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Dominican Republic - Military Spending

The armys dominance has led to lower funding and readiness for the navy and air force. The Dominican Republic spent approximately US$180 million (1 percent of the GDP) as of 2014 on its armed forces. With a limited arms manufacturing capability, the country depends on imports to meet most of its equipment needs. The Dominican Republic relies on U.S. military aid to bolster Dominican counterdrug capabilities.

Defense budgets since the early 1980s had shown little change except for measurable increases between 1993 and 1996. Weapons replacement and modernization had been almost abandoned as spending constraints preclude outlays much beyond pay and benefits. As a consequence, the readiness of the armed forces to deal with any threat from abroad is severely limited. They are capable of carrying out most internal security functions, but lack the resources to adequately patrol the country's borders against the flow of illicit drugs.

Estimated defense expenditures for 1998 were US$180 million, representing 1.1 percent of gross national product (GNP), according to the United States Central Intelligence Agency. The levels of spending reported by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, presumably calculated on a different basis, were significantly lower, averaging US$109 million annually for the years 1994-96 and US$120 million in 1997. Military expenditures averaged about 7 percent of central government expenditures during the decade 1986-95 and were slightly in excess of 1 percent of GNP in most years of that decade.

The level of military spending measured in Dominican currency rose steadily during the late 1970s, remained at relatively constant amounts during the early 1980s, then tended to be somewhat higher from 1992 onward. When adjusted for inflation, however, there was no real increase in military outlays until 1993. The sharp decline in the value of the peso in the mid-1980s weakened the nation's ability to finance the arms imports necessary for modernization, not to mention replacements and spare parts for existing equipment.

The problem was made even more acute by the fact that the military budget is preponderantly allocated to current operations. Capital expenditures are believed to account for well under 10 percent of total military spending. The low proportion of the budget devoted to funding capital improvements is illustrated by the fact that reported arms and related imports during the 1986-95 period totaled only about US$40 million, constituting 0.35 percent of the nation's total imports. The United States has been the most important source of military equipment although, during the 1982-87 period, the nation's principal arms supplier was France.

Trujillo 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 has deteriorated, the nation still has a modest arms-manufacturing capacity. The arsenal at San Cristobal, twenty-four kilometers west of Santo Domingo, produces small arms ammunition and can repair heavier weapons and vehicles. Smaller wooden-hulled craft have in the past been produced by domestic shipbuilders for the navy.

The San Cristobal Arsenal, established by Rafael Trujillo after World War II, developed three indigenous sub-machineguns, an automatic rifle, and an assault rifle, but only the Cristobal M2 submachinegun was produced in large quantities. Development was also initiated for mortars and antitank weapons but not to the point of production. For the last several decades, the San Cristobal facility has been used to produce small arms ammunition and maintain a variety of army ordnance.

According to the World Bank, military expenditures data from SIPRI are derived from the NATO definition, which includes all current and capital expenditures on the armed forces, including peacekeeping forces; defense ministries and other government agencies engaged in defense projects; paramilitary forces, if these are judged to be trained and equipped for military operations; and military space activities. Such expenditures include military and civil personnel, including retirement pensions of military personnel and social services for personnel; operation and maintenance; procurement; military research and development; and military aid (in the military expenditures of the donor country).

Excluded are civil defense and current expenditures for previous military activities, such as for veterans' benefits, demobilization, conversion, and destruction of weapons. This definition cannot be applied for all countries, however, since that would require much more detailed information than is available about what is included in military budgets and off-budget military expenditure items. (For example, military budgets might or might not cover civil defense, reserves and auxiliary forces, police and paramilitary forces, dual-purpose forces such as military and civilian police, military grants in kind, pensions for military personnel, and social security contributions paid by one part of government to another.)

NATO defines defense expenditure as payments made by a national government specifically to meet the needs of its armed forces or those of Allies. A major component of defense expenditure is payments on Armed Forces financed within the Ministry of Defense (MoD) budget. Armed Forces include Land, Maritime and Air forces as well as Joint formations such as Administration and Command, Special Operations Forces, Medical Service, Logistic Command etc. In view of the differences between the NATO and national definitions, the figures shown may diverge considerably from those which are quoted by national authorities or given in national budgets.

They might also include "Other Forces" like Ministry of Interior troops, border guards, national police forces, customs, gendarmerie, carabinierie, coast guards etc. In such cases, expenditure should be included only in proportion to the forces that are trained in military tactics, are equipped as a military force, can operate under direct military authority in deployed operations, and can, realistically, be deployed outside national territory in support of a military force. Also, expenditure on Other Forces financed through the budgets of ministries other than MoD should be included in defense expenditure.

Pension payments made directly by the government to retired military and civilian employees of military departments should be included regardless of whether these payments are made from the budget of the MoD or other ministries. Expenditures for peacekeeping and humanitarian operations (paid by MoD or other ministries), the destruction of weapons, equipment and ammunition, and the costs associated with inspection and control of equipment destruction are included in defense expenditures.

Research and development (R&D) costs are to be included in defense expenditures. R&D costs should also include those for projects that do not successfully lead to production of equipment. Expenditure for the military component of mixed civilian-military activities is included, but only when this military component can be specifically accounted for or estimated. Financial assistance by one Allied country to another, specifically to support the defense effort of the recipient, should be included in the defense expenditure of the donor country and not in the defense expenditure of the receiving country. War damage payments and spending on civil defense are both excluded from the NATO definition of defense expenditure.

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