Langevin's Safer Land Mine Alternative Proposal Approved by House Armed Services Committee

May 2, 2002
(Washington, D.C.)–Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) today announced that during a markup of   H.R. 4546, the Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2003 yesterday, his proposal to accelerate the United States’ use of new land mines that can be deactivated without removal from the ground and pose little to no harm to civilians was approved by the full committee.  The legislation now awaits action on the Floor of the House.

 “While the safety of our men and women in uniform must always be a top priority, the United States should make every effort to minimize threats to innocent people throughout the world,” said Congressman Jim Langevin, a member of the House Armed Services Committee.  “Land mines are responsible for hundreds, if not thousands, of maimings or deaths each year in war torn areas.  Thanks to new technology, the United States can protect its troops while preventing such tragedies.”

During committee hearings two weeks ago, Langevin strongly urged Army Lieutenant General John M. Griggs, to use newly developed land mines that can be activated or deactivated via lap-top computers situated in the proximity of enemy threat.  Should there be no cause to detonate those mines, they would simply be deactivated, posing little to no threat to anyone who may come in contact with them.

In particular, Langevin requested information regarding the number of land mines the U.S. has deployed and in how many countries, as well as the potential dangers undetonated land mines pose to innocent civilians in foreign nations.  He also asked why the United States Army has declined to adopt the use of new land mines that can be deactivated, thus ensuring security while minimizing casualties.

Congressman Langevin also participated in a Senate meeting with Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan to address the land mine issue.  Senators Hillary Clinton, Patrick Leahy, Tom Harkin and Arlen Specter also joined this meeting to determine how best to reduce the number of land mines throughout the world and discuss victim assistance needs.  

"As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I have made a commitment to protecting the safety of innocent civilians, while fully supporting the welfare of our servicemen and women who are protecting our freedom abroad," said Langevin.  "Utilizing landmines that can be activated or deactivated based on specific circumstances will enable people in war torn regions to live without fear of hidden dangers lying beneath the ground.”

 Langevin has also urged Appropriations Committee members to include $10 million for the International Trust Fund (ITF) for Demining and Mine Victim Assistance in the Fiscal Year 2003 Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill.  The ITF was created in 1998 and is responsible for approximately two-thirds of all demining operations in the Balkan region.