Experts say the U.S. military has not used the deadly and obsolete weapons in a new theater of operation since 1991.
Donald Trump on Friday rolled back restrictions on the use of landmines by the U.S. military in the latest in a series of actions reversing President Barack Obama's legacy.
In 2014, Obama issued a directive instructing the military to no longer "produce or otherwise acquire any anti-personnel landmines."
In a statement on Friday, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said Trump had specifically canceled "the Obama Administration's policy to prohibit United States military forces from employing anti-personnel landmines outside of the Korean Peninsula."
Grisham claimed that the rollback was part of Trump's "steadfast commitment to ensuring our forces are able to defend against any and all threats."
"President Trump is rebuilding our military, and it is stronger than ever," she said. "The President will continue to support and equip our troops so that they will forever remain the greatest fighting force in the world."
The release did not cite evidence to support the administration's assertion that the policy is needed to protect the military. In fact, the evidence shows that the military doesn't need the weapons.
"The United States has not used landmines in a new theater of military operation for nearly 30 years — since 1991 — yet it continues to stockpile millions of these obsolete weapons," Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association told Vox on Thursday.
Landmines pose a threat mostly to civilian populations. Landmine Monitor, a non-government organization, has reported that there were more than 130,000 casualties caused by landmines between 1999-2018. As CNN notes, the majority of those killed were civilians.
The lethality of landmines led to the 1997 Ottawa Convention, an international agreement banning the use, stockpiling, and production of anti-personnel landmines.
Since taking over the presidency, Trump has put in place several directives designed to undo work accomplished by his predecessor.
Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accords despite the ongoing crisis of climate change. He has claimed that climate change is a hoax by the Chinese government, despite mountains of data disproving his conspiracy.
Trump also walked away from the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018, prompting Iran to announce it would move forward on enriching uranium, increasing tensions in the region and danger for American allies like Israel.
That same month, the Trump administration also announced plans to allow hunters to bait brown bears with food as well as shoot and kill defenseless mother bears and their cubs hibernating in their dens. The decision reversed an Obama-era rul prohibiting the practice.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.