DoD Update on Landmine Ban
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 27, 1997 Defense officials have removed about 80 percent of DoD's 3 million nonself-destructing anti-personnel landmines from military stockpiles, Pentagon officials said May 15. The mines are slated for destruction.
So far, about 888,000 of the so-called "dumb" mines have been destroyed, officials said. All 3 million are scheduled for destruction by the end of 1999.
The Pentagon released a report in May titled "Report to the Secretary of Defense on the Status of DoD's Implementation of the U.S. policy on Anti-personnel Landmines." It says the military is on schedule and is making progress toward complying with the president's call for a global ban issued last May.
DoD is working with other government agencies to pursue a global ban through the Conference on Disarmament, DoD officials said. In January, Clinton permanently banned anti-personnel mine export and transfer and capped stockpiles at current inventory levels, DoD officials said.
Eliminating anti-personnel landmines, except for training purposes and defense of the Korean Demilitarized Zone, is DoD's immediate goal. DoD officials say the right to use landmines in Korea must be preserved until alternatives become available or the risk of aggression has been removed. Without mines, the United States and South Korea could expect significantly higher casualties and a longer-lasting conflict between North and South, officials said.
The services are revising doctrine and reviewing war and contingency plans to reflect changes in the anti-personnel mine policy, officials said. DoD has also begun an aggressive research and development program to provide alternatives that will end U.S. reliance on mines. The fiscal 1997 budget allocates $2 billion for this purpose; the fiscal 1998 budget allocates $3 million and $5 million is allocated in fiscal 1999, officials said.
DoD has tested new demining equipment in Bosnia, Cambodia, Laos and Rwanda with more prototypes to be fielded within the next two years, official said. Of 29 prototypes tested in fiscal 1995-1996, there were 17 deemed successful for immediate use in humanitarian demining operations, officials said. The fiscal 1997 and 1998 budgets include $14.4 million and $17.7 million, respectively, for the equipment development program. Twenty-one more projects will be fielded, officials said.
Officials estimate 100 million landmines are buried in 70 countries around the globe. Humanitarian demining operations increased from 12 countries in fiscal 1996 to 14 in fiscal 1997, with 10 more countries being considered, DoD officials said. The number of DoD personnel deployed for demining operations increased 77 percent, up from 156 to 276, officials said. The number of local government forces trained is up 133 percent from 516 to 1,200, and the dollar value of equipment transferred to these operations is up 32 percent, from $1.9 million to $2.8 million.