The United States shares in the international concern about the humanitarian impact of the indiscriminate use of all munitions, including cluster munitions. That is one of the reasons that it spends more than any other country to eliminate the risk to civilians from landmines and all explosive remnants of war, including unexploded cluster munitions.
Cluster munitions have demonstrated military utility. Their elimination from U.S. stockpiles would put the lives of its soldiers and those of its coalition partners at risk. Moreover, cluster munitions can often result in much less collateral damage than unitary weapons, such as a larger bomb or larger artillery shell would cause, if used for the same mission.
U.S. Landmine Policy
Effective January 31, 2020, the Administration rescinded the Presidential Policy concerning anti-personnel landmines (APL), in favor of a new United States landmine policy that will be overseen by the Department of Defense. The United States remains committed to working to minimize risks to civilians posed by landmines and explosive remnants of war. The United States also remains fully committed to complying with its treaty obligations regarding landmines and explosive remnants of war, as contained in Amended Protocol II and Protocol V, annexed to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.
Landmines, including APL, remain a vital tool in conventional warfare that the United States military cannot responsibly forgo, particularly when faced with the risk of being overwhelmed by enemy forces in the early stages of combat. Withholding weapons that give our ground forces the ability to deny terrain temporarily and therefore shape an enemy’s movement to our benefit irresponsibly risks American lives. The United States will not sacrifice American servicemembers’ safety, particularly when technologically advanced safeguards are available that can allow landmines to be employed responsibly to ensure our military’s warfighting advantage, while also limiting the risk of unintended harm to civilians. These safeguards require landmines to self-destruct, or in the event of a self-destruct failure, to self-deactivate within a prescribed period of time.
The Department of Defense’s new policy allows planning for and use of APL in future potential conflicts, including outside the Korean Peninsula, while continuing to prohibit the operational use of any “persistent” landmines (landmines without a self-destruct/self-deactivation function). Under this policy, if combatant commanders authorizes the use of landmines in a major combat situation, those landmines will include the aforementioned safeguards that will prevent them from being a threat to civilians after a conflict ends.
The United States will continue to lead in international humanitarian demining efforts that locate and remove landmines and explosive remnants of war that pose persistent threats to civilians living in current and former conflict areas around the world. The rescission of the previous policy does not reduce this national commitment, and it does not exacerbate the problems associated with unexploded munitions.
Grants and Cooperative Agreements (Assistance)
Federal Grants and/or Cooperative Agreements are used to accomplish a public purpose of support or stimulation authorized by the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended (FAA). U.S. Foreign Assistance awarded worldwide can be viewed here (link to site https://foreignassistance.gov/). Along with its other partners in the international community and other U.S. government agencies, PM/WRA continues to rely on the non-governmental organization (NGO) community to implement many of its Conventional Weapons Destruction (CWD) activities, for example, ground survey and clearance of landmines and unexploded ordnance or destroying excess weapons and munitions. These activities further the Department of State’s and USAID’s joint strategic objectives to lead allies and partners to address shared challenges and competitors; prevent, deter, and resolve conflicts; and promote international security (FY 2022-2026 Department of State and USAID Strategic Plan objective1.4)
These instruments invite interested parties to submit applications for PM/WRA assistance and explain what the application should contain, how it should be written, and the evaluation criteria to be used.
PM/WRA competes awards through the publication of Notice of Funding Opportunities (NOFO), found at Federal grants website. All PM/WRA grant recipients must submit proposals through SAMS Domestic (https://mygrants.service-now.com ).
2 CFR 200, also known as the “Super Circular”, became active on December 26th, 2014. It streamlines eight previous federal regulations into a comprehensive guidance and serves as the current legal doctrine on Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards. 2 CFR 200 can be found in this Federal Register document .
The Department of State has adopted the entirety of 2 CFR 200 with minimal exceptions. The few allowances can be found in this section of the CFR website
U.S. Department of State Foreign Assistance Terms and Conditions .
U.S. Department of State Bureau Award Specifics:
Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO)
Below are three examples of past PM/WRA NOFOs, each pertaining to a separate mine action field: Clearance and Survey, Stockpile Management, and Humanitarian Mine Action.
Grant Proposal Guidance and Template
PM/WRA’s NOFO Application Guidance:
To Walk the Earth in Safety
Since the inception of the U.S. Humanitarian Mine Action Program in 1993, and its merging into our overall Conventional Weapons Destruction program in subsequent years, the United States has delivered more than $4.6 billion in aid to help overcome threats from landmines and unexploded ordnance, as well as the destruction of at-risk and unsecured weapons and munitions in over 100 countries and territories around the world. These efforts have been led by the U.S. Department of State, in close partnership with the Department of Defense, U.S. Agency for International Development, and a host of experts from across the U.S. Government, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector.
The United States is proud to be the world’s single largest financial supporter of conventional weapons destruction and we share common cause with those working to address the harmful effects of indiscriminately used landmines on civilians and to prevent small arms and light weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists. Our efforts have enabled many countries around the world to become free of the humanitarian impact of landmines. These funds also support mine risk education to prevent accidents, and provide prosthetics, physical rehabilitation services, and vocational training for the injured. Physical security and stockpile management, including destroying excess weapons stockpiles, has become a primary tool in degrading violent extremist organizations’ capabilities, preventing accidental weapons depot explosions, and mitigating internal armed conflict. The programs we fund produce tangible, measurable, and positive results.
“To Walk the Earth in Safety” documents the United States’ commitment to conventional weapons destruction programs, supporting stability around the world. The report is a publication of the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA).
The Journal of Conventional Weapons Destruction
The Journal of Conventional Weapons Destruction is a forum for international discourse on issues relating to post-conflict environments and explosive hazards clearance for the humanitarian mine action (HMA) and conventional weapons destruction (CWD) community. Its purpose is to act as a conduit through which HMA/CWD operators—including nongovernemental organizations, governments/militaries, academics and practitioners—present and share information on pertinent issues, practices, experiences, case studies, and new technologies/methodologies in the HMA and CWD field. Since its first publication in 1997, The Journal continues to function as an historical resource for the community of practice, presenting a chronological reflection on the developments within the HMA/CWD field over the past 25 years.
The Interagency MANPADS Task Force: Building Partnerships To Protect Global Aviation
Man-portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS) were first developed in the 1960s to help national armed forces defend against air attacks. A single individual or crew can carry and fire MANPADS. While legitimate weapons in the arsenals of official government military forces, MANPADS pose a serious threat to commercial and military aircraft around the world. Their small size makes them easy to transport and conceal. The most commonly produced types can fit into an automobile trunk. MANPADS are usually 1.2 to 2 meters (4 feet to 6.5 feet) long, about 76 millimeters (3 inches) in diameter, and weigh about 13 to 25 kilograms (28.6 to 55.1 pounds). Most MANPADS consist of a missile enclosed in a tube, a reusable trigger mechanism (“gripstock”), and a battery or battery cooling unit. The tube, which protects the missile until it is fired, is disposable. The battery powers the missile’s systems for a short period prior to launch. They can travel at twice the speed of sound and hit aircraft flying as high as 6 kilometers (about 20,000 feet) out to a horizontal range of up to 5 kilometers (3.1 miles).
PM/WRA’s Physical Security and Stockpile Management and CWD programs have reduced over 43,000 at-risk MANPADS and anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) worldwide and remain critical to preventing further illicit proliferation of these dangerous arms.
In 2006, National Security Presidential Directive 47 (NSPD-47) established a comprehensive strategy for aviation security to guide the U.S. government in dealing with evolving threats to aviation. NSPD-47 includes the International MANPADS Threat Reduction Plan, which established the Interagency MANPADS Task Force (MTF).
Since the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the MANPADS Task Force has played a central role in ensuring that weapons donated to Ukrainian forces are not being diverted to U.S. adversaries and violent non-state actors. In collaboration with interagency and international partners, the MTF has helped coordinate the U.S. government’s concrete steps to address this threat, as directed by the U.S. Plan to Counter Illicit Diversion of Certain Advanced Conventional Weapons in Eastern Europe. The MTF synchronizes support to Ukraine and its neighbors to help them ensure advanced conventional weapons are securely managed, national borders are strengthened, and national officials can deter and interdict illicit trafficking.
The MTF coordinates a comprehensive approach to counter illicit MANPADS proliferation and reduce the threat of those held by terrorist groups and other violent nonstate actors. The MTF consists of representatives from several U.S. government agencies and is chaired by the Department of State. The MTF continues to consider risks and coordinate comprehensive U.S. government effort to mitigate these threats, including the related threat to aviation from All-purpose Tactical Guided Missiles (ATGMs).
The MTF cooperates with partner governments and international organizations to advance cooperation on MANPADS threat mitigation and counter-proliferation initiatives. These partners have a vital role in raising international awareness, curbing illicit proliferation, and mitigating local and regional MANPADS threats.
The MTF works with interagency partners to help countries incorporate MANPADS specific-training into their own border management and physical security training programs. This helps their essential personnel to recognize, seize, and safely manage MANPADS and other advanced conventional weapons if discovered. As of January 2023, more than 2,000 individuals from 55 countries received the training.
Finally, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration has conducted approximately 75 MANPADS Assist Visits (MAV) and International MANPADS Outreach Training Programs (IMOTP) at airports around the world. MAVs and related training programs help build the capacity of foreign countries to identify and mitigate potential MANPADS threats at international airports.
The U.S. Department of State Quick Reaction Force: Providing Rapid Response to Conventional Weapons Destructions (CWD) Emergencies
The Quick Reaction Force (QRF) is a team of civilian EOD technical experts that serve as PM/WRA’s first responders to unexpected CWD-related emergencies across the globe, including munitions depot explosions, ammunition depots at risk of imminent explosion, and ERW that pose significant threats to civilians. These situations require immediate action to secure or dispose of poorly secured or unstable munitions, prevent loss of life, protect critical infrastructure, and conduct needs assessments for further CWD activities. The QRF can begin to respond to these threats worldwide in as few as 48 hours.
Since 2001, the QRF and its precursor, the Quick Reaction Demining Force, have deployed to Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Croatia, Cyprus, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Federated States of Micronesia, Guatemala, Iraq, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Liberia, Malawi, Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Palau, Philippines, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania, Tuvalu, Ukraine, Uruguay, and Vietnam.
“Some contents of these foreign depots are akin to time bombs,” observes Stanley L. Brown, Director of PM/WRA. “We can’t ignore the terrible threat posed by decrepit ammunition whose stability is compromised by age, heat, rough handling, and overall poor storage. When we get a call for help after a depot accident or when a foreign government needs an urgent depot assessment, we must respond immediately. In these cases, time is not our friend.” The Golden West, implementing partner for the QRF, is a U.S. NGO specializing in demining, BAC, and PSSM.