-- Based on the success of the "Superman" DC Comic book for children in Bosnia, we are developing a second version in Spanish for Latin America. In addition, the United States is working to develop new educational tools such as interactive school programs, as well as radio and TV spots.
-- To meet the growing demand for skilled deminers, the Department of Defense has expanded its pool of available trainers to more than 270.
-- The Department of Defense has established a humanitarian demining information center at James Madison University (JMU). With DoD, JMU maintains a newly established humanitarian demining website.
The U.S. has the largest research and development effort in the world to identify and field improved technologies for humanitarian mine detection and demining.
-- In the last year, the USG has reviewed over 120 technologies specifically designed for humanitarian demining operations and 21 new projects have been selected for development. Prototypes of selected equipment have been fielded in Bosnia, Honduras, Laos, Cambodia, Mozambique and Rwanda.
New Humanitarian Demining Initiatives
Today, the United States announced it will expand its demining assistance program. We will:
-- increase from 15 to 21 the number of countries in which U.S. forces train deminers;
-- increase U.S. funding for demining programs to about $80 million in FY1998;
-- expand our research and development program and other efforts to improve techniques and procedures for humanitarian demining. Our goal will be to develop leading edge technology necessary to better detect, remove and dispose of landmines;
-- provide significantly increased resources to aid those who are most affected by the tragedy of landmines -- the victims, both to U.S. programs and international efforts; and
-- open our demining training programs at the U.S. Army Engineer School including to deminers from other nations, non-governmental organizations and international organizations.
The security situation in Korea is unique, requiring the United States to maintain the option of using anti-personnel landmines there until alternatives are available or the risk of aggression has been removed. Our objective is to have alternatives to our anti-personnel landmines there ready by 2006.
A U.S. Army General leads the UN command in Korea, pursuant to the UN Armistice Agreement of 1953. The United States has 37,000 troops there, along with the forces of our South Korean allies. The UN command is composed of eight other nations as well.
Anti-personnel landmines play a crucial role in the defense of Korea and the city of Seoul, which is just 27 miles from the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and which has a population in excess of 10 million inhabitants. Across the DMZ are nearly 1 million North Korean forces. These forces are well-prepared and could come across the border at any time, with little warning.
Because North Korean forces are so close to Seoul and so outnumber allied forces in place, the United Nations command relies on pre-planned and emplaced minefields to counter and slow a possible North Korean advance. These minefields are well marked with fences and signs and are monitored by South Korean troops. They do not pose a threat to the local civilian population. In hostilities, additional APL would be deployed to delay and to disrupt the attack long enough for us to bring in air power and other reinforcements with the objective of halting the attack and preventing the enormous loss of life that would result if North Korean forces were to overrun Seoul. Any U.S. anti-personnel landmines that are not marked and monitored will self-destruct within a maximum of 15 days, leaving no residual threat to the civilian population.
The United States believes that any treaty designed to ban anti-personnel landmines must not ban anti-tank mines, as would have been the case for the U.S. were we to have signed the Ottawa process treaty. The U.S. has an inventory of high-tech anti-tank systems with submunitions, i.e., anti-handling devices, that are designed to protect the anti-tank mines. Deployed around the anti-tank mines, these submunitions are essential to the effectiveness of the anti-tank minefield by preventing rapid breaching or removal by enemy footsoldiers.
These systems are only used in the case of imminent hostilities and can be air or ground delivered. They block, disrupt or delay enemy forces and thus are known as a force multiplier on the battlefield. In DESERT STORM, for example, an air delivered system called "GATOR" was used to protect the flanks of U.S. forces during combat operations, allowing the U.S. VII Corps to effectively protect and concentrate its forces during the "left hook" maneuver.
Because they are self-destructing and self-deactivating, the anti-tank mines and their submunitions do not present a threat to the civilian population after hostilities have ended. The anti-tank mines and the devices that protect the anti-tank mines blow up automatically at a pre-set time (4 hours, 48 hours, or 15 days) and, if they fail to do so, their battery rapidly runs out so that they can no longer function. With the self-deactivation feature, these mines are rendered inert within 90 days at the outside, to a reliability rate of higher than 99.99 percent. Only one in the 32,000 APL tested has missed its self-destruct time (the one that missed was one hour late).
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