelligence, operations, logistics, and public relations. In addition, there was an administrative judge advocate section for each service to handle military legal matters. Except in emergencies, the chiefs of staff exercised operational control over the three services of the armed forces. In the late 1980s, the chiefs of staff consisted of an army lieutenant general, an air force major general, and a navy vice admiral.

The country was divided into three defense zones. The Southern Defense Zone was headquartered in Santo Domingo. It comprised the provinces of Peravia, San Cristóbal, Monte Plate, Hato Mayor, El Seibo, San Pedro de Marcorís, La Romana, La Altagracia, and the National District of Santo Domingo. The Northern Defense Zone, headquartered in Santiago de los Caballeros (Santiago), covered the provinces of Puerto Plata, Santiago, La Vega, Valverde, Monseñor Nouel, Espaillat, Salcedo, Duarte, Sánchez Ramírez, María Trinidad Sánchez, and Samaná. The Western Defense Zone had its headquarters in Barahona. It covered Azua, Dajabón, Monte Cristi, Santiago Rodríguez, Elías Piña, San Juan, Baoruco, Independencia, Pedernales, and Barahona provinces The Southern Defense Zone contained approximately half of the army's effective assets.

The armed forces secretariat operated several schools, including the three military academies. The secretariat also ran the General Juan Pablo Duarte Advanced School of the Armed Forces, which was located in Santo Domingo and provided a oneyear command and staff course for senior officers. The school graduated its first class in 1984. In addition to these schools, which offered purely military curricula, the secretariat also administered the Vocational School of the Armed Forces and Police. The school was established in Baní in 1966, and other branches were later set up throughout the nation. The school trained enlisted personnel in trades that could be used in the armed forces as well as in civilian life. Its programs provided high-quality training in technical specialties to service members, police personnel, and selected civilians.

The armed forces maintained an integrated judicial system for courts-martial for officers, and each branch conducted courts for minor offenses. All persons subject to military jurisdiction who committed a crime or a misdemeanor while on military duty were accountable to military authorities. Those not on military duty were liable to prosecution by civilian authorities.

Although United States military aid and the number of United States military representatives in the nation diminished during the 1980s, the armed forces continued to maintain their closest foreign military relations with the United States. Under a 1962 bilateral military assistance agreement with the United States, Dominican officers attended advanced training programs run by the United States.

As of 1989, the Dominican Republic was a partner in several multilateral defense agreements and organizations designed to assure regional security. These included the Act of Chapultepec, the Inter-American Defense Board, the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (Rio Treaty), and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America (Tlatelolco Treaty). The country was also a signatory to the Biological Weapons Convention, the Limited Test Ban Treaty, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and the Treaty on the Control of Arms on the Seabed.

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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