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Dominican Republic - Military Personnel

Service in the Dominican Republic Armed Forces is voluntary. Dominican Republic citizens are eligible for military service at age 18. The constitution provides for compulsory military service for all males between the ages of eighteen and fifty-four. However, the ranks are easily filled by volunteers, and the military does not impose a strain on national manpower.

The Congress of the Dominican Republic authorized a combined military force of 44,000 active duty personnel. Actual active duty strength is approximately 32,000. However, approximately 50% of those are used for non-military activities such as security providers for government-owned non-military facilities, highway toll stations, prisons, forestry work, state enterprises, and private businesses. The commander in chief of the military is the president. The principal missions are to defend the nation and protect the territorial integrity of the country.

The army was larger than the other services combined with approximately 20,000 active duty personnel as of 2010. According to the Marine Corps, as of 2014 the Dominican army had a strength of 15,000 active personnel. No military reserves exist, but the paramilitary national police are trained to supplement military forces if necessary, including special operations forces.

The armed forces have organized a Specialized Airport Security Corps (CESA) and a Specialized Port Security Corps (CESEP) to meet international security needs in these areas. The Secretary of the Armed Forces has also announced plans to form a specialized border corps (CESEF). Additionally, the armed forces provide 75% of personnel to the National Investigations Directorate (DNI) and the Counter-Drug Directorate (DNCD).

The Dominican National Police force contains 32,000 agents. The police are not part of the Dominican armed forces, but share some overlapping security functions. Sixty-three percent of the force serve in areas outside traditional police functions, similar to the situation of their military counterparts.

The armed forces no longer have the strength and the military potential they enjoyed under Trujillo, but the military continued to be a popular career. Officers, noncommissioned officers (NCOs) , and many enlisted personnel, as well, look on the military as a long-term career. As a result, all three services consist largely of experienced and well-trained professionals.

Entry into the officer corps is competitive, and most entrants are drawn from the middle and the lower-middle classes. Most enlisted personnel come from rural areas. The military has a very small number of females; most serve in positions traditionally reserved for women, such as nursing. Women first gained admittance to positions traditionally held only by men in 1981, when a few female personnel were commissioned as medical officers.

Pay and conditions of service compare well with opportunities available in civilian occupations. Larger installations maintain a number of commissaries and exchanges, and each of the three services operates officer and enlisted clubs. Military personnel also benefit from free medical service. Under the armed forces' generous retirement program, all members who have served thirty years are entitled to receive a pension based on 75 percent of their active-duty pay at the time of retirement. Certain officers, such as pilots and naval engineers, may apply for a full pension after twenty years of service.

The Dominican Republic has three military institutes: the Institute for Advanced Studies in Defense and National Security, the Gregorio Luperon Program for Professional Education and Training, and the Military Institute for Human Rights. These institutes were inaugurated in September 2000 and are headed by a general officer. Their purpose is to transform the militarys structure by improving the intellect and efficiency of the soldier, and improving the militarys ability to address threats such as the trafficking of drugs, arms, and undocumented immigrants. The Army enlisted personnel receive both basic and specialist training at the Armed Forces Training Center at San Isidro air base. The Cazadores de la Montana Battalion trains troops in mountain and jungle warfare at Constanza. The Military School (Escuela Militar) at Haina offers a 4-year course for aspiring army officers. The Army conducts a 6-month course for company commanders and a 10-month course for battalion commanders. In addition, under an agreement made in 1962, the U.S. offers command and staff courses to officers of the three Dominican Armed Forces, either within the U.S. or the Panama Canal Zone. At Bani, the Vocational School of the Armed Forces and National Police trains enlisted men in manual skills prior to their retirement. Training for military and the National Drug Control Directorate enlisted personnel and officers and the National Police included instruction on human rights. The Ministry of the Armed Forces provided human rights training or orientation to officers of various ranks as well as to civilians during the year. The Border Security Corps conducted mandatory human rights training at its training facilities for border officers. The Graduate School of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Rights trained civilians and armed forces personnel. The school also had programs in which members of the armed forces and civilians from Congress, district attorney offices, the Supreme Court, government ministries, the National Police, and the Central Electoral Board participated.

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