STEMatState: Saving Lives through Advanced Engineering

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Did you know that the Department of State uses 3-D printing technology to create models of landmines and military ordnance to train demining technicians on how to safely clear explosive remnants of war in post-conflict countries around the world?

Learn more about the Department of State’s efforts in STEM on DipNote and at www.state.gov/stem.

To Walk the Earth in Safety: New Report Showcases U.S. Global Leadership in Landmine Clearance and Conventional Weapons Destruction

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
September 27, 2012


The Department of State has released the 11th edition of To Walk the Earth in Safety, a report showcasing the accomplishments of the U.S. Conventional Weapons Destruction Program. The report outlines the world’s largest effort to help countries save lives, as well as support post-conflict recovery and development by safely clearing landmines and unexploded munitions, and reducing excess inventories of arms and munitions.

In fiscal year 2011, the Department of State invested $142 million in 42 countries for Conventional Weapons Destruction. This included funding for clearance operations, assistance to conflict survivors, education for communities to prevent injuries from unexploded ordnance, and weapons destruction. The report highlights our ongoing support to dozens of public and private implementing partners who continue to apply new energy, ideas, and resources to this important humanitarian endeavor. Success stories highlighted in this year’s report include Burundi, where U.S. contributions allowed the country to finally become “mine-impact free;” Burma, which initiated its first-ever U.S. Humanitarian Mine Action project inside the country; and Jordan, where U.S. support helped it to become the first country in the Middle East free of minefields.

The United States is the world’s single largest financial supporter of conventional weapons destruction. Since 1993, the Department of State has partnered with the Department of Defense, USAID’s Leahy War Victims Fund, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to promote peace and security by delivering more than $2 billion in more than 90 countries. This partnership has helped countries safely dispose of over 1.6 million excess small arms and light weapons, over 90,000 tons of munitions, and nearly 33,000 excess or poorly-secured man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS), shoulder-fired missiles that in the wrong hands could pose a serious potential threat to global aviation.

To Walk the Earth in Safety is available online, along with an archive of past editions. Single printed copies of To Walk the Earth in Safety are also available free of charge by sending an e-mail with your name and full mailing address, including postal or ZIP code, to DowleyKA@state.gov. For more information on U.S. Conventional Weapons Destruction, visit www.state.gov/t/pm/wra.

Investing in Security: Program Develops New Generation of Humanitarian Demining Leaders

Major General Walter D. Givhan recognizes participants at the 2012 Senior Managers Course in Explosive Remnants of War and Mine Action at the James Madison University, June 2012. This year, the 17 participants represented 13 different countries, including Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Iraq, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Uganda, and Vietnam. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

About the Author: Major General Walter D. “Waldo” Givhan, United States Air Force, currently serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Plans, Programs and Operations in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.

I recently had the privilege of visiting James Madison University to attend the closing ceremony for the 2012 Senior Managers’ Course in Explosive Remnants of War and Mine Action, where I met a select group of individuals serving on the front lines of humanitarian crises and post-conflict environments around the world.

This year, the 17 participants represented 13 different countries, including Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Iraq, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Uganda, and Vietnam. These “Senior Managers” are each leaders in their respective national mine action and ERW programs. This diversity the students bring in terms of background and experience is one of the main reasons… more »

South Sudan Integrated Mine Action Service Brings Security to War-Torn Communities

About the Author: Katie Smith serves as an Assistant Program Manager in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, (PM/WRA).

As South Sudan approaches the first anniversary since independence, the country faces profound challenges from landmines and unexploded munitions, which remain a tragic legacy of decades of conflict. On the front lines of this new struggle against these hidden hazards are the dedicated men and women of the South Sudan Integrated Mine Action Service (SIMAS).

I recently visited South Sudan to meet the organization’s brave and dedicated staff, and I saw firsthand how U.S. support for conventional weapons destruction is making a difference in the world’s newest nation.

Landmines and unexploded ordnance inhibit development, disrupt markets and production, prevent the delivery of goods and services, and generally obstruct reconstruction and stabilization… more »

Surviving the Peace: New Film Highlights Lingering Challenges in Laos

A Laotian technician prods the ground in Nong Pet Junction, Laos, in search of bomblets and other explosive devices left undetinated from the Indochina War on May 3, 1996. [AP File Photo]

About the Author: David Cavey serves in the Office of Congressional and Public Affairs in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs at the Department of State.

More than thirty-five years after the Vietnam War, Laos continues to struggle with the legacy of unexploded ordnance dropped by U.S. military aircraft seeking to disrupt military supply routes used by North Vietnamese forces. Surviving the Peace, a powerful short film produced by our partners at Mines Advisory Group (MAG), with support from the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA), captures the kind of challenges facing rural families not only in Laos, but in dozens of countries around the world long after conflicts end, and what the United States is doing to help.

The film tells the story of a Lao family coping with the consequences of this… more »

Burundi Takes on Marking Small Arms After Successfully Clearing Landmines

Peacekeepers of the U.N. mission in Burundi prepare to destroy assault rifles, guns, grenades, mortars, mines and ammunition, pictured, on Dec. 27, 2005 on the outskirts of the capital Bujumbura. [AP File Photo]

About the Author: Katie Smith serves as an Assistant Program Manager in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement.

In November 2011, the government of Burundi reached a major milestone in its recovery from decades of civil war with the announcement that their country had reached “landmine-free” status. Now, with the help of the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Burundi has embarked on a new initiative to build on these gains by improving security of its military and police forces’ inventories of small arms and light weapons, such as assault rifles and pistols.

Since 2006, the United States has invested approximately $2.7 million in assistance for weapons stockpile security training, the destruction of 9,000 of its excess weapons, and destruction of 75 tons of its obsolete and excess ammunition in Burundi. This also included… more »

Paying it Forward: Training A New Generation of Landmine Clearance Leaders
Director Lawrence and Deemah Nasser Pose for a Photo [State Dept. Photo]

About the Author: Jim Lawrence is the Director of the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.

Since 1993, the United States has provided nearly $2 billion in aid and technical support to help more than 80 countries safely clear landmines and other explosive remnants of war, such as unexploded artillery shells, bombs, and ammunition. However, these hidden hazards can linger for decades, making it essential to build local expertise in partner nations that can take control of this serious humanitarian challenge over the long term.

That’s why I was particularly proud to recently spend time with a group of men and women from 14 countries as they completed training sponsored by our office that will give them the know-how they need to lead their countries’ efforts not only to make local communities safer, but also to “pay it forward” by helping other countries struggling to recover from conflict.

The 16 students hailed from Afghanistan, Azerbaijan,… more »