Last week, US President Donald Trump rescinded policy governing the use of anti-personnel landmines (APL) in favour of a new US landmine policy to be overseen by the Department of Defence (DoD).
Previously, rules meant that the US was restricted from using APLs outside of the Korean peninsula. Under the new rules combatant commanders in ‘exceptional circumstances’ can employ anti-personnel mines.
GlobalData defence writer Harry Lye says: “The decision the White House said was part of Trump’s ongoing ‘rebuilding’ of the US military and part of the administration’s plans “to give our military the flexibility and capability it needs to win.”
“However, the rollback of regulations will likely not make much of a difference to the way the US approaches conflict, according to Royal United Services Institute Land Warfare Fellow Jack Watling.”
Watling tells GlobalData: “If we think about how we fight, landmines are not a central part of our doctrine. The US has not signed the convention on landmines because it has a number of potential static defences that it sees as requiring landmines to deny ground, Korea being the most obvious example.
“Removal of the restrictions on commanders using them is an interesting one because there hasn’t really been a request from services or military commanders to employ landmines, and I don’t think we’re going to see them employed.
“Not least for the reason I mentioned, that in most of the fights that we’re looking at today, we prioritise mobility and our opponents are usually defending static areas and therefore they don’t have mobility problems that we would try and inhibit.”
Watling added: “There’s also been a persistent pattern in the Trump administration to delegating authorities to combatant commanders, so they no longer operate a kill list, managed by the National Security Council for UAV strikes. That’s pushed down to combatant commanders.
“There were a whole range of things. The use of cluster munitions is something that they have pushed down again to theatre commanders and so I think this is consistent with the general trend that they haven’t signed anything saying they won’t use them. And from Trump’s point of view, he prefers to leave these decisions at a lower level of command.”