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  • Writer's pictureGeorge M James


On 31 January 2020, the Trump White House made a statement regarding US Military future landmine use: “The Department of Defense has determined that restrictions imposed on American forces by the Obama administration's policy could place them at a severe disadvantage during a conflict against our adversaries. The president is unwilling to accept this risk to our troops.” The Obama policy, now reversed, was to use landmines only on the border between South and North Korea. Something which makes military sense. The White House was supported by the former West Point graduate, one of many in the Trump Administration, US Defence Secretary Mark Esper: “Landmines are an important tool that our forces need to have available to them in order to ensure mission success and in order to reduce risk to forces. That said, in everything we do we also want to make sure that these instruments, in this case, landmines, also take into account both the safety of employment and the safety to civilians and others after a conflict.” Of course, the Pentagon reassured everyone willing to listen and believing fairy-tales that “the use of antipersonnel landmines by US forces will only be in exceptional circumstances, and only non-persistent types – i.e. versions that disarm themselves after a period.”

Trust, me these statements are just so much nonsense. From a military viewpoint, there is almost nothing about them that is not debatable or blatantly rubbish. It seems that they have no understanding of modern warfare where landmine use is a terrorist thing. Landmine fields do not work as a strategy to deny the enemy the use of certain areas unless you guard the minefields constantly as is happening in Korea. There is always the risk of the terrorists stealing your unguarded landmines and using them against you and the population that you are trying to protect. And the US does not have the manpower to do so. It is stupidity beyond belief. We saw the above during the Rhodesian Bush War already where landmine fields were left unattended and thousands lifted to be used against the Security Forces. We also saw the damage which was done by the mines and how long it takes to remove them safely. That story of them disarming themselves is a theoretical possibility and not to be trusted. The entire concept is a proven failure with extreme risk to the locals. Note that I am not speaking of claymore / ambush type mines but they are always under guard, the major difference.

Rachel Stohl, an arms control expert at the Stimson Center think tank in Washington: “I have no idea if it's posturing or a reality that the US is claiming back the right to use landmines. It's inexplicable given all we know about these deadly weapons and the amount of money the United States has spent demining around the world. The decision put lives at risk and was another example of the Trump administration defining its own rules and ignoring global standards of behaviour.”

Yes, just another pathetic decision that will have long term consequences. In Angola and other places, Soviet & Eastern Bloc manufactured landmines of all types were planted by the hundreds of thousands by the insurgents / freedom fighters wherever they went. They used them as both offensive and defensive weapons, targeting more often civilians than the military opposing them. They did not follow the rules of war that demand that a minefield must be clearly marked as such and maps kept to be demined after the war. The legacy is that Angola is still one of the most heavily mined countries in the world. UN statistics show that over 108 million square feet of Angolan land are contaminated to this very day. The most heavily mined country in the world is Bosnia & Herzegovina with 3,000,000 mines planted there. Cambodia has 10,000,000 as a legacy of the Vietnam War and their own problems afterward. Croatia 3,000,000, and Egypt a staggering 23,000,000. Note that the above statistics are not about sheer numbers but density. Certain parts of the above countries are simply not accessible to humans. How long does the landmine threat stay once activated? Close to forever, many decades if not more. It is believed that between 15,000 to 20,000 people are killed or maimed by landmines every year, 99.9% of them are civilians. Landmines should not be used indiscriminately and yet they were and will be in future wars. The point being that any country using landmines indiscriminately is breaking international law and is a rogue state.

Then there is the deployment of a US submarine with low yield tactical nuclear warheads. Russia already stated flatly that any use of any type of nuclear weapon against them will be retaliated with by a full-blown strike against the homeland of those responsible, i.e. MAD, Mutually Assured Destruction. There cannot be any doubt that they will do so either. So I must wonder what the purpose of the US low yield nukes are. And then I recollected that the official US policy is not one of ruling out first use as is Russia and China and the rest of the nuclear powers. This means that they think that a first nuclear strike can be limited in scope and nature, a bluff that is already called by people not known to be bluffing about such things. But then again, 99.9% of US wars are against small less powerful nations without nuclear retaliation capabilities. Perhaps that is where we will see the tactical nukes being used. Mark my words, such an event will have major negative consequences. It is senseless from any known view. Stupid is as stupid does.

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