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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Research Council. 2001. Alternative Technologies to Replace Antipersonnel Landmines. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10071.

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The Union Army of the Potomac was pressuring Confederate forces retreating from Yorktown. . . . Suddenly a series of shells exploded beneath the hooves of Federal horses. Pandemonium erupted as many whole Union companies bolted in panic. (Robbins, 1997)

Antipersonnel landmines (APL), an often low-technology, inexpensive staple of armies around the world, became the center of international controversy as the twentieth century drew to a close. On one side of the debate were the military utility of APL and doubts about the feasibility of controlling their use; on the other side were the tragic residual humanitarian effects of APL. In December 1997, 122 countries signed the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction, known as the Ottawa Convention, banning APL (see Appendix E for text). The Clinton administration announced, “The United States will sign the Ottawa Convention by 2006 if we succeed in identifying and fielding suitable alternatives to our antipersonnel landmines and mixed antitank systems by then” (Berger, 1998). Since then, the United States has destroyed millions of APL that did not have self-destructing or self-deactivating devices. In addition, in accordance with Presidential Decision Directive 64, pure APL (i.e., those that are not part of a mixed APL-antitank [AT] mine system) cannot be used outside Korea after 2003. In the meantime, the United States is searching for alternatives. This National Research Council1 study was part of the U.S. government's efforts to determine if and when alternatives will be available.

The Committee on Alternative Technologies to Replace Antipersonnel Landmines was created for the purpose of (1) identifying and examining possible tactics, technologies, and operational concepts that could provide tactical advantages similar to those provided by APL by 2006; (2) suggesting a near-term alternative technology, weapon system, or combination of systems that could be derived from known, available systems or that could provide a short-term solution if the recommended alternative will not be available by 2006; and (3) describing how the identified technologies and systems could be used consistently with current tactical doctrine and operational concepts or recommending changes in tactics or operational concepts.

This chapter provides background information on the development and use of landmines, including their use by the U.S. military. It then describes the residual hazards landmines may pose to noncombatants during and after combat and to postwar relief and recovery activities. Various international agreements relating to the use of APL and the evolution of U.S. policy are reviewed as a context for brief descriptions of efforts to identify alternatives. The Statement of Task for this study, a description of the committee process, and a road map for the report are provided at the end of the chapter.


Several accepted definitions for APL are currently in use, leading to confusion over whether a specific APL is compliant with the Ottawa Convention or not. The subtleties and implications of the definitions continue to be the subject of diplomatic and scholarly debate. The U.S. Army doctrinal manual on landmines, Field Manual 20-32, Mine/Countermine Operations, uses the following definition:

A landmine is an explosive device that is designed to destroy or damage equipment or personnel. Equipment targets include ground vehicles, boats, and aircraft. A mine is detonated by the action of its target, the passage of time, or controlled means. There are two types of land-based mines—AT [antitank] and AP [antipersonnel]. (U.S. Army 1998b)

Definitions in various treaty documents that specifically address APL are shown in Box 1-1.

For the purposes of this study, the committee used the definition found in the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), Amended Protocol II, an international convention that has been signed and ratified by the United States

1 The National Research Council is the operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. Together these institutions are known as the National Academies.

Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Research Council. 2001. Alternative Technologies to Replace Antipersonnel Landmines. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10071.

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BOX 1-1

Definitions of Antipersonnel Landmines

Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), Amended Protocol II

Antipersonnel mine means a mine primarily designed to be exploded by the presence, proximity, or contact of a person and that will incapacitate, injure, or kill one or more persons

Ottawa Convention

Antipersonnel mine means a mine designed to be exploded by the presence, proximity, or contact of a person and that will incapacitate, injure, or kill one or more persons. Mines designed to be detonated by the presence, proximity, or contact of a vehicle, as opposed to a person, that are equipped with antihandling devices are not considered antipersonnel mines as a result of being so equipped.

(seeAppendix E for text). APL that are part of mixed systems fall under this definition; antihandling devices2 do not.


The use of mine-like devices has a long history in military operations,3 but widespread concerns have arisen only recently, primarily because of the increasing proliferation of mines. A tenet of military operations is to force the enemy into a disadvantageous position by controlling terrain and the situation on the battlefield while conserving combat power. Ideally, all weapons used in war are designed to provide friendly forces with maximum flexibility and to inflict maximum damage on the enemy. In recent years, a concerted effort has been made to reduce the effects of all weapons on noncombatants—so-called collateral damage.

The first landmines in the West (in the sixteenth century) required high maintenance and were susceptible to dampness. By the nineteenth century, the availability of explosive shells and the invention of the percussion cap enabled the development of more water-resistant mines (Schneck, 1998).

APL were first used in the American Civil War by the Confederate Army during the Peninsula Campaign of 1862. Developed by Brigadier General Gabriel Rains and known as land “torpedoes” or as the subterra explosive shell, these APL would explode when a soldier (or a horse or wagon) stepped on the fuze. Although they were decried by General McClellan of the Union Army, similar devices were used by General Sherman during his March to the Sea. The idea of marking mines with small flags planted 10 feet in front of them on the defender's side was introduced at this time. Explosive mining tunnels under fortified positions were used at Vicksburg in 1863 and again at Petersburg in 1864. U.S. armies did not use mines again for 76 years (Croll, 1998).

Landmines were used between 1865 and 1914 by Prussia (1870), the British (in numerous colony wars), and Russia (1904). In response to the introduction of tanks by the British in World War I, the Germans fabricated explosive AT mines, improvised in the field from artillery projectiles. Later, mines were mass-produced to improve their efficiency. By the end of the war, both sides had a small inventory of AT mines (Croll, 1998). As early as 1918, the Germans had developed a methodology for laying minefields in a pattern, marking and recording them, and protecting them with observation and small-arms fire. Soon thereafter, the Allies also initiated a doctrinal requirement that minefields be marked and recorded.

In World War II, landmines were widely used as a counterforce to the inherent mobility of large armored formations. Concurrently, smaller APL were developed to discourage foot soldiers from disabling the AT mines4 and for use in terrain where infantry forces predominated.

The Germans, who developed extensive mine warfare practices based on their antitank operations in World War I, had refined their methods for laying mines during the interwar period. Mines were typically laid in a uniform pattern; the friendly side of a minefield was usually marked, as were lanes and cleared areas; and locations of minefields were recorded. The minefields were observed and protected with covering fire from antiarmor weapons, small arms, and artillery.

Although no new aspects of mine warfare were introduced in the Korean War, the lessons learned in World War II were tested and affirmed. Mines were used during the Korean Conflict to cover withdrawals and to reinforce defenses. However, United Nations forces did not always mark and record minefields, which sometimes resulted in casualties to friendly forces crossing unmarked minefields. In some

2 Antihandling devices perform the function of a mine fuze if someone attempts to tamper with the mine. They are intended to prevent someone from moving or removing the individual mine, not to prevent reduction of the minefield by enemy dismounts. An antihandling device usually consists of an explosive charge that is connected to, placed next to, or manufactured in the mine. The device can be attached to the mine body and activated by a wire that is attached to a firing mechanism. U.S. forces can use antihandling devices only on conventional AT mines (U.S. Army, 1998b).

3 As early as the ninth century B.C., the Assyrian army dug tunnels under walls and fortifications, creating breaches when the wooden beams supporting the tunnels were set on fire and the ground above them collapsed. The development of gunpowder by the Chinese in the ninth century and its later production and use in Europe led to more effective mining (Schneck, 1998). The term “mines” in reference to an explosive charge in or on the ground is derived from these tunneling (or mining) activities.

4 This action has come to be called a dismounted breach.

Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Research Council. 2001. Alternative Technologies to Replace Antipersonnel Landmines. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10071.

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cases, unguarded minefields were removed and reused by the enemy against United Nations forces (Roy and Friesen, 1999). Allied forces found that they could not always stop waves of attackers willing to take the significant casualties caused by forcing their way through an active minefield. After the war, the U.S. military called for a light APL that would guarantee casualties, which led to the development of the M14 pressure mine and the M18 (Claymore) (Croll, 1998). United Nations forces were confident of the efficacy of using APL to supplement other, more lethal means of defense (Roy and Friesen, 1999) and South Korean and American forces laid extensive minefields on the border between North and South Korea to deter or delay an invasion. The growing importance of landmines was also evidenced by the emphasis on them in military field manuals written after the Korean War. Many also believed that mines could help stop invading Warsaw Pact armies if a war broke out in Europe.

The developments in mine warfare after World War II and Korea, especially the use of protective minefields to guard well defined areas, such as borders, were of little use to the United States in Vietnam. Vietnamese, U.S., and allied forces operated from base camps or fortified enclaves throughout the country, but the insurgents, and later the North Vietnamese, moved throughout the countryside. Depending on the enemy's objectives, the terrain, and other factors, he was capable of conducting both standoff attacks and ambushes.

When U.S. combat units arrived and established base camps, minefields were emplaced in many locations to provide security perimeters. These minefields were a combination of conventional nonself-destructing APL (i.e., M14s and M16s), trip flares, and Claymores (M18s). In some cases, improvised mines were also used. Within a short time, because of the buildup of forces, many base camp perimeters were expanded, which necessitated the clearance or isolation of previously emplaced APL. U.S. forces also aggressively patrolled outside their base camps, which posed the problem of crossing defensive minefields. Therefore, early in the war, the use of APL in large defensive minefields around U.S. base camps was drastically reduced. Later, during the Vietnamization of the war, when the United States had become less active offensively, mines were again used to protect bases and camps.

The APL most used by U.S. and allied forces in Vietnam was the M18 series Claymore, used extensively around base camps and to protect positions established in the field, as well as on ambushes by all combat units. The Claymore was a basic component of every infantryman's gear.

Although the United States developed several experimental mines specifically for use in Vietnam, none was permanently adopted. For example, the XM-61, a linear explosive charge (similar to detonating cord) wrapped at intervals with a fragmentation sleeve, was developed for use as a command-detonated mine along trails during ambushes. Several air-delivered mines were also introduced, including the “Gravel Mine” (XM42 mine dispensing system), the BLU-42/B APL, BLU-43/B APL, and the BLU-45 (the first scatterable AT mine). The BLU-43/B, also called the “Dragontooth,” was filled with liquid explosive and detonated by the application of about 7 kilograms of weight. Although the BLU 43/B was never adopted as a standard service item by the United States, it was copied by the Soviets (PFM-1 and PFM-1S, called the Butterfly) and used in large quantities in Afghanistan.

A major challenge for U.S. forces in Vietnam was countermine activities to minimize the use of mines by enemy forces. Mines became a constant threat during U.S. convoy operations to resupply base camps. Command-detonated mines, either locally fabricated or made from unexploded ordnance, such as artillery projectiles and aerial bombs, were buried beneath and alongside roads. Finding them and removing them was a daily challenge.

The Viet Cong made extensive, effective use of mines and booby traps to protect their base areas and target paths and roads. Like the Irish Republican Army later in Northern Ireland, the Viet Cong used command-detonated and timer-detonated mines in populated areas as terrorist weapons against military and civilian targets. North Vietnamese Army units used mines in generally the same way as their Viet Cong counterparts. By most accounts, this use of mines and booby traps inflicted a much higher percentage of casualties in Vietnam than it did in World War II or Korea and had even more significant psychological effects.5

In the limited wars of the 1970s and 1980s, landmines continued to be used, sometimes effectively and sometimes not. Guerilla forces in Mozambique, Angola, and Rhodesia showed that mines could be used effectively for “unconventional” warfare, to instill terror in the population or to force migrations by making an area uninhabitable. The speed of operations during the Yom Kippur War (1973) demonstrated that traditional minefields or mine tactics could sometimes be a hindrance to one's own movements. Subsequently, many countries began working to improve their mines for use in rapidly paced operations.

In the early 1980s, the first self-neutralizing systems with a selection of self-destruct times were deployed. The Italians developed helicopter-delivered, scatterable mine systems. Although these were an improvement over manually placed mines, the helicopters were susceptible to ground fire. From these early systems, the United States developed the “family of scatterable mines” (FASCAM), which can be delivered by ground launcher, helicopter, fixed-wing aircraft,

5 According to sources cited by Roy and Friesen (1999), wounds and deaths in Vietnam from mines and booby traps were 11 percent and 15 percent, respectively, of all casualties in Vietnam, compared with 3 to 4 percent in World War II and Korea. The authors also quote one account of small unit actions in Vietnam: “The enemy they found hardest to combat was not the VC; it was mines.”

Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Research Council. 2001. Alternative Technologies to Replace Antipersonnel Landmines. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10071.

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or artillery. FASCAM devices that can be deployed rapidly and have self-destructing/self-deactivating mechanisms have been integrated into current U.S. doctrine for fast-paced, maneuver warfare.

The FASCAM were first deployed during the Gulf War ahead of and behind Iraqi positions to prevent the movement of forces. They were also used against airfields and storage facilities for chemical weapons. The Iraqis, drawing in part on their experience in the war with Iran in the 1980s, began laying extensive, traditional minefields of both AT mines and APL immediately after their occupation of Kuwait. The coalition forces, in turn, made extensive preparations to deal with the minefields by eliminating Iraqi overwatching fires and by thoroughly preparing to conduct countermine operations. The offensive campaign plan was built around countering the Iraqi minefields and effectively neutralized their impact on coalition forces. As a result, the Iraqis were unable to stop, or even appreciably slow, the ground attack against them. Success was attributed to many factors, including the coalition's ability to survey minefields and exploit their weaknesses and the Iraqis' inability to observe and defend their barriers.


Nonself-destructing landmines, even when used according to the generally accepted Western doctrine of marking and recording minefields, can continue to pose hazards after conflicts have ended. The danger of nonself-destructing mines is part of the more general problem of unexploded ordnance, although hazards from landmines are particularly serious because they are target activated. In 1960, five Civil War era landmines found in Alabama were determined to be capable of exploding on contact. Since the 1940s, several active mines from World War II have been found each year scattered throughout Western Europe. After the Gulf War, landmines posed a hazard for both soldiers and civilians. Unfortunately, until the 1980s, most mines were not self-deactivating or self-destructing.

The adoption of self-destructing and self-deactivating devices by the United States, which, when used in accordance with accepted international practice, can largely eliminate residual hazards, was copied only by its NATO allies and a few other countries.6 Therefore, the bulk of the mines in use around the world are still nonself-deactivating or nonself-destructing APL. Because they are cheap and easy to obtain, they are especially attractive to regional and nonstate belligerents.

It is impossible to estimate accurately the number of landmines around the world today. The Office of Humanitarian Demining Program of the U.S. Department of State has used the figure of 60 to 70 million landmines in more than 60 countries, mostly in Africa, the Middle East, South-east Asia, South America, and Latin America. The International Committee of the Red Cross estimates that during the late 1980s and early 1990s landmines killed or maimed more than 25,000 people each year (Patierno, 2000a). However, this figure may include a large number of casualties caused by unexploded ordnance.

In addition to causing casualties, the presence of landmines can also seriously inhibit relief efforts during conflicts and resettlement and reconstruction after conflicts are over. Mine-infested land creates refugees and prevents the resettlement of people who fled during the conflict. Even a suspicion that fields are mined may render them unusable. If a country's infrastructure (roads, bridges, and railroads) has been mined, economies are much more difficult to rebuild. The burden of uncleared landmines on war-devastated countries was a major motivation for trying to prevent the emplacement of new mines. For many international organizations, governments, and nongovernmental organizations, the humanitarian costs of mines outweigh their military advantages.


For centuries the international community has attempted to minimize unnecessary wartime suffering by combatants and noncombatants alike. Beginning in the mid-1800s, the increasing destructiveness of weapons made possible by industrialization made the problem more urgent. The 1864 Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded in Armies in the Field introduced principles upheld in later Geneva Conventions that the wounded be treated humanely regardless of nationality and that medical personnel and units be regarded as neutral. In 1899, and again in 1907, the Hague Peace Conferences reaffirmed the laws and customs governing land warfare. As warfare was extended to the air, concerns about the treatment of civilians in enemy territory increased, and in 1949 the international community addressed the issue of the safety of noncombatants in the Geneva Convention (IV) Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (ICRC, 1949).

Throughout this report, the committee uses the term humanitarian, which can be construed to have more than one meaning. The principal meaning is the effort to protect noncombatants from the effects of wartime weapons. As, a corollary, humanitarian also refers to compliance with the international agreements limiting or banning mines. The humanitarian intent of these instruments was the basis for the committee's development of the humanitarian criteria for alternatives to APL described in Chapter 4.

Convention on Conventional Weapons

From time to time, the international community has attempted to regulate the possession or use of a weapon or

6 This has been attributed to their greater complexity and higher production and acquisition costs.

Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Research Council. 2001. Alternative Technologies to Replace Antipersonnel Landmines. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10071.

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even to ban it completely. The 1996 Chemical Weapons Convention and the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention are recent examples of the prohibition of a weapon. The 1980 Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects (CCW) was the first international treaty to attempt to regulate the use of landmines specifically. The Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby-traps and Other Devices (Protocol II) proscribed the use of APL against civilians or in areas of civilian settlement, as well as their indiscriminate use (i.e., not directed at a military objective). The CCW required accurate recording of all mines to facilitate their removal, and prohibited the use of remotely delivered mines unless they had neutralizing mechanisms or their locations could be accurately recorded. The protocol also called for agreements after the cessation of hostilities, among the parties to the conflict and with other states and international organizations, as necessary, to remove all mines or render them ineffective. Shortcomings of the protocol included: (1) it was not applicable to internal conflicts; (2) it did not provide a probation period for modifying non-detectable APL, and (3) it did not cover long-lived APL (Matheson, 1999).

After an extensive review of the CCW, an amended landmine protocol was issued in May 1996 addressing these shortcomings (see Appendix E for the text). Amended Protocol II, which entered into force on December 3, 1998, distinguishes between APL and AT mines and further restricts the use of mines and minefields. All APL must be detectable (i.e., manufactured or modified with a minimum amount of metal content specified in the Technical Annex to the Protocol). All remotely emplaced APL must be equipped with self-destructing devices and backup self-deactivating devices. All nonremotely emplaced APL must either be placed in an area with a marked and monitored perimeter or must be equipped with self-destructing and self-deactivating devices. Amended Protocol II also established rules governing the transfer of landmines and extended the protocol to cover the use of landmines in internal conflicts. As of June 15, 2000, 50 countries were party to the Amended Protocol II (79 were party to the CCW).

The CCW, including Amended Protocol II, will be reviewed again in 2001. The United States envisions further improvements to the protocol with respect to applying the APL detectability standards to AT mines, the adoption of increased self-destruction and self-deactivation requirements, and adding a verification and compliance mechanism (Matheson, 1999).

The Ottawa Convention

At the same time the CCW was undergoing review, nongovernmental organizations began to address the issue of the use and humanitarian consequences of landmines. In 1992, six nongovernmental organizations (Handicap International, Human Rights Watch, Medico International, Mines Advisory Group, Physicians for Human Rights, and Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation) joined forces to create the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which called for a total ban on the use, production, stockpiling, and transfer of APL (ICBL, 2000). National campaigns in several countries followed, many nongovernmental organizations worldwide7 joined in the fight, and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines gradually gained the support of several likeminded governments, most notably Canada.

In October 1996, the Canadian government hosted the Towards a Global Ban on Landmines: International Strategy Conference, which was attended by representatives of 74 countries. At the conclusion of the meeting, 50 government participants agreed to a statement expressing the need for a ban on APL and Canada announced it would hold a treaty-signing conference for a total ban in December 1997. Preparatory conferences to discuss and develop the text of a draft treaty, prepared initially by Austria, were held in Vienna in February 1997, Bonn in April 1997, and Brussels in June 1997. The treaty was negotiated over a three-week period in September 1997 in Oslo, Norway. On December 3, 1997, 122 nations signed the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction (called the Ottawa Convention or Mine Ban Treaty) in Ottawa (see Appendix E).

The Ottawa Convention bans the use of APL under any circumstances. The ban includes APL used alone, APL used in mixed systems, and APL that are self-destructing and self-deactivating.8 Furthermore, it prohibits the development, production, or any other means of acquisition, stockpiling, retention, or transfer of APL to anyone, directly or indirectly. Governments that sign agree not to assist, encourage, or induce, in any way, anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a state party under this Convention. Finally, each signatory must undertake to destroy or ensure the destruction of all APL in accordance with the provisions of the Convention.

By September 1998, 40 countries had ratified the convention, thus bringing it into force as international law on March 1, 1999. As of September 7, 2000, a total of 139 nations had signed or acceded to the Ottawa Convention, including all NATO member states, except the United States and Turkey, and all European Union member states, except Finland. Of the 139, 107 have ratified the convention (see Appendix F).

7 Currently, there are over 1,100 organizations in over 60 countries that are part of the campaign network (ICBL, 2000).

8 The negotiators did not allow for the inclusion of self-destructing and self-deactivating APL for several reasons. These mines still fit the definition of an APL and no exceptions were to be made. If an exception had been made for these mines, primarily in the inventory of only the United States and a few western European countries, exceptions might have had to be made for weapon systems of other countries.

Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Research Council. 2001. Alternative Technologies to Replace Antipersonnel Landmines. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10071.

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A number of major mine producers or nations in regions of conflict, including Russia, China, Egypt, Israel, India, Pakistan, and North and South Korea, have not agreed to the treaty.


Although the use of landmines by U.S. forces did not create the current humanitarian crisis, the U.S. government has taken strong actions toward mitigating the effects of indiscriminate use of APL around the world. These actions include a ban on exports, assistance with clearance of mines (also called demining), assistance to victims, and a search for alternatives to APL.

Ban on Exports

As a result of legislation introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), the United States has had a moratorium on exports of APL since 1992 (Rieser, 1999). The first one-year moratorium on exports became law on October 23, 1992, as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1993. The United States thus became the first country to enact legislation controlling APL. The moratorium was extended to four years in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1994 and to five years in the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 1996. On January 17, 1997, President Clinton announced that the United States would permanently ban the export and transfer of APL (White House, 1997a).

Mine Clearance and Assistance to Victims

Since 1988, the United States has been assisting countries affected by landmines in several ways: promoting awareness (educating people about the dangers of landmines and what to do when they are found); actively searching for mines and clearing minefields; and providing assistance to victims. Since 1993, the United States has provided assistance to more than 35 countries (Patierno, 2000b).

The Humanitarian Demining Program was created in 1993 to establish self-sustaining, indigenous demining programs, reduce civilian casualties, facilitate the return of refugees, enhance the stability of affected nations, and encourage international cooperation and participation. The Interagency Working Group on Humanitarian Demining, chaired by the U.S. Department of State with the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) as vice-chair, is responsible for approving, developing, and coordinating U.S. humanitarian demining policies and programs (DOS, 2000). Since 1994, the U.S. military has trained indigenous forces in demining techniques and assisted in the establishment of in-country training programs.

Movement Toward a Ban

President Clinton first called for the elimination of APL in a speech to the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on September 26, 1994 (White House, 1994). On May 16, 1996, he announced a new policy, including a commitment to pursue an international ban on APL and to destroy about three million nonself-destructing APL by the end of 1999, retaining only those necessary for training and for defense of the Demilitarized Zone in Korea (White House, 1996). On December 10, 1996, the UN General Assembly voted (156-0) in favor of a U.S.-initiated resolution urging states to pursue an agreement to ban APL.

In the meantime, the United States continued to work toward limiting the use of landmines. On January 7, 1997, the president transmitted the CCW Amended Protocol II to Congress for ratification; Congress ratified it on May 24, 1999. The United States had also planned to work toward a worldwide treaty banning APL through the United Nations Conference on Disarmament, which largely deals with nuclear matters and operates on a consensus rule (White House, 1997a). This initiative did not elicit support from other members of the conference.

The Ottawa Convention

Despite America's strict limitations on APL and its initial support for a ban, the United States has not signed the Ottawa Convention. The U.S. government had expressed both general and specific concerns throughout the negotiations, but in the end, two primary concerns dominated. As President Clinton explained on September 17, 1997, for the United States to sign the treaty, two provisions would have to be included. First, the United States wanted a transition period during which APL could be phased out to ensure that enough time would be available to devise alternatives. Second, the United States wanted to preserve its mixed AT mine systems, which include APL, as additional protection against dismounted breaching (Clinton, 1997; Witkowsky, 1999).

The decision not to sign the Ottawa Convention was strongly influenced by security concerns on the Korean Peninsula (Witkowsky, 1999). The U.S. government and the U.S. military were convinced that APL, including APL without self-deactivation/self-destruction mechanisms and APL in mixed systems, are essential to the defense of the Demilitarized Zone in Korea. “The security situation in Korea is unique, requiring the United States to maintain the option of using [APL] there until alternatives are available or the risk of aggression has been removed” (White House, 1997b). As General John H. Tilelli, then Commander in Chief (CINC), UN Command/Combined Forces Command (UNC/CFC), and Commander, U.S. Forces Korea, testified before the House Armed Services Committee:

... these weapons, both the non-self-destructing and self-deactivating types, are absolutely vital to the success of UNC/CFC's

Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Research Council. 2001. Alternative Technologies to Replace Antipersonnel Landmines. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10071.

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mission to deter North Korea aggression and defend the [Republic of Korea]. (Tilelli, 1999)

Although the United States would not sign the Ottawa Convention in 1997, the president announced further refinements to U.S. policy as a demonstration of the U.S. commitment to ending the use of all APL:

... I'm directing the Department of Defense to develop alternatives to antipersonnel land mines so that by the year 2003 we can end even the use of self-destruct land mines . . . everywhere but Korea. As for Korea, my directive calls for alternatives to be ready by 2006, the time period for which we were negotiating in Oslo. By setting these deadlines, we will speed the development of new technologies.... In short, this program will eliminate all antipersonnel land mines from America's arsenal. (Clinton, 1997)

President Clinton had repeatedly stated that the U.S. goal is to sign the Ottawa Convention as soon as its concerns have been met. Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Samuel Berger reiterated this commitment in a letter to Senator Leahy stating that the United States would search for alternatives for Korea and for mixed AT mine systems, including replacements for APL in mixed systems or replacements for the mixed systems entirely. If both alternatives (for Korea and for mixed systems) could be found by 2006, the United States would sign the Ottawa Convention (Berger, 1998). If the United States decides to sign the Ottawa Convention, all of the APL in the current inventory, except the command-detonated Claymore, would be banned and would have to be destroyed within four years of the signing.

Search for Alternatives

In a memo dated October 21, 1997, the deputy secretary of defense assigned the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics) to develop and oversee a two-track program to find alternatives to APL. Track I, headed by the secretary of the Army, has two major components: (1) the search for an alternative to the nonself-destructing APL designated for use in Korea and (2) the development of Remote Area-Denial Artillery Munition (RADAM) for use in Korea until 2006 (or when suitable alternatives are available).9

The purpose of Track II, headed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), is to develop “alternatives to meet the requirements currently met by APL” and to “investigate maneuver denial approaches that may be more innovative and/or take advantage of advanced technologies” (Altshuler, 1999). DARPA's current efforts are focused on the development of a self-healing minefield and tags/minimally guided munitions (for a description and assessment of each of these, see Chapter 7).

In June 1998, Presidential Decision Directive (PDD) 64 added the requirement that DOD “actively investigate alternatives to the anti-personnel submunitions used in our mixed anti-tank systems, as well as actively explore possible replacements for all mixed munitions” (DOD, 2000). The candidate alternatives must be militarily advantageous, cost effective, and safe. PDD 64 did not include a schedule.

A memorandum on March 23, 1999, from the deputy secretary of defense created the Track III program under the leadership of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics). The initial purpose of Track III was to address “doctrine, tactics, force structure options, use of combat systems currently fielded or under development, Track 1 and 2 alternatives, materiel and non-materiel alternatives, and alternatives recommended by the combatant commanders.” The first phase of concept evaluation was to assess alternatives that could be developed and fielded for the near term (by 2006), the midterm (2006 to 2012), and the long term (beyond 2012) (DOD, 2000).

Track III guidance was eventually focused on the development of materiel or nonmateriel alternatives to replace all landmines. Nicknamed RATTLER (rapid tactical terrain limiter), a number of working groups were formed to carry out the first phase of the Track III program. An array of 74 refined ideas were gradually reduced to 22 idea categories, then 17 initial concepts, nine combined concepts, and eventually seven final concepts, three of which are undergoing concept exploration by industry (and are considered proprietary). RATTLER projects are exploring three principal concepts: (1) the use of sensors that are not co-located with the effects (lethal or nonlethal responses) that require “just-in-time” delivery or prior placement of the responding weapons; (2) sensors and effects (lethal and nonlethal) that are co-located; and (3) sensors that are used for situational awareness and are protected by AT mines (Morelli, 2000).

The identification of alternatives for landmines will require considerable effort. To date, progress on Track I has been slow and technologies being explored under Track II will not be available until well after 2006. The concepts developed under the first phase of Track III are too new for the committee to judge their potential.

Recommendation. If the decision is made to accede to the Ottawa Convention, a transition period may be necessary before implementation to maintain current U.S. military capabilities until suitable alternatives can be made available. During that transition, existing self-destructing and self-deactivating antipersonnel landmines should be retained, both in their stand-alone form and as part of mixed systems.

Recommendation. Of the solutions not compliant with the Ottawa Convention, simply retaining the current

9 The Remote Area-Denial Artillery Munition (RADAM) would combine AT mines (the Remote Antiarmor Mine System [RAAMS]) and APL (the Area-Denial Artillery Munition [ADAM]) into a single projectile to create a new mixed system. Although RADAM fulfills the requirement set by President Clinton to eliminate pure APL everywhere but Korea by 2003, it would not be compliant with the Ottawa Convention because it contains APL (see Chapter 5 and Chapter 6).

Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Research Council. 2001. Alternative Technologies to Replace Antipersonnel Landmines. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10071.

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self-destructing and self-deactivating mines would be the best course of action.

Funding for Alternatives

The progress report by DOD to Congress on the search for alternatives included a table ( Table 1-1) showing current and projected funding levels (DOD, 2000).

Congressional Mandate

In addition to providing direction and funding for the search for alternatives, the Strom Thurmond National Defense Authorization Act for FY99 (Public Law 105-261, Section 248) and the conference report accompanying the 1999 Department of Defense Appropriations Act (H.R. 105-746) mandated that the secretary of defense enter into contracts with two scientific organizations to study alternatives to APL. DOD concluded contracts with (1) a U.S. Department of Energy team of Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos National Laboratories and (2) the National Academy of Sciences. These studies are part of the Track III effort. The following statement of task was agreed to between DOD and the National Academy of Sciences for work to be carried out by its operating arm, the National Research Council.

The National Research Council, building on its experience in examining and assessing potential technologies for military application, will appoint a committee that will:

    1) Identify and examine possible alternative tactics, technologies, and operational concepts for APL capable of providing similar tactical advantages for U.S. forces. A solution should be selected for its ability to meet the future warfighting needs of U.S. forces and provide the strategic and tactical benefits of the system it is replacing. If selected alternatives require research and development to the extent that they will not be available to implement before 2006, the committee will suggest a near-term alternative technology, weapon system, or combination of systems that can be derived from known, already available systems or systems of systems that can act as a near term solution until the long-term solution is available.

    2) Describe how the identified technologies/systems will best be applied for U.S. force use consistent with current tactical doctrine and operational concepts, or what changes in tactics or operational concepts would be required to achieve comparable results.

TABLE 1-1 Current and Projected Funding for Tracks I, II, and III (in $ millions)











Track I
















NSD-A Studies





Track III




















SOURCE: DOD, 2000.

NOTE: Figures are from the president's FY01 Budget Submission.


The use of APL is a sensitive and contentious political and military issue. Therefore, in creating the Committee on Alternative Technologies to Replace Antipersonnel Landmines, the National Research Council (the operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences) selected committee members representing a broad spectrum of backgrounds, expertise, and interests. Areas of expertise include technology development, experimental design, military operations, and defense policy (see Appendix A for biographies).

In addition, the committee relied on the expertise and advice of representatives of the National Security Council, the U.S. Department of State, DOD, industry, and several non-governmental organizations. Classified information was provided on several occasions to ensure familiarity with as many aspects of the search for alternatives as possible. Information available in the open literature and material submitted by experts, as well as the practices of nations that have already signed the Ottawa Convention (see Appendix F), were reviewed. Meetings of the full committee were complemented by site visits by smaller subcommittees ( Appendix B).

Even though the Statement of Task did not require the committee to consider the Ottawa Convention, the committee concluded that this study would not have been empanelled were it not for the Ottawa Convention and attendant humanitarian concerns. The committee believed the major reasons for seeking alternatives to APL are humanitarian concerns, compliance with the Ottawa Convention, and enhanced military effectiveness. The current inventory of

Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Research Council. 2001. Alternative Technologies to Replace Antipersonnel Landmines. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10071.

Page 18

self-destructing and self-deactivating U.S. APL is militarily advantageous and safe (i.e. they achieve desired military objectives without endangering U.S. warfighters or noncombatants more than other weapons of war), but they are not compliant with the Ottawa Convention. However, humanitarian concerns and Ottawa compliance are not always synonymous. In fact, some of the apparently Ottawa-compliant alternatives examined by the committee may be less humane than present U.S. self-destructing and self-deactivating landmines. Therefore, the committee spent a considerable amount of time clarifying and defining the framework of the treaty and included complying with the Ottawa Convention as a criterion for evaluating alternatives.


Chapter 2 characterizes the current and future national security environments and describes how the functions served by landmines might change with technological advances in weaponry. Chapter 3 describes the current uses of landmines. Chapter 4 explains the committee's selection criteria and methodology for analyzing alternatives. Chapter 5 analyzes currently available technologies that might provide the same capabilities as APL. Chapter 6 evaluates technologies and alternatives that should be available by 2006. Chapter 7 analyzes technologies and proposes alternatives that might be available after 2006. Chapter 8 is a complete list of conclusions and recommendations. Appendix A contains the biographies of committee members. Appendix B lists meetings of the full committee, site visits, and meetings of subcommittees. Appendix C gives a description of current types of landmines. Appendix D provides information about how minefields can be breached and discusses the value of APL in protecting minefields from breaching. The texts of the CCW Amended Protocol II and the Ottawa Convention are reprinted in Appendix E. Appendix F lists the countries that have signed and/or ratified the Ottawa Convention and any work on alternatives to APL by other countries of which the committee was aware. Appendix G provides copies of DOD's mission need statements for APL alternatives.

Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Research Council. 2001. Alternative Technologies to Replace Antipersonnel Landmines. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10071.
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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Research Council. 2001. Alternative Technologies to Replace Antipersonnel Landmines. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10071.
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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Research Council. 2001. Alternative Technologies to Replace Antipersonnel Landmines. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10071.
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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Research Council. 2001. Alternative Technologies to Replace Antipersonnel Landmines. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10071.
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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Research Council. 2001. Alternative Technologies to Replace Antipersonnel Landmines. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10071.
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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Research Council. 2001. Alternative Technologies to Replace Antipersonnel Landmines. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10071.
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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Research Council. 2001. Alternative Technologies to Replace Antipersonnel Landmines. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10071.
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This book examines potential technologies for replacing antipersonnel landmines by 2006, the U.S. target date for signing an international treaty banning these weapons. Alternative Technologies to Replace Antipersonnel Landmines emphasizes the role that technology can play to allow certain weapons to be used more selectively, reducing the danger to uninvolved civilians while improving the effectiveness of the U.S. military. Landmines are an important weapon in the U.S. military’s arsenal but the persistent variety can cause unintended casualties, to both civilians and friendly forces. New technologies could replace some, but not all, of the U.S. military’s antipersonnel landmines by 2006. In the period following 2006, emerging technologies might eliminate the landmine totally, while retaining the necessary functionalities that today’s mines provide to the military.

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