U.S. Hires Explosive Disposal Companies to Clean Libya
War is a dirty business, and clean-up is often a dangerous job, especially when it involves clearing explosives. Unexploded ordnance (UXO) claim lives and limbs of civilians around the world, and there are organizations out there that try to prevent those accidental deaths and dismemberments in the wake of war.In Libya, there is a specific concern about terrorists scavenging weapons, and the U.S. is hiring two organizations that normally clear these sorts of weapons primarily for the safety of civilians, not the prevention of acts of terrorism. British-based Mines Advisory Group(MAG) and Swiss Foundation for Mine Action are being contracted to deal with the problem of abandoned weaponry in Libya. Neither organization has included their work in Libya on their websites, but both list various countries throughout the world where they are currently or have previously cleared out the remainders of weaponry after conflicts. The U.S. is primarily concerned with man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS,) and is determined to keep them out of the hands of potential terrorists. Opposition leaders in Libya have been told that future assistance may hinge upon their cooperation in gathering these weapons before they end up in the wrong hands.
While the British and Swiss organizations will not be able to do anything about MANPADS currently held by Gaddafi, they will be collecting any that are left abandoned in the Libyan countryside. MAG has already found and destroyed a couple of these weapons, but do not think they will find many more, due to their high value. Scavengers would take them first. In spite of the fact that many of these weapons are old Russian made missiles that may not even work, it is still necessary to have professionals deal with their disposal. While MAG only has 3 people on the ground in Libya now, there are plans to expand to as many as 20 workers, thanks to the U.S. contract. These operations are funded through the end of this year, but it is unclear whether or not the U.S. will continue funding this work beyond that point.