Battle Area Clearance (BAC)

  • Version
    Ed. 1, Amendment 4
  • Latest amendment
    29 Jan 2020

It is accepted that despite ammunition procurement and production quality controls, on the battlefield, some munitions do not always work as intended. Historically, military operational Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) planning has worked against a prediction of a 10% failure rate from munitions fired. However recent estimates of failed cluster munitions have indicated that failure rates of up to 30% - 50% can be expected.1 Therefore, in situations where there has been high ammunition usage rates the resulting hazards from Explosive Remnants of War (ERW), including unexploded sub-munitions, can be extensive across former battle areas. In addition, in almost all post-conflict environments, there have been undesired explosive events in ammunition storage facilities because of inadequate and/or inappropriate munition management. As a result, ERW have been dispersed and scattered over a large area around the storage facility.

The hazard or risk from ERW will vary according to the munition type and a number of variable factors associated with their release, firing or arming systems. Therefore, if the condition of an item of UXO cannot be established, the principle is to treat each item as dangerous and to destroy them in situ. The availability of technical information can help considerably with risk and munition hazard assessments and decisions about whether an item is safe, or not, to move.

Lessons have been drawn from operations in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Lao PDR and Lebanon to help provide guidance on structuring this IMAS. While it is recognised that the need for operational ERW clearance activity is most intense in the short-term period following cessation of hostilities, a long-term clearance and response capability may need to established and maintained over many years.

The target of humanitarian demining is the identification and removal or destruction of all mine and ERW hazards from a specified area to a specified depth to ensure the land is safe for land users. In a war or conflict many areas may be fought over but not mined and these former battle areas may contain hazards from ERW. The ERW may then pose a humanitarian hazard and constrain development. Clearance of former battle areas differs from mine clearance but should still be conducted in a planned and systematic way to ensure safe access and land use.

Battle Area Clearance (BAC) is the systematic and controlled clearance of hazardous areas where the risk is known not to include mines.

As for all clearance operations, the beneficiaries of released land through BAC must be confident that the cleared land is safe for their use. This requires management systems and clearance procedures, which are appropriate, effective, efficient and safe. Planning for BAC should consider national and local provincial priorities. In addition, the local community should also receive regular briefings and explanations during the clearance operation as this acts as a very effective confidence building measure. A Community Liaison function should be a routine activity incorporated with operations.

This standard builds on the two-stage approach covered in IMAS 09.10 Stage 1, Quality Assurance (QA), involves the accreditation and monitoring of the demining organisation before and during the clearance process. Stage 2, Quality Control (QC), relates to the inspection of safe cleared land before it is formally released to the beneficiary for use.

This combined application of QA (before and during the clearance process) with post-clearance QC will contribute to achieving an acceptable level of confidence that the land is safe for its intended use. The quality of clearance must be acceptable to both the National Mine Action Authority (NMAA) and future land users.

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