Documenting the United States’ Commitment to Conventional Weapons Destruction: To Walk the Earth in Safety (January–December 2017)
Stockpiles of excess, poorly-secured, or otherwise at-risk conventional weapons continue to pose a challenge to peace and prosperity worldwide. In the wrong hands, SA/LW fuel political instability and violence, while more advanced conventional weapons, such as MANPADS, pose a serious threat to international security. Aging munitions stockpiles may also explode without warning, devastating nearby population centers. Meanwhile, landmines and ERW, including cluster munition remnants, artillery shells, and mortars, continue to kill and maim people even after conflicts end. Clearing land paves the way for stabilization assistance to move forward, allowing displaced persons to return home, economic revitalization to begin, and political stability to take root.
The U.S. Government’s Collaborative Approach
The United States is committed to reducing these threats worldwide and is the leading financial supporter of CWD, providing more than $3.2 billion in assistance to more than 100 countries since 1993. This makes the United States the world’s single largest financial supporter of CWD. The Department of State, Department of Defense, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) work together with foreign governments, private companies, and international and nongovernmental organizations to reduce excess SA/LW and conventional munitions stockpiles (including MANPADS), implement physical security and stockpile management (PSSM) best practices at conventional weapons storage sites, and carry out humanitarian mine action programs.
The Department of State, through the Political-Military Affairs Bureau’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA), manages CWD assistance and oversees programs in 47 countries in 2017. It also leads the U.S. Interagency MANPADS Task Force, which coordinates counter-MANPADS efforts by the Departments of State, Defense, Homeland Security, and other relevant stakeholders, and helps partner nations eliminate or better secure their MANPADS. The Department of Defense Humanitarian Demining Training Center (HDTC) trains deminers, ammunition handlers, and stockpile managers from partner countries. The Department of Defense Humanitarian Demining Research and Development Program (HD R&D) improves CWD technologies, enhancing the efficiency and safety of humanitarian demining operations around the world. USAID assists mine and UXO survivors, providing medical and rehabilitative care, through its Leahy War Victims Fund.
Department of State Support for CWD
Through PM/WRA, the Department of State has managed more than 68 percent (over $2.2 billion) of the United States’ more than $3.2 billion contribution to CWD since 1993, with a three-fold objective:
Enhance U.S. and international security by destroying and securing SA/LW, including MANPADS, at risk of proliferation to terrorists, insurgents, and other violent non-state actors;
Remediate explosive remnants of war (ERW), returning land to safe and productive use; and 3. Accelerate achievement of U.S. foreign policy objectives by broadening support for CWD efforts.
PM/WRA partners with nongovernmental organizations, international organizations, educational institutions, and private sector contractors to implement its programs. Robust project performance standards, enhanced monitoring and evaluation strategies, and a comprehensive program planning process guide PM/WRA’s resource allocation decisions and hold implementing partners accountable.
The measurable, tangible results that flow from the U.S. government’s commitment to CWD programs strongly support U.S. foreign policy priorities. In addition, these programs help protect the lives and livelihoods of civilians so they can more safely remain in their own countries. We look forward to continuing this important work.