The International Emergency and Refugee Health Branch (IERHB) of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides public-health assistance and interventions in the context of humanitarian emergencies such as civil strife, disaster, displacement, drought, famine, genocide, and war.
The IERHB’s public-health mission involves investigating, planning, training, and developing public-health guidelines and advancing partnerships. To date, the IERHB has formed key partnerships with the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, United Nations Children’s Fund, the World Health Organization, and numerous nongovernmental organizations.
Since 2004, the IERHB has worked in 40 countries, improving the lives and livelihood of individuals and communities in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Liberia, Mozambique, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, among others. Most recently, the IERHB has focused attention on the Horn of Africa, where it is providing technical guidance, U.N. cluster-system support, and disease surveillance to assist the millions of people displaced by famine. The IERHB has also recently focused on Haiti, where it is implementing water and sanitation programs in areas heavily affected by 2010’s devastating earthquake.
The CDC provides technical assistance to mine action and other partners. For instance, in 2012 IERHB provided financial and technical support to UNICEF to support a survey of knowledge, attitudes, and practices related to landmines and improvised explosive devices in conflict-affected areas of Colombia. IERHB conducted evaluations of landmine and explosive remnants of war programs in Nepal and Sri Lanka during FY2011. Also in FY2011 the IERHB provided support to UNICEF’s landmine team for training and data collection.
A member of the Quick Reaction Force disables loose and at-risk MANPADS before the missiles’ eventual destruction.
In 2002 terrorists attempted to shoot down an Israeli civilian airliner in Mombasa, Kenya, using two man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS). This incident called the world’s attention to the dangerous threat of MANPADS. Elsewhere, terrorists and insurgents have used MANPADS to fight the Multi-National Force in Iraq and International Security Assistance Force troops in Afghanistan, to destroy humanitarian flights in Angola and Sudan, and to attack numerous civilian aircraft across Africa and other continents. Most recently, arms traffickers and violent extremists have capitalized on the instability that accompanied the Arab Spring movement by looting and proliferating MANPADS and other advanced conventional weapons (ACW) in Libya and Syria. The continued spread of these dangerous conventional weapons has increased and threatens regional stability and international security. A successful attack against a commercial airliner could ground civil aviation for days, as it did the U.S. civilian air fleet following 9/11, which would cost the world economy billions of dollars.
What are MANPADS?
MANPADS are surface-to-air missiles that can be carried and fired by a single individual or a crew. Originally developed in the 1960s, MANPADS were designed to be used by national military forces to protect their troops and facilities. With their relatively short range, MANPADS are regarded as the last missile-based air defense available to protect against aerial attack.
Most MANPADS consist of 1) a missile packaged in a tube; 2) a reusable trigger mechanism (commonly known as a “gripstock”); and 3) a battery. The tubes, which protect the missile until it has been fired, are disposable. A single-use battery is typically used to power the missile prior to launch.
MANPADS launch tubes typically range from about 4 feet to 6.5 feet (1.2–2 meters) in length and are about 3 inches (76 millimeters) in diameter. Their weight, with gripstock, varies from about 28 pounds to just over 55 pounds (13–25 kilograms). Consequently, they are easy to transport and conceal. Some of the most commonly produced MANPADS can easily fit into the trunk of an automobile.
Although externally similar in appearance, MANPADS should not be confused with rocket-propelled grenades (RPG). MANPADS missiles can achieve twice the speed of sound and strike aircraft flying at altitudes up to approximately 15,000 feet (4.57 kilometers) at a range of up to 3.2 miles (5 kilometers). RPGs are unguided weapons designed primarily to be used against ground targets and are generally much less effective against aircraft. Some RPG attacks on aircraft flying at low altitudes and relatively slow speeds have been mistaken for MANPADS attacks.
What the Interagency MANPADS Task Force Does
The Interagency MANPADS Task Force (MTF) mitigates the threat posed by the spread of MANPADS in every region of the world. Comprised of experts from relevant departments and agencies, MTF facilitates programs and policies and coordinates actions, both within the U.S. Government and with partner nations and international organizations. For instance, to enhance the physical security and stockpile management of a partner government’s state-controlled weapons and munitions, MTF may coordinate the activities of the U.S. Departments of State and Defense to build that nation’s capacity to destroy aged, excess, or at-risk ACW and secure other weapons and munitions retained for their national defense. MTF may also synchronize U.S. approaches with MANPADS exporters and producers in order to track unaccounted for MANPADS and control proliferation. Such engagements are a part of U.S. efforts to stop non-state actors from obtaining and potentially using ACW.
Since early 2011, MTF has played a key role in coordinating and facilitating U.S. efforts to mitigate ACW proliferation threats from Libya, Syria, and other countries suffering from internal instability or regime collapse. This requires attention to cross-cutting security issues such as border security assistance and related activities to ensure that MANPADS on the black market cannot be trafficked from one country to another.
A successful MANPADS attack against a civilian airliner would be a tragic loss of human life and have far-reaching impacts on international security and stability. To prevent such an attack, MANPADS threat reduction remains a U.S. national security priority.
A tank from WWII in the overgrown brush on Guadalcanal.
The U.S. Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) works to reduce the harmful worldwide effects of at-risk, illicitly proliferated, and indiscriminately used conventional weapons of war. PM/WRA develops, implements, and monitors policy and programs regarding the threat that conventional weapons such as landmines, unexploded ordnance, abandoned ordnance, stockpiled conventional munitions, man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS), and other small arms and light weapons pose to civilians, economic stability, and U.S. national security.
PM/WRA supports conventional weapons destruction (CWD) programs around the world, funding ground surveys and clearance of landmines and explosive remnants of war or assisting governments to secure or destroy abandoned and/or stockpiled munitions by supporting physical security and stockpile management efforts. The objective is two-fold: 1) to curb illicit trafficking and the availability of weapons (including MANPADS) to terrorists and criminals and 2) to facilitate post-conflict cleanup and recovery. This approach also broadens support for U.S. CWD efforts.
By simultaneously addressing humanitarian needs and increasing international security, PM/WRA demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a set of values that respect human life. PM/WRA works closely with other U.S. Government agencies, international organizations, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and private-sector partners. More than half of PM/WRA’s humanitarian assistance is in the form of grants to international NGOs.
Point of Contact:
Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA)
U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
SA-3, Suite 6100
2121 Virginia Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20522
telephone: +1 202 663 0083
fax: +1 202 663 0090
The Patrick J. Leahy War Victims Fund (LWVF), managed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has been the foundation of U.S. efforts to respond to the needs of civilian victims of conflict in war-affected developing countries since its creation in 1989. LWVF provides a dedicated source of financial and technical assistance for people with disabilities, particularly those who have sustained mobility-related injuries from explosive remnants of war (ERW), anti-personnel landmines, and other direct and indirect causes of disability, including preventable diseases that might result from interrupted immunization campaigns. To date, LWVF has provided over $200 million in assistance to more than 40 countries.
Over time, the scope of LWVF has expanded from its original focus on delivering immediate care to include a myriad of development programs that accommodate the changing needs of the populations they serve, as well as establishing the foundations for sustainable services in developing countries. It contributes to the design and enforcement of international standards to ensure that practitioners who provide care to survivors are competent. In addition, LWVF ensures that treatment and equipment are used effectively to increase the mobility of people with disabilities around the world.
In FY2012 LWVF contributed to programs in Cambodia, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Kenya, Laos, Lebanon, Nepal, Pakistan, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, and Vietnam, as well as to numerous regional and international initiatives spanning multiple countries.
Moreover, through two other programs specifically focused on helping wheelchair users (some disabled as a result of ERW) and a broader group of people with disabilities, USAID provided an additional $10.2 million in FY2012 in more than 30 countries, including Georgia, Iraq, Jordan, Kosovo, Montenegro, Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, and Zimbabwe.
Point of Contact:
Rob Horvath, Manager
Leahy War Victims Fund
U.S. Agency for International Development
Washington, D.C. 20523
telephone: +1 202 712 5239
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
A team from the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency performs a physical security and stockpile assessment with Bulgarian military officers at a Bulgarian munitions depot. Photo courtesy of John Stevens, PM/WRA, U.S. Dept. of State.
First established in October 1998, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) is a combat-support agency for the U.S. Department of Defense. DTRA aims to reduce the global threat of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), including chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosives. Each of DTRA’s several offices and departments has its own specific objectives and responsibilities, working together to mitigate the effects of WMD by providing capabilities to reduce, eliminate, and counter the threat.
In addition to its focus on WMD, DTRA works to improve physical security and stockpile management (PSSM) of arms, ammunition, and explosives throughout the world. The DTRA Small Arms and Light Weapons (SA/LW) Program aims to reduce proliferation by assisting foreign governments with improving the security, safety, and management of state-controlled stockpiles of man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS), other SA/LW, and conventional ammunition. Since 2001, the SA/LW Program has provided assistance to 70 countries.
The Program accomplishes its objectives by employing teams of experts to provide foreign governments with assessments and technical advice on PSSM best practices. As a result, DTRA’s efforts have decreased the availability of weapons to terrorists and insurgents, reduced cross-border weapons transfers that threaten regional stability, and lowered the risk of ammunition accidents.
Point of Contact:
Defense Threat Reduction Agency
DTRA Public Affairs
8725 John J. Kingman Road
Fort Belvoir, Virginia 22060-6201
telephone: +1 800 701 5096
The Humanitarian Demining Research and Development (HD R&D) Program focuses on the rapid development, testing, demonstration, and validation of technologies that increase the efficiency and enhance the safety of humanitarian demining operations. In particular, the HD R&D Program provides technology solutions to the most challenging landmine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) detection and clearance tasks. HD R&D Program technologies consistently find and remove mines and UXO where manual clearance or mine detecting dogs are not feasible, and without which operations partners would be unable to complete and hand over sites. The program improves technologies for mine/UXO detection, mechanical mine/UXO and vegetation clearance, and mine/UXO neutralization.
New technology requirements are identified and validated at a biennial requirements workshop held by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict. All prototypes undergo extensive testing in the United States before they are deployed to support operational field evaluations (OFE), an integral aspect of the HD R&D Program. During OFEs, equipment capabilities are assessed by host-nation demining partners (foreign militaries, nongovernmental organizations, and mine action centers) in actual demining conditions. The evaluations allow host countries to operate and test equipment in active minefields and provide feedback to initiate future R&D improvements.
To date, the HD R&D Program’s technologies have cleared 18 million square meters (7 square miles) of the world’s toughest minefields, removing or destroying 80,000-plus mines and UXO. In addition, it has recovered 33 tons of explosives from stockpiled munitions and provided 280,000 mine/UXO disposal charges. Since 1995, the program has fielded technologies in support of 160 OFEs in 36 countries. In FY2012 HD R&D performed OFEs in Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Chile, Ecuador, Iraq, Lebanon, Mozambique, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, and Vietnam. Some of the more than 48 technologies being evaluated include the Orbit Screen, Rotary Mine Comb, Badger Multi-Tooled Excavator, Handheld Standoff Mine Detection System (HSTAMIDS), Minehound, and the Luxor Unexploded Ordnance Detection System.
Point of Contact:
Sean Burke, Program Manager
U.S. Army RDECOM CERDEC NVESD
10221 Burbeck Road
Fort Belvoir, Virginia 22060
telephone: +1 703 704 1047
fax: +1 703 704 3001
An operator working in a training lane during a practical exercise at HDTC.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Humanitarian Demining Training Center (HDTC) is located at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and is the training and information center for the U.S. Government’s Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA) program. Established in 1996, HDTC trains and prepares U.S. forces for overseas deployment in support of DOD HMA strategy to provide training and education in explosive remnants of war (ERW) disposal.
Training at HDTC develops the ability of U.S. forces to provide ERW disposal instruction in a train-the-trainer format, with emphasis on the operational procedures and practices of partner nations’ HMA programs. Training is provided to partner nations accepted into the U.S. HMA program. Training is conducted in accordance with U.S. law, policy, and the International Mine Action Standards. Upon completion of the HMA basic course, students are required to demonstrate proficiency in subjects ranging from basic deminer tasks to ERW disposal.
HDTC is funded by Overseas Humanitarian Disaster and Civic Aid (OHDACA). U.S. forces use OHDACA funding to attend HDTC HMA courses and conduct pre-deployment surveys, HMA training operations, and partner-nation training.
Since its inception, HDTC graduates have performed train-the-trainer missions in 44 nations supporting the U.S. Africa Command, U.S. Central Command, U.S. European Command, U.S. Pacific Command, and U.S. Southern Command HMA programs.
Point of Contact:
Jonathan D. Green, Director
U.S. Department of Defense
Humanitarian Demining Training Center
Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri 65473
telephone: +1 573 563 6199