When you imagine landmines, for the most part, you turn to a Vietnam War era picture. Men running through a field, stepping on a mechanical object and suddenly getting blown up. Or you might even picture the “Bouncing Betty” which physically comes up out of the ground and then explodes. A more sad image might be a couple of children playing and then suddenly the worst happens.
Either way, these mines are not known for their pleasantries. They have no distinction between men, women, children, animal, or even vehicle. Depending on the type of landmine, location placed, and so forth, the damage could be pretty gruesome and significant.
Earlier this week, the policy changed on the use of landmines. Previously, landmines were only authorized in the country of Korea. While the use of landmines will be authorized, there are quite a few regulations surrounding them.
One caveat is the landmine has to be non-persistent. This means it is only active while there is a determined threat and the mine can be deactivated at any time. Persistent mines, meaning the older kind that could never truly be deactivated, are no longer authorized for use.
The issue most people have with landmines is the fact there are still thousands upon thousands of them in “fields” across the world. Typically, there were not maps to these minefields, so many of them are left undiscovered. That is, until someone or something comes across one and the inevitable happens.
This is one big reason why the use of landmines is so controversial. They are still killing and injuring thousands of people every year, and they are most likely ones that were placed decades ago. According to UNICEF, landmines kill and injure 15-20,000 people every year and one in every five of those are children.
The use of non-persistent landmines should reduce this risk significantly. Not to mention the fact that the mines will not be used ‘at will.’ Use of landmines will have to follow the current regulations in place and get approval from the Secretary of Defense.
Vic Mercado, the acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans and Capabilities, said landmines will give us the warfighting capability we may be missing. Mercado also stated landmines may help to deter an enemy when attempting to gain ground in combat. After all, navigating through a minefield takes a lot of precision to ensure you don’t become a casualty. (Read more about what Mercado said, here.)
Will landmines help strategically? How can we effectively utilize them while causing minimal, unintended casualties?