Unexploded Ordnance:

A Coordinated Approach to Detection and Clearance Is Needed

NSIAD-95-197: Published: Sep 20, 1995. Publicly Released: Sep 20, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO assessed the extent to which existing or foreseeable technologies offer solutions to worldwide landmine and other unexploded ordnance (UXO) problems.

GAO found that: (1) U.S. research and development requirements for UXO detection and clearance technology are broader today than they were during the Cold War; (2) the Department of Defense's (DOD) technological efforts have supported countermine operations, for which the main priority is making paths through minefields during combat; (3) U.S. research and development efforts cover a group of near-term and advanced technologies that could increase detection and clearance functions; (4) the most effective clearance techniques are time-consuming, expensive, and labor intensive; (5) the current technologies do not perform well against newer, more advanced munitions; (6) no governmentwide strategy exists to ensure that the most is gained from the various clearance efforts; (7) the technologies available today are inadequate and unable to keep pace with the number of landmines being emplaced annually; and (8) the barriers to technical solutions include the relative ease with which inexpensive improvements in mine designs have outstripped detection and clearance methods, the unique clearance challenges that developing countries pose, and the difficulty in controlling the proliferation of antipersonnel landmines.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD agreed with the recommendation and submitted a proposal to Congress on May 29, 1996. DOD drafted statutory language to accompany the proposed plan for the FY 1998 budget.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should include in the research and development plan called for by the House Committee on National Security a proposal on how a multiagency clearinghouse function could be performed to maintain visibility over all federally funded research and development projects with application to detection and clearance of landmines, other UXO, and other hazards.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD agreed with the recommendation and submitted a proposal to Congress on May 29, 1996. DOD drafted statutory language to accompany the proposed plan for the FY 1998 budget.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should include in the research and development plan called for by the House Committee on National Security a proposal on how a multiagency clearinghouse function could be performed to develop an overarching strategy that encompasses both near-term and long-term priorities for detection and clearance technologies.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD agreed with the recommendation and submitted a proposal to Congress on May 29, 1996. DOD has drafted statutory language to accompany the proposed plan for the FY 1998 budget.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should include in the research and development plan called for by the House Committee on National Security a proposal on how a multiagency clearinghouse function could be performed to serve as an active link to relevant international and private research and development efforts.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD agreed with the recommendation and has drafted a proposed action plan, which it submitted to Congress on May 22, 1996. DOD is finalizing how it will assign and organize an executive agent to serve as an Unexploded Ordnance clearinghouse within the Department.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should designate an executive agent to serve as a clearinghouse for research and development efforts within DOD that may have application to detection and clearance of landmines, other UXO, and other hazards.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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