The Trump administration is reportedly expected to loosen restrictions on the U.S. military’s ability to employ landmines in the coming days, reversing an Obama-era policy that banned the production, stockpiling, or use of anti-personnel landmines. Such landmines were intended to kill or maim when someone steps on them, and they have been reportedly banned by more than 160 countries. The Obama policy adhered to the 1997 Ottawa Convention, which is an international agreement that prohibited the use, stockpiling, production, and transfer of anti-personnel landmines. The Obama administration said at the time that the U.S. “shares the humanitarian goals” of the convention. Trump is expected to rescind the 2014 order and delegate landmine policy to the secretary of defense. The decision reportedly came after a Pentagon review launched in 2017 by then-Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, who determined that the ban of landmines “increased risk to mission success” and could increase the risk of U.S. personnel casualties.
The Pentagon-recommended policy will reportedly allow the operational use of landmines only if they have a 30-day self-destruction or self-deactivation feature designed to help prevent civilian casualties. The development and production of landmines will reportedly only be permitted if they have these features. According to the Landmine Monitor, a non-government organization, more than 130,000 casualties have resulted from landmines from 1999-2018.