Combined and joint work to achieve regional security is important, said Dominican Army Major General Braulio Alcántara López, vice minister of Defense for Military Affairs of the Dominican Republic, during the 2018 Caribbean Nations Security Conference (CANSEC), held in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, December 4-6, 2018.
Maj. Gen. Alcántara spoke with Diálogo about the armed forces’ responsibility in hemispheric security, national support for initiatives to combat transnational crime, and humanitarian assistance in natural disasters, among other topics.
Diálogo: What’s the importance of the Dominican Republic’s participation in CANSEC?
Dominican Army Major General Braulio Alcántara López, vice minister of Defense for Military Affairs of the Dominican Republic: CANSEC allows us to integrate to seek combined action between armies of the region, and to commit to a common effort to counter threats and provide operational standards to successfully confront the crises that natural phenomena, which occur frequently in the Caribbean, create. CANSEC also paves the way for the professionalization of noncommissioned officers, which we’ve worked on since its introduction in the Dominican Republic’s Organic Armed Forces Law No. 139-13.
Diálogo: One of CANSEC’s main topics is the combined work to confront regional security threats. What’s your country’s contribution to the regional effort to achieve this objective?
Maj. Gen. Alcántara: Our contribution is combined and coordinated work experience, particularly in the face of natural disasters. The integration of government agencies to work along with military forces in cases of natural disaster yielded very good results.
Diálogo: Why is it important for the armed forces to conduct combined and joint work not only at the national level, but also with their partner nation counterparts to confront common threats?
Maj. Gen. Alcántara: With joint and combined work we can achieve better results, due to the harmony and fraternity that exists between the countries of the region. The environment of interoperability, joint, and combined operations at the national and international levels provides the opportunity to achieve the necessary synergy to obtain positive results and confront common threats more efficiently.
Diálogo: The Dominican Army led Task Force Border Fence kicked off in September 2018. What’s the objective of that interagency task force?
Maj. Gen. Alcántara: The goal is to strengthen security in the border area to increase controls already in place and have a greater number of detentions and seizures of foreigners trying to enter the country illegally, or of unlawful weapons, drugs, or other goods coming in. Special forces units and government agencies that interact at the border make up this task force.
Diálogo: Members of the Ministry of Defense met with representatives of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) in September 2018, to coordinate Exercise Humanitarian Allied Forces 2019 (FAHUM 2019, in Spanish). What’s the importance of your country hosting FAHUM 2019?
Maj. Gen. Alcántara: FAHUM 2019 will allow us to project our force’s capabilities and carry out multinational humanitarian assistance operations in a multidisciplinary and international environment, along with SOUTHCOM and guest nations, where participants will plan and organize a rapid response to a disaster within 72 hours of its occurrence. FAHUM allows the Armed Forces to act in coordination with other countries and gain experience in procedures and lessons learned on humanitarian assistance operations.
Diálogo: The Ministry of Defense’s Counterterrorism Special Command offers the Special Tactical Operations in Urban Areas course to international forces. What’s the importance of this international reach?
Maj. Gen. Alcántara: We would like partner nations to get closer and interact more with the Dominican Republic through these exercises. Our counterterrorist unit was founded more than 20 years ago and has the capability and experience to teach this type of course. It also received intensive training from SOUTHCOM. We would like to share this unit’s capabilities with international students to strengthen bonds of friendship with our sister nations in the region.
Diálogo: Through the International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Graduate School (EGDH-DIH, in Spanish), the Ministry of Defense facilitated the graduation of hundreds of members of the armed forces and police, as well as civilians from the Dominican Republic and other Central American countries. What’s EGDH-DIH’s contribution in promoting respect for human rights in Central America?
Maj. Gen. Alcántara: EGDH-DIH was the first institution of its kind in the region. Since its creation, human rights in the Dominican Republic started to be addressed differently, especially in the military environment. Today, the Armed Forces act under the premise of respect for human rights. Through EGDH-DIH’s programs, we train representatives of Central American countries in a field vital to all the nations that come together under the Human Rights Enforcement Mechanisms of the United Nations and the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Human Rights System.
Diálogo: What are the most significant advances in the professionalization of Dominican noncommissioned officers?
Maj. Gen. Alcántara: The main initiative was the creation of the Noncommissioned Officers Training School at the Army’s General Directorate of Military Education, Instruction, and Training, which is the main basis for the successful development of this new command role within the Dominican Armed Forces. Law No. 139-13 established the noncommissioned officers career and we now have the ranks of second lieutenant I, second lieutenant II, and second lieutenant III.
Diálogo: The Unified Joint Command of the Dominican Armed Forces is part of the Internal and Civil Security Plan in Support of the National Police. How do the forces operate under this plan?
Maj. Gen. Alcántara: The Unified Joint Command was created to achieve better coordination between the Armed Forces and the National Police. It’s a unit that responds to support requests from the National Police for civil security and any other aspect. This experience enabled the Armed Forces to collaborate and provide support to other operations with several government agencies that relate to national security.
Diálogo: What’s your message to the commanders of military and security forces of Central America and the Caribbean about combined work for regional security?
Maj. Gen. Alcántara: We need to support the initiatives that foster collaboration and cooperation among partner nations armed forces, contribute to regional stability, and help counter transnational crime. CANSEC proves that we can sit down together, identify threats, and look for solutions.