The Conventional Weapons Quick Reaction Force (QRF), which is funded by the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, has returned to the United States following the successful completion of an assistance mission to Tanzania. The QRF was deployed on May 4 in response to a request from the Government of Tanzania following a series of explosions at an ammunition storage area in a highly populated section of the Mbagala district of Dar es Salaam. The incident left 26 dead, hundreds of people injured, and destroyed or damaged a reported 7000 homes near the facility.
During the past two months, the QRF, which operates under contract with DynCorp International, provided training and technical assistance to the Government of Tanzania and the Tanzanian People’s Defense Forces in the identification and clearance of unexploded ordnance from neighboring residential areas. The close proximity of civilian populations to the blast site made the clearance of residual explosive ordnance extremely challenging. The Government of Tanzania is continuing to investigate the cause of the incident.
The State Department’s QRF is a deployable team of conventional weapons destruction experts that works in concert with U.S. Embassies and host nations to respond to critical risks posed by explosive remnants of war, including cluster munitions, landmines and other types of explosive hazards. The QRF complements international humanitarian operations and post-conflict stability initiatives in the host nation, allowing them to proceed unhindered by the presence of explosive hazards.
The U.S. Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement manages the QRF, humanitarian mine action programs (clearance of landmines and explosive remnants of war, survivor assistance, mine risk education) and conventional weapons destruction programs worldwide. More information is available at www.state.gov/t/pm/wra.