Military Crisis Management: U.S. Intervention in the Dominican Republic, 1965

By Herbert G. Schoonmaker | Go to book overview

Preface

This study analyzes the role and management of U.S. military forces in the Dominican crisis of 1965. The Dominican intervention, like other cold war interventions such as Lebanon in 1958, demonstrated the use of rapidly reacting, joint military forces to achieve limited political objectives. Rapid response with overwhelming force enabled American troops to overcome any opposition before it became organized, stabilized the chaotic situation and prevented a communist takeover of the revolution.

I chose to investigate the Dominican action because it represented a good vehicle for the analysis of U.S. civilian-military relationships during a military operation of this kind. At the same time the civil strife continued in Santo Domingo, U.S. military forces engaged in a variety of duties including combat and peacekeeping and did so while OAS, UN and Washington government teams attempted to negotiate a peace settlement. Such a complex environment necessitated tight civilian control of the engaged armed forces and required restraint by the military especially in carrying out their combat duties. Someone pointed out that our failures in Vietnam were due to our incomprehension and inability to cope with the political dimension of the military problem. The reverse was true in the Dominican case where our understanding of the political dimension figured importantly in our military success.

In addition to political-military factors I focused on the joint army-navy-air aspects of the operation. Although I have not attempted to resolve controversies such as the extent of the communist threat, I have concentrated on the uniqueness of the intervention, which made the lessons learned applicable in some circumstances but not in others. A study of the Dominican intervention is important because of its implications for defense needs and structure at a time of tight military budgets. This type of low-intensity conflict may reoccur since many Third World nations, especially in Latin America, are chronically unstable. Also I have attempted to outline the problems associated with quick reacting forces in this action and indicate the absolute

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