Unexploded Ordnance

A Coordinated Approach to Detection and Clearance Is Needed Gao ID: NSIAD-95-197 September 20, 1995

During the past two years, casualties caused by antipersonnel landmines have underscored the threat that such munitions pose years after hostilities cease. The death and injuries attributed to these mines have been estimated at 30,000 annually. Many of the victims are civilians, including children. Although land contamination caused by landmines and other unexploded ordnance may appear to be a Third World issue, close inspection suggests that the problem is shared by developed nations as well. This report reviews the extent to which technology offers solutions to worldwide landmine and other unexploded ordnance problems. GAO (1) reviews the extent to which Defense Department and other agency requirements and associated research and development could be applied to clearance problems elsewhere in the world, (2) assesses the ability of existing or foreseeable technologies to detect and clear landmines and other unexploded ordnance, and (3) identified barriers that could impeded the progress or output of such technology.

GAO found that: (1) U.S. research and development requirements for UXO detection and clearance technology are broader today than they were during the Cold War; (2) the Department of Defense's (DOD) technological efforts have supported countermine operations, for which the main priority is making paths through minefields during combat; (3) U.S. research and development efforts cover a group of near-term and advanced technologies that could increase detection and clearance functions; (4) the most effective clearance techniques are time-consuming, expensive, and labor intensive; (5) the current technologies do not perform well against newer, more advanced munitions; (6) no governmentwide strategy exists to ensure that the most is gained from the various clearance efforts; (7) the technologies available today are inadequate and unable to keep pace with the number of landmines being emplaced annually; and (8) the barriers to technical solutions include the relative ease with which inexpensive improvements in mine designs have outstripped detection and clearance methods, the unique clearance challenges that developing countries pose, and the difficulty in controlling the proliferation of antipersonnel landmines.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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