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Issue 7.2, August 2003
The U.S. Humanitarian Mine Action Program in Iraq
The United States government has developed a wide-ranging plan to build an indigenous mine action capability within Iraq. The plan will help rid Iraq of the threat of landmines and UXO so that the country can focus on rebuilding its society.
The Landmine/UXO Problem
United States Assistance
Mine Risk Education
The Quick Reaction Demining Force
Mine Action Coordination
To build an indigenous capacity for the management and coordination of mine action, the DoS will support the establishment and development of the Iraq National Mine Action Authority (INMAA) and an Iraq National Mine Action Center (INMAC). The DOS will recruit, train and equip local personnel to assume these responsibilities. The DOS and Department of Defense (DoD) have deployed mine action experts to advise the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), as well as local and national authorities, on matters relevant to the establishment of this capacity and to liaise with USCENTCOM, the United Nations, NGOs and other organizations, as appropriate.
Expanding Existing Capacity
DOS will take advantage of the existing mine action capacity in Iraq, which will cut back on the amount of necessary training and equipping. The plan incorporates four MAG demining teams, each consisting of 22 deminers, to support mine clearance requirements outside of northern Iraq. All mine clearance tasks and plans will be in accordance with priority tasks from the INMAA.
Demining Operations Capacity Building
The DOS plans to task RONCO Consulting Corporation to train and equip demining teams augmented by MDDs. RONCO will retain operational management responsibilities for these teams, provide technical advice and management training, and eventually transfer all assets and control to the successor governmentís mine action authority.
Building a mine/UXO clearing capability into the requirements for the new Iraqi demining efforts will continue long after Coalition Forces are redeployed and will take a concerted effort by the United States and the international community to build mine action capability within the nation of Iraq.
Mine Action Authority
The present lack of an indigenous mine clearing capability does not preclude an operational capability now. The CPA is acknowledged as the relevant authority in Iraq with respect to mine action. USCENTCOM has established a Mine Explosive Ordnance Coordination Center to provide data interface between the military clearing and the United Nations and NGO demining efforts. The CPA has established an Emergency Mine Action Team (EMAT) staffed by representatives from the DOS and DoD satisfy the Coalition Force Commanderís objectives, establish mine action policy and to coordinate mine action projects throughout the country. EMAT will work closely with the mine action service providers and the United Nations mine action infrastructure. The plan envisions transitioning responsibilities as the relevant authority for mine action to the INMAA as soon as possible.
Even though the Iraq Mine Action Plan was just initiated and implemented in recent months, there have been many noteworthy accomplishments. Once all programs become fully operational, the people of Iraq can look forward to a day when they will be able to walk the earth in safety.
*All photos courtesy of the U.S. Humanitarian Mine Action Program.
Frasure-Kruezel-Drew Humanitarian Demining Fellow
Office of Humanitarian Demining Programs
U.S. Department of State