By: William Medina
The United States and the Dominican Republic enjoy a strong bilateral security cooperation. Security cooperation efforts include emergency preparedness training and financial assistance for the Dominican government to better serve its citizenry during a disaster. As the world confronts COVID-19 together, we see how these resources and trainings are being put into practice in the Dominican Republic.
The U.S. has committed over $677 million USD from 2010 to 2020 to Caribbean nations, including the Dominican Republic. Programs funded by the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) and managed through different U.S. agencies, including the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL), USAID, and the Department of Defense, have strengthened the capabilities of both the Dominican military and police to protect its citizens. One of the key parts of our cooperation has been preparing for emergencies, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Lieutenant Colonel Guillermo Rojas from the Army Security Cooperation section at the Embassy, “the training and resources provided by the United States has enabled the Emergency Operations Center (COE) of the Dominican Republic to be ready to respond to a natural disaster or an unforeseen emergency such as COVID-19. The United States has sponsored numerous trainings for the COE in the Dominican Republic and other countries in the region. A notable example is the Incident Command System (ICS) training designed to assist the COE on preparing effective and efficient domestic incident management by integrating a combination of facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures, and communications within a common organizational structure.”
Joint training with U.S. military and the Emergency Operation Center in May 2019.
The Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) at the Department of State supported the creation of a national 911 emergency response system in the Dominican Republic with over $20 million in funding. As of this year, the system serves over 80% of Dominicans and has been essential in the response efforts of COVID-19. INL also works closely with the Dominican National Police to strengthen the institution and train officers on crisis preparedness.