Table of Contents
Journal Staff
Call for Papers
Email the Journal
MAIC Website
Journal Archive


Strategic Management For Mine Action Operations: A Case For Government-Industry Partnering

by Dr. Alan Childress and Lieutenant Colonel Pete Owen

Issue 4.1 | February 2000 | Information in this issue may be outdated. Click here to link to the most recent issue.

SUMMARY: Directed mainly at policy makers and leaders in mine-plagued nations and government and non-government mine action planners, the article argues for holistic mine action strategies, coordinated priorities, and best management practices. The authors establish the need for nations to take charge of their mine action organizations and present strategic management methodology to implement self-determination concepts. They insist that humanitarian demining must start with the end in mind, an integrated and nationally prioritized requirements analysis of each of the mine action areas—mine awareness, minefield assessment and surveys, mine and UXO clearance, victim assistance, and information management. They also suggest that nations should consider reconstruction and development programs, as well as mine action, when contemplating resource mobilization. With nationally prioritized programs, and mine action centers managed by Host Nation-dedicated general managers, nation’s can expect to achieve optimum resource allocation and, most importantly, to look after their people as a first priority. The author’s recommend that nations look to industry for dedicated, first tier mine action program managers.


By way of introduction we relate Andy Smith’s description of the beginning of a typical humanitarian demining effort. At present, Smith writes in the October 1998 Journal of Humanitarian Demining, humanitarian demining in most affected areas begins with a UN-led emergency response, which is controlled by ex-pats, who usually have a military background and who are largely paid for by ‘ear-marked’ donations from UN countries. At the same time, as the UN arrives, the specialist charitably-funded clearance groups, which are funded by an individual government’s aid budget or by trusts and donor charities, tend to move into the area. Following the charitable groups come the commercial companies, some of them regionally based, while others may appear regionally based but are actually initiated by profit-taking outsiders. Further, while a few new charitably funded demining groups still exist most of the new players are commercial companies. For example, with the massive funding available for work in the former Yugoslavia, European groups are anxious to get involved and new allegiances and companies arise weekly.

Our point in relating Smith’s scenario is to highlight the apparent lack of holistic strategic planning and management processes that would help coordinate and manage scarce humanitarian demining resources. While planners and resource suppliers have increased dramatically since the early-90s, we find no apparent corresponding management strategies to coordinate those planners’ and suppliers’ intentions. Humanitarian demining documents suggest that governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and other donor organizations have entered the demining equation without an integrating plan to help synergize their donated resources and have become immune to the cry for help. Our experience in humanitarian demining, combined with our research of the humanitarian demining management and technology literature, reveals that the humanitarian demining industry’s customers, the 70 or so mine plagued nations, would benefit greatly from a general model, a process, to strategically manage their humanitarian demining efforts. In general, our paper is addressed to the leaders of those mine-infested nations, calling on them to establish clear priorities in relation to the needs of their affected people and to manage the accomplishment of those priorities with the most sophisticated management practices they can summon.


According to several humanitarian-demining sources, landmine clearance will require decades of organized, deliberate, and time-consuming effort. Studies reveal that 60-100 million landmines lay abandoned in at least 70 countries around the world and landmines are responsible for killing or maiming an estimated 500 people each week. Hidden Killers 1998: The Global Landmine Crisis reports the cost to remove one landmine averages from $300 to $1,000 and the cost for surgical care and fitting of an artificial limb is $3,000 or more per amputee in some countries. An additional problem, Hidden Killers 1998 continues, is the long-term effect on people and their environment. Landmines stand in the way of efforts to restore war-torn societies to normal life. They consume billions of dollars of assistance that could be used to bring prosperity and reconciliation, impacting virtually every aspect of life in the mine-affected countries and on the international community as it seeks effective ways to help those countries. Hidden Killers 1998 concludes, in part, that the landmine crises can be successfully overcome, if the countries suffering mine pollution are determined to tackle the problem, and if the international community can sustain and coordinate its investment (italics ours) in eradicating the landmine plague.

In addition to Hidden Killers 1998, we found several writers who stress the need for a comprehensive management approach to mine action operations. We briefly cite the more adamant writers below. Note that we replace humanitarian demining with mine action, which refers to all those activities that address the problems faced by populations as a result of landmine pollution.

Retired Ambassador Robert Oakley et al., arguing in a Los Angeles Times article that international demining planners need to develop a comprehensive demining strategy, suggest that the international community must begin working together now to develop an integrated approach to humanitarian demining. They assert that all components of mine action—mine awareness, mine assessment and survey, mine and UXO clearance, and victim assistance—should be integral parts of any comprehensive international demining operation, stating that these initial steps were not taken in Bosnia. International companies, local contractors and local forces tackled the larger Bosnian mine problem and they are still at work today, competing for funding and influencing priorities. Oakley et al. claim this lack of a comprehensive master plan has exacted a high price—human suffering remains, and economic output is still less than half its 1990 figure.

They further claim, regarding Kosovo, that despite the widespread belief that mine clearance is an integral part of post-conflict peace-building, economic revitalization and sustainable development, there is no agreed model for addressing or even coordinating these different needs and roles. They conclude that to be effective, international mine action planners must develop a comprehensive strategy now. Otherwise, the "fighting may cease, but the casualties will go on and on." We agree with Oakley, suggesting in our Implications and Conclusions section that the World Bank, UN, donor nation and NGO endeavors might be consolidated under a Development Action Center, synthesizing their resources to national interests.

According to David Ahern in a Journal of Humanitarian Demining article, the UN has assumed the lead in coordinating NGO demining efforts with those of their own forces, and that one of their principles is that primary responsibility for mine action plans rests with individual states. When the state is inherently incapable of demining its land this ability must be developed, in which case the UN assumes the responsibility of capacity building. Reviewing UN landmine policy documents, we find the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) is indeed the focal point within the UN system for all mine-related activities, responsible for ensuring an effective, proactive and coordinated UN response to landmine contamination. UNMAS is tasked with helping to facilitate global efforts at coordinating mine action. Mine action strategic management at the country level, however, does not appear an UNMAS function, although country-level mine action strategic management could be inferred from UNMAS’ holistic goals.

Joe Lokey, arguing for comparative advantage economies, suggests that matching needs and resources and creating public-private relationships is of paramount importance. He writes in the Journal of Humanitarian Demining that the challenging dynamic of the last three to five years is that with more resources becoming available, the challenge has become more complex and difficult to manage. Few organizations and activities have much experience managing and executing mine action programs on the scale now necessary. Lokey submits that the UN has had a comprehensive role in attempting to orchestrate global demining and related activities. Mine action center management is frequently UN-sourced, although their mine action center management role has been limited by reorganizations within the UN demining offices, resource realignments, lack of consensus by the demining community on the role of the UN, demining funds debates, etc.

Another need for widely accepted and applied best management practices, according to Lokey, is based on the potential of governments, NGOs, and other relief agencies to become overly dependent on their internal bureaucracies when implementing their mine action policies. Mine action priorities are generally different among governmental agencies and organizations. Bureaucracies, sometimes called "stovepipes," undermine the importance of teaming and process building or improvement and thwart interagency coordination and cooperation. The almost insidious, ever present "hidden agenda" must be acknowledged as underlying many mine action discussions and evaluations.

Perhaps Lokey’s most important point, relevant to our argument for centralized strategic management, is that donors and other resourcing agencies must recognize the authority of the Host Nation or their designated representatives. Too frequently, developmental activities take on a paternal characteristic that minimizes the role of the Host Nation and reduces their input into decision making. We suggest later in the article how Host Nations can achieve a mine action upper hand through indigenous, strategic management competencies, led by a professional general manager.

Henry Thompson discusses donor influence on safety and productivity in humanitarian demining, based on Bosnia and Herzegovina scenarios. He presents a model that involves donors early on in the mine actions processes and ties them to safety and productivity aspects throughout the mine action stages. While humanitarian demining is donor-driven at the macro level, he concludes, at the micro level donors have not been adequately accountable for the efficiency or safety of their programs. We agree with Thompson that donors should play a key role in humanitarian demining and they should be more active. We’re concerned, however, that the Host Nation must be equally involved in planning from the beginning in forming and implementing its humanitarian demining strategy. He also addresses the notion that demining should be approached under the overall economic and social development context, a provision we strongly concur with.

Major Colin King, in a Journal of Humanitarian Demining article, suggests we study requirements before investing in technology. Supporting Lokey’s argument for Host Nation participation in the mine action planning process, he argues that there is inadequate communications between the operational and scientific communities, and that optimizing the process of demining requires much more than the development and incorporation of high technology. It involves a logical and coherent approach to well-defined aims.

Two other professionals we consulted are Donald "Pat" Patierno, Director, Office of Humanitarian Demining Programs, U.S. Department of State, and Wolfgang Schussel, the Austria Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister. Patierno, arguing the U.S. case, strongly believes that the Host Nation’s demining authority, if it exists, must take responsibility for the management of demining programs so that mine action activities provide the greatest benefit to the Host Nation. An established mine action center should clarify its nation’s policies; enforce demining safety standards; and provide quality assurance measures. In addition, an established mine action center would coordinate NGO and international organizations’ efforts, helping to avoid duplication, reduce waste, save time, and most importantly save lives. Speaking for Austria, Schussel amplifies Patierno, advising that mine action programs must be of a comprehensive nature, even to the point that they must be seen as integral parts of comprehensive reconstruction and development programs. We note that this latter point is also a position of the World Bank, which we discuss in our closing section.

In addition, a strategic management process would help produce cost-benefit analyses, generally needed for nations seeking demining financing. According to the World Bank’s policy document on Mine Action Programmes, the high cost of financing land mine clearance activities should also be justified on economic grounds, taking into account the scarcity of financial resources. In this regard they note a significant aspect of mine action which needs attention is the integration of mine pollution information into the process of planning for other sectors in development and reconstruction. Mine pollution affects the comparative expense and value of differing strategies for repair of roads and infrastructure, rehabilitating agricultural production and other areas of reconstruction. Because demining money and development and reconstruction money have often been compartmentalized, trade-offs are not uniformly made. National leaders, in our view, should be able to examine all assistance initiatives concurrently and openly, helping prioritize their nation’s crises from a well-informed knowledge base.

One final point we would make: Can the existing international political and donor level of awareness be maintained? Patierno (in a 1999 comment in a State Department road show soliciting private money for humanitarian demining purposes) warns that donor fatigue at some point is going to set in among donor nations. We need to conserve and distribute mine action resources for the long term, anticipating that public and private sector focus, awareness, and vigilance may wane over time. Nurturing the humanitarian demining constituency over the long term may be less complicated if mine infested nations can present centralized, responsible, well managed mine action centers that report incremental progress on a consistent basis.

Finally, we note a current appalling situation that amplifies our plea for holistic strategic management. James East reports that mine-infested Thailand signed the Ottawa Agreement, compelling the Thai military to earnestly start mine removal on the Thai-Cambodian border. However, the agency set up to do it, the Thai Mine Action Centre, has not yet started conducting surveys to determine where the mines are. East quotes the Centre’s frustrated assistant director, "we have been here for a year and we have not yet removed one mine" even though U.S. military experts trained the Thais in mine action when the Centre was established. The Centre’s 150-person staff awaits HK$20.1 million budget approval from the Defence Ministry. The 99 trained deminers are "twiddling their thumbs in their barracks," according to East, despite American pledges to help in financing mine detecting dogs, mine detectors, and armor-plated vehicles. This indicates that while U.S. training was successful, retraining may be necessary soon (demining skills tend to wane if not used) due to the Mine Action Centre’s lack of an integrated or holistic approach to their mine problems.


Strategic management, in our context, expresses a commitment to identifying, prioritizing, and implementing the optimum mix of available mine action resources for a given mine-plagued nation. The key to strategic management, which is a process, is recognizing that the resource equation to address mine problems will most likely differ from one mine-infested geographic or political area to another. That is, mine action resource mixes, not constant, must be tailored to the environment and an evaluation of the Host Nations’ ability to sustain a long-term commitment.

Our strategic management process starts with the end in mind—a Host Nation-led, NGO-supported Requirements Analysis of the mine-infested environment—then works back examining all resources available to help achieve the Host Nation’s mine action goals, irrespective of mine action agendas not indigenous to the Host Nation.

The first part of strategic management focuses on a clear understanding of the Host Nation’s vision, goals and objectives and an understanding of what other donors will bring to the table. The Host Nation, in developing its strategic plan with the help of the lead donor, selects the optimum mix of available mine action resources based on a requirements analysis of the mined environment. All components of mine action—mine awareness, minefield assessment and surveys, mine and UXO clearance, victim assistance, and information management—must be examined in the requirements analysis and reflected in the resource mix. The resource mix (requirements) selected for employment is based on Host Nation goals, objectives and written into their strategic plan that details the support they require from donors.

The second part of the strategic management process is implementing the strategic plan (the resource mix), through a cyclical process of planning, organizing, resourcing, controlling, and sustaining the mine action program. It’s not enough to develop the optimum resource mix. To fully exploit it, Host Nations must effectively and efficiently manage the application of those resources, through a national mine action center, to achieve their mine action visions. We believe that obtaining or developing an independent, Host Nation-dedicated, sophisticated general manager to manage the mine action center for the long term is as important as developing the strategic plan. Indeed, it is part of it and we will address this challenge in our conclusions.


In this section we discuss our two-part model, the strategic planning phase followed by the implementing management cycle.


We suggest Host Nations start by studying the contaminated areas concurrently with establishing a mine action center organization. Typical questions that might be asked during the strategic planning phase are: Hasave a National Level One Level 1 sSurveys been consideredducted (UNMAS budget for Yemen Level 1 Survey is US$1.83 million)? What types of mines are present or suspected? Casualty data? What is the soil content? The foliage? The culture of the people in the mine polluted region? What is the land used for? Urgency of mine clearance? Economic implications? Political considerations like can the nation sustain mine action and is the government able to support long a long-term commitment? What type of equipment is employed and what is its condition?

Relative to the mine action organization, will the military and civilian sectors cooperate, with the civilian sector leading the policy decisions and the military implementing? This is generally a condition for UN, World Bank, and NGO support. What is the structure of their existing humanitarian demining organization? What is their demining experience?

Seeking an optimum resource mix for the country, we suggest the Host Nation build a requirements matrix for each of the five components of mine action—minefield analysis and survey, mine awareness, mine and UXO clearance, victim assistance, and information management—for each mine-infested region, then aggregate the data in a national matrix. The matrix, based on a Level 1 survey if available, will help the Host Nation decide their approach to each mine-infected region.

Management Model. Our thesis is that mine-plagued nations can and must manage all aspects of their mine action challenges—mine awareness, minefield assessment and surveys, mine and UXO clearance, victim assistance, and information management—by coordinating and cooperating with donors and other players in the demining industry. Only in this manner can they synthesize and synergize human, material, and funding resources to achieve timely and effective solutions to mine threats. While not advocating a one size fits all management plan, we challenge mine action planners to apply best management practices to achieve the optimum use of scarce resources. We suggest a 6-part management cycle, which we tailored to help mine action leaders establish a mine action management process. The cycle involves planning, organizing, resourcing, controlling, and sustaining, all wired together by coordination (Figure 1). We rely on UNMAS for mine action organization terminology and standards.

Plan. Planning implements the strategy discussed above and starts with the General Manager or minister-in-charge determining the goals (or targets) that must be achieved to reach the national leader’s mine-free vision. Following goal establishment is defining measurable objectives necessary to achieve those goals. The General Manager may next want to establish and schedule the activities necessary to accomplish the objectives. The planning process actually starts while performing the Requirements Analysis that indicates the resources needed to accomplish the mine action goals. The Requirements Analysis document (we recommend the matrix form) is the guide used to plan and schedule the objectives and events leading to goal accomplishment.

For example at our organization, U.S. Central Command, when we enter a nation that has sought U.S. mine action assistance, the planning matrix (similar to a schedule) we use is designed to help stand up the new organization and teach the Host Nation how to manage their humanitarian demining operations. The matrix we construct is relatively simple, listing the activities required to stand-up the organization on the left side and dates across the top (usually in months). Then we start filling in what should be done and by whom. This approach works best with new start programs. (Once the Host Nation has the MAC and humanitarian demining committee operational, we work to support their goals and assist them with resolving their most significant problems through a train-the-trainer process and donated material and equipment.)

Two significant U.S.-led events occur during the Planning phase that might also serve as examples. Following the Department of State Policy Assessment Visit, which determines U.S involvement in a nation’s request for demining assistance, we begin developing the U.S. Humanitarian Demining Country Plan. This plan, which we draft in continuous coordination with the Host Nation, mine action trainers, et al., serves as our resourcing strategy.

It is written to accurately capture all resources and direct them toward the required support of the Host Nation. This plan, which helps eliminate redundancy, identifies high-demand military training assets, and helps coordinate the myriad activities carried out by different U.S. organizations. It defines the Host Nation’s mine problems and requirements as well as the U.S. commitment. We suggest Mine Action Center (MAC) General Manager’s develop a similar resourcing holistic plan, in particular to depict resource requirements of their country, NGO’s, and other donors, that is, for them to budget.

Organize. Developing the organization to establish and support the mine action center and humanitarian demining committee organizations will largely determine successful execution of the plan. How do we arrange our human resources to best accomplish the objectives we set out while planning? Also, defining processes is extremely important—how does work get done at the National MAC and Regional MACs? Among donors within the MAC?

We recognize many aspects of "organizing." The Host Nation establishes their National humanitarian demining Committee, National MAC, and Regional MACs. The donors and Donor Committee organize donor support to best address Host Nation requirements, problems and needs and the U.S. organizes its support to provide its part of the required support. In our case we write and coordinate our Country Plan and ensure that our planned support compliments and synergizes the Host Nation assets and donor support to the Host Nation. If a military-only organization exists, we will recommend some sort of a civilian-led, military implemented hybrid organization that all donors can support. An organization chart of this type is at Figure 2. We are recommending this organizational structure to a country we are supporting.

If some sort of donor organization is not in place, we attempt to organize one to facilitate future support and to better coordinate efforts. Part of our Requirements Determination Site Survey (actually a requirements analysis) is designed to determine who is doing what in the Host Nation, who has the lead, and where the U.S. fits in the big picture (our aim is a viable self-sufficient program.) This also includes helping organize donor support to the Host Nation.

Resource. Resourcing provides funding and personnel to support the MAC and RMACs and should be coordinated while developing a Country Plan. Based on the Requirements Analysis, all aspects of the mine action program must be considered in the resource plan, providing donor organizations not already part of the nation’s demining plans an opportunity to fill in needed funding or resource gaps.

At U.S. Central Command, we start resource planning in earnest during the Requirements Determination Site Survey while we’re conferring with the Host Nation and NGOs interested in helping the Host Nation. We then draft the U.S Country Plan, staff it with all interested agencies including the Host Nation, then brief the coordinated draft plan to Host Nation representatives, U.S. humanitarian demining program managers and force providers (trainers) for approval. The briefing is conducted at what is called a Resource Allocation Planning Meeting. The end result is a resourcing plan (the Country Plan) that is, again, technically approved by the multiple humanitarian demining organizations and the Host Nation (although not yet signed). The agreed upon plan is then signed by the U.S. Ambassador to the Host Nation and sent to the decision authority within the U.S. Government to provide resources. U.S. resources are approved through the Interagency Working Group, which represents upper-level decision-makers from several U.S. Government agencies. In the event that approved resources are less than required, the plan is reworked to account for shortages and coordinated once more with all involved agencies supporting humanitarian demining, including especially the Host Nation, to help eliminate shortfalls.

Control. We would caution General Managers regarding establishing control measures for demining operations. Evidence suggests that control systems produce two kinds of invalid data: invalid data about what can be done and invalid data about what has been done. Military deminers, perhaps unsophisticated in the role of accurate data, may wish to please their organizations more than reporting data accurately. Quality Assurance management (systemic quality) should be practiced through rigorous demining training and strictly enforced safety practices. Quality Assurance, in addition to Measures of Effectiveness, are techniques we would recommend Host Nations establish for controlling quality and reporting progress, thus helping ensure effective and consistent U.S. and other donor support. Regarding the importance of reporting progress, we reiterate here the necessity of Mine Action Centers reporting incremental progress on a consistent basis.

In general, the U.S. does not attempt to control the Host Nation mine action program. Control procedures are established and cover everything from accounting for equipment to the quality of the instruction being conducted in any of the elements of mine action. Measures of Effectiveness (MOEs) are established for measuring two things – how well the Host Nation is conducting humanitarian demining and how well the U.S. support is assisting the Host Nation. These MOEs are often different from the Host Nation’s or other donor’s Measures of Effectiveness. The general manager must gather the appropriate information to assess MOEs and adjust his program as necessary to continually improve U.S. and other donor support.

Sustain. We repeat Patierno’s warning that donor fatigue at some point is going to set in among donor nations. General Manager’s need to conserve and distribute mine action resources for the long term, anticipating that public and private sector focus, awareness, and vigilance may wane over time.

In this phase, the U.S. focus changes from intensive, daily support of the new organization to maintaining, consulting, and looking more long term for new technologies and techniques that might help speed efficiency and improve safety for the Host Nation. Our presence is scaled back to 30-45 days per quarter, usually focused on specific elements of mine action such as mine awareness. For example, our mine action assistance program consists of a formal annual visit called the Requirements and Verification Visit specifically designed to review and update the Host Nation's humanitarian demining requirements, what the other donors are doing, and then verifying that equipment previously donated is being used properly and effectively. Obviously, we spend considerable time in the Host Nation throughout the year but the Requirements Analysis Verification Visit is conducted to work with the highest levels of the Host Nation government and to ensure the Host Nation understands we hold them responsible for the supplies and equipment provided. The results of the Requirements Analysis Verification Visit are then used to update the Country Plan, changing or modifying U.S. support to the Host Nation in light of the status of their goals and objectives as well as what other donors intend to provide. Our Country Plans cover two years and are coordinated with all agencies associated with humanitarian demining in the Host Nation (including the Host Nation). U.S. Country Plans are posted on the web at

Coordination. In our view, coordination in mine action is continuously communicating within and among all players associated with the Host Nation’s mine action program, to include players who may have a contribution but are unaware of it. Reinforcing the holistic approach, coordination starts from day one and never stops—it is the key to efficiency and success. Coordination brings the players to the table to achieve the Host Nation’s demining vision and helps break down bureaucratic "stovepipes." Coordination is central to the five management steps discussed above. In a situation where there are often competing desires and agendas between donors and the Host Nation, vigorous and open coordination is absolutely critical.

In our program, the establishment of a formal donor committee and good lines of communication with the Host Nation is essential. The donor committee must be chaired by an organization that can help ensure all donations support the Host Nation with minimal redundancy or waste. The donor committee provides the forum for coordinating donor plans and de-conflicting resource arguments. Coordination is the key to success! Managing coordination within the MAC—indeed, achieving a degree of cooperation among the mine action functions—may be the general managers’ greatest challenge.


a. While we suggest that strategic planning for mine action is distinct from management planning, in practice management leaders generally combine the functions - thus, the Strategy would be developed in the Planning phase of the management cycle. We made the distinction to emphasize the importance of determining a country’s total mine action requirements before contemplating resources, which most countries tend not to do. Our Strategic Management logic would also apply to countries that decide to outsource their mine action operations. Host nations should lead the Requirements Analysis phase and provide the General Manager to lead their Mine Action Centers. Host nations would do well to advertise their general management needs to international management consultant firms. The investment in an exceptional general manager, beholden only to the Host Nation government, should achieve significant returns on the investment, in terms of humanitarian and resource allocation outcomes.

b. The implications of well planned and Host Nation-managed mine action programs are considerable, including serving the Host Nations’ political, economic, as well as mine action agendas. Arnold Sierra, a Foreign Service Officer currently engaged at the U.S. State Department’s Humanitarian Demining Program, suggests that Host Nation's consider an umbrella Development Action Center (DAC), which would integrate mine action and national development and reconstruction activities, supporting self-determination goals. A donor support methodology could be established within the DAC to help eliminate waste, synergize donor support, and coordinate activities by the many different donor agencies involved. We note that as a development agency the World Bank supports member country programs that help lead to the eradication of poverty and to the promotion of sustainable development. Its support of mine action is based upon the recognition that mine pollution is, for many affected countries, a significant obstacle to the reestablishment of normal development activities. In this context, it shares with UNDP a perspective which views mine pollution as a development problem with long term consequences and, necessarily, with long-term solutions which extend far beyond initial humanitarian concerns. Also important is that the Bank shares responsibility with UNDP for convening donor groups in reconstruction situations and thus has a major role in resource mobilization and in setting long term agendas for international support for mine action and other needs. Similar to UNDP mine action policies, land mine clearance in Bank-financed projects must be carried out under the auspices of civilian authorities, an incentive for civilian-led national Mine Action Committees, setting policy for Mine Action Centers.

c. Implications for continuous Quality Assurance, not necessarily Quality Control, are significant. While Quality Control at the demining unit level is necessary and important, Quality Assurance, systemically managed by the General Manager, is equally important. Assuring that training and safety systems are well designed, properly taught, and rigorously enforced is a function of the General Manager, not off-handedly delegated to subordinates. In addition, it is the responsibility of the General Manager to establish Measures of Effectiveness for his Mine Action Center, which tell his boss or the Prime Minister how the mine action program is progressing. Donors will also need data for their own agendas, which the General Manager must accommodate if he expects continuous donor support. Having established its own Measures of Effectiveness, the U.S. will assist General Manager’s in establishing data collection methods to meet their (and other donors’) data needs. The point is that General Managers need to realize the importance of regularly reporting mine action data to donors, helping ensure their long-term support.

d. Our research and experience indicates that worldwide mine action remains fragmented and uncoordinated. Holistic national approaches to their mine action problems would appear to help sustain stable and generous donor support. Regarding competition for demining resources, holistic approaches may tend to prioritize donor support to regions enduring the most human suffering, rather than those with the most political influence.


In the June edition of Journal of Mine Action the authors will demonstrate their strategy and management model through a fictional nation that contains many of the mine action problems in existence today. They will also present several of the lessons they learned during their experience in Horn of Africa and Middle East mine afflicted countries.


Lieutenant Colonel Pete Owen, USA, is the Program Manager for U.S. Central Command’s humanitarian demining program. He is responsible for all U.S. mine action operations in the Middle East and African nations that comprise Central Command’s area of responsibility. Much of this article is based on lessons he learned while establishing and managing the program.

Dr. Alan Childress, a management consultant for Booz× Allen & Hamilton, is currently engaged as U.S. Central Command’s humanitarian demining Country Manager for Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Djibouti. He specialized in international management while earning his business administration doctorate at Nova Southeastern University.

The authors acknowledge the contributions of John Johnson, the U.S. Central Command’s humanitarian demining Country Manager for Jordan and Egypt. His extensive mine action knowledge and his compassion for people affected by the worldwide landmine affliction are unparalleled.