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26 July 2004

Defense Department Report, July 26: Landmine policy; Army growth

Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz addresses U.S. landmine policy

U.S. OPPOSES PERSISTENT LANDMINES

Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz says "landmines are terrible" and it is important to try to clean up anti-personnel landmines from beleaguered nations such as Cambodia and Afghanistan.

"We make big contributions to [humanitarian] demining everywhere in the world," Wolfowitz told a Colorado audience July 16 as part of a two-day leadership conference sponsored by Fortune magazine and the Aspen Institute.

"We're trying very hard to get our own military in a position where we're not leaving stuff (mines) around that can kill people later," he said. The real problem, Wolfowitz said, "is persistent mines."

The United States has not signed the 1997 Ottawa Treaty banning landmines. One of the issues is that American and South Korean allies face "a major threat from North Korea and we can't give up persistent mines" on the Korean Peninsula.

The issue is complicated, the deputy secretary said, and it "involves risking the lives of American soldiers specifically in Korea, if we went with the treaty the way it's designed."

Wolfowitz made his remarks in response to a question about U.S. landmine policy from a member of the audience. He said the way the treaty has been structured, it addresses only the issue of eliminating anti-personnel landmines and not ant-tank mines, creating what he described as "a loophole."

While it would be nice to make landmines an obsolete weapon system, Wolfowitz said, "we're not there yet."

ARMY GROWTH PROJECTED

The U.S. Chief of Staff for the Army General Peter Schoomaker told reporters at the Defense Department July 26 that the Army is growing even as it transforms itself.

The Army has a million soldiers now, he said, with 276,000 of them deployed around the world in 21 nations.

The Army is planning to add 30,000 soldiers to its force over the coming three years, the general said.

Schoomaker said even while combat operations are underway in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army is restructuring its forces into modular combat formations that will be known as brigade combat teams. Army experts are also seeking to rebalance the forces between the active Army, the Army National Guard and the Army Reserves, he said. Finally, he pointed to efforts being made to stabilize the forces in a way that will make them more agile, cohesive and easier to tailor for specific future missions.

While the Army's capabilities rely increasingly on Army Guard and Reserves, Schoomaker also said efforts are being made to tap Guards and Reserves from across all 50 states so that any single state that might face a potential disaster is still equipped to cope. The notion is for each state to have sufficient forces to handle its homeland security requirements.

When asked if he could foresee any circumstance in which a draft might replace the current all volunteer Army, Schoomaker replied: "I personally don't."

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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