The FY13 US Government Budget, Department of Defense Special

The Obama Administration recently issued its proposed budget for fiscal year 2013 (FY13).  It’s a pretty staggering document and one that will get picked apart in the coming months as the White House and Congress argue over the details, but there are a couple of items relevant to mine action (White House).

The easy figure in the budget for the United States government’s demining and mine action program is the $126 million in the State Department’s budget for Convention Weapons Destruction, which includes humanitarian demining and mine action.  This amount represents the budget of the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (WRA) in the Political-Military Affairs bureau and falls under the greater rubric of “Nonproliferation, Anti-Terrorism and Demining.” The $126 million includes allocations for countries to assess and contain the “dangerous depots” of unstable and aging explosives; continued response to the proliferation threat of shoulder-fired ground-to-air missiles or MANPADs; and program development, possibly WRA’s small grants program for innovative projects.  The allocation provides “limited funding for victims’ assistance” (State Department, pdf). 

The Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement is the State Department’s primary actor for all issues related to mine action which lies within the realm of conventional weapons destruction.  WRA is the home of the US government’s landmine policy and presumably has led the on-going landmine policy review process started by the Obama Administration some time ago.  WRA publishes the annual “To Walk the Earth in Safety” report which details the US governments mine action programs (State Department).  It is not a large department.  In the FY13 justification to Congress, the State Department reports that WRA only has 19 employees and an operational budget of $3 million per year, so it is limited in what it can do with the broad remit the Office must pursue (State Department, pdf).

The largest expenditures on mine action actually occur not in the policy-making Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, but within various branches of the Department of Defense.  Defense spending on landmines (and improvised explosive devices [IEDs] which is just a fancy way of saying “home-made landmines”) falls into three categories: mines themselves, mine clearance equipment and activities and counter-mine equipment and technologies.  This spending includes research and development activities and procurement of existing technologies. 

Counter-mine equipment and technologies include mine-resistant vehicles and jamming technology to disrupt command control of mines.  These items are intended to be used by front-line fighting forces as they travel through areas with mines and IEDs and serve as a recognition that more US soldiers have been killed or injured in Iraq and Afghanistan by explosive devices than by bullets.  There is also a large investment in the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Fund (JIEDDF). 

Mine clearance equipment and activities are for use in non-violent (“non-kinetic” in military parlance) situations where explosive ordnance disposal teams can survey minefields and clear them using mechanical and non-mechanical means.  This is the mine clearance that most NGOs would be familiar with and the US military pioneers a lot of the mechanical and survey techniques that then get incorporated into humanitarian demining.  In fact, the Office of the Secretary of Defense has a specific line item in the FY13 research and development budget for “humanitarian demining.” 

Then of course, there are the anti-personnel and anti-vehicle mines that the US military will use itself.  All of the current systems for use and development are the so-called “smart” systems with “man-in-the-loop” command control to ensure that the mines are not victim-activated.  This includes the modern Claymore munitions, the Spider Networked Munition and the Quickstrike sea mine; all of which are improvements on persistent or “dumb” landmines, but are still landmines nonetheless. 

The following table shows the amounts of money spent by category:

Expense Category Amount
Counter-Mine Equipment & Technologies  
·         JIEDDF $1,902,814,000
·         Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected Vehicle modifications 927,400,000
·         Countermine Equipment 3,698,000
·         Airborne Mine Neutralization Systems 20,607,000
·         Airborne Mine Countermeasures 61,552,000
·         Minesweeping System Replacement 60,111,000
·         Landmine Warfare & Barrier R & D 137,241,000
·         Mine & Expeditionary Warfare R & D 32,394,000
·         Surface & Shallow Water Mine Countermeasures 190,622,000
Mine Clearance Equipment & Activities  
·         Humanitarian Demining $13,321,000
Anti-Personnel & Anti-Vehicle Mines  
·         Mines and Clearing Charges $15,775,000
·         Spider Network Munitions 17,408,000
·         Spider Apla Control Unit 34,365,000
·         Quickstrike Mine 6,852,000
·         Mine Development 8,335,000
TOTAL $3,431,865,000

The Department of Defense is investing more than $3.3 billion on overcoming the threats to US personnel from landmines and IEDs in conflict zones, compared to only $13 million on humanitarian demining in non-conflict areas.  While non-conflict areas are typically outside the purview of the US military, the incredible investment in counter-mine technology demonstrates the threat that landmines and IEDs pose to persons in mine-affected areas.  Fortunately, the amount spent by the US military on landmines themselves is a fraction of what is proposed for defeating mines, but is still six times as much as will be spent on humanitarian demining (Office of the Secretary of Defense).  

In terms of the humanitarian demining activities, the FY13 funding is more than $1 million less than what had been requested for FY12 and the FY14 projection further reduces the funding by $1.5 million from the FY13 request.  The Bush Administration had projected $15.4 million for the FY13 funding for humanitarian demining, more than $2 million greater that what the Obama Administration is now seeking.

Current year (FY12) plans for the Defense Department’s demining in Africa involve testing new handheld mine detection tools in Mozambique and mechanized clearance equipment in Mozambique and Angola. In FY11, Defense staff conducted a country assessment of Mozambique.  Defense Department staff are also being made available to embassy staff for minefield surveys and post-clearance quality control.  The FY13 plans will continue FY12 activities and provide on-demand support to embassies and combat commands (Office of the Secretary of Defense, pdf).

Michael P. Moore, February 28, 2012

3 Comments on “The FY13 US Government Budget, Department of Defense Special”

  1. b2bkimon says:

    Hi – the budget numbers have no references. What document and what page were these numbers taken from?

    • Hi There,

      I constructed the table from a couple of documents released by the Department of Defense. If you give me your email address, I can send all of the materials to you.



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