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Pentagon Eases Restrictions on Cluster Munitions

Ryan Boone, an analyst at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, says the policy revision mostly keeps with the 2008 memo, including the dud rate of 1% or lower, but widens the scope by retaining existing inventory, permitting their use after 2018. It also allows the use of modern techniques for disabling submunitions and reducing potential harm to noncombatants. To not change course would result in a “self-imposed capability gap,” he says.

“It’s a stop-gap measure, buying time for the Army and other services to develop and field more compliant counters to some of the capabilities now being fielded by Russia and others,” Boone explains. “The new measures correct what was perhaps an overly stringent previous interpretation of UXO: that anything left behind that did not explode would count as UXO. This ignored technologies that could disarm the bomb or otherwise render it inert, even if it did not explode.”

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