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United States of America, Landmine Monitor Report 2008

United States of America

Mine Ban Policy

The United States of America has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty. Its position has not changed since the Bush Administration announced its policy on the weapon in February 2004: “The United States will not join the Ottawa Convention because its terms would have required us to give up a needed military capability.”[1] The use of any type of landmine, antipersonnel or antivehicle, that self-destructs and self-deactivates is permitted by the government indefinitely without any geographic restriction. The use of non-self-destructing antipersonnel mines is permissible until 2010, but only in Korea. The use of non-self-destructing antivehicle mines will be allowed globally until 2010, but only after presidential authorization.[2] The use of non-detectable non-self-destructing landmines was prohibited on 3 January 2005.[3]

On 5 December 2007, the US was one of 18 states that abstained from voting on UN General Assembly Resolution 62/41 supporting the universalization and full implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty. It has abstained on each annual pro-ban UNGA resolution since 1997. The US has not attended a Mine Ban Treaty-related meeting since June 2005.

The US is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons and its Amended Protocol II on landmines. It attended the Ninth Annual Conference of States Parties to the protocol in November 2007, and submitted an annual national report on 5 November 2007, as required under Article 13. The US is not yet party to Protocol V on explosive remnants of war. The government submitted Protocol V to the Senate for its advice and consent in June 2006, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held its first hearing on 15 April 2008.

The US did not attend the Dublin Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions in May 2008.

Production, Transfer, Stockpiling, and Use

In May 2008, the Vice Chief of Staff of the US Army stated that the XM-7 Spider Networked Munition would be procured in a configuration that only allowed command detonation.[4] Previously, the Spider system contained a feature that permitted it to function in a victim-activated mode, making it incompatible with the Mine Ban Treaty.[5] This would have constituted the first production of antipersonnel mines by the US since 1997. The US Campaign to Ban Landmines had for several years strongly objected to Pentagon plans to move forward with the victim-activation feature, and the US Congress had taken steps to block a decision on full-scale production of victim-activated Spider systems.[6]

It is unclear if the decision on Spider system victim-activation will also apply to another landmine system being developed, the Intelligent Munitions System (IMS). Pentagon budget documents state that “IMS utilizes sensors linked to effects and is controlled over robust communications in either an autonomous mode or via Man-in-the-Loop control.” Budget justification materials from February 2007 note that IMS is “capable of unattended employment” in engaging its targets. The terms “unattended employment” and “autonomous mode” appear to be synonymous with victim-activation, and would make this system incompatible with the Mine Ban Treaty. [7]


The US stockpiles approximately 10.4 million antipersonnel mines and 7.5 million antivehicle mines, the third largest landmine stockpile in the world after China and Russia. The stockpile has 1.56 million non-self-destructing landmines, including 1.16 million M14 and M16 antipersonnel mines and about 403,000 Claymore mines.

US Antipersonnel Mine Stockpile[8]


No. of antipersonnel mines

Artillery Delivered Antipersonnel Mine (ADAM)










Volcano (M87 only)


Ground Emplaced Mine Scattering System (GEMSS)


Pursuit Deterrent Munition (PDM)


Modular Pack Mine System (MOPMS)




The US military stockpiles the M14 and M16 antipersonnel mines for use in any future war in Korea. US Army documents indicate about half of those mines are stored in the continental US. The US military also keeps in South Korea a substantial number of self-destructing, scatterable antipersonnel mines.[9]

On 26 December 2007, the comprehensive US moratorium on the export of antipersonnel mines was extended for an additional six years, until 2014.[10] US law has prohibited all antipersonnel mine exports since 23 October 1992, through a series of multi-year extensions of the moratorium.

Landmine Monitor previously reported there was uncertainty if the US planned to transfer some or all of its antipersonnel mines stockpiled in South Korea to the South Koreans as part of the termination of the War Reserve Stocks for Allies, Korea (WRSA-K) program.[11] In June 2008, the South Korean government told Landmine Monitor, “Landmines are excluded from the negotiations between the ROK and US” regarding sale or transfer of War Reserve Stocks.[12]

The last recorded use of antipersonnel mines by the US was in the first Gulf War in 1991.[13] Landmine Monitor is unaware of any allegations or reports that US forces have used antipersonnel mines in combat operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, or elsewhere in 2007 or the first half of 2008.

Landmine/ERW Casualties

The US military uses the term improvised explosive device (IED) to describe nearly all explosive devices encountered by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. In reporting casualties, US military officials make no distinction between victim-activated and command-detonated IEDs.[14]

In Iraq in 2007, a total of 475 US military personnel were killed by attacks involving IEDs, according to Department of Defense casualty reports. Five of the casualties were the result of vehicle-born IED attacks. Mines were responsible for the deaths of two military personnel in 2007. In addition, two soldiers died from an accident involving unexploded ordnance (UXO).[15] In 2006, 373 US military personnel were killed by IEDs in Iraq, and an additional four were killed by mines. Casualties continued in 2008: between 1 January and 1 July, a total of 104 US military personnel died as the result of IED attacks in Iraq. In addition, one soldier died from a “suspected landmine” explosion.[16]

In Afghanistan in 2007, 25 US military personnel were killed by attacks involving IEDs; one soldier died from a mine explosion. In 2008 to 1 July, 31 US military personnel were killed as a result of IED attacks.[17]

There were at least two casualties from ERW in the US in 2007; two men were killed when a Vietnam-era missile exploded in their home in Barstow, California. The men had removed the missile from the nearby Twentynine Palms military base while collecting scrap metal.[18]

Casualties continued in 2008 when two adult men were injured when ordnance exploded at a metal recycling plant in Raleigh, North Carolina, on 12 February, and an adult man died on 18 February while restoring a civil war-era cannonball he had found.[19] The military reported in 2008 that, while scavenging of military munitions had long been a problem at military bases, scrap metal collectors have been “motivated by soaring commodity prices to take greater risks” since 2006.[20]

Victim Assistance

Comprehensive physical rehabilitation services, including medical care, mobility devices and training, are provided to soldiers injured while on active military duty. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs provides disability compensation ranging from US$115–$2,471 per month depending on the level of disability for veterans injured while on active duty.[21] The department’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Service aims to help veterans with “service-connected” disabilities, including injuries caused by mines and ERW, to make a transition from military to civilian employment; this includes educational and vocational counseling.[22]

In February 2007, the media reported inadequate care for disabled soldiers at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, one of the best known army facilities for physical rehabilitation services. Patients were found residing in substandard out-patient housing facilities and hundreds of wounded veterans who served in Iraq were unable to access medical services because of “mountains of paperwork.”[23]

On 25 July 2007, the US President’s Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors made six broad recommendations for “fundamental changes” to improve the military’s medical system and assistance for veterans. Recommendations included restructuring disability and compensation services and supporting the Walter Reed Army Medical Center by recruiting “first-rate professionals.”[24] Despite plans for reform, in May 2008 Veterans for Common Sense asserted that the government systematically denied healthcare benefits promised to veterans. Internal Department of Veterans Affairs documents reported that in the six months leading up to 31 March 2008, 1,467 veterans died while waiting to learn if their disability claim would be approved by the government, and that veterans who appealed a decision to deny their disability claim had to wait on average nearly four and a half years for a decision on the appeal.[25]

In June 2008, the government proposed reforms to the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act to give persons with disabilities greater access to public facilities.[26] As of 31 July 2008, the US had not signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities or its Optional Protocol.

Support for Mine Action

US Mine Action Funding Fiscal Years 2006–2008 ($ million)[27]

FY 2006 (actual)

FY 2007 (actual)

FY 2008 (estimate)

FY 2009 (request)

Department of State (NADR)




see note

Department of Defense (OHDACA)





Slovenian International Trust Fund




see note

Department of Defense Research and Development





Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund





Lebanon Emergency Funding





Global War on Terror Supplemental Funding

(for NADR and ITF)









see note

Minus Research and Development




see note

Note: starting in fiscal year (FY) 2009, three previously separate NADR accounts, Humanitarian Demining (NADR-HD), International Trust Fund (NADR-ITF), and Small Arms/Light Weapons (NADR-SA/LW), will be combined into a single account for Conventional Weapons Destruction (NADR-CWD). The stated rationale is to “more appropriately reflect worldwide conventional weapons destruction efforts.”[28]

Mine action priorities and mine action funding may become more difficult to identify, track and report on an annual basis as a result of this budget consolidation. Landmine Monitor is not aware of any measures taken by the US to ensure that funding levels for mine action and evaluation of mine action programming supported by US funds are not compromised by the new approach.

Mine action funding by country, fiscal year 2007 (US$)[29]

The US government spent $84 million in FY 2007 on humanitarian mine action programs in 29 countries and areas. This is a decrease of $14 million compared with the previous fiscal year. One reason for the decrease was the reduction in the amount of special supplemental and emergency funding for Iraq. The two largest recipients of US funding are Afghanistan and Iraq: $13.5 million and $12 million respectively. While Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Eritrea, and Rwanda received assistance in FY 2006, they did not receive assistance in FY 2007. Benin, Burundi, Mauritania, and Senegal were new recipients in FY 2007. It is estimated that an additional $13 million will be added to funding efforts in FY 2008, primarily in Department of State programs.

US Funding for Mine Action, Fiscal Year 2007















FYR Macedonia






Bosnia and Herzegovina














Sri Lanka
























In addition to the bilateral assistance provided to countries, an additional $6.7 million was provided for global and multilateral projects.

Victim assistance funding

The Patrick J. Leahy War Victims Fund, managed by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), has been in operation in post-conflict and conflict-affected developing countries since 1989. The fund was established to provide a dedicated source of financial and technical assistance for civilian victims of war including survivors of mine and UXO incidents.[30] In FY 2007, the fund contributed an estimated total of $10 million, including $8.6 million to programs in Afghanistan, Colombia, Laos, and Lebanon, as well as $1.4 million to numerous regional and international initiatives spanning multiple countries. The estimated budget for the fund in FY 2006 was $11.6 million. To date, the fund has provided more than $153 million to more than 40 countries.[31]

Patrick J. Leahy War Victims Fund,
Allocations for FY 2007 (US$)[32]











Funding for victim assistance is also provided through the International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance (ITF). In calendar year 2007, $1,146,657 of the US Department of State mine action funds were spent for victim assistance through the ITF; $1,809,196 was allocated in calendar year 2006.[33]

[1] The new policy also states, “Landmines still have a valid and essential role protecting United States forces in military operations…. No other weapon currently exists that provides all the capabilities provided by landmines.” US Department of State, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, “Fact Sheet: New United States Policy on Landmines,” 27 February 2004.

[2] US Department of State, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, “Fact Sheet: New United States Policy on Landmines,” 27 February 2004.

[3] US Department of State, Office of the Spokesman, “Media Note: United States Bans Non-Detectable Landmines,” 3 January 2005.

[4] Marina Malenic, “Vice Chief Tells Senator Army Will Not Procure Victim-Activated Spider,” Inside the Army (Washington, DC), 26 May 2008.

[5] For more background information on Spider, see Landmine Monitor Report 2007, pp. 1011–1013.

[6] See Landmine Monitor Report 2007, pp. 1011–1012. Budget documents released in February 2007 indicated that a decade-long research and development effort, originally intended to develop alternatives to antipersonnel mines, was instead resulting in programs to produce two new landmine systems, Spider and IMS. The Pentagon requested $1.66 billion for research and production of these new systems between fiscal years 2006 and 2013 ($558 million for Spider program and $1.1 billion for the IMS). Before the May 2008 announcement, it appeared these munitions would have a variety of ways of being initiated, both command-detonation (that is, when a soldier decides when to explode the mine, sometimes called “man-in-the-loop”) and traditional victim-activation (also called target-activation). The Pentagon made the decision to begin low-rate initial production of Spider in June 2006 and the first Spider systems are to be delivered in September 2008.

[7] See Landmine Monitor Report 2007, pp. 1012–1013. In June 2006, the Army awarded the system design and development contract for the IMS. The near-term goal of the IMS program is to provide a self-destructing and self-deactivating replacement for all non-self-destructing antivehicle mines in the US inventory by the 2010 deadline put forth in the national landmine policy. According to its manufacturer, IMS is a “networked sensor and munition system” that relies on a “ground-based wide-area top-attack system for detecting, classifying and engaging enemy systems,” and “is controlled by a soldier who follows established rules of engagement in order to identify friendly forces and non-combatants.”

[8] Information provided by the US Armed Services in Spring/Summer 2002, cited in US General Accounting Office, “GAO-02-1003: MILITARY OPERATIONS: Information on U.S. use of Land Mines in the Persian Gulf War,” September 2002, Appendix I, pp. 39–43.

[9] See Landmine Monitor Report 2006, p. 958. In 2005, the South Korean government reported that the US held 40,000 GATOR, 10,000 VOLCANO and an unknown number of MOPMS mines.

[10] Public Law 110-161, Fiscal Year 2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act, Section 634(j), p. 486, December 26, 2007.

[11] See Landmine Monitor Report 2007, p. 1014. Most of the US mines in South Korea are part of the more extensive WRSA-K. The WRSA-K are munitions stored in South Korea but kept under US title and control, then made available to US and South Korean forces in case of an emergency. On 30 December 2005, President George Bush signed Public Law 109-159, authorizing the sale of items in the WRSA-K to South Korea during a three-year period, after which the WRSA-K program will be terminated. The law states that any items remaining in the WRSA-K at the time of termination “shall be removed, disposed of, or both by the Department of Defense.” The Pentagon determines which items to offer for sale to South Korea.

[12] Response to Landmine Monitor questionnaire by the Permanent Mission of the ROK to the UN in New York, 16 June 2008. The South Korean government told Landmine Monitor in April 2007 that it had not purchased any of the US antipersonnel mine stockpile, but that bilateral negotiations about various items were still ongoing. Response to Landmine Monitor questionnaire by the Permanent Mission of the ROK to the UN in New York, 16 April 2007.

[13] The US apparently did not use mines in Yugoslavia (Kosovo) in 1999, and has not used them in the conflict in Afghanistan that began in October 2001 or in the conflict in Iraq that began in March 2003. It reserved the right to use antipersonnel mines during each of these conflicts, and deployed antipersonnel mines to the region, at least in the cases of Kosovo and Iraq. The US last used mines in 1991 in Iraq and Kuwait, scattering 117,634 of them mostly from airplanes.

[14] Telephone interviews with military public affairs officers from the Office of the Secretary of Defense (Washington, DC) and Central Command (Tampa, Florida; Baghdad, Iraq; and Kabul, Afghanistan), 10 June 2004.

[15] Figures derived from an examination of official US Department of Defense casualty reports, www.defenselink.mil.

[16] This figure is accurate as of 1 July 2008. Figures derived from an examination of official US Department of Defense casualty reports, www.defenselink.mil.

[17] Ibid.

[18] “Investigators Blow Up Additional Explosives Discovered at Scrap Plant,” WRAL.com (Raleigh), 12 February 2008, www.wral.com.

[19] Steve Szkotak, “Civil War cannonball kills Virginia relic collector,” The Boston Globe (Chester), 2 May 2008, www.boston.com.

[20] Chelsea J. Carter, “Military cracks down on scrap-metal scavengers,” The Seattle Times (Twentynine Palms), 13 May 2008, seattletimes.nwsource.com.

[21] US Department of Veterans Affairs, “Disability Compensation Benefits,” January 2007, www.vba.va.gov.

[22] US Department of Veterans Affairs, “Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment Service,” www.vba.va.gov.

[23] Dana Priest and Anne Hull, “Soldiers Face Neglect, Frustration At Army’s Top Medical Facility,” Washington Post, 18 February 2007, www.washingtonpost.com; and Dana Priest and Anne Hull, “The Hotel Aftermath: Inside Mologne House, the Survivors of War Wrestle With Military Bureaucracy and Personal Demons,” Washington Post, 19 February 2007, www.washingtonpost.com.

[24] Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors, “Serve, Support, Simplify: Report of the President’s Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors,” July 2007 p. 5–11, www.pccww.gov.

[25] Aaron Glantz, “US veterans of Afghanistan, Iraq press for better care,” Inter Press Service (San Francisco), 5 May 2008, www.dailystar.com.lb.

[26] Robert Pear, “Plan Seeks More Access for Disabled,” The New York Times (Washington, DC), 16 June 2008, www.nytimes.com.

[27] NADR data from US Department of State, Bureau of Resource Management, “FY 2009 Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations (Revised),” 29 February 2008, www.state.gov, p. 83. NADR=Nonproliferation, Anti-terrorism, Demining, and Related Programs. OHDACA data from Defense Security Cooperation Agency, “Overseas Humanitarian, Disaster, and Civic Aid, Defense Fiscal Year 2009 Budget Estimates,” February 2008, www.defenselink.mil, p. 888. OHDACA=Overseas Humanitarian, Disaster and Civic Aid. ITF data from US Department of State, Bureau of Resource Management, “FY 2009 Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations (Revised),” 29 February 2008, p. 83. US Department of Defense Research and Development data from Office of the Secretary of Defense, “Research and Development Descriptive Summary, Humanitarian Demining, PE: 0603920D8Z,” February 2008, www.defenselink.mil, p. D-8. Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund data from US Department of State, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, “Section 2207 Report on Iraq Relief and Reconstruction,” October 2006, pp. 1–22. Lebanon Emergency Funding data from “United States Government Situation Report: Lebanon Humanitarian Emergency,” 29 December 2006, p. 2. This included a $2 million contribution to the UN Mine Action Service described as “reprogrammed FY 2005 funding.” Global War on Terror Supplemental Funding data from US Department of State, Bureau of Resource Management, “FY 2009 Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations (Revised),” 29 February 2008, www.state.gov, p. 83.

[28] US Department of State, Bureau of Resource Management, “FY 2009 Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations,” 4 February 2008, p. 67.

[29] US Department of State, Bureau of Resource Management, “FY 2009 Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations (Revised),” 29 February 2008, pp. 103–106. USG Historical Chart containing data for FY 2007, by email from Angela L. Jeffries, Financial Management Specialist, US Department of State, 22 May 2008. US funding amounts and recipients may differ from FY 2007 budget items, according to later information provided to Landmine Monitor by the US Department of State. For details see recipient country reports in this edition of Landmine Monitor.

[30] See Landmine Monitor Report 2007, p. 1017.

[31] USG Historical Chart containing data for FY 2007, by email from Angela L. Jeffries, Financial Management Specialist, US Department of State, 22 May 2008.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Email from Luka Buhin, Project Manager, ITF, 8 May 2008.