Army researchers hosted national and foreign partners at the 2013-2014 Humanitarian Demining Requirements Workshop to plan humanitarian demining programming over the next two years, at Fort Belvoir, Va., June 18-22.
The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command’s communications-electronics center, or CERDEC, brought together representatives from demining non-governmental organizations, foreign military units and mine action centers, the U.S. Departments of State and Defense and the Organization of American States for the week-long workshop.
Post-conflict landmines and unexploded ordnance, or UXO, remaining in the ground pose a serious threat to civilians as well as U.S. military forces in these areas. They also prevent the use of valuable land that is crucial for economic development.
“Post-war situations leave a wide range of hazards that can continue to be a threat to the public for decades and in some cases, centuries after the fighting has stopped,” said workshop participant, Roger Hess, of Golden West Humanitarian Foundation. “There is no set rule on how long these munitions can remain active; variables include the design, materials used and the environment.
Hess, an internationally noted explosive ordnance expert, assists Golden West’s efforts in mine and UXO clearance in Cambodia and on the island of Guadalcanal, just two of the many areas across the globe dealing with landmines and UXO.
CERDEC’s Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate, or NVESD, based here has conducted humanitarian demining research and development for the last 17 years as part of the Humanitarian Demining Research and Development, or HD R&D, Program. The program, which is run through NVESD’s Countermine Division, works to develop and demonstrate internationally shareable mine and UXO clearance technologies.
At the workshop, representatives from each organization, some traveling directly from minefields, explained their ongoing mine and UXO clearance operations, the unique challenges they face and described their most critical equipment needs.
“The information we obtained through this workshop, combined with one-on-one meetings with each organization is critical in order for us to focus our development efforts on technologies most needed in the minefields,” said Sean Burke, NVESD HD R&D Program manager.
The HD R&D Program continues to make significant contributions to the worldwide clearance of post-conflict mines and UXO. Since the HD R&D Program began in 1995, 139 evaluations of mechanical clearance and detection technologies have taken place in 36 countries. The program has helped deminers clear more than 15 million square meters of land while finding over 79,000 mines and UXO.