Military Operations: Information on U.S. Use of Land Mines in the Persian Gulf War

GAO-02-1003 Published: Sep 30, 2002. Publicly Released: Oct 31, 2002.
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The utility of land mines on the modern battlefield has come into question in recent years, largely because of their potential for causing unintended casualties and affecting U.S. forces' maneuverability. These concerns were raised during the Persian Gulf War. U.S. land mines of all types--nonself-destructing and self-destructing, antipersonnel and antitank--were available for use if needed in the Gulf War from U.S. land mine stockpiles, which contained 19 million land mines. U.S. forces sent to the Gulf War theater of operations took with them for potential use over 2.2 million land mines. U.S. war plans included plans for the use of land mines if required by the tactical situation. According to Department of Defense (DOD) documents, no nonself-destructing or "dumb," land mines were used; and the reported number of self-destructing, or "smart," land mines used by the services totaled approximately 118,000. DOD did not provide information on the effect of U.S. land mine use against the enemy. According to U.S. service records, of the 1,364 total U.S. casualties in the Gulf War, 81, or 6 percent, were killed or injured by land mines. Concerns about land mines raised in DOD lessons-learned and other reports included the fear of fratricide and loss of battlefield mobility. These concerns led to the reluctance of some U.S. commanders to use land mines in areas that U.S. and allied forces might have to traverse.

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