Cranes Big Bang Furthers End of Land Mines
By Staff Sgt. Alicia K. Borlik
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 6, 1998 The Army detonated 80 nonself-destructing land mines June 30, the last of more than 3.3 million once stockpiled in the United States.
The mines were destroyed at Crane Army Ammunition Activity, Ind., as part of the presidents 1996 initiative to eliminate dumb anti-personnel land mines and the danger they pose to civilians in the aftermath of war.
Cranes June big bang leaves the United States with only smart land mines. These weapons can be preset to self-destruct or deactivate within four hours to 15 days and so do not pose a long-term problem after a crisis, said Deborah Rosenblum, director of DoD humanitarian affairs and anti-personnel land mine policy. Mapping and marking also control the mines use, and they are normally placed only when battle is imminent, she added.
The president called for DoD to destroy excess nonself-destructing mines by December 1999 and to keep only those needed for the defense of Korea and military training. The exception of Korea from the demining program is necessary because Korea poses a unique set of security challenges, Rosenblum said.
North Korea has a million-man army right on the demilitarized zone that has the capability to launch an attack with little or no warning, she explained. We believe, in conjunction with the [Republic of Korea], that land mines are critical to slowing down or halting an attack by the North Koreans until reinforcement and other weapon systems could be brought to bear.
One other exception is at Guantanamo Naval Base, Cuba. The Navy retains responsibility for these nonself-destructing mines; Rosenblum said they are also being cleared and will be destroyed before the presidents deadline.
I think it [the Crane detonation] demonstrates clearly the U.S. leadership on this, and its through that leadership step that were trying to get others to lead by example, Rosenblum said.
The United States hopes other nations will follow its lead. In addition to destroying its land mine stockpile, the United States has a robust humanitarian demining program, she said.
We are active in over 19 countries and have spent over $153 million since 1994 on that program, Rosenblum said. About 60 percent of that money will be spent in 1998.
The United States is confident the world can remedy the humanitarian crisis caused by nonself-destructing mines, she said. The presidents Global Humanitarian Demining program sets a 2010 deadline for ridding the world of land mines.
We feel very confident that this is a problem we can solve in years, certainly not decades, Rosenblum said.