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Appendix C: Humanitarian Demining Technology Research and Development

To Walk the Earth in Safety: The United States Commitment to Humanitarian Demining
Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
September 2002

Photo of Survivable Demining Tractor and Tools in operation in ThailandThe DoD Humanitarian Demining R&D Program develops and evaluates new equipment to assist the global humanitarian demining effort. Since the program's inception in 1995, significant progress has been made, and many successful products have been deployed for field evaluations in mine-plagued nations of Africa, Central America, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Europe. This program is responsible for the development of equipment that improves the international community's existing capabilities for mine detection, marking, mine and vegetation clearance, and mine neutralization, as well as equipment for training and post-clearance quality assurance. Feedback from users and field tests is crucial to the continued success of the program and to the cause of global humanitarian demining.

The program addresses the demining problem using a systematic approach by:

  • Attacking the problem globally through international cooperation with governments, NGOs, and MACs;
  • Developing and evaluating new demining equipment and tools;
  • Developing and promulgating mine and demining information, instruction, and mine awareness; and
  • Providing global on-site support and assistance.

International cooperation is being developed on several fronts. Intergovernmental cooperation takes advantage of local infrastructure and distribution channels. U.S. Army Special Forces, components of the theater commands, EOD teams, and Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations units provide assistance through host-nation governments for demining and mine-awareness training programs. Intergovernmental cooperation is vital to developing mine databases and equipment effectiveness analyses, while international coordination is key to establishing statements of requirements for specific humanitarian demining technologies based on each country's identified need. The United States cooperates globally with governmental agencies, industry, academia, commercial demining companies, international organizations, NGOs, and private volunteer organizations to develop and implement systems that meet humanitarian demining needs.

The DoD Humanitarian Demining R&D Program focuses on the development of equipment for personal protection, wide-area detection, handheld detection, vegetation clearance, and mechanical mine clearance and neutralization. Despite an increase in safety and efficiency of humanitarian demining operations, the most common method still in use today is manual demining which makes personal protection equipment one of the highest priorities for development. Therefore, the DoD Humanitarian Demining R&D Program has made and continues to make significant enhancements in personal protection equipment. This equipment includes deminer protective gear, such as helmets, visors, special boots, and body armor. Another high priority is to improve mine-detection capabilities. The challenge in improving mine-detection equipment is discriminating the abundance of mines with low-metal content from non-explosive metallic debris. The Program has developed and evaluated several prototype systems for mine detection using simple to sophisticated technologies, such as improved metal detectors, ground-penetrating radar, synthetic aperture radar, and other confirmation sensors that may detect the presence of explosives in mines.

Tempest in operation in CambodiaThe international demining community has also expressed the urgent need for cost-effective and more efficient mine- and vegetation-clearance equipment. The R&D Program has evaluated a variety of mechanically operated machines that have proved to increase the speed, efficiency, and safety for both mine- and vegetation-clearance operations. Many of these developments have included remote control technology that purposely takes the human out of the loop for obvious safety reasons. Many of these technologies have been fielded around the globe to assist in mine-clearing operations. These include the Tempest and the Survivable Demining Tractor and Tools for vegetation clearance, the Mine Clearing Cultivator, the Floating Mine Blade, the Rhino Earth Tiller, the Sifter, the Berm Processing Assembly, and the Mini-flail for mine-clearing operations. It is clear that the DoD has also been able to respond to unique international demining requirements with various demining tools and equipment suited for specific needs.

Providing highly trained and skilled personnel and up-to-date equipment in mine-afflicted countries is important for timely and efficient humanitarian demining assistance. As briefly described previously, U.S. military forces provide on-the-ground assistance to train local personnel to recognize, detect, and clear mines. The United States also provides technical in-country support for new R&D items that are provided for evaluation in mine-afflicted regions. This unique assistance plays a major role in accelerating the development process by ensuring that lessons learned in the field are rapidly integrated into improved demining tools, training, and information. To date this assistance has been provided to 17 countries: Afghanistan, Bosnia, Cambodia, Chile, Croatia, Cuba (Guantanamo Bay), Ecuador, Egypt, Guatemala, Israel, Jordan, Kosovo, Laos, Lebanon, Namibia, Nicaragua, and Thailand.

On July 17, 2000, the United States signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for an International Test and Evaluation Program for Humanitarian Demining (ITEP). Signers of the MOU included Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Commission represented by the Joint Research Centre. Germany subsequently joined ITEP in June 2002. As one of the founders of the ITEP, the United States helped to establish a responsive and sustained global network of test and evaluation capabilities for measuring performance and evaluating the effectiveness and suitability of all forms of humanitarian demining equipment, systems, and methods. This will encourage international cooperation for humanitarian demining research, development, test, and evaluation. ITEP collects, generates, and distributes objective and independent scientific test and evaluation data and information on equipment, systems, and methods for use in humanitarian demining.

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