SGM Herbert A. Friedman (Ret.)
Note This article has been placed with permission on the website of the Royal Netherlands Army Band of the Corps of Engineers. The organization Conflict Recovery International requested and received permission to use this article to facilitate mine risk education for children and promote safer behavior.
The U.S. Government Interagency Humanitarian Demining Strategic Plan states in part that landmines affect almost every aspect of life in states recovering from conflict. They maim or kill innocent civilians, obstruct emergency assistance, hamper agricultural and economic development, and prevent refugees and displaced people from returning to their homes. They also leave a legacy of disabled individuals. The U.S. Humanitarian Demining Program (HDP) is a comprehensive effort supporting mine action initiatives to include mine awareness, clearance of priority areas, training host country deminers, reviewing and accelerating promising technologies, and medical and rehabilitative assistance to survivors of landmine accidents. On 13 September 1993, the National Security Council requested that the Department of State establish an Interagency Working Group on Land Mines and Demining. The implementation of this directive resulted in the establishment of the USG humanitarian demining program. The Interagency Working Group (IWG) on Humanitarian Demining identifies which countries receive U.S. demining assistance and manages U.S. resources committed to the program. IWG members include the National Security Council, the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the United States Agency for International Development, and the Central Intelligence Agency.
Map of Landmine Problem Countries
The components of the Department of Defense Humanitarian Mine Action Program are mine awareness education, mine action center (MAC) development, civil-military cooperation, and victim assistance. The mine action training, or train-the-trainer, is the core of the program. More than 4,000 indigenous trainers have benefited from this core program.
Department of Defense Humanitarian Mine Action Project Teams include Special Forces "A" Detachments (Train the Trainer programs), Psychological Operations (PSYOP) mine risk reduction education and mine awareness trainers, explosive ordnance demolition (EOD) and computer specialists if required, and Civil Affairs teams to train the indigenous national mine action organizations.
The goals of the program are to relieve the plight of civilian populations, enhance regional stability, promote
foreign policy interests, and improve economic development. U. S.
U. S.Department of Defense Humanitarian Demining Training Center is located at Fort Leonard Wood, . Missouri
The U.S. Demining Initiative Fact Sheet released by the Bureau of Political Military Affairs of the Department of State on 13 November 1997 says, "The United States aims to greatly accelerate global humanitarian demining operations and assistance efforts to end the plague of landmines posing threats to civilians through a U.S.-led initiative to develop, marshal and commit the resources necessary to accomplish this goal in cooperation with other nations by the year 2010.
An estimated 100 million landmines in more than 64 countries cause about 26,000 casualties each year. The United States has committed more than $153 million in humanitarian demining programs since 1993 (leading the world in this respect) and spent nearly $80 million in FY 1998 alone. However, at present levels of international effort, it will take at least several decades to remove these non-self-destructing landmines from the mine-affected countries of the world, further hampering economic development and extending mine casualties long into the next century. To respond to this global humanitarian catastrophe, the United States is calling for and will lead a global campaign, the Demining 2010 Initiative, to eradicate all landmines which threaten civilian populations by the year 2010 "
One third of the victims are children
According to Handicap International, "Three quarters of all mine victims are civilians and one third are children under the age of fifteen. Mines claim an average of one victim every twenty minutes (or over 26,000 per year)."
Landmines are a Global Crisis
In Hidden Killers 1998: The Global Landmine Crisis the U.S. State Department gives an overview of the worldwide landmine problem.
As we near the end of the 20th century, the indiscriminate use of landmines has become a tragic legacy of civil strife around the world. Landmines impede international efforts to help war-torn countries regain their economic and social infrastructures. Clearing landmines and the debris of war diverts billions of dollars that are desperately needed for development projects. In October 1997, at the behest of President Clinton, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Secretary of Defense William Cohen announced that the United States would spearhead an international effort to accelerate cooperation and resources for humanitarian demining worldwide to eliminate the threat of landmines to civilians by the year 2010. The Demining 2010 Initiative has now become firmly imbedded in the global humanitarian demining agenda.
Mine victims usually lose limbs
Landmines, particularly the anti-personnel types, represent a pandemic of global proportions. Although the exact number of landmines is unknown, it was previously estimated that as many as 80-110 million landmines are scattered within at least 70 countries around the world. There is a growing consensus in the international community that the number may be lower, in the range of 60-70 million. The difference in these estimate stems from the difficulty in getting an accurate count in the turmoil and confusion of warfare, especially in developing countries. However, the key issue is not the total number of landmine-affected countries, or the number of landmines in the ground. Far more significant as indicators of the problem and as potential measures of success are the number of landmine victims and the amount of land affected by landmines.
Cambodian Children in front of a Mine Field
In Africa, the most affected countries are Angola, Eritrea, Mozambique, Somalia and the Sudan. It is believed that between 10 and 15 million landmines are in Angola alone. The most affected countries in Asia are Cambodia and Afghanistan. In Europe, the nations most mined are Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia. In Latin America Nicaragua is heavily mined. Finally, in the Middle East the biggest problem is Iraq and Kurdistan. All of these nations are the scene of long and protracted wars. Although there are no accurate numbers, the total number of mines in Africa is believed to be about 22 million, Asia about 39 million, Europe about 8 million, Latin America about 240,000 and the Middle East about 50 million.
The U.S. Army Engineer School established the Countermine Training Support Center (CTSC) at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri, in April 1996. The CTSC runs two different resident courses. One course caters to conventional Army units and offers a five-day program of instruction in Mine Awareness techniques. The other course is two weeks and geared to prepare American Special Forces detachments to run a successful "train-the-trainer" program in the specific country to which they deploy. The CTSC coordinates its Mine Awareness program of instruction with Psychological Operations organizations at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. This coordination between Army conventional forces and Special Forces facilitates the kind of linkage necessary to plan demining missions that emphasize unity of effort.
In this article, we will mainly look at the U.S. Army mine awareness program and show those leaflets and posters that the military produced to warn civilians of the dangers of unexploded ordnance. Because there are hundreds, and perhaps thousands of mine awareness leaflets, posters, handbooks and other publications, our plan is just to show 2 to 3 items from each country. In some special cases, (like the comic books mentioned below) we will break the pattern because of the importance of the subject.
WORLD WAR II
Dont get killed
During WWII he United States produced dozens, perhaps hundreds of booklets, field manuals, and other publications on mines and explosives. Here is a sample, War Department Pamphlet 21-23, Dont get killed by Mines and Bobby Traps. The pamphlet describes and illustrates German and Japanese mines, grenades, and other explosives.
The WWII U.S. Military Intelligence Service SOLDIER'S GUIDE TO THE JAPANESE ARMY, Special Series No. 27, dated 15 November 1944 says:
The Tape-Measure Mine
The most common Japanese land mine is the Type 93, or "Tape-Measure Mine," so called because it resembles a rolled-up steel tape measure. The mine weighs about 3 pounds and is 6 3/4 inches in diameter and 1 3/4 inches thick. It is filled with 2 pounds of picric acid. In the center of its top is a bronze plug which covers the fuse. There are loops on the casing to permit suspension of the mine or drawing it across the path of a tank by means of an attached cord. Pressures of from 70 to 200 pounds will activate the mine; the sheer wire is adjusted to vary the pressure at which it will be detonated. There is a safety cap on the upper end of the firing pin. These mines usually are laid in patterns of diagonal rows 30 inches apart.
When landings were made on the beach at Tarawa, Gilbert Islands, several anti-invasion mines were found arranged in a single straight row, parallel to and 50 yards from the highwater mark on the beach. These mines are hemispherical and are of all-welded construction. There are two handles and two horns, and a central opening in the top which contains the booster and safety switch. The horns contain vials of acid. When either horn is bent, the acid vial is broken, permitting the acid to drop upon the plates of a small battery which has a zinc cathode and a copper anode. A current of sufficient amperage is generated to explode the charge which is in the bottom chamber of the mine.
Early examples of Japanese booby traps include the parasol type, wherein opening the parasol broke an acid vial which, in turn, ignited the detonating and ignition mixtures. A flashlight type was activated by pressing the switch in the normal fashion. Another early and somewhat crude type, intended primarily for incendiary action, employed a bottle which, if shaken, brought sulfuric acid in contact with potassium chlorate in the cork. The small explosion thus produced ignited benzene or kerosene
The Comic Book Connection
The U.S. Government and the United Nations joined with DC Comics, a division of Time Warner Entertainment Co.,in 1996 to produce a special Superman comic book entitled Superman - Deadly Legacy. The idea for the mine awareness comic book was sparked by a comment by First Lady Hillary Clinton during her visit to Bosnia. She reviewed a mine awareness coloring book for young children, and asked what was being done for the older children. It was created to aid landmine awareness among children in the Former Yugoslavia and was printed in both the Cyrillic alphabet used by Serbs and the Roman alphabet used by Croats and Muslims. Half a million Superman books were shipped to Bosnia and Kosovo. Superman was chosen to spread the message because "he is a citizen of the world". Text on the back is:
Superman has come to help the children of Bosnia-Herzegovina! But even when he cant be here, you can keep yourself safe from landmines.
Lieutenant Colonel Nick Swayne was the liaison with DC Comics in New York City tasked with the mine-awareness project that had the blessing and backing of then First Lady Hilary Clinton. The military paid for the materials, ink and transportation, but not the art or concept work. It supplied the photographs of Bosnians, local homes, landscape and backgrounds and the comic book artists did the rest.
In regard to the comic book for Bosnia, UNICEF and the Mine Action Center lent their endorsement to the project. They said that there are 130,000 copies of the comic in Latin and Cyrillic, and 35,000 in English. There are also 35,000 copies of the poster in each of the alphabets. The priority for distribution is to children in hospitals, orphanages, refugee camps, and schools.
US Soldier passing out Superman mine awareness comic book
The Kosovo version of the comic book was released in the school system through UNICEF and through non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in the area. Originally, the Kosovo version of the comic book was designed for children in the refugee camps. The comic book was designed to teach children to stay away from landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO), to recognize areas where mines may be located, and to take certain actions if they find a mine. The comic book also encourages children to share their understanding of the landmine threat with friends and family members and teaches them that deminers working in their country are protecting them from dangerous landmines. The Bosnia-Kosovo version of the comic book depicts Superman protecting two young children from mines, while the dog of one child is severely injured. They meet a boy who has lost his legs, and later save a girl who has wandered into deep grass. It is a wonderful joining of the military and commercial sector to save lives.
A second comic book in Spanish was released for children in Latin America on 11 June 1998. It is entitled Superman and Wonder Woman - the Hidden Killer. The Central American book is 32 pages long, compared to 10 pages for the Bosnia version. The second book includes 24 pages of story and eight pages of activities targeting children between 8 and 15. Text on the back is "Superman and Wonder Woman have come to help the children of Central America! But even when they cannot be here, you can keep yourself safe from landmines. This book tells of the story of brothers Miguel, Diego, and sister Gabriella. One brother suddenly finds himself in a minefield. He is rescued by the super-heroes, shown some mine-warning signs, and then introduced to a military deminer. Later, Gabriella washing clothes in a stream also comes upon a mine. She is saved by Wonder Woman. The children are shown signs and posters depicting different mines and meet a child who has been injured. They then kick their soccer ball into an area that sets off another mine. The book contains a number of mine warning stickers, and features a two-page scene depicting a countryside with various signs and clues of hidden mine fields. The reader is urged to place the stickers on those sites. It closes with a 10-point quiz and the warning: "Spread the word: Mines Kill!" The comic books are distributed through U.S. embassies, and presented to the Ministries of Education in Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. A U.S. Southern Command Mine Awareness Team assists the host ministries of education in the distribution. The initial printing was Six hundred fifty thousand copies of the book, 560,000 in Spanish and 90,000 in English. Mine-awareness posters based on the comic book, 170,000 in Spanish and 30,000 in English, are distributed in Latin America. Similar posters were used in Bosnia campaign.
A third version of the comic book will be published in Portuguese for the children of Angola, which the United Nations estimates has 15 million land mines. The release date for the third comic book is unknown. "I can think of nothing more rewarding than to know that Superman and Wonder Woman have leapt beyond the pages of the comics to save real lives," said Jeanette Kahn, President of DC Comics. DC Comics donated the use of the Superman and Wonder Woman characters and worked closely with the Department of Defense and UNICEF to make sure that the stories and artwork would be specific to the host countries.
It is worth mentioning that Wonder Woman was made an honorary United Nations ambassador for the empowerment of women. In another victory for political correctness, she was fired from the job in December, 2016, as a skimpily dressed woman prone to violence.
The compliments for the comic books were not unanimous. One official on the ground in Bosnia said:
I was the Chief of Information in Sarajevo Bosnia at the United Nations Mine Action Centre for 18 months (1997-98). The comic book was brought there by US forces (KFOR) with the intent to win hearts and minds. As a group, we determined that Superman (the comic) gave the wrong messages. (1) If you find yourself in a mined area, Superman will fly in and save you. (2) Retrace your foot steps out of a minefield. It was the decision of the Mine Awareness Working Group that the Superman comic gave the wrong messages, and it was stopped from further distribution. It was never field-tested to see if it was suitable!
It is interesting that the Superman comic, once again, tried to save the Balkans, this time in Kosovo. I was the Chief Mine Information Officer at the time. This time it has been field-tested. The results indicate that the Superman comic is not a suitable medium for mine awareness education for children in the 7-9 age group, and with appropriate supervision, the comic book is a suitable medium for mine awareness education for children in the 10-14 age group. However, the Testing Board recommended that if the comic is to be used in schools that, teachers can use them, hand them out in class, but withdraw them at the end of the class.
It appears that DC Comics might have been moved by the plight of the children in those nations where mines are still a hazard. About the same time that they published the landmine awareness comic book for the military, they also published a graphic novel by Dennis ONeil in December 1996 entitled Batman: Death of innocents: the horror of landmines. This story is meant to educate the American Public to the lunacy of landmines. A reviewer on Amazon stated in part:
In "Batman: Death of Innocents", the Dark Knight takes on the tragic horror of landmines and finds himself in the unusual position of being relatively helpless against the scale of the problem. That scale is highlighted in the forward by Senator Patrick Leahy and later Colonel David H. Hackworth, Jody Williams of the
VietnamVeterans of Foundation, and Jerry White of the Landmine Survivors Network. They tell of the tens of millions of landmines deployed around the world, often active for decades after their war is over. America
The comic itself does not take a stand as for or against the morality of any given war, using instead the fictitious country of Kravia as the main ground for the story; it instead focuses on the horrendously indiscriminate killing of landmines against anything that moves, and that, as Col. Hackworth notes, can't tell a tank from a tricycle.
In the story itself, Batman is drawn into the conflagration of the Kravian civil war when a Wayne Enterprises employee in Kravia working on an irrigation project is killed when his car drives over a mine in the middle of the road In Kravia we see the ruthlessness of both sides in this one particular civil war, and the deep goodness and quiet courage of those caught in the middle, including some people who risk everything to give aid to a child .
[Note: Senator Leahy wrote a two-page text article entitled The Innocent Victims of Landmines; Colonel Hackworth wrote a three-page article entitled Landmines, the Indiscriminate Killers; Jody Williams wrote a 4-Page article entitled Landmines We Must Ban Them Now and Jerry White added a 3-page article entitled Landmine Victims need Your help.]
Leaflet AFDDGE depicts seven types of dangerous mines and grenades with a skull and crossed bones in the background. The leaflet also appears as a small poster. The text is "ATTENTION. Partnership of Nations forces are destroying unexploded ordnance and weapons to keep the citizens of this region safe. There is no reason to be alarmed. For your own safety, stay away! STAY AWAY." The code number of the leaflet poster is AE1A-11-P3. A similar leaflet poster is coded AFD-DG2. It shows the seven explosives and the skull and crossed bones. The leaflet text is:
Danger! Unexploded ordnance can kill! Do not touch! Help us keep you safe.
Another mine leaflet is in bright red to attract attention, shows a skull, and crossed bones at the left and six mines at the right. The text is:
Stop and turn away. Stay out! Mines. Help us keep you safe!
A third leaflet shows a group of mines in the desert. The text on the front is:
AL QAIDA, YOUR ESCAPE ROUTES ARE MINED.
The back shows two burning trucks. The text on the back is:
YOU ARE TRAPPED.
There were a number of different mine awareness leaflets used during Operation Enduring Freedom In Afghanistan. One series was in the form of posters and coded "AFG." The AFG products are larger than leaflets, too big to be dropped from aircraft and usually disseminated as handouts. Some examples of the series are:
AFG15 is a full color poster that depicts an Afghan Father and son and various explosive devices. The back has been checkered to make it harder for an enemy to place his own propaganda there. The text is:
Danger. Do not touch mines. Report mine locations to your local authorities.
AFG16 is also a full color handout that depicts an Afghan father and son. Eight types of explosives are "X"ed at bottom. The back has been checkered to make it harder for an enemy to place his own propaganda there. We know that 30,000 of these handbills were originally printed and 20,400 were disseminated by Tactical PSYOP Teams in Kabul, Herat and Kunduz. The message is short and sweet:
Do not touch the mines
AFG17 is a full color handout that depicts a skull and crossed bones at top and ten types of explosives below. The back has been checkered to make it harder for an enemy to place his own propaganda there. 800 of these handbills were disseminated in Kabul, Herat and Kunduz. The text is:
Report the location of mines to the local authorities.
AFC007 is a full-sized poster 11 x 17-inches in size. It has all the ominous signs, the red color of danger, the skull and crossed bones, six explosives, one covered with the prohibited symbol, and warning text in both Dari and Pashto. The text is:
Do Not Touch!
Report the locations of mines to the responsible officials.
Mine handout AFG19 depicts five injured Afghan children surrounded by 13 explosives. The short text in Pashtu and Dari is:
The main cause of death
Stay back! Be Safe!
The above mine handout depicts an injured Afghan being treated by Coalition medics. The text is:
The Afghan Islamic Transitional Government and Coalition forces want you to be safe.
The back of the handbill shows an injured arm, four explosives and the text:
If you see any of these, do not touch them.
This leaflet was printed about 2006. It is printed in English because it was found in a “product book,” used by American commanders to select leaflets they wanted to use in their areas of responsibility. The actual leaflets would be printed in one of the major languages of Afghanistan, Pashtu, or Dari.
Other mine leaflets were distributed to Afghan refugees who were returning home from Pakistan. One such item showed 10 different types of explosives in full color on a standard leaflet (about 3 x 6 inches) in a vertical format.
Afghan Children Learning the Dangers of Explosives
Afghan Children Examine Mine Warning Posters
Afghan Mine Education Awareness Class
PSYOP trooper kneels by unexploded ordnance that was cleared by the U.S. military as a sign of friendship and to protect the children of Afghanistan.
The Soviet PFM-1 anti-personnel mine.
Michael Yon's Reports from
depicts one the Soviet PFM-1 antipersonnel mines. During their invasion, the Soviets had indiscriminately littered the Afghan countryside with a myriad of different mines. One of the most common is the PFM-1. This mine doesn't look like a weapon. It is small and meant to be picked up and played with. You can fold one of its wings, clicking it back and forth. Children are especially vulnerable to these mines. Afghanistan
An Afghan child shows where his hand was blown off due to setting off a mine that was placed in an orchard near his home during a mission led by U.S. Army soldiers assigned to the 4th Infantry Division, in Malajat, Afghanistan. 8th PSYOP Battalion troops attached to the division gathered information from the local population and distributed psychological operations products.
Deck of Mine Awareness Cards
Along with posters and leaflet, the CounterMine Identification Training (CIT) Program distributed a deck of Mine Awareness cards in Afghanistan which showed images of 36 antipersonnel mines, 28 antitank mines and assorted booby traps and other unexploded ordnance.
The 345th psychological Operations Company out of
, supported the 3rd and 7th Special Forces Groups. Seven tactical PSYOP teams were deployed throughout Dallas, Texas . Team 2-3 Gator was based in Mazar-E-Sharif in Afghanistan Northern Afghanistan. It was responsible for a variety of missions for the Special Forces Command and the Joint Psychological Operations Task Force (JPOTF). One PSYOP sergeant who went under the pseudonym Zoolander told me in regard to landmine operations:
I was responsible for mine awareness and the point of contact for the
North Afghanistanregion. We disseminated over 60,000 PSYOP mine awareness posters and leaflets during my tenure there. We worked with a number of local Afghans and other non-governmental organizations and I personally distributed posters and gave classes in mine awareness to school children. Some of the organizations that we worked with were the British Hazardous Areas Life-Support Organization Trust, United Nations mine teams, Swiss demining teams and Canadian Mine Groups. Mr. Akbar, my local Afghan contact, was beneficial in distributing leaflets and posters equally over my team's area of responsibility, about 150 x 300 kilometers.
Army Specialist Josh Brimm, assigned to the 307th Psychological Operations company, 10th PSYOP Battalion, plays a counter improvised explosive device message on a loud speaker during a mission with U.S. soldiers assigned to the 4th Infantry Division, to patrol the villages around Malajat, Afghanistan, on 3 June 2011. The purpose of the mission is to gather information from the local population and to distribute Psychological Operations products.
A mine clearing conference was held at MacDill Air Force Base on February 13, 2002. At that time it was estimated that a minimum of 2-million mines were still buried in Afghanistan. That number is probably low.
British Warning leaflet printed by the 15th PSYOP Group
On 20 June 2002 the British handed over the position of lead nation of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to Turkey. During the time that Great Britain was the lead nation, a number of leaflets and publications were produced by the 15 (UK) Psychological Operations Group for the Afghan people. One full-color flyer that addresses unexploded ordnance depicts a mortar shell. The text in Pashto and Dari is, "Explosions at Kabul Airport. ISAF is currently carrying out the destruction of unsafe weapons and explosives for your future safety. You will be hearing a number of loud bangs/explosions in the area of the airport during the next three to four weeks. There is nothing to worry about." The words "Help and co-operation" are in English at the bottom of the leaflet.
Demining in Angola
In 1994 the two warring sides in the Angolan civil war signed the Lusaka peace accords and subsequently have slowly retreated from their entrenched positions. However, due to the large number of land mines Angola will remain a country afflicted by the scourge of war for decades to come. Estimates of the number of Angolan land mines range between 10 and 20 million which equates to at least 1 to 2 land mines for every person in the country. U.N. estimates put the number of Angolan amputees resulting from the silent killers at 70,000. Land mines have a devastating effect upon the environment by restricting the movement of people, deterring farming, disrupting economies, and killing and mutilating many innocent men, women, and children. Aided by the United States and other donors, Angolan demining teams have cleared over nine million square meters of land, 841,887 square meters of it in 2001 alone.
Countermine Identification Training (CIT) Program
This deck of mine identification cards was issued to U.S. troops working to find and destroy mines in the African country of Angola. This deck contains 55 cards; 1 acronyms, 1 all-purpose mine, 20 anti-personnel mines, 19 anti-tank mines 9 booby traps and 8 unexploded ordnance (UXOs).
NATO Stabilization Force (SFOR) Mine Awareness Leaflets
Countermine Identification Training (CIT) Program
17 June 1997
As in almost every war the United States fights, mine awareness cards are prepared to protect the troops. They are usually given away as training aides to any member who requests them from Supply. There are 57 cards in this deck, depicting anti-tank mines, anti-personnel mines, fuses, booby-traps, etc. The anti-personnel card above shows an anti-personnel mine of the type the United States calls a Claymore.
US PSYOP Mine Awareness Leaflet
This leaflet depicts various explosives and the text:
Mines and explosives can kill!
Do not attempt to handle these items, immediately report them to the peacekeeping force.
Unexploded Ordnance Warning – Danger
This large poster is printed on both sides so that the proper side could be exposed according to the language in the area where it was used. The poster depicts various rocket shells, landmines, grenades, and anti-personnel mines. The text on both sides is:
Unexploded ordnance is extremely dangerous, do not attempt to handle these items.
Inform the troops of the enforcement forces of where you have seen them.
Children's Safety Calendar
This is a different kind of explosives-warning for children. It is in the form of a calendar with various cartoons interspaced with comments on explosives safety. Some of the Comments are:
Do not play with discarded ammunition you never know what might happen. Do not play near minefields. Do not try to pick it up — it can still explode. Do not take discarded mines or bombs. Do not play in abandoned houses. Do not open discarded boxes. Do not set discarded ammunition on fire.
PARENTS - HELP YOUR CHILDREN UNDERSTAND.
Stay in the Game…
This mine-warning poster depicts a young Bosnian man missing his left leg watching a soccer game between young, healthy athletes. The text is:
Stay in the game. Watch out for mines.
The experimental Panther tank was used is Bosnia to explode hidden mines
Between four and six million land mines were laid in Bosnia, Herzegovina, Croatia and Kosovo during the recent conflict in the former Yugoslavia. For almost four years, the people fought one another in a cruel war. Bosnia alone was peppered with at least thirty types of antitank and antipersonnel mines, which were responsible for nearly one-third of all casualties. Both mine maps and signage were either incomplete or nonexistent, primarily because the inexperienced personnel used to seed the fields with mines did not bother to plot what and where the devices were positioned. The situation became more complex as front lines shifted, and each opposing force laid new minefields or overlapped existing ones. There are mines planted in ball fields, parks, roads and villages. In Bosnia alone, some 16,000 minefields have been identified. Thousands more of the hidden killers have not been located. Estimates made after three years of warfare suggested that more than 750,000 mines were in over 30,000 areas.
In Kosovo a young boy reads a comic book about mine awareness,
distributed by the 315th Tactical PSYOP Company.
Besides these conventional explosives, Bosnia was littered with booby traps. These devices were usually located in the doors and windows of abandoned houses. Sometimes small explosives were placed inside innocuous objects, such as soda cans or paper bags, and left in public areas for passing civilians to pick up.
Sweeping for mines in Bosnia
Images courtesy of www.war-images.com
This 1996 IFOR
Mines kill. Don't touch them
Remember: Mines Kill!
Kosovo KFOR NATO Mine Awareness Back Pack
One of the many mine awareness products developed and distributed to to promote land mine awareness was this child's backpack which US and NATO troops handed out to Kosovar Albanian school children.
US Poster 385-99-2
Stay away. Orders from the KFOR Commander.
A Croatian Mine Warning
One would think with the wars in Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia, any mine fields would be marked with the local languages. Since the wars in the Middle East and the movement of millions of people, vast numbers of Muslims have migrated to Eastern Europe. This Croatian sign warns that they are nearing a mine field.
Class on identifying mines and other dangerous explosives
Boy Studying Landmine
Sometimes Americans have to be careful with the images that they use on leaflets. The
leaflet above shows a young boy studying a mine and the text warns him to stay far away
from such things. In is standard procedure to show PSYOP images and text to the local
inhabitants to acquire feedback on how the message is perceived. An interesting anecdote
was told about this image by Lieutenant-Colonel Ayers who oversaw the landmine awareness
In our mind's eye, it said don't poke a landmine with a stick. But when we tested it, the Khmer villagers said, Why do you have this person defecating over a landmine? The kid was in a position that they typically use for a bowel movement. We had to pull the boy back a little bit and make changes based upon what we found.
Cambodian Mine Awareness Leaflets and Posters
There are a great number of leaflets and posters prepared for use in Cambodia. Some of them are: An 8 1/2 x 11-inch red cardboard poster showing a skull and crossed bones. An 8 1/2 x 11-inch poster depicting a young child about to touch armaments on the ground, with four explosives in frames around the child. A 9 1/4 x 6 ˝-inch paper poster showing 13 mines in full color. A 9 1/4 x 6 ˝-inch paper poster showing 9 mines in full color. A 9 1/4 x 6 ˝-inch paper poster showing 18-mine warning signs in full color. A 9 1/4 x 6 ˝-inch paper poster depicting five steps to safe walking in full color. A sheet of 16-gummed stickers in red and black saying, "don't touch mines."
There are also a number of booklets. One is entitled "LAND MINE AWARENESS PROGRAM" on the front and depicts a POMZ-2 mine. The inside has pictures and Cambodian text. The booklet explains how one should walk on paths, step in footsteps, recognize mine signs and posters, and stay out of wooded unmarked area.
Cambodian Children being educated on the dangers of landmines
Cambodia has more mines than children - two for every child.
A February 2002 report stated that 1 in 250 Cambodians (40,000 people) have lost a limb to a landmine. In 1998 there were 2,046 casualties from landmines and unexploded ordnance. In the first 11 months of 2001 there were 764 casualties. Since 1992 140,000 anti-personnel mines, 3,000 anti-tank mines, and 650,000 explosives have been cleared from 90 million square meters of land.Three quarters of all mine victims are civilians and one third are children under the age of fifteen. According to Handicap International, mines claim an average of one victim every twenty minutes (or over 26,000 per year). Cambodia has more mines than children - two for every child.
Cambodian Landmine Warning Sign
The US State Department reported in May 2003 that cartoon characters Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck will be used in public service messages educating Cambodians about land mines. The State Department's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs and the U.S. Agency for International Development are developing the messages, which will be delivered in Khmer, the country's official language. The topics will be "mine risk education" and "social reintegration" for land mine accident survivors. The ads feature "Rith," a Cambodian land mine survivor, created by Warner Bros. for the project. The State Department said Bugs Bunny was chosen because "the rabbit is considered a kind and intelligent creature in Cambodian culture." Land mines in Cambodia kill or injure at a rate of more than two people each day, according to the most recent numbers reported by the Cambodian Red Cross. In 2001, 173 people were killed and 640 were injured.
A Gummed Label for the 1994 Mine Awareness De-mining Operations
Although there was other activity going on at the same time, in 1994 the 8th PSYOP Battalion was ordered to take part in a humanitarian de-mining campaign in Cambodia. The lead PSYOP team was from B Company of the 8th PSYOP Battalion led by Major Wayne Deneff. The lead Non-commissioned officer was Sergeant Lem Gray with Specialist Jeff Hood and Sergeant Snowden. Bravo Company would send several more members on three-month rotations into the country through Thailand. The gummed label above was drawn by Specialist Jeff Hood who was a Chinese linguist/interrogator and a fine illustrator. Specialist Matthey Reilly was video/photo and trainer on that team and taught graphic design to the Cambodians using the Thai language. Alpha Company of the 8th PSYOP Battalion sent Captain Scott Main, Sergeant Sullivan, and Specialist Elliot to observe for 45 days and report as part of a team that would go to Ethiopia and Eretria in several months to execute a similar mission. The Special Forces Mission lead was 1/1 Operation Detachment Alpha 116 out of Okinawa. Lead for the theater was Special Operations Command Pacific.
A Cloth Bag Prepared to Warn the People of the Danger of Explosives
Supporting the United Nations troops on the ground were Canadian Army engineering officers teaching and designing programs. Information and products were cross referenced from variety of Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) that performed Humanitarian De-mining around the world. This was a United Nations initiative to help restore land for safe use. This was one of the few places were the NGOs worked without reservation with the U.S. Army and regularly shared information. The former dictator Pol Pot who ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979 was attempting to stage a comeback and become a major player in Cambodian politics and was targeting westerners and especially U.S. Soldiers. The Australian Special Air Service would later capture him several months after our departure and turn him over very quietly to the Khmer Government for trial.
President Clinton had decreed that all US service members would go into country unarmed. Because of the unrest, this was a problem. Weapons were a delicate subject. There was a rumor that some friendly Hmong might have offered to help and offered intelligence if needed. They were extremely helpful. The Bulgarians were not so helpful. One person from their Embassy made a concerted effort to contact U.S. Soldiers. He kept inviting them to their Embassy for cocktail parties and to meet young women. Some of the soldiers, although recognizing the threat, still wanted to attend. They were told “no,” and reminded about the Eastern Bloc countries and Soviet Surrogates. The women especially were a dangerous trap. The troops were told to stay with the Canadians and Australians they saw regularly or go to the approved Bar.
Digital maps and seasonal water levels and satellite imagery were all included as part of the workup for a national mine-awareness and removal program. The Forerunner to Grave digger, a satellite imagery program, was used here. Grave digger was a satellite imagery program that portrayed what was on the ground. U.S. national agencies would translate and dumb down to pictures and 10-digit grids (Several ex-members of the battalion wrote this narration and there was some question about the maps). The maps would show objects on the ground as water receded. For Cambodia it was a seasonal tool best used in the dry season. It was quite helpful in locating minefields and UXOs on the ground and then the Cambodian Deminers trained by the Operational Detachments would mark the areas and then, meter by meter clear it of mines. During the several years that followed they had one causality. He lost a foot but was back to work in a week.
Mined sections of land were reported by locals to the government and then annotated and marked on a computer tabletop and prioritized for landmine removal. B Company of the 8th PSYOP Battalion, 4th PSYOP Group, developed a series of Training aids, incorporating existing mine models, marking kits, and information programs for reporting and marking mine positions to the appropriate authorities. They assisted Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha 116 to teach the actual classes and the teaching of local NGOs on how to report, mark and request aid to remove mines. Children’s educational programs were put in place. We observed the kids walking in front of the oxen tilling a field looking for mines. One child was killed by a mine and this was observed by Specialist Elliot.
The African nation of
The first leaflet depicts a young man touching a mine, an explosion, and then later walking on crutches without a leg. The text is:
Avoid Touching the Mines and Explosive Devices
When you see them report to authorities or call 253824
The second leaflet shows a hand reaching toward a mortar and mine on the ground and implies that movement is equal to death. The text is:
The third leaflet depicts hand grenades, mortars and mines and implies that touching them is the same as touching a live scorpion. The text is:
The scorpion is Dangerous but Mines are more dangerous
Don't Touch Them
Dont Step Dont touch
The final leaflet shows a foot about to step on a mine and a hand about to touch a mortar round. An X covers both images, which can be interpreted as prohibited. The text is:
THE FALKLAND ISLANDS
British soldier blows up a Landmine in the Falklands
When Argentine forces invaded the Falkland Islands in April 1982, they planted an estimated 20,000 antipersonnel and 5,000 anti-vehicle mines to protect their positions against the advancing British task force which recovered the Islands by the following June. Anywhere between 8 and 10 thousand mines still remain.
The Argentines did provide the British with detailed maps of the locations, yet many of the mines have shifted with the soft peat ground making it difficult to remove them.
American troops landed on the beaches of Grenada on 25 October 1983, just two weeks after Maurice Bishop led a bloody coup overthrowing the legitimate government and establishing a communist society. United States forces were assisted in part by members of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), specifically Barbados, Jamaica, Antigua, Dominica, St Lucia and St Vincent. They were opposed by Grenadian and Cuban military units and military advisors from the Soviet Union, North Korea, East Germany, Bulgaria, and Libya. Although Operation Urgent Fury was short-lived, there was a legitimate concern over the weapons and explosives left behind by the Cubans and other communist forces.
Unexploded Ordnance Warning
As a precaution, a leaflet was developed and disseminated which warned the citizens of Grenada not to touch unexploded ammunition or weapons as they may be booby trapped. The leaflet further advised the citizenry to contact Caribbean Security Forces should they come across any weapons or ordnance. The leaflet which depicts a pair of skulls at the top read:
BOOBY TRAPPED WEAPONS AND
EQUIPMENT IN THE AREA
DO NOT TOUCH
Large quantities of weapons and equipment
were left behind or unexploded.
Do not touch anything, it may be booby trapped.
Do not risk severe injury or death.
Report this equipment to:
CARIBBEAN SECURITY FORCES
The US invasion of Haiti to uphold Democracy was over almost before it began. As a result, mines were not a great danger. However, there was some unexploded ordnance on the ground. As a result, the US invasion of Haiti to uphold Democracy was over almost before it began. Therefore, mines were not a great danger. However, there was some unexploded ordnance on the ground. As a result, the US distributed an unexploded ordnance-warning leaflet that reminded the children of Haiti not to pick up odd items found on the ground.
1. OPERATION DESERT STORM
Iraqi Mines in Kuwait
The photographs above depict mines laid along the desert and the sea coast of
by the Iraqi occupying troops. The photos are from the personal collection of my good friend Adel al Yousifi. Kuwait
During the 1991 Operation Desert Storm campaign there were several postwar consolidation leaflets and posters that featured a mine awareness theme.
The first leaflet depicts a skull and crossed bones over 3 water-tower minarets. A bright red explosion is pictured at the top of the leaflet with the word:
The same 3-line text is on the front and the back:
Warning. Please do not touch explosive equipment. Please inform the authorities or the Allied forces immediately.
A similar leaflet is almost identical except that there are now six lines of text. Once again the leaflet depicts a skull and crossed bones over 3 water-tower minarets and a bright red explosion the word:
The text on this leaflet is:
Warning. Don't touch anything suspicious that encourages your curiosity such as radios, cans, hand bags, and mechanical machines. They may explode when touched. Report all strange objects to the authorities or Coalition Forces immediately.
A small 5.97 x 8.32-inch leaflet-poster depicts nine different mines and explosives. This item is found on cardboard, standard 20-pound paper, and very thin paper. It has the same message in English on one side and Arabic on the other:
Stop. These items kill!! Do not touch. Contact the police or the military.
The Coalition printed a number of full-sized posters. All of the following items are blank on the back. One poster is oversized at about 20 x 28-inches. The poster was used in both Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. The text in English and Arabic is:
The danger of Explosives. No matter the size, no matter the shape, your life they will take. Do not touch or move. Report suspicious items immediately to the military or civil authorities.
The poster is covered with the depictions of various minds and explosives. There are about 45 images in all, some of the same objects from different angles and in open or closed positions. The poster seems to be coded 1361-04 and has the comment in Arabic and English at the bottom right:
National Guard Printing Press.
The Coalition also printed a series of three standard sized posters 9.50 x 13.60-inches in size. They are all just a sketch with some red on each poster to highlight it and draw attention.
The first depicts a hand reaching for a grenade on the ground. The "prohibited" symbol is over the hand in red. The Arabic text on the poster is:
Danger!!! Don't try to touch or move any strange object because it could explode or blow up at any time. Try to report to the authorities or the military when you find any strange object.
The second poster depicts stylized divers covered by the "prohibited" symbol. The text in English and Arabic is:
Danger. Do not enter beach area. Unexploded ordnance.
The final poster simply has a red prohibited" symbol. Arabic text is:
Danger! Do not enter. Unexploded ordnance.
The British UXO "Memory Aide."
At the end of Operation Desert Storm the British Explosive ordnance Disposal Cell in Kuwait City produced a 4-fold printed sheet entitled "UNEXPLODED ORDNANCE IN KUWAIT." It is printed in red on white paper and depicts and warns the populace of the dangers of the explosives still littering the area. A map of Kuwait, the great seal of the United Kingdom, the insignia of various U.K. EOD units, a stylized map and a caricature of the three water towers that are a symbol of Kuwait are on the front. When opened, the sheet depicts 19 illustrations of various types of mines and other ordnance and data on each. For instance, Two mortar rounds are depicted with the text, "MORTARS. Mostly gray or green. Watch out for loose propellant rings." Directly below the mortars, two projectiles are depicted with the text, "OTHER PROJECTILES. Assorted tank and artillery rounds, loose and boxed. Remember that fuses detached from rounds still have explosive content." The back fold of the form is "If you find any of these or similar, follow the 'Sandi' rule. Stop. Assess the area for more. Note and mark. Draw back the way you came. Inform EOD through staff. Sandi says, 'Stay Alive - don't touch.' Printed by TACIPRINT 19 Topo Sqn RE (Gulf)."
2. OPERATION PROVIDE COMFORT
At the end of the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf War the Coalition was faced with caring for the Kurds in the north of Iraq. Saddam Hussein had terrorized and attacked the Kurds for years and the area was heavily mined. The United States set up refugee camps and the Kurds were invited to leave their hiding places and return home.
As part of the Combined Task Force (CTF) Provide Comfort, elements of the 6th Psychological Operations Battalion deployed from Ft. Bragg and provided PSYOP support to the Kurds. Leaflets and posters were prepared to show them the safest way through the mountains to the camps. There are at least five leaflets and one pointee-talkee card that featured the theme of landmine awareness.
The first leaflet is similar to the leaflet used in Iraq. It depicts nine mines and explosives and identical text in Arabic on one side and Kurdish on the other. The text is:
Stop! Don't touch these things. Call the authorities.
There are two variations of this leaflet. In one, the message is also typewritten in English below the Arabic or Kurdish text. This leaflet is about 6 x 9 inches and all black and white.
A second 6 x 9 inch black and white leaflet pictures a group of Kurds walking along a mountain trail. The front and back are identical except for the language. One Kurd has wandered off the trail and set off a land mine. The text in Arabic and Kurdish, with English subtitles typed underneath is:
Danger - Mines - Stay on the main roads!
A third 9 x 11 inch cardboard leaflet shows the vignette above on one side (Kurd walking off trail) and a map of the main roads, showing way stations and food distribution points on the back. The message on the front in Kurdish and Arabic is:
Danger - Mines - Stay on the main roads!
Besides the map on the back, there is a brief message in Arabic and Kurdish:
Danger! mines may be located off the road!
The fourth mine warning leaflet is 11 x 9 inches on blue cardboard. The front duplicates the front and back of the leaflet showing the Kurd walking off the trail with the Arabic language leaflet on the left and the Kurdish language leaflet on the right. The text as before is:
Danger - Mines - Stay on the main roads!
The back depicts a map similar to the leaflet above, but with symbols for gas, water, food and medical, and again bears the text:
Danger! mines may be located off the road!
The fifth leaflet depicts a skull and crossed bones at the upper left and an explosion at the lower right. The text is identical on both sides, one in Arabic, one in Kurdish:
Danger! Minefield. Stay away from this area. Danger!
CTF Provide Comfort Language Card
The pointee-talkee card is about 4 1/4 x 5 1/2 inches in size. The title of the small yellow card is "CTF Provide Comfort Language Card - Minefields." One side bears Arabic text with English translations; the other side bears Kurdish text. Some of the questions and comments on the card are:
Have you seen any evidence of minefields?
Can you show us where they are?
If you have any information on minefields, please identify yourself to humanitarian team members.
In regard to the problem of mines and munitions in Iraq, the United States Department of State says in a fact sheet from the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Office of Humanitarian Demining programs:
Before Operation Iraqi Freedom, an estimated 10-15 million landmines were deployed in Iraq, dating from conflicts as far back as World War II. Indeed, Iraq is considered one of the most mine-affected nations in the world. The United States Central Command (USCENTCOM) set up procedures to identify minefield locations and established mechanisms to transfer unclassified data from the military to various civil mine action entities. Over 2,500 minefields, 2,200 unexploded ordnance (UXO) locations, and thousands of abandoned munitions sites have been identified; and more are found on a daily basis.
British Sergeant Major Nick Pettit speaks before a group of Iraqi school boys on the dangers of land mines and unexploded ordnance during a mine awareness presentation at the Saddam Modern Secondary school in Basra, on May 16, 2003. Excess ammunition and weapons abandoned by Iraqi forces are being found all over Iraq, posing a constant threat in populated areas to civilians, especially children.
3. Operation Iraqi Freedom
Improvised Explosive Devices used against Coalition Troops in Iraq
One of the serious problems for United States troops during the consolidation phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom was the vast amount of unexploded ordnance in Iraq. Numerous leaflets, handouts and posters were produced to make the Iraqi people aware of the danger of mines and unexploded ordnance and asking them to report such explosives so that explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) personnel could disarm them.
One example of such a handout is IZC-4005 which depicts an array of mines, grenades, and various artillery shells and the text:
Stay away and report all mines and unexploded ordnance to Coalition Forces. They will kill.
Front & back leaflet IZG-053a
IZG-053a is a full color poster-leaflet about 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches). The front depicts a chessboard with the faces of smiling Iraqis and various explosives on the board. The back depicts explosives on the ground with hints on how to mark them. The text is:
Do not touch mines Landmines are not games!
If you locate a landmine: Mark the area from a safe distance with stones painted red and white; If paint is not available, mark the area with stones pointing toward the mine; Remember the location and keep others away; Notify local authorities or Coalition forces.
The U.S. Army is always sensitive to children and civilians being killed or injured by mines they cannot identify and sometimes pick up or walk on. As a result, in about every war the United States takes part in there are a great number of mine warning leaflets and handbills. IZG-059 is a full-color handbill about 5.5 x 8.5-inches in size that depicts six different explosives, a child's hand holding a landmine covered by a "prohibited" symbol, and a red triangle “mine sign” with a skull and crossed bones. The back is checkered so the enemy cannot use it. The text is
DO NOT TOUCH
Report the location of mines and other unexploded ammunition to local authorities.
IZG-059a is a full-color handout that depicts 9 different explosives and a child's hand holding a landmine covered by a “prohibited” symbol. The back is checkered so the enemy cannot use it. The text on IZD-059a is:
Report the locations of mines and other unexploded ammunition to local authorities
This leaflet is a warning against Iraqi insurgent improvised explosives. The text on the front and back is:
Those who manufacture explosives do not care who is killed. Their only aims are terrorism and oppression.
Improvised explosives results in the wounding or killing Iraqi children. You are the key to stop these violent acts. Tell the Joint Forces or Iraqi Police about improvised explosives and those who make them.
This leaflet is clearly designed for children and the vignette is drawn in a very childish comic-book manner. An Iraqi child points to explosives on the ground at the right. At the left an American soldier warns him of the danger. The leaflet is identical on both sides.
The text at the right is:
The text at the left is:
These are not toys!! Leave them where found. Tell an adult so they can inform Iraqi Security forces in your area.
This handout is in the form of a comic on the front and back. The front has six panels with an Iraqi child seeing a mine and being warned about its danger by a soldier:
I wonder what that is?
Wait! Stop! That is a very dangerous UXO.
Whats a UXO? A UXO is unexploded ordnance which is a bomb that hasnt exploded yet.
What should I do if I see one?
Mark it and report it to a Coalition soldier like me. We will then make the area safe for you and your friends.
On the back of the handbill a soldier points at ten UXOs and says:
Mark all unknown objects, mines and unexploded ordnances 300 meters away. Report location and how ordnance was marked to Coalition forces.
These items should be considered very dangerous.
We are here for your safety.
This leaflet is not centered and was likely discarded as printer’s waste, but it is important because it warns the Iraqis not to touch explosives they might run across. The front and back are identical and show various landmines and a hand grenade. The text is:
Do not touch Mines
Notify the local authorities of the locations of mines and other unexploded ordnance
An example of what might happen to a child that touches an explosive is depicted in handout IZG-4630a. The front of the handbill depicts two forms of cluster bomblets (also known as air-delivered mines or air-delivered grenades) and the text:
If you see this or anything that resemble bombs or military unexploded ordnance anywhere
DO NOT TOUCH IT!
Inform Coalition Forces immediately if you have found such and stay away until it has been safely removed.
The back of the handbill depicts a young Arab boy whose leg has been blown off. The text is:
Keep away from bomb-like objects and unexploded ordnance
DO NOT PLAY WITH IT!
For all parents, teach your children caution and knowledge about bombs and unexploded ordnance!
If you find any unexploded ordnance notify Coalition Forces immediately.
To reduce deaths and injuries from mines and unexploded ordnance, the 315th Tactical Psychological Operations Company designed handbills and posters illustrating the various types found throughout Baghdad. Even children could compare the drawings to objects they found in the streets and recognize the danger.
Cluster Bomblet on the Ground
Cluster Munitions or Cluster Bombs are air-dropped or ground-launched munitions that eject a number of smaller sub-munitions or bomblets. The most common types are intended to kill enemy personnel and destroy vehicles. After Desert Storm when I was at Ft. Bliss there were a about three dozen young American soldiers awaiting punishment due to their picking up and bringing home items such as these bomblets as souvenirs. It got so bad at one stage that the Army assigned some explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) troops to the local post office to check incoming baggage from returning Desert Storm troops. Americans love their souvenirs!
Iraqi school children hold anti-mine flyers handed out
by American PSYOP troops. Notice the hand with the "X"
indicating that the objects in the pictures should not be touched.
Australian Leaflet IZL-081
Australian leaflet IZL-081 depicts over a dozen armaments, shells, grenades, mines and other explosives and the text:
You should not pick up or play with unexploded mines or weaponry which is on the ground.
These warning leaflets to children and adults are almost always dropped in the consolidation and government-building aspect at the end of a war, and the fact that the code number is so high indicates that it was probably dropped during the late occupation period.
The following handout was prepared by the British 15 (UK) PSYOP Group as part of their explosives and mine warning operations in and around
in 2004. It was originally prepared in Arabic and coded P.146 at the lower left corner. This is a translated file copy acquired by researcher Lee Richards. Basra
The front of this handout depicts the back of the legs of an Iraqi lying on his stomach. The legs have been peppered by shrapnel and are being treated by a medical person. The text on the front is:
DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN
DON'T PICK UP AMMUNITION
The back of the handout depicts four different types of dangerous ammunition and explosives and warns the Iraqis not to touch or disturb any of them. The text is:
DON'T PICK UP!!
DON'T PICK UP!!
LEAVE the AMMUNITION and INFORM the IRAQI Security Forces, the IRAQI Army or Multi-National Forces and WE will take care of it as soon as possible.
British designed mine awareness T-shirt
T-shirts, like the one shown above, were given away in Iraq by British EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal Teams) in South Eastern Iraq, near Basrah, to try to reduce the casualties to civilians from unexploded ordnance (UXO). The T-shirt image is based on a British PSYOP poster.
Druze children pass Israeli army signs warning of a minefield on their way
home from school in Majdal Shams in the Golan Heights.
(Photo Lior Mizrahi / FLASH90)
The war-torn state of Israel contains over 37,000 acres of minefields, including fields laid by Syria and Jordan. Officials said the private companies it employs have cleared some 30,000 mines to date, including in minefields near Eilat, south of the Dead Sea, and in the Golan. At the current speed of removing the mines, it is estimated that it could take 50 to 60 years to disarm them all. The Mine Clearing Authority works separately from the Israel Defense Force, which is also at work clearing minefields. In 2013, Corporal Roi Alphi, from the Combat Engineering Corps, was killed when a mine exploded as he worked with his colleagues to clear a minefield in the Golan Heights. The mine that killed Alphi was an antitank mine, the M15.
Korean Mine warning Sign
The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), stretches in Korea for more than a mile on either side of the 160-mile long border dividing the two Koreas. Neither South Korea (Republic of Korea) nor North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) has signed the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. The United States has not joined either but it has banned its use of antipersonnel landmines, except on the Korean Peninsula due to its unique circumstances. The DMZ already contains more than a million landmines, some laid as long ago as the Korean War, which ended in 1953. It is unclear where many are laid as they can shift from their original location in heavy rains and flooding, moving downstream into agricultural land where they have harmed farmers and other victims.
Countermine Identification Training (CIT) Program
American troops walk along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) every day in Korea. This deck of cards issued to the troops is designed to help them identify mines and save their lives. In this case, the cards are restricted to U.S personnel to keep any technical information secret from the North Koreans and the deck is destroyed when no longer needed so it cannot be found and used by an enemy. The color of the print is a very subdued green and one wonders if this was a form of camouflage. There are 58 cards in this deck; a glossary, 2 underwater mines, 8 booby traps, 4 unexploded ordnance (UXOs), and the rest anti-personnel and anti-tank mines.
To Protect Citizens during Wartime
Warnings of the dangers of explosives are not used only during peacetime. They are also used to protect the innocent during wartime. During the Korean War the United States wanted to protect those men and women who worked the fields. This leaflet depicts a bomb that has fallen but not exploded. It is a warning to Koreans to stay away from bombing targets. The text is:
Be careful with the dud bomb
Your life is in danger. Don't go near it and do not touch it
There is a four panel cartoon on the back showing the falling bomb; it buries itself in the ground; a female farmer digs near it; and in the last panel we see an explosion.
This leaflet also features a four-panel cartoon. They explain the actions of time-delay bomb. The title of this leaflet is UXB warning. It was dropped following bombing raids. We see U.N. aircraft bombing a railroad; a repairman comes to fix the damage; he approaches the hole; and in the final panel once again we see an explosion. The text is:
A warning to the laborers repairing the bombed railroad
Take notice of this friendly warning from the UN soldiers
A time-delay bomb - The time-delay bomb which brings death
When the UN planes bomb the railroads
Do not come back to repair the railroads
The time-delay bomb is buried in the ground
It might explode at any time and kill you
I should point out that this leaflet does double duty. Not only does it protect the worker, but it also keeps the railroads from being repaired which would hurt the North Korean and Chinese war effort.
In 2022, President Joe Biden stated that the United States would restrict the use of anti-personnel mines by the U.S. military. The one exception to this rule was Korea. Because of the aggressiveness of North Korea, the size of its army and the constant propaganda about reunification by force, if necessary, the landmines could be scattered along the DMZ if the North Koreans chose to invade the South for a second time.
A Mine Booklet produced by a US Army PSYOP Team for Distribution in Laos
As part of the Vietnam War and the Ho Chi Minh Trail from 1964 to 1973, Laos still has thousands of unexploded ordnance (UXO) and land mines. The US Military dropped approximately 2 million tons of bombs on Laos during 580,000 bombing missions, the equivalent of one planeload every 8 minutes, 24 hours a day, for 9 years, making it, per capita, the most heavily bombed country in the world. At least 270 million cluster bomblets were dropped as part of the bombing campaign; approximately 80 million failed to detonate. It is estimated that about 30 percent of the explosives are still live. The worst areas are the northern provinces and the eastern border which was heavily bombed during the war.
Data from a survey completed in Laos in 2009 indicate that unexploded ordnance, including cluster bombs, have killed, or maimed as many as 50,000 civilians in Laos since 1964 (and 20,000 since 1973, after the war ended). About 60% of accidents result in death, and 40% of the victims are children. Boys are particularly at risk.
Twenty buried BLU-26 Cluster Bombs
The United States has been assisting Laos since 1995. Over $14 million has been provided for humanitarian demining projects, mine awareness programs and victims assistance. The United States is the largest contributor to the UXO and landmine relief in Laos, providing over 25 percent of its total contributions. Funds contributed by the United States maintain mine and UXO awareness in eight provinces, mine and UXO clearance in seven others, and created rapid response teams in the remaining five.
A Female Deminer Team in Laos
The U.S. helped to build and establish the original training center at Nam Souang. The Lao teams assumed responsibility for their own training in October 1999 after certification and selection of trainers. Over 104,000 items of ordnance have been cleared and over 700 villages visited with comprehensive mine risk education messages. The Lao women of the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) work under dangerous conditions removing unexploded ordinance from fields and villages
On 12 July 2006 Hezbollah guerrillas in
Lebanoncrossed the border into , killed eight soldiers and abducted two others. Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said that a prisoner exchange was the only way to secure the release of the soldiers, who he said were being held in a secure and remote location. Israeli forces retaliated the same day against Hezbollah strongholds in Israel Southwest Lebanonby sending troops across the border. This rapidly escalated into a full-scale invasion and a war that lasted for 34 days. At the end of the short war U.N. and civilian organizations moved in to help the nation of recover. They produced leaflets warning the population not to touch items that might be undetonated explosives. In the 20 August picture above, Elias Kayyal, an officer of the Lebanon United Nations Mine Action Coordination Centerholds a leaflet depicting unexploded ordinance in the villageof Al Bayyadah, southern . Lebanon
Street sign warns of the danger of unexploded ordnance and mines
The civil war in Libya, which began 17 February 2011, has led to clashes between forces loyal to Colonel Gaddafi and rebel fighters as well as aerial bombing from North Atlantic treaty Organization forces. As a result, much of the ground is littered with unexploded ordnance and mines. Anti-personnel and anti-vehicle Landmines and cluster munitions have been used during the conflict. Handicap International evaluated the situation on Libyan territory and confirmed the presence of a very large number of explosive remnants of war (artillery shells and mortars, rockets, missiles, landmines and unexploded grenades).
Pile of unexploded ordnance
In early July 2011, the organization distributed more than 30,000 leaflets and some 2,500 posters in Benghazi, Ajdabiya, Misrata, Brega and on the Tunisian border.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) stated in November 2011 that civilians continue to be injured or killed regularly in Libya by explosive devices. The humanitarian impact is the most serious in Bani Walid and Sirte. The ICRC placed billboards and distributed leaflets and posters in Sirte explaining the hazards of explosive ordnance and mobilized Libyan Red Crescent volunteers to spread the message to the population. From March to November 2011, the ICRC removed 1,400 warheads, munitions, grenades and mortar shells in Benghazi, Ajdabiya, Misrata, Brega, Ras Lanuf and the Nefusa mountains. It has also trained over 100 Libyan Red Crescent volunteers to take part in the effort to educate the public.
Sergeant First Class Alan Beuscher, ODA 562, uncovering a Russian
TM46 Mine during Special Forces demining operations in Somalia
Mines are a serious ongoing problem in
. During Operation RESTORE HOPE, mine explosions killed or injured several UNITAF personnel as well as many Somalis victims. To address the mine issue, PSYOP specialists produced several different posters and published articles in the RAJO newspaper that served as public service announcements advising Somalis to be aware of mine hazards. Towards the end of the operation PSYOP also produced a coloring book detailing the first aid requirements for victims of mine related accidents; a handbill explaining how to exit a minefield safely; and posters illustrating the most common mines found in Somalia. The products were distributed to French, Belgians, Canadians, and Botswanans, and to UNITAF commanders in the Mogadishu area. Coalition forces used English language copies of the products to train their troops. Somalia
One leaflet shows a young Somali about to touch a mine. There are 23 coalition flags above and below him. Drawings of different kinds of explosives are all around the boy. Text on the front is:
Do not touch mines or explosive things. Tell someone about them.
The back depicts the boy telling two soldiers about the mines with the text:
Meaningless death. Parents please tell your children to keep away from mines and other explosive things. Tell the peace-keeping force about mines and other explosive things.
This leaflet appears in several variations with different colors. It was printed with fronts and backs in blue, red or green.
The leaflet depicts a soldier removing an explosive device in Raqqa, probably when the U.S. was fighting ISIS there. The same image and message are on the front and back of this uncoded leaflet. I also suspect it was handed out with a document to be filled out where the individual could tell the authorities where the mines were seen. The text is:
The Civil Council of Tabqa and the Internal Security Forces in Raqqa are working to remove all unexploded materials and devices. Fill out this form and submit it to the Internal Security Forces checkpoints in Raqqa to remove these materials.
My translator looking at some of the anti-ISIS leaflets thought they were not well written:
It is written in almost broken Arabic, it does not consider cultural norms and sensitivities, and at the end it is not convincing as written.
The Ministry of Health in Thailand states that at least 100 people a year are maimed or killed by landmines. With assistance from the U.S. Department of Defense, the Royal Thai Military implements and coordinates Mine Awareness Training Courses at the Thai Special Forces/PSYOPS base in Lop Buri, Thailand. The training courses are designed to enhance Thai soldiers ability to teach mine awareness programs that encourage people to adopt activities and attitudes that avoid landmine dangers. Additionally, the courses train the soldiers to effectively collect information from local communities about the presence of mine fields and unexploded ordnance.
The military mine awareness team of the first Humanitarian Mine Action Unit (HMAU) began mine awareness in April 2000, at Sra Keow province along the Thai-Cambodian border, the site of the first Thai-U.S. demining partnership. The teams continue to organize mine awareness presentations in villages and schools, distribute and post mine awareness materials and collect information on victims and suspected mine fields.
Thai soldier clearing minefield
Although the Thai military no longer uses landmines, the proliferation of landmines along the Thai-Burma border continues. New mines are often laid by Myanmar troops and Burmese refugees on the border. An estimated 100,000 mines exist across the country according to the Landmine Monitor Report 2000. As reported to the United Nations on Jan. 31, 2000, Thailand stockpiles approximately 411,625 AP mines.
Ukraine Mine Warning
In February 2022, Russia invaded the Ukraine. There have been numerous stories of Russian mines used in Ukraine, though we are yet to see any leaflets or posters about them. As the Russians pulled out of some occupied areas the returning forces found that they had heavily mined the area.
On 6 April 2022, the New York Times reported:
Russian forces in Ukraine appear to be using a new type of weapon as they step up attacks on civilian targets: an advanced land mine equipped with sensors that can detect when people walk nearby. Ukrainian bomb technicians discovered the device, called the POM-3, last week near the eastern city of Kharkiv, according to Human Rights Watch, a leading human rights group, which has reviewed photos provided by Ukraine’s military. Older types of land mines typically explode when victims accidentally step on them or disturb attached tripwires. But the POM-3’s seismic sensor picks up on approaching footsteps and can effectively distinguish between humans and animals. Humanitarian deminers and groups that campaign against the use of land mines said the POM-3 would make future efforts to locate and destroy unexploded munitions in Ukraine vastly more complicated and deadlier.
On 11 April 2022 Reuters reported:
Ukrainian authorities in the northeastern city of Kharkiv warned people not to go near what they said were landmines being dropped on the city. Lieutenant Colonel Nikolay Ovcharuk, head of the demining unit of the state emergency service, said the devices were plastic PTM-1M mines, which detonate using timers and which were widely used by Soviet forces in Afghanistan. They have self-destructing timers, he said as loudspeakers warned people not to approach the cordoned-off area where mine disposal teams were working.
The landmine can be scattered from helicopters or submunition warheads from artillery or rocket systems. After ejection from the scattering system, a pyrotechnic element arms the landmine. The landmine is 338mm long and is made of very thin flexible plastic containing approximately 1.5kg of liquid explosive (PVV-12S). A cylindrical housing at one end of the landmine contains the clockwork self-destruct timer (2-hour increments to a maximum of 24 hours).
Ukraine President Zelenskyy said added:
Russian troops left behind tens if not hundreds of thousands of dangerous objects. These are shells that did not explode, mines, tripwire mines. At least several thousand such items are disposed of daily. In the houses they seized, just on the streets, in the fields, they mined people’s property, mined cars, doors. They consciously did everything to make the return to these areas after de-occupation as dangerous as possible. Due to the actions of the Russian army, our territory is currently one of the most contaminated by mines in the world.
The small PFM-1 mines were outlawed by the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty - but Russia did not sign the law
On 9 August 2022, the Daily Mail reported that Russian forces are using deadly butterfly mines in Donbas that maim children who mistake them for toys, Britain’s Ministry of Defense warns:
Putin's forces are laying 'indiscriminate' butterfly landmines that children could confuse for toys in eastern Ukraine. Anti-personnel PFM-1 mines deployed in the Soviet Afghan War are thought to have 'maimed high numbers of children who mistook them for toys', the British MoD stated in its daily bulletin on the conflict. The MoD added: 'It is highly likely that the Soviet-era stock being used by Russia will have degraded over time and are now highly unreliable and unpredictable. This poses a threat to both the local population and humanitarian mine clearance operations.'
Note: We show this same mine in the Afghanistan section above.
United States Army 24th Infantry Division School in Cu Chi, Vietnam
Vietnam is one of the most heavily mined nations in the world. The Vietnamese fought the French for their freedom, the Japanese in WWII, then the returning French once again, and finally the United States for a decade. Since the end of those wars, the Vietnamese have fought smaller engagements with Cambodia and China. Every one of the combatants laid mines in the ground. In some cases they were for defense and protection, in others, as a terror weapon. Millions of mines are still in the ground and still taking lives and limbs.
Tank-mounted mine roller sweeps road in Vietnam in 1968
During the Vietnam War with the United States, American PSYOP leaflets mostly depicted Viet Cong mines and explosives, and the messages were in the form of anti-Communist statements telling the people of the Republic of Vietnam of the indiscriminate death and destruction of civilians and their property caused by the guerrillas and their masters in the North. Since the end of the war, leaflets and posters have been of the standard mine awareness type, warning the people of the danger of the hidden mines, identifying them, and explaining how to avoid them.
Some of the Vietnam War leaflets that mention mines are:
Joint United states Public Affairs Office (JUSPAO) number 1211 developed in May 1966. The upper part of the 8 x 10-inch handout depicts children playing with grenades found on the ground and the text:
Grenades, mines, ammunition, and explosives are not toys for children!
The lower part depicts the children being killed in an explosion and the text:
When you find any weapons or ammunition, report them immediately to the authorities. Above all, do not let children touch them.
The identical vignette and message was used on a 17 x 22-inch poster coded 1212.
The U.S. 7th PSYOP Battalion printed leaflet 7-503-71. It depicts a young boy pointing out a bomb with tripwire to a soldier. The text beneath the picture is "Many civilians have been killed by enemy explosives and booby traps. Report to military units or local authorities as soon as you discover Viet Cong mines, explosive, grenades and traps. Text on the back is:
Attention people! The communists usually set booby traps along our paths, plant mines on our highways, and place bombs in residential areas to interfere with our daily activities. They also hide their weapons and ammunition which they use to terrorize innocent civilians whenever the circumstances permit them to do so. If you discover the enemys weapons or see anything which resembles a booby trap, you must immediately inform the Army of Vietnam or allied soldiers so that they can remove them. By doing so, you can save your own life and property and those of others.
This leaflet depicts three mortar shells on the front. The text is:
These mines used by Viet Cong to kill innocent civilians were detected by patriotic heroes in the "Find Enemy Guns" campaign. They thus saved many lives of compatriots and will be rewarded.
I thought it was odd that these were called "mines," when they are in fact mortar shells. My translator responded:
I believe technical correctness was not a priority here unless the VC indeed used those mortar rounds as mines.
And of course, when I read through more reports, I found numerous cases of mortar shells being used as mines, often connected to make the explosion bigger and more deadly. In one case eight mortar shells had been connected. In many cases the connecting wires had corroded due to the constant rains and the mines did not explode.
The U.S. 7th PSYOP Battalion also printed leaflet 7-559-68. The leaflet has a photo of two types of mines that were commonly used by the Viet Cong. The text beneath the photo is:
Please inform [the government] about where the Viet Cong have laid mines. You will not only save many lives, you will also earn a reward.
The back of the leaflet is all text:
Report Viet Cong Mines: All citizens of Duc Pho County who are loyal to our national ideology will fight to destroy communist tyranny. Whenever you see communist mines [planted] on the National Highway 1, or anywhere, please report at once to the authorities, the soldiers of the Republic of Vietnam, or the Allies. You can earn a reward of at least 2500 piasters. Your patriotic duty is a practical way to save many lives from the murderous Viet Cong. Your name will be kept secret. [Signed], County Commander, Nguyen Duc Trinh.
7- 751- 68.
Later in the same year, the 7th PSYOP Battalion printed another leaflet that was almost identical. This time, the mines were depicted by a sketch rather than a photograph. Once again the text on the front was:
Please inform [the government] about where the Viet Cong have laid mines. You will not only save many lives, you will also earn a reward.
The back of the leaflet is all text:
Attention Citizens: Recently the Viet Cong have planted many mines in your area. We urgently ask you once again to report the locations of mines and explosives to the authorities and the Allies. Those mines and explosives should be destroyed before they cause injury and death to our citizens. Acting on our request will save you and your family and is your civic duty as a citizen of the country. You will also be rewarded accordingly. Have the courage to report. Please report on those mines and explosives now.
The Viet Cong did not only place mines in the ground. They sometimes placed them in water, as this leaflet warns. This leaflet was requested by the Coast Guard who wanted the people to point out the mines to them so they could be disabled. The text on the front is:
THE VIET CONG’S DANGEROUS EXPLOSIVE
This is a buoyant mine, used by the communists. This is the type of mine that killed 46 people at Dong Ha River on 3 July 1970.
The text on the back is:
On 3 July 1970, more than 46 of your neighbors were killed needlessly on the Dong Ha River by the so-called “Liberators.” You witnessed it for yourself. Now, you should denounce these blood-thirsty communists. You should report immediately dangerous weapons or anything you suspect may cause death to the people or the troops of the Government of Vietnam.
This 7th PSYOP Battalion handout warned the Vietnamese not to pick up unexploded M-79 grenade rounds. The text on the front is:
An M-79 round (approximately 7.5 centimeters long) is shown near a cigarette pack
The text on the back is:
When you see an unexploded M-79 rounds, do not pick them up. They may explode at any time and cause a fatality. You should lead Vietnamese and Allied soldiers to recover them. You will be rewarded if you lead them to the location of the M-79 rounds. Those who take those rounds to the soldiers will not be rewarded.
Another leaflet is coded CC-121-70. It shows members of a North Vietnamese Army unit being killed in a mine field. The text is:
To members in NVA Engineer Company and 18B Regiment. Will you be next?
Text on the back is:
In the past few days, many of your comrades have been killed by mines and booby traps. Your whole area is covered with explosives and it is unsafe for you to go anywhere. One way to return safely to your family in the North is to surrender to be a POW and await repatriation at the end of the war in the safety and relative comfort of a POW camp. You will be treated with honor and dignity and you can write and receive mail from your family. Another way to do this is to take advantage of the Chieu Hoi program. If you rally you will be well treated and the Government of
will help you to resettle in the South. Vietnam
Guide to Selected Viet Cong Equipment and Explosive Devices
The United States printed several booklets and manuals for its troops in Vietnam to help them identify and disable mines. The above 97-page booklet was printed by the Department of the Army in May 1966.
Viet Cong booby trap made with a wired rigged grenade
Betel Box Mine
Chapters include: Hand grenades, Antipersonnel mine, Betel box mine, Turtle mine, and a number of various traps used by the Guerrillas, etc.
VC-NVA EMPLOYMENT OF MINES AND BOBBY TRAPS
This 1970 Tech Intel Branch Combined Intelligence Center, Vietnam booklet was also made into a hardback book of over 200 pages. It contains chapters on U.S. and Soviet Fuses, VC Firing Devices, U.S. Mines and Soviet mines, Chinese and Viet Cong mines, Shaped Charges, etc.
Firewood Booby Trap
In the field soldiers always want to start a small fire to heat their C-Rations. The Viet Cong sometimes prepared a booby trap where a piece of tempting wood was tied to an explosive under the ground. Other times the same general method would be used to booby trap the things that Americans craved as souvenirs; an AK-47, A Viet Cong pith helmet or belt buckle, and most wanted, a nice mint VC flag.
Viet Cong Flag Booby Trap
The most wanted souvenir by American troops. This is the central “Star” portion of a Viet Cong flag. Note that the star does not point straight up, but instead now points straight down. This is a warning for the Viet Cong to “stay away – this is bobby trapped.” The flag would be left where it could be found by American troops. At a corner of the flag a filament would be used to attach the flag to a grenade.
Tips on VC/NVA Mines and Booby Traps
Often the Army prepared small cards which were issued to soldiers to help them survive or better understand U.S. policy. I have a number of such cards issued to the soldiers by various commands. The above 1967 card was meant to be issued to all troops to warn them about the danger of mines and booby traps.
Mines and Booby Traps used by the Viet Cong in South Vietnam
This 170-page booklet was printed in November 1965 to save lives and preserve equipment. Mines and booby traps have exacted a heavy toll of lives and property in Vietnam. Many of these casualties could have been prevented through proper care and caution based on a knowledge of such devices and the techniques of their employment.
The Viet Cong knew that Americans love their souvenirs, so items such as flags, weapons, binoculars, etc., were often bobby-trapped to injure or kill the soldier who foolishly picked up something to keep or send home. Perhaps the most interesting device in this booklet was the cigarette lighter used as an assassination device. I will not show it because it just looks like a standard lighter. The text explains:
This device has the outward appearance of a common lighter sold commercially in the Republic of Vietnam. The explosive device is located in the fluid compartment and is composed of a detonator and explosive charge. The detonator is cotton saturated with flammable powders and is placed on the same level as the flint. The explosive is below it in the fluid compartment. The device is detonated when the flint is struck, causing the detonator to ignite and set off the explosive charge. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DISARM THIS DEVICE. Destroy it in place or notify explosive ordnance disposal personnel.
The Explosive Ordnance Reconnaissance Handbook
This 38-page handbook (with numerous addendums) was issued by MACV in 1966 to help soldiers protect themselves against various explosives and mines. Each type of explosive device is illustrated and the disarming of each is discussed in some detail.
Hollow Bamboo Mine
One of the best general knowledge booklets printed for American troops was the Handbook for U.S. Forces in Vietnam published by the Military Assistance Command in Vietnam. This 233-page booklet discusses everything the soldier needs to survive. There is an 18-page section on bobby-traps and a 22-page section on mines. The illustrations are extremely detailed, and I depict one above.
The Vietnamese Train their Soldiers
This cartoon sheet was made and distributed by the Army of South Vietnam to educate their soldiers on various booby traps used by the Viet Cong. An ARVN squad has entered a small hut and some do it wisely and some unwisely. The text at the top-left of the picture is Station V and the text on the board on the main gate entrance is: Viet Cong Village.
The soldier at the left studies the situation and says:
With careful observation, we can find the trip wires.
A soldier inside sees a buddy set off a mine and says:
I told you. You must observe the gate carefully in case of trip wire. You weren't careful enough, and you got blown up.
A soldier chases a chicken and steps on a mine at the middle right. He says:
Because I wanted to get that chicken.
The soldier by the gate inspects it carefully and says:
I knew it. There is a trap just inside the gate. A punji-stick trap.
Marine Punji Stick Leaflet
This leaflet is uncoded so we know it is very early in the war. The front depicts a boot with small Communist arrows coming up at it and being deflected. I had not a clue what this one was about until it was translated. It turns out to be requested by the Marines to tell the Viet Cong that their punji stick traps did not work. It was a good effort, but the punji sticks caused a lot of damage and could be made for nothing; just a sharp knife and a tree branch. It was a very cost-effective way to take Americans out of the war. The text is:
All US Marines wear a special type of shoe to counter Viet Cong punji traps.No matter how sharp the punji stake is, it cannot penetrate these shoes.
We had had to treat countless children who have been injured by VC punji stakes at our hospitals and medical aid stations. Many children have been hurt so badly that they will be crippled for the rest of their lives.
Why haven't the Viet Cong told the people that their punji traps are not effective against the American Marines and that they only hurt innocent children?
Village blacksmiths help the Viet Cong produce iron punji sticks in Quang Ngai province in December 1965. The iron punji sticks were usually crudely forged by village blacksmiths, and then sharpened by local guerrillas who drove them through a piece of wood. They could be “poisoned” as desired by dipping them in concoctions of human or water buffalo urines and fecal matter. They were buried along paths to make punji traps, covered by leaves or bamboo with soil above.
Viet Cong Women lay Mines
We have shown so many attempts by the Americans to safeguard innocent civilians against death and mutilation by mine. I thought it would be interesting to show the readers a Communist Chinese leaflet that praises the Viet Cong who place those same mines in the ground. This leaflet was based on an original woodcut painting. The image is from a set of leaflets called Letters from the South celebrating the struggle of the Vietnamese people against the United States. It was produced by the People's Fine Arts publishing house, Chinese Artists Association Sichuan branch, May 1965.
Jim Ellis shows a photo he took during a patrol in the Long Hai hills in February 1970. You can clearly see the imprint of his right boot just millimeters from the perfectly round pressure pad of an M16 landmine (circled). Nothing is perfectly round in nature so the pad was just visible to his trained eye.
Operation Jeb Stuart Ap My Thanh, Vietnam
On 9 March 1968, Sergeant First Class Floyd R. Adkins of the 1st Cavalry Division attempts to disarm a Viet Cong booby trap during the search of a village. The booby trap was made from a 41 mm mortar round and a one quart can filled with explosives.
U.S. Army Photograph
Sneaky Viet Cong Mines
Combat Intelligence Lessons
The Confidential report Combat Intelligence Lessons was printed from about 1968 to 1971 and adds:
Ever heard of the U.S. M1A1 anti-tank mine? Charlie has and takes advantage of this as part of his psychological warfare campaign against friendly troops and civilians. Ole Charlie takes his Chinese Communist Anti-Tank Mine Number 8 and stencils "US M1A1 Anti-Tank Mine, 1943" on it before planting them where he knows they will be a nuisance. The people who get hurt blame the US troops for carelessness, or worse, and Charlie has another sympathizer or two. When you think of it, it is clever, and the nomenclature has a good all-American sound but ask your intelligence officer. If he's on the ball he'll tell you that the reported US M1A1 Anti-Tank Mine, 1943 may be a Chicom Anti-Tank Mine Number 8. US intelligence personnel at all echelons should be sufficiently familiar with U.S. as well as enemy materiel to permit them to frustrate such psychological warfare attempts as the falsely labeled anti-tank mine.
An additional Hazard in Smoking. In Kien Giang Province, the VC are trying to lend a further degree of sophistication to their methods. Plastic cigarette cases bearing the Phillip Morris brand name and Zippo lighters are the newest gift booby traps presented by the VC. Both cigarette case and lighter are filled with plastic explosive in the form of a shaped charge with metal fragments for shrapnel, A hole is left in the center of each charge for placement of an acid fuse. The time delay of the fuse varies between 18 and 32 minutes for the cigarette case and 9 and 12 minutes for the lighter.
Mine Warning Posters
These posters were apparently used by the United States during the late 1960s and early 1970s to teach trainees in Basic Training about various mines and booby traps found in Vietnam. These are about 30 inches in width and on particle board.
Americans are great souvenir collectors, going all the way back to WWII when they prized the Japanese meatball flag and the German Luger pistol. Here the Viet Cong have left one of the highly valued flags at the scene of a battle hoping that some American will try to pull it out of the ground and set off an explosion.
This poster shows a Viet Nam booby trap where sharpened stakes are pulled back on a bamboo tree stem that when released will hit the target with great force. These pointed sticks were also used as dead-falls and placed in holes and called punji stakes. Something similar to this trap, but placed high in a tree was depicted in the movie The Green Berets.
Wake up!!...and Live!!
This leaflet is more about situational awareness than a mechanical booby trap. An American squad is crossing over a Vietnam rice paddy and nobody has noticed a cleverly camouflaged hole where a Viet Cong has popped up and is about to fire on the Americans. One veteran said that this image was a mural on his basic training barracks wall in 1985. The text was changed to Stay alert, Stay alive.
Beware of Booby Traps!
This poster could have many meanings. First of all, there is a beautiful Vietnamese girl who might offer sex for military information. Her hand is behind her back. That implies she could have a pistol or a knife and be about to attack the soldier. There is a Chieu Hoi sign on the wall which might indicate that she was a Viet Cong who defected and is now a double agent. Finally, there is always the implied threat that she has a venereal disease and can infect and disable the trooper. This poster works on many levels.
Australian PSYOP in Vietnam
The Australians were allies of the South Vietnamese and Americans in Vietnam. The produced a great number of leaflets mentioning mines and explosives.
This leaflet shows the same explosion in bright red ink on the front and the back. It was produced by the 1st Psychological Operations Unit on 7 July 1970. The front has added text:
Many people, soldiers and civilians, have been killed or wounded by mines. Parents - tell your children not to play with strange metal objects. Report anything that could be a mine to GVN or Allied authorities. This could save your life or the lives of your children. Rewards are paid for information about mines. The identity of the people will be kept a secret.
This leaflet depicts an explosion very similar to the one above on the front, but with different text:
Explosives! Many people, soldiers and civilians, have been killed or wounded by explosions. Parents tell your children not to play with strange objects. If you see this object, report its location to the Government of Vietnam or Allied authorities. Save your children from death.
Four different versions of this leaflet were prepared on 13 April 1971. Each one had a different kind of explosive on the back. The number of leaflets prepared is unknown, but we know they were handed out. The text is:
This object can kill
The front is the same in each but the backs are different photographs of mines: an American M16A1 antipersonnel mine, 22 hand grenades, 12 explosive shells, and a Chinese anti-tank mine.
This leaflet offers Money for Mines and was printed 14 April 1971. The text in Vietnamese and English is:
MONEY FOR MINES
The Australian Forces will reward you when information is given to them about the location of mines. Take this leaflet to the Australian Forces and they will go with you to the location of the mine. You will be rewarded after the mine has been located and destroyed.
This leaflet was printed in 1971 and disseminated by hand. On the front it depicts the symbol for Mines and the text:
THIS AREA MAY CONTAIN MINES
The back depicts a bulldozer in the field apparently clearing mines and the text:
Mine clearing teams recover most mines when a minefield is cleared. Not all mines can be recovered. Do not enter these areas. Any strange objects should be reported to Government of Vietnam officials.
Marine Civil Action Program (CAP) leaflet
This last leaflet is interesting because it was prepared by a Marine Civil Action Program (CAP) unit in the field and is written in both Vietnamese and English. It depicts a father carrying his son out of the tall grass in the foreground and children stepping on a mine in the background. Various explosives and even an animal trap are pictured along the bottom of the leaflet. The Vietnamese message tells the reader to point out any booby-traps to the Americans, while the English-language text is:
The bearer of this message is trying to tell you where a mine or booby trap is located. If he does so, the USMC will reward him.
The White House fact sheet on
Humanitarian Demining in United States , Vietnam says, November 18, 2000 is among the countries most severely affected by landmines and unexploded ordnance. There are an estimated 3.5 million landmines left over from various conflicts. Many of these mines are homemade mines from recycled unexploded ordnance (UXO). There are about 300,000 tons of UXO in Vietnam . The Vietnamese have had an ongoing demining and UXO program; However, as a result of increased dialogue on this and other issues, the Vietnamese joined the Vietnam , in June of 2000, in a Humanitarian Demining program. United States
According to a survey carried out by the Vietnamese Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs in 1998, some 38,300 people had been killed and 64,000 injured since the Vietnam War ended in 1975. In 2000, over $1.7 million was contributed to
for the start up of a humanitarian demining center, in addition to demining and mine awareness equipment. In 2001, the Vietnam allocated more than $2 million to support mine action in United States Vietnam
military still trains today using mine awareness leaflets. An April 2005 article tells of the U.S. Army Reserves 7th Psychological Operations Group who will deploy to U.S. in June 2005, training to persuade local civilians to beware of explosives. Iraq
Jessica Portner, writing for the Knight Ridder Newspapers says in part:
Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Logan Griffith, wearing fatigues and armed with a fake rifle, passed out leaflets to Iraqi villagers with photos of exploding limbs to warn them about land mines. Down a dirt road, a fellow soldier was telling the town's mayor through an Arabic interpreter that the insurgents - and not the American soldiers - were their enemy. The village actually was a cluster of old buildings on the decommissioned
Fort Ordin The Iraqis were actors, some of them Iraqi immigrants, others from the military's Defense Language Institute down the road. And the 52 Reserve soldiers, who were real, were training for the interpersonal and salesmanship skills they'll need when they get to the real Monterey County, Calif. and mingle with real townspeople. Griffith's foray into the village involved sounds of Arabic prayers and a reading of the Koran blasting from loudspeakers, mobs of civilians shouting "Give me some cash" while others defended the soldiers and shouted "Give them a chance." Iraq
Iraq, jets have flown over Fallujah, depositing more than a million handbills urging the city's insurgents not to fight. Iraqi police officers, meanwhile, passed out leaflets featuring graphic pictures of injured Iraqi children. U.S.
The African Pouched Rat
In 2021, the website Together we Served published an article titled “Landmines in Vietnam.” This story told of a new method of Landmines detection using rats. The article says in part:
Typically, clearing a minefield involves men in body armor walking in very precise lines with metal detectors. A new method of bomb detection using rats, however, is flipping this process on its head. A Belgian Non-Governmental Organization called APOPO has developed a way to train African pouched rats to sniff out bombs quickly and safely. They used rats because they have an incredibly fine-tuned sense of smell and a long lifespan (8-9 years) to yield returns on the nine months of training they undergo. Not one has died in the line of duty since the program started in 1997.
The average mine requires 5 kilograms (roughly 11 pounds) of weight to trigger an explosion, but even the biggest of these rats are only around 1.5 kilograms (3.3 pounds).
Since they’re trained to sniff out explosives exclusively, they aren’t distracted by other metal objects the way human minesweepers are. They can effectively search 200 square meters in less than 20 minutes. A team of humans would need around 25 hours to do the same job. The rats are “paid” in avocados, peanuts, bananas, and other healthy treats. After about 4-5 years on the job (or whenever they lose interest in working), they’re allowed to retire.
This article will never be finished. There are over 30 nations enrolled in the
demining initiative. Other nations face the problems on their own. We arbitrarily end the article here, but will add more in the future when PSYOP makes new and innovative inroads into the problem. U.S.
As always, should any readers care to comment, or share information about any mine-awareness project that they have worked on, we encourage them to write to the author at email@example.com