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The US Dominican Intervention: Success Story

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Journal article

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Just after 0200 on 30 April 1965, two battalions of paratroopers from the 3d Brigade, 82d Airborne Division, under the command of Major General Robert York, landed at San Isidro airfield in the Dominican Republic. Ten miles away, the beleaguered capital of Santo Domingo was in the grip of a violent civil war. Six days before, two Dominican army battalions, whose officers supported the return of deposed president Juan Bosch, had entered into open revolt against the government and were joined quickly by several well-organized communist and left-wing political parties. Within 24 hours, the two rebel groups consolidated their power and controlled most of the city. Boschs supporters adopted the name Constitutionalists after the 1963 constitution that was supplanted by the post-Bosch government. The Dominican military and its supporters became known as Loyalists. After considerable delay, the Dominican military decided to fight the rebels under the command of General Elias Wessin y Wessin, a right-wing caudillo. Loyalists made two half-hearted attempts to reassert control, but managed to occupy only two small areas in the city. The American divisions arrival in the Dominican Republic displayed President Lyndon Johnsons resolve to prevent another pro-left regime from taking power in the Caribbean. San Isidro airfield was transformed into the center of the third armed American intervention in the Dominican Republic in the 20th century, and the first such expedition undertaken there by the U.S. Army. Thus began what was to be the largest and most rapidly built-up surgical intervention ever undertaken by U.S. Army forces outside the United States. The 1965 intervention did more than test American deployment capabilities. The intervention confronted the commander of U.S. forces in the Dominican Republic, Lt. General Bruce Palmer, Jr., with new and delicate problems involving carefully orchestrated military support for diplomatic initiatives.

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  • Government and Political Science
  • Humanities and History
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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