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C H A P T E R   1


There were 21 US Army personnel killed and 53 injured during Operation Desert Storm as a direct result of handling UXO. Every person on the battlefield must be able to recognize and react to these hazards. Likewise, every leader must ensure that all personnel know how to recognize and react to these hazards.


UXOs are hazards--whether on the battlefield or in designated impact areas. UXO includes ordnance items that have been fired, projected, dropped, or placed in such a way that they could become armed and go off. Whether in an area by design or accident, these items have not yet functioned. Whatever the reason, UXO poses the risk of injury or death to all personnel.

The EOD mission is to eliminate or reduce the threat of UXO hazards. The engineer mission is to clear minefields and wide areas of area-denial submunitions. However, these two groups individually or together will be unable to react immediately to an enemy submunitions or scatterable-mine attack on a position. Any unit that cannot extract itself from these attacks risks being fixed in place and destroyed by follow-on enemy fire.

In wartime there are two types of UXO threats, passive and active. The passive threat refers to any ordnance found by personnel as they move across the battlefield. The active threat refers to any ordnance that remains in the area after a direct attack on a position. All units must be able to react to both types of UXO threats in order to survive on the battlefield.

In addition to the battlefield, UXOs are also found in designated impact areas. These areas are marked on all military maps, and they are also marked on the ground by warning signs and fences. Personnel are not allowed in these areas because of the UXO hazards.


Personnel can lessen the danger of UXO hazards by being able to recognize a UXO hazard and by strictly following the basic safety guidelines listed below.

  • Do not continue to move towards a suspected UXO. See Figure 1-1. Some types of ordnance have magnetic or motion-sensitive fuzing and will not detonate until they sense a target. Others may have self-destruct timers built in. Once you recognize a UXO hazard, do not move any closer. Make any further observations with binoculars if necessary. Refer to Chapter 2 for additional information on the recognition of UXO.

  • Make all radio transmissions at least 100 meters away from a UXO hazard. See Figure 1-2. When transmitting, radios send out electricity from their antennas. This electricity can make a UXO blow up.

  • Do not try to remove anything that is on or near a UXO. See Figure 1-3. Your actions could make the UXO blow up.

  • Do not move or disturb a UXO. See Figure 1-4. It could blow up.

  • Stay away from UXOs. See Figure 1-5. This is the best way to prevent accidental injury or death.

  • Mark a UXO hazard area properly so that other personnel will stay away from it. See Figure 1-6. Proper marking also helps EOD technicians find the area when they respond to your report. Refer to Chapter 3 for additional information.

  • Evacuate all nonessential personnel and equipment from a UXO hazard area. If personnel and equipment cannot be evacuated, you must take protective measures to reduce the risk to them. Refer to Chapter 3 for additional information.

  • Report through your chain of command all UXO hazards that affect your operations. Reporting UXO hazards will get your unit the help it needs. Refer to Chapter 4 for additional information.

  • If necessary, extract the unit from a hazardous area. Refer to Chapter 5 for additional information.

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