United States military forces will once again be able to use landmines on the battlefield after President Trump overturned an Obama administration ban on the controversial deadly devices.
The White House announced the new landmine policy on Friday after the Department of Defense found the restrictions put American soldiers “at a severe disadvantage during a conflict against our adversaries.
“The President is unwilling to accept this risk to our troops,” the White House said in a statement.
Combat commanders will now be able to “employ advanced, non-persistent landmines specifically designed to reduce unintended harm to civilians and partner forces,” the statement read.
The Obama administration had committed to destroying US stockpiles of landmines not needed for the defense of South Korea.
It sought to move the United States toward eventually becoming a party to the 1997 Ottawa Convention, an international agreement that banned the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel landmines.
But Defense Secretary Mark Esper defended the use of landmines as a means to “shape the battlefield” and protect American forces.
“Landmines are one of many other important tools that our commanders need to have available to them on the battlefield to shape the battlefield and to protect our forces,” Esper said
Esper was asked whether it is immoral to use landmines, which draw widespread criticism for the dangers they can pose to civilians long after their military utility has ended.
He said the new policy was developed during the tenure of his predecessor, James Mattis, who resigned in December 2018. Esper took over in July 2019.