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Commonly Used Terms and Symbols
- Cluster Munitions Remnant Survey: The application of all reasonable effort, through non-technical survey and technical survey procedures, to identify and define a confirmed hazardous area impacted by unexploded cluster munition remnants.
- Explosive Ordnance Disposal: The detection, identification, evaluation, render safe, recovery and disposal of explosive ordnance.
- Explosive Ordnance Disposal Callout: Investigation and disposal activity of suspected explosive ordnance(s).
- Explosive Ordnance Risk Education: Activities which seek to reduce the risk of injury from mines or explosive remnants of war by raising awareness through public information dissemination, education, and training.
- Explosive Remnant of War: Abandoned explosive ordnance and unexploded ordnance.
- Implementing Partner: Organizations selected to implement specific grant agreements according to an agreed upon work plan.
- Improvised Explosive Device: A device placed or fabricated in an improvised manner incorporating explosive material, destructive, lethal, noxious, incendiary, pyrotechnic materials or chemicals designed to destroy, disfigure, distract, or harass. They may incorporate military stores, but are normally devised from non-military components.
- Landmine: An anti-personnel or anti-tank mine designed to be exploded by the presence, proximity or contact of a person and that will incapacitate, injure, or kill one or more persons or a mine designed to detonate by the presence, proximity or contact of a vehicle.
- Land Cleared: A defined area cleared through the removal and/or destruction of all specified explosive ordnance hazards to a specified depth.
- Land Released: The process of applying all reasonable effort to identify, define, and remove all presence and suspicion of explosive ordnance through non-technical survey and/or technical survey.
- Man-Portable Air Defense System (MANPADS) and Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM): MANPADS are shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile consisting of a guided missile enclosed in a launch tube, a reusable trigger mechanism (“gripstock”), and a single-use battery or battery-cooling unit. ATGMs are guided missiles primarily design to destroy armored military vehicles, but are also used against divers static and slower moving targets.
- Physical Security and Stockpile Management: Standards for arms and ammunition maintenance including monitoring of stockpiles, training of qualified experts, facility upgrades and maintenance, and long-term planning for infrastructure, resources, and procurement associated with arms and ammunition.
- Stockpile Management Training: The training of personnel in physical security and stockpile management (see definition above).
- Small Arms Ammunition: Cartridges ranging in size from .22 caliber through 30 millimeter that are intended for various types of handheld or mounted weapons including rifles, pistols, revolvers, machine guns, and shotguns.
- Small Arms and Light Weapons: Man-portable weapons systems designed either for individual use, or by two or three persons serving as a crew. For example: handguns, grenades launchers, machine guns, etc.
- Survivor Assistance: Aid, relief, and support provided to explosive ordnance survivors to reduce the immediate and long-term medical and psychological implications of their trauma.
- Battle Area Clearance: The systematic and controlled clearance of hazardous areas where the hazards are known not to include mines.
- Handheld Standoff Mine Detection System: A dual sensor, handheld mine detector that combines an electromagnetic induction sensor, ground penetrating radar, and sophisticated algorithms to detect landmines while rejecting most clutter, also known as false positives.
- Humanitarian Mine Action: Clearance, risk education, survivor assistance, advocacy, and stockpile destruction of mines and explosive remnants of war by humanitarian organizations to restore peace and security at the community level.
- International Ammunition Technical Guidelines: An internationally recognized frame of reference developed by the United Nations to achieve and demonstrate effective levels of safety and security of ammunition stockpiles.
- International Mine Action Standards: The framework by which the Anti-personnel Mine Ban Convention and Convention on Cluster Munitions can be practically implemented.
- Unexploded Ordnance: Explosive ordnance that has been primed, fuzed, armed, or otherwise prepared for use or used. It may have been fired, dropped, launched, or projected, yet it remains unexploded either through malfunction or design or for any other reason. This does not include landmines or stockpiled ammunition and explosives.
- Weapons and Ammunition Destruction: The process of final conversion of weapons, ammunition and explosives into an inert state that can no longer function as designed.
A Message From Assistant Secretary Jessica Lewis
As the fiscal year closed at the end of September 2022, I took stock of some of the incredible accomplishments of our conventional weapons destruction program. After deadly landmines are removed and booby-traps and improvised explosive devices are cleared, wheat fields are now ready for harvesting, children can run to school on a path, families can return to their partially destroyed homes, and elephants are able to migrate through grasslands. Elsewhere, man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) and small arms and light weapons were secured or destroyed to prevent terrorists from acquiring them and attacking civilians. These are just some of the successes the U.S. Conventional Weapons Destruction Program achieves day after day, year after year, one step at a time. In fiscal year 2022, the United States again answered the call to confront the threats of landmines, unexploded ordnance, and unsecured small arms and light weapons, to make this world a better place. The dedication of all those involved in the removal of these hazards and securing weapons must be commended and applauded every time a life is saved due to their efforts. These successes are well documented in this year’s To Walk the Earth in Safety.
While conducting its unlawful war and full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russia has intentionally polluted massive swaths of the country with landmines, explosive remnants of war, and improvised explosive devices. The Government of Ukraine estimated that, as of September 2022, 160,000 square kilometers of its land may have been contaminated—this is roughly the size of the states of Virginia, Maryland, and Connecticut combined, or nearly twice the size of Austria. These explosive hazards impede reconstruction, prevent displaced people from returning home, and continue to kill and maim Ukraine’s innocent civilians. The United States is helping the Government of Ukraine address this urgent humanitarian challenge. U.S. funding supports humanitarian demining teams and is enabling a large-scale train and equip project to strengthen the Government of Ukraine’s demining and explosive ordnance disposal capacity.
One glaring consequence of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine is that farmers have lost their livelihoods waiting for landmine-riddled fields to be cleared so that they can once more supply the world with much-needed wheat, corn, and barley. Global food security has become a keystone of U.S. conventional weapons destruction efforts, and not just in Ukraine. For example, in Iraq, where the United States supports massive demining and battle area clearance programs, farmers can return to their land for the first time since Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) occupation and harvest wheat, one of the most lucrative crops there. In Serbia and elsewhere in the Balkans, U.S. demining efforts are enabling homeowners to tend once again to their backyard vegetable gardens and forage for mushrooms in the woods, supplementing their diets and providing extra income too.
We continue to chronicle in this year’s edition of To Walk the Earth in Safety how the United States empowers women to work in the humanitarian demining sector, including by leading demining teams in Vietnam, Sri Lanka and elsewhere. Women who work in peace and security positions, as part of demining teams or by providing explosive ordnance risk education, are a critical part of the process of post-conflict reconstruction and reconciliation. These women bring valuable perspectives to every endeavor, including conventional weapons destruction, with solutions often rooted in strengthening communities through inclusion and empowerment of all.
Environmental resiliency and conservation are a high priority for this Administration, and we have highlighted this effort in several stories included in this edition of To Walk the Earth in Safety. For example, in Zimbabwe we have cleared land so that wildebeests and other wildlife may roam freely without the threat of stepping on a landmine. The result will be a thriving ecosystem, safe wildlife migration, and economic development resulting from increased eco-tourism.
It is with all these goals in mind that I come to work not only as a public servant, but as a mother who wants all children to enjoy the beauty and peace this world has to offer. Every child, adult, and animal should be able to walk the earth in safety!
Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
The United States’ Commitment to Conventional Weapons Destruction
Stockpiles of excess, poorly-secured, or otherwise at-risk conventional weapons continue to challenge peace and prosperity worldwide. In the wrong hands, small arms and light weapons, including more advanced types such as man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS), fuel political instability and violence and threaten international security. Aging ammunition stockpiles may also explode without warning, devastating nearby population centers and causing extensive contamination that can degrade soil and water sources. Meanwhile, landmines, improvised explosive devices, and explosive remnants of war, including cluster munition remnants, unexploded artillery shells and mortar shells, kill and maim people decades after conflicts end. Clearing land enables stabilization assistance, allowing displaced persons to return home, economic revitalization to begin, and political stability to take root. U.S. clearance and disposal efforts are returning land to productive use, while helping ensure air, soil, and water is clean and safe to use. These critical efforts help foster food security and climate resilience in communities affected by explosive hazards.
The U.S. Government’s Collaborative Approach
The United States is committed to reducing these threats worldwide and is the leading financial supporter of conventional weapons destruction, providing more than $4.6 billion in assistance to more than 120 countries and areas since 1993. The Department of State, Department of Defense, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) work together with foreign governments, private companies, international organizations, and nongovernmental organizations to reduce excess small arms and light weapons and conventional munitions stockpiles (including MANPADS), implement best practices for physical security and stockpile management at conventional weapons storage sites, and carry out humanitarian mine action programs.
In fiscal year 2022, Department of State invested over $319 million* in conventional weapons destruction programs globally. It also led the U.S. interagency MANPADS Task Force, which coordinates counter-MANPADS efforts by the Departments of State, Defense, Homeland Security, and other relevant stakeholders, and helps partner nations eliminate or better secure the MANPADS they retain. In addition to these Department of State-led efforts, the Department of Defense Humanitarian Demining Training Center trains deminers, ammunition handlers, and stockpile managers from partner countries. The Department of Defense Humanitarian Demining Research and Development Program improves conventional weapons destruction technologies, enhancing the efficiency and safety of humanitarian demining around the world. USAID also assists survivors of landmine and explosive remnants of war, providing medical and rehabilitative care through the Leahy War Victims Fund.
Department of State Support for Conventional Weapons Destruction
The Department of State has managed more than 75 percent (more than $3.4 billion) of the United States’ contribution to conventional weapons destruction since 1993, with a three-fold objective:
- Enhance U.S. and international security by destroying and securing small arms and light weapons, including MANPADS, at risk of proliferation to terrorists, insurgents, and other violent non-state actors;
- Improve stability and prosperity by clearing landmines and explosive remnants of war and returning land to productive use;
- Build trust and deepen relationships with key partners to accelerate achievement of broader U.S. foreign policy objectives.
Robust project performance standards, enhanced monitoring and evaluation strategies, and a comprehensive program planning process guide the State Department’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement’s decisions and hold implementing partners accountable.
The measurable, tangible results that flow from the U.S. Government’s commitment to CWD strongly support U.S. foreign policy priorities. In addition, these programs help protect the lives and livelihoods of civilians so they can more safely remain in their own countries.
*Initial planned allocations
1993–2022 Global Overview of the U.S. Conventional Weapons Destruction Program
- 174,670,025 SQUARE METERS (43,161 ACRES) LAND CLEARED
- 69,306,346 SQUARE METERS (17,126 ACRES) LAND RELEASED
- 16,561 EXPLOSIVE ORDNANCE DISPOSAL CALLOUTS
- 37,564 LANDMINES DESTROYED
- 200,112 EXPLOSIVE REMNANTS OF WAR DESTROYED
- 9,099 IED OR COMPONENTS CLEARED OR DESTROYED
- 3,436,0371 EXPLOSIVE ORDNANCE RISK EDUCATION RECIPIENTS
- 53,714 SURVIVOR ASSISTANCE RECIPIENTS
- 3,938 METRIC TONS OF UNSERVICEABLE AMMUNITION DESTROYED
- 730 SMALL ARMS AND LIGHT WEAPONS MARKED
- 14,165 SMALL ARMS AND LIGHT WEAPONS DESTROYED
- 223 MANPADS, ATGMS, OR COMPONENTS DESTROYED
- 775 PERSONNEL TRAINED IN STOCKPILE MANAGEMENT
- 428 PERSONNEL TRAINED IN EXPLOSIVE ORDNANCE DISPOSAL
- 103 ARMORIES BUILT OR REHABILITATED
- 50 IMPLEMENTING PARTNERS
1. This total reflects the number of recipients reached through in-person risk education. More than 18 million additional recipients were reached through social media in Ukraine.
Explosive Ordnance Disposal Qualifications and Expertise
Article and images contributed by Drew Pater, Master EOD Technician. Edited by The Center for International Stabilization and Recovery, and the Department of State.
The United States is committed to assisting countries around the world that are contaminated with landmines and explosive remnants of war to make their land safe and productive again. This requires painstaking clearance work to detect, identify, render safe, and/or destroy explosive hazards, often in very austere environments. The people who do this lifesaving work are called explosive ordnance disposal operators / technicians, or humanitarian deminers. They come from countries worldwide, and some receive their training during military service, while others are trained by nongovernmental organizations and commercial companies.
The International Mine Action Standards provide specifications and guidance for the conduct of explosive ordnance disposal operations. These standards are a United Nations endorsed set of best practices for humanitarian mine action activities that are updated regularly based on lessons learned, and technological and procedural advancements. While the standards do not provide specific technical guidance for the disposal of particular types of explosive ordnance, they categorize training levels for operators into four distinct level—Levels 1, 2, 3 and 3+, with 3+ as the highest level of training.
Explosive ordnance disposal Level 1 is the basic level of explosive ordnance disposal training, which teaches the operator to locate, expose, and destroy in place the specific individual munitions upon which they have been trained. Individuals with Level 1 qualification may only perform this work under carefully controlled and supervised circumstances. The explosive ordnance disposal Level 1 operator can also function as a team member, assisting Level 2 and 3 operators on tasks requiring additional support.
Level 2 is the intermediate level of explosive ordnance disposal training. An explosive ordnance disposal operator with Level 2 qualification may perform all Level 1 tasks, as well as determine when it is safe to move and transport munitions. They can also conduct simultaneous disposal of multiple munitions but are still limited to those specific munitions upon which they have been trained. A Level 2 operator is qualified to conduct tasks in all environments with the written approval of an explosive ordnance disposal operator with Level 3 or above qualification.
The explosive ordnance disposal Level 3 qualification allows the operator to perform all Level 1 and 2 tasks, conduct procedures to render explosive hazards safe from unintended detonation, and control the final disposal of a wide range of specific types of explosive ordnance on which the individual has been trained. Level 3 operators can also authorize an explosive ordnance disposal Level 2 operator to perform tasks in various environments. As with Level 1 and Level 2 qualification, operators may only work with specific types of munitions on which they have been trained.
Explosive ordnance disposal Level 3+ is the most advanced explosive ordnance disposal qualification, with the operator achieving competency in one or more of the following subjects: 1) advanced explosive theory; 2) bombs; 3) clearance of damaged tanks and other armored fighting vehicles; 4) basic chemical munitions and procedures; and 5) bulk demolitions and guided weapons. These competencies may be taught individually, meaning an explosive ordnance disposal Level 3+ operator qualification does not necessarily mean that training in all five skill sets has been received.
The U.S. Department of State requires that all operators engaged in humanitarian demining and battle area clearance funded by the U.S. Government be qualified according to International Mine Action Standards. By adhering to the International Mine Action Standards, nongovernmental organizations and companies funded by U.S. taxpayers can build competent teams to achieve the common goal of making land that was once contaminated with explosive hazards safe and productive again.