by Gerry J. Gilmore / American Forces Press Service –
WASHINGTON (Feb. 27, 2004) – The US military will stop using always-armed, live landmines after 2010 under a new government policy announced by senior officials at a State Department news briefing today.
The United States will become “the first major military power to adopt a policy ending use of all persistent landmines and maintaining the international standard of detect ability for landmines of any kind,” said Lincoln Bloomfield, assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs.
American military de-miners, as well as those from other nations, Bloomfield said, already are involved in marking, monitoring and clearing live minefields left at the end of hostilities in at least 40 countries.
Landmines Kill Innocents
Each year thousands of people fall victim to live landmines buried around the world, Bloomfield said. US forces, he pointed out, didn’t leave those mines behind — except for the potential exception of landmines remaining after the Vietnam conflict from three decades ago.
“The worldwide humanitarian (landmine) crisis is very much the product of persistent landmines used by other militaries or non-state actors who did not observe the international conventions relating to the use of these munitions,” Bloomfield said.
Future American military use of landmines engineered to self-deactivate after a specific period of time should save civilian lives without taking away a key defensive weapon, he noted.
New Policy ‘Doesn’t Include Korea’
Bloomfield said the new policy doesn’t impact on old-style contact landmines used on the Korean Peninsula to deter possible North Korean aggression against South Korea.
Joseph Collins, deputy assistant secretary of defense for stability operations, also at the briefing, said the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff and the military services were involved participants in the development of the new landmine policy.
The new policy requires DoD to develop and use more sophisticated, civilian- friendly landmines in the future, Collins said, noting that landmines would remain an important component of the US military’s weapons inventory.
Landmines are employed as force-multipliers, Collins explained, “allowing us to fight and win with fewer forces … against numerically superior opponents,” while protecting American troops.
Related AFPS Article:
US Humanitarian Mine Action: Making the World Safer