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Cluster Munition Remnants

– methods of survey and clearance

Table of

Contents Introduction 3 Political Framework 4 Practical implementation of Article 4 5 Article 4 Completion 6 Managing residual risk 8 Broad features of different hazards 9 Features of a cluster munition strike 10 Probable burial depth of CMR 12 Principal land release phases 14 Desk Assessment 15 Non-technical survey 16 Technical survey 17 Clearance 18 Fadeout principles 19 The SE Asia approach 20 Stages of CMRS 22 Information Management 28

Photo front page: Š Werner Anderson


NPA believes that a well-managed, efficient, and targeted Cluster munition Remnants (CMR) response that focuses on efficient survey and clearance methodology can free, almost all affected States and territories from the threat posed by CMR in years and not decades.

Norwegian People´s Aid (NPA) has been one of the principal international NGOs in landmine related activities over the past two decades. NPA also provides systematic reflection on how to address the problem of CMR. The principles of land release have been tailored towards the distinctiveness of CMR contamination to form the most effective and targeted response. Many areas that would have been cleared in the past can now be confidently released through non-technical and technical survey. Bombing data has proven fairly accurate in some countries while less accurate or even non-existant in others. Other country variables include type and age of cluster munitions, deployment methods, topography, vegetation and ground conditions. It is thus not possible to develop a single response that would work in all countries. Generic survey and land release principles have thus been adapted to suit the local context in each country.

This paper explains the generic make-up of CMR contamination and advocates a response that NPA considers efficient and appropriate and in accordance with the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM). NPA has in its work effort targeted developing the most efficient operational methods for CMR survey and land release. A particular emphasis has been put on explaining NPA's CMR response in SE Asia. This region faces the worst CMR contamination in the world. Seminal work on research and conceptual development has been required to develop the most efficient response that can help resolve the problem in the short or medium term.

CMR – methods of survey and clearance



Foto: © Werner Anderson


The CCM obligates States Parties to identify and clear all contaminated land under their jurisdiction or control within 10 years. NPA believes that all but a few should be able to meet that obligation.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions entered into force as binding international law on 1 August 2010. As of August 2013, there were 112 signatories and 83 States parties to it. Each State is obliged to clear and destroy all unexploded submunitions located in areas under its jurisdiction or control as soon as possible, but not later than 10 years after becoming a party to the Convention. If unable to complete clearance in time, a State may request an extension of the deadline for periods of up to five years.

• take “all feasible steps” to perimeter-mark, monitor, and fence affected areas; • conduct risk reduction education to ensure awareness among civilians living in or around CMR contaminated areas; • take steps to mobilize the necessary resources (at the national and international levels); and • develop a national plan, building upon existing structures, experiences, and methodologies.

The current problem of cluster munition remnants (CMR) is limited to fewer than 40 countries (23 with confirmed contamination and 13 in which contamination is suspected but not yet confirmed: Most of these countries are only marginally contaminated and the problem can thus be addressed in only a few years or even months with an effective and targeted response. In seeking to fulfil their clearance and destruction obligations, affected States Parties are required to:

In doing so, affected States Parties are required to “take into account international standards, including International Mine Action Standards (IMAS).”

• survey, assess, and record all evidence of the threat, making every effort to identify all contaminated areas under their jurisdiction or control; • assess and prioritize needs for marking, protection of civilians, clearance, and destruction;


CMR – methods of survey and clearance

Reporting obligations under Article 7 of the Convention on Cluster Munitions are more extensive than those contained in the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC). Affected states must report on the size and location of contaminated and cleared areas including number of destroyed explosive items. Additionally, they must report disaggregated clearance statistics for each type of cleared and destroyed unexploded CMR, including the precise type and number of dispensers, explosive submunitions and explosive bomblets destroyed.

Practical implementation of

Article 4 If all State Parties to the CCM are to be successful in clearing and destroying all CMR in time, then the implementation needs to follow a land release approach with strong focus on information management.

A number of key challenges to clearance and destruction of CMR need to be addressed; however, as a result of lessons learned from a decade of implementing the APMBC, these challenges are both familiar and well-known. Preconditions for success include good and appropriate baseline knowledge about the threat through appropriate survey methods, information management (IM), and national ownership. There are very specific differences between CMR and landmines. Landmines are victim activated by design while CMR is an unwelcome consequence of CM that has failed to detonate on impact as designed. CMR are thus typically (but not always) less sensitive to impact than landmines and thus there is an opportunity to conduct CMR survey that produces a more accurate description of the problem. NPA recommends that State Parties establish Confirmed Hazardous Areas (CHAs) defined from evidence-based non-technical and technical survey as the true measure of the scope of the CMR problem and avoid relying on inflated Suspected Hazardous Areas (SHAs) that result in a considerable waste of follow-on clearance response. There is typically confusion about the difference between Suspected Hazardous Area (SHA) and Confirmed Hazardous Area (CHA). SHA is often incorrectly presented as a measure of the scope of the problem; this inflates the CMR problem and increases the costs of the clearance response. NPA strongly recommends that SHA, if recorded at all, is considered as a target for where contamination

may be present and where a more detailed evidencebased survey process is required to identify the problem and record it as CHA. The advantage is that the onus is on quality survey before identifying and quantifying the problem. In most cases, this will identify the requirement for more extensive evidence-based survey before resources are committed to clear smaller and well-defined areas with CMR contamination. SHA should be understood as areas where evidence-based survey must be undertaken as a minimum in order to comply with Article 2.11 in CCM. In some countries there is acceptance for full avoidance of using the term and this has proven useful. A good practice is that States and demining operators report the size and location of cancelled SHA and released CHA. CHA where only surface clearance of unexploded submunitions has been undertaken should normally not be reported as released. This type of clearance may be considered risk reduction. While progress on surface clearance should be reported, it must be clarified which areas will require further mine action for final release. This is vital to avoid “double-reporting” of released land. The general rule is that areas should not be released from only surface clearance but surface-cleared areas will occasionally be made publically accessible for limited use (grazing, walking etc) dependent on the perceived residual risk.

CMR – methods of survey and clearance


Article 4

Foto: © Werner Anderson


On what basis can states declare compliance with Article 4? State Parties need to comply with two main obligations, one that refers to finding and identifying contaminated areas and the other that requires subsequent clearance of all contaminated areas and destruction of the items found.

The legal articles specifying the obligations are: • Article 2.11 (definition of cluster munition contaminated areas) • Article 4.2(a) (obligation to survey and record cluster munition contaminated areas) • Article 4.2(d) (obligation to clear and destroy all cluster munition remnants in areas under the State’s jurisdiction or control)


CMR – methods of survey and clearance

These articles show that the treaty essentially wants to safeguard two interlinked processes: • An efficient and accurate process to identify all CMR contaminated areas in a country • A fast process to release all areas that are confirmed to be CMR contaminated

Failure to address the first of the two requirements above impedes the success of the latter. There also seems to be a bigger struggle to identify which areas will need to be released than defining the actual land release process. High focus on survey is a treaty obligation in addition to being a common sense operational approach. The essence of the Convention is to promote a more accurate process of identifying CMR contaminated areas while also promoting efficient subsequent release of them. The use of appropriate terminology that supports this goal is also essential. Failure to prioritise survey before and above clearance may have unfortunate consequences: • Too little effort to identify all CMR contaminated areas compels reporting of a bigger problem than actually exists • This has a major negative impact on how countries attempt to resolve the problem operationally • Response plans and extension requests may end up with major flaws, especially in terms of identifying the required resources and funding to resolve the problem • Operationally, countries may fail to distinguish between areas that need a more detailed survey and areas that need to be released by clearance. Scarce mine action resources are typically used in areas that have not been adequately surveyed. Many of these areas could have been identified as CMR free if a good CMRS had been prioritised • Committing resources in contamination free areas stalls truly contaminated areas from being identified and released. The lifespan of these areas is prolonged and State Parties may end up being further away from complying with the treaty at a higher cost

NPA’s approach to CMR survey is that it is, in most cases, possible to define contaminated areas more accurately than what is typically the case when recording minefields. The focus should thus be on validity and relevance of evidence and suspicion of CMR should be established on nothing less than physical evidence of CMR. This is especially important in countries with old contamination and where other information (like bombing data) may be unreliable and inaccurate. Delineation of CHAs should be narrow and only based on legitimate evidence. A major problem in mine action over the last 20 years has been that suspicion, or even confirmation of contamination has been defined to liberally, with the result that follow-on activities become ineffective and the entire sector is at risk of being immobilized by the size of the suspected problem. While NPA urges for confirmed hazardous areas to be defined narrowly, no area should be exempt from clearance if there is real evidence of CMR following evidence-based survey, regardless of impact.

CMR – methods of survey and clearance



residual risk To avoid exaggerating the scope of a country’s contamination problem, accurate CHAs must be recorded. The emphasis must be on confirmed evidence of CMR as opposed to liberal recording of large areas with unspecified residual risk. Residual risk increases in large unpopulated areas where bombing data are flawed and information about contamination is scarce despite reasonable survey efforts to identify evidence of it. In the absence of a system to record and manage such increased residual risk, CHAs are at risk of considerable inflation because survey teams typically decline to disregard residual risk. Instead they tend to integrate these extra areas into CHAs in order to escape potential liability conflicts. Without a separate system to record and manage land containing residual risk of mines, CMR, and ERW it is impossible to place reasonable restrictions on its use or to outline the risk reduction efforts required should that use change. The absence of such a system also counteracts efforts to produce an accurate CHA baseline and undermines efficient follow-on land release activities. Areas where a perceived increased residual risk remains despite conducting evidence-based survey that revealed no actual evidence of contamination may be recorded as Areas With Restrictions (AWR). In countries that have signed the CCM, a precondition for recording AWR should be that every effort has actually been made to conduct evidencebased survey of the area, that no actual evidence of CMR was found and that reasonable additional survey efforts would likely not increase the survey resolution.


CMR – methods of survey and clearance

It may be prudent to permit recording of temporary AWR during a baseline survey. Follow-on TS and clearance in neighbouring CHAs may come years after the baseline survey, possibly providing additional information, which could justify lifting these restrictions. The principle benefit of recording temporary AWR is in promoting accurate recording of CHAs while still allowing decision makers to prevent use of adjacent land until they have had the opportunity to conduct TS and survey of the CHAs which may resolve any remaining concerns linked to perceived increased residual risk and liability. Lifting of remaining restrictions is a reactive response requirement, similar to schemes that have e.g. been implemented throughout Europe in order to manage residual risk of mines, CMR and other ERW from WW2.

Broad features of

different hazards Landmines are typically laid in patterns or clusters in areas of strategic military importance. These patterns may be difficult to recognise after years of conflict which typically causes excess clearance of mine free land. Despite difficulties in identifying patterns of mine contamination long after conflict has ended, such patterns would likely have existed shortly after the mines were originally laid. CMR are always found in cluster strike zones. CM contamination will always have a footprint, but informal or emergency clearance without careful recording of the individual CMR that were removed may have distorted it. Multiple overlapping footprints may further prevent a proper definition of each of the footprints. The number of each footprint in a strike zone will depend on factors like the type and state of the munition used, soil conditions, such as vegetation, terrain fluctuations and methods of delivery. Unlike mines, all CMR contain a high amount of metal.

UXO typically integrate with CMR or landmines and are often fairly randomly distributed. It occasionally makes sense to talk about footprints of UXO (areas around well defined targets) while the norm is that any part of a typical battlefield could be contaminated with UXO. Like CMR, all UXO will have a high metal content and can thus easily be detected with metal detecting systems. That said, some UXO have speared deep into the ground on impact and are thus buried too deep for metal detection at surface level.

CMR – methods of survey and clearance


Features of a

cluster munition strike A cluster bomb is a small explosive sub-munition that is delivered to its target in a large canister or shell. Submunitions have anti-personnel fragmentation features which can send hundreds of shards of steel at ballistic speeds over a wide area, or shaped charges which can penetrate heavy armour. Many cluster bomb canisters carry hundreds of sub-munitions. A drop of several canisters can easily create vast areas contaminated with CMR. Systems that deliver CM include artillery and air delivered systems. Artillery delivered systems include mortar systems, howitzers (mainly 155mm calibre) and rocket systems (ranging from 122mm to 300mm calibre). Air delivered

cluster munitions include aircraft dispensers launched from fixtures attached to the bottom side of the wings or bomblets ejected directly from dispensers fixed to the aircraft. The latter reduces the accuracy compared to the former. Other systems include direct fire systems, although these are rare and not likely used in any country where NPA operates. Mortar systems deliver a limited number of bomblets, typically ranging from a few to around 50. Ground rocket systems may carry from 39 to 950 bomblets while Howitzer delivered systems will contain between 15 and 120 bomblets. Aircraft launched cluster bombs may contain several thousand bomblets per container.

Figure is indicative to a default footprint for a small group of CM delivered by specific bomb systems


CMR – methods of survey and clearance

The footprint is the area covered by the sub-munitions when they hit the ground. The size is determined by a variety of factors, including weapon design, altitude at which the dispenser opens, the sub-munitions spin rate, wind, and slope of the ground on which the bomblets fall. Given the many variables, footprints vary considerably in size and shape. The most obvious factor that influences the accuracy of the strike (proximity to target point) is the wind. Other factors will have a higher impact on dispersal and thus the size and shape of the created footprint. For instance the number of bomblets may to some degree determine the size of the footprint. A footprint from one bomb will normally not exceed a length of 300m and a width of 200m.

Weapon system


The size of footprints that will occur under homogeneous conditions varies between different CM systems. Table 11 shows standard footprint sizes from some common CM systems and the density of hits from bomblets. The same bomblets may be delivered by different cluster bomb systems, which will give different numbers. Statistical data on failure rates can additionally be used to deduce an expected number of CMR from individual or multiple strikes in an area.


Footprint (m2)

Source: FFI - The Norwegian Defence Research Establishment

Default number of bomblets

Hits per 10,000m2







M42 and M46


































Standard footprint sizes from some common CM systems and the density of hits from bomblets.

South Sudan

NPA has been involved with survey and clearance of cluster munition remnants for several years. From 2009 and until today, the operational set up targeting cluster munitions remnants and other ERW have mainly consisted of two survey teams and two battle area clearance teams (BAC) with support from roving EOD teams.

CMR – methods of survey and clearance


Probable burial depth of

cMR The burial depth of CMR is a function of the type of CM and several external factors, including soil properties, vegetation and topographic fluctuations. Some armed CMR may be buried deeply while most are likely located at surface or at shallow depths. Mortars, rockets and CM bombs that have failed to disperse sub-munitions and have impacted the ground loaded with unarmed sub-munitions, should be dealt with like any other UXO and not as a cluster strike. It is unreasonably slow and costly to search systematically down to depths beyond 15-25cm and occasionally below 100cm to ensure that all potential unarmed sub-munitions are cleared.

Foto: Š Werner Anderson

Pre-sampling can help define how deep CMR can be found under different conditions. Pre-sampling can be applied on parts of the footprint using full depth clearance. NPA additionally reviews historic records from other organisations and records location and depth of each CMR identified during the follow-on clearance. Probable burial depth can justify the most appropriate technical survey solutions and the required clearance depth.


NPA has been based in Basrah since 2009, and started survey operations in the highly contaminated southern governorate of Missan in May 2013. Five cluster munition sites have been surveyed so far where, in some cases, CMR are lying on the surface metres from where people live and children play.


CMR – methods of survey and clearance

Terminology NPA supports the general requirements in IMAS 07.10 (land release). Some of the terms in IMAS have, however, not been designed to reflect NPAs efforts to identify and release CMR contaminated areas. Where necessary, NPA has refined these terms to comply with the unique challenge of CMR and better harmonise with the requirements in the CCM. This has been necessary to avoid inflation of the CMR problem and promote a realistic and effective process of accurately defining CMR contaminated areas for subsequent release. Suspected Hazardous Area (SHA)

Represents a requirement for evidence-based survey, created from various sources and assessments including desk assessment, victim data, and other surveys of variable quality and scope. SHAs are typically drawn during the Desk Assessment where accurate bombing data are absent. Where there is no national requirement to use the term, NPA prefers to avoid using it and instead record a requirement for evidencebased survey. This will avoid confusing SHA, being a target for survey, with CHA, being the defined problem after evidence-based survey

Confirmed Hazardous Area (CHA)

Is an accurately defined area where there is evidence of CMR following a detailed, evidence-based survey process. CHA polygons are normally drawn from a combined NTS and TS but can be drawn from a desk study followed by limited field confirmation if there is proven accuracy of the bombing data. If this is the case, default footprints may be used which will vary in size between ammunition types

Area With Restriction (AWR)

Is an area where a reasonable evidence-based survey effort has not identified evidence of CMR in any particular part of the larger area while a residual risk still remains. Recording of AWR is an opportunity to capture and manage this risk while avoiding that it is recorded as a CHA. AWR will under no circumstances be recorded if there is evidence of CMR or if less than adequate survey effort has been undertaken

Cancelled land

Land previously classified as SHA will be cancelled if a follow-on survey concludes that no hazards exist in these areas. If SHAs have not been formally recorded, NPA reports such areas as “surveyed land” following evidence-based survey

Released land

Describes all or parts of CHA where the legitimate claim of CMR has been eliminated through technical survey and/or clearance

Non-Technical Survey (NTS)

Describes a detailed evidence-based survey activity that involves collecting and analysing information about CMR in an area. The objective is to confirm whether there is evidence of CMR or not, identify the type and extent of CMR and other hazards and define, as far as is possible, the perimeter of the contaminated area. The NTS is typically combined with an Impact Assessment (IA). NTS alone rarely justifies recording of CHAs. Rather it identifies where Technical survey must be undertaken in order to define accurate CHA boundaries

Technical survey (TS)

Describes a detailed survey intervention with assets that can detect or reveal CMR. It is usually integrated into the wider survey process. When applied outside a CHA its purpose is to assist the definition of specific CHAs and/or cancel land. When applied inside CHAs its principal purpose is to indicate the absence of CMR, which will justify release by the survey and the presence of CMR, which indicates a requirement for clearance

All reasonable effort

Describes what is considered a minimum acceptable level of effort to identify and document CMR contaminated areas (CHAs) or to remove the presence or suspicion of mines or CMR in CHAs. A corresponding term in the CCM is “every effort”. Evidence-based NTS is sometimes the minimum reasonable effort to define CHAs while elements of TS is normally required. If there is compelling evidence of CMR, a reasonable effort is full clearance of the entire area that contains CMR, including a reasonable buffer zone

Residual risk

Is the risk remaining following the application of all reasonable efforts to identify and subsequently remove or destroy all CMR contamination from a specified area to a specified depth. The occurrence of CMR after identifying and releasing CHAs does not by default imply unacceptable weaknesses in the land release concept and may not always vary re-clearance or survey

Terminology used in the context of CMR

CMR – methods of survey and clearance


Principal land release phases

Efficient land release is the least effort required to identify and remove a claim of contamination. Five main activities apply when setting out to identify and release CMR contaminated areas in a country: • Desk Assessment • Non-Technical survey • Impact Assessment • Technical survey • Clearance


CMR – methods of survey and clearance

Each activity may have multiple sub-activities and there may be operational overlap between them. CMR contaminated areas are identified and subsequently released following combinations of these activities. Potentially contaminated areas are identified, classified and reclassified throughout these stages. The figure below illustrates the process:

Desk Assessment

The purpose of a Desk Assessment is to assess and identify areas that may be CMR contaminated. A Desk Assessment involves study of historical records, including bombing data when available, victim data and other central sources of information. An essential component of the Desk Assessment is to develop an appropriate information management system and methods of assessing information. SHA polygons may be drawn from a Desk Assessment while NPA would prefer if potentially contaminated areas were rather recorded as target areas for evidence based survey.

If bombing data ecists, the accuracy has not yet been determined during this stage. Accurate bombing data could potentially change a SHA into a CHA following field confirmation of the accuracy of information. If field confirmation reveals that a cluster bomb did not disperse its CM, the original SHA will be considered cancelled and the dispenser will be treated as a regular UXO spot task.


NPA has 9 operational BAC teams, including one all-female team. In 2013, NPA found 876 unexploded submunitions in high impact clearance tasks. Previously contaminated areas are normally taken into productive use (agriculture or construction) within three months after NPA has completed clearance.

CMR – methods of survey and clearance


Foto: Š Werner Anderson

Non-technical survey

NTS is a semi-intrusive on-the-ground activity conducted to verify information from the Desk Assessment. Welltrained survey teams will study and analyse data from the Desk Assessment prior to gathering information from informants and visiting the suspected sites. The survey focuses particularly on visible evidence of CMR (evidence points), bomb casings and other evidence that may help establish the contaminated area. NTS staff will, when appropriate, walk randomly into suspected areas to look for evidence of CMR. A realistic extension of the strike may be found if bombing cases are found and it is known from which direction CM were delivered. The NTS is sometimes combined with an Impact Assessment (IA) whose purpose is to identify socio-economic impact from CMR and guide prioritisation of follow-on technical survey and clearance capacities.


The NTS can sometimes define fairly accurate CHA polygons. Other times the NTS must be reinforced with elements of technical survey for improved accuracy of the CHA polygons. TS techniques does amounts mean "a number of random searches with metal detectors". NPA has pioneered a Cluster Munition Remnants Survey (CMRS) in SE Asia that combines NTS with fairly comprehensive TS to define accurate CHA boundaries.

Two NPA survey teams conducted non-technical survey of areas affected by CMR in November 2007. The first phase of the project identified 15 affected municipalities and 30.7km2 of CHAs. The second project phase begun in January 2009 identified yet another contaminated municipality and focused on releasing land through survey and clearance. In 2011 NPA started clearance of cluster sub-munitions in three municipalities in southern Serbia. NPA has cleared 2,5km2 of CHAs and destroyed 859 CMR and 706 UXO (more than 60 % of total land released in Serbia). Approximately 7km2 remains to be released.


CMR – methods of survey and clearance

technical survey

The TS investigates CM types, ground conditions and other factors that could influence the size and location of the footprint, including burial depth and follow-on clearance requirements. The technical survey, despite using virtually the same assets as used during clearance, is information gathering where the aim is to learn about the strike and the footprint as opposed to ensuring the removal of all CMR. The key to efficient technical survey is to focus more on when no evidence of CMR is found after a reasonable survey effort and cancel these areas. When the TS reinforces the NTS for the purpose of defining accurate CHA polygons, it is impractical to distinguish between the two survey outputs during reporting. When parts of previously recorded SHAs prove to have no contamination they will thus be considered as cancelled by evidence-based survey or, when SHAs have not been recorded, as surveyed land. When TS is applied inside a CHA, typically in conjunction with clearance, all of the CHA will be considered released when the survey and clearance process has been completed. Cleared areas will be considered released by clearance while (for example in trees) the remaining parts of the CHA will be considered released by TS. Methods of technical survey may include: • Visual search • Instrumentally aided surface search • Shallow sub-surface search • Full sub-surface search A visual search is normally inadequate TS in isolation but may be sufficient to justify cancellation in certain hard and rocky soils. When combined with other methods its importance may increase. There are, however, cases where systematic or emergency surface clearance will have removed all potentially visible CMR. The layout of a visual search will depend on the risk of accidental detonation when walking the area, topography, vegetation and other obstacles as well as potential risk of pressure sensitive devises, including landmines. Some CMR types are more sensitive than others. The presence of such CMR combined with poor visibility of

surface located CMR and the risk of CMR being stuck in e.g. trees may claim instrument support before access by foot is permitted. In sparsely vegetated areas or if CMR have been in the ground for many years, access by foot into contaminated areas is normally considered safe. While safety distances are always applied during sub-surface clearance, the risk of accidental detonation during visual search is considered negligible. Surveyors may thus walk next to each other on a lane to ensure that the entire area is searched adequately. Surface CMR may turn invisible over time. NPA may thus apply instrumentally aided surface search to reinforce surface search during TS. This process must not be confused with clearance. It is designed to help define a more accurate footprint. Assets that NPA uses for this purpose include: • Metal detectors tuned to low sensitivity • Bomb locators tuned to low sensitivity • Large loops Calibration to medium sized fragments from detonated CM potentially gives more detector readings and causes a slower search forward. That said, the likelihood of finding evidence from CM is at least ten-fold higher. Calibration to full size CMR may speed up the search process but will not detect frag­ments that are likely in superior numbers. By applying a more sensitive detector and thus enable detection of at least a fair amount of frag­ments (regarded as evidence points), smaller areas will need to be searched to provide the same degree of evidence that an area or box is actually free from CMR. Shallow sub-surface search is virtually the same as instrument-aided surface search but the detector sensitivity has been increased to detect shallow-buried CMR and larger fragments from detonated bomblets. Calibration towards entire CMR will detect all CMR to a given depth and some fragments near surface level. Calibration towards greater sensitivity will additionally detect fragments at greater depths but the trade-off is slower investigation. Comparison between the two approaches is undertaken by NPA when required in order to determine the most efficient approach.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

NPA initially conducted non-technical survey of potentially CMR contaminated areas. NPA has also produced the report: “Cluster Munitions Remnants in Bosnia and Herzegovina: A General Survey of Contamination and Impact” In 2012 NPA started technical survey and clearance and has since released 1.32km2 of CHAs and cancelled 1.98km2 in 17 affected communities. 10.67km2 of SHAs still remains in 75 local communities

CMR – methods of survey and clearance



Full sub-surface search is typically applied when clearing the narrowly defined strike (CHA). The depth of clearance depends on many factors, including: • Test sampling of a small area • Finds during clearance of past strikes or parts of the existing strike A theoretical probability of CMR being deep buried does not routinely imply a need to clear to this depth. Careful assessment of collected data will help determine the likelihood of CMR at various depths. If there is compelling evidence to suggest that it is unlikely to find CMR below a certain depth, clearance may not be required below this depth. CMR that may occur below the likely burial depth will form part of a small residual risk that requires long-term national stand-by attention. Immediately after conflict there may be an urgent need for rapid surface clearance since surface placed CMR are a much higher risk to people than buried CMR. During the emergency phase vast areas may be searched rapidly by visual search or, more likely, instrument aided visual search. Rapid surface search is not full clearance but the immediate impact may be higher than slow sub-surface search. The rapid surface search (risk reduction) approach may be prolonged well beyond the emergency phase if its impact is considerably higher than that of the time consuming subsurface search on much smaller areas. Since most accidents occur with surface found CMR and that CMR often has an inherent commercial value (as scrap metal or commercial value of explosives), a better all-round approach may be to remove all surface CMR while subsequently addressing sub-surface CMR.


Surface clearance is considered appropriate if there is no evidence to suggest that CMR will be found below surface. This may happen in particularly hard soils. One footprint may have hard ground with patches of soft ground. A mix of surface and sub-surface clearance may thus be applied. Documented empirical experience from similar tasks and pre-sampling of patches of the strike will form the basis for such decisions. Regular metal detectors can in most cases be used for clearance of CMR, especially if the sensitivity is set to discriminate between CMR and other fragments. NPA also uses fairly inexpensive bomb locators because of their ability to detect CMR at appropriate depths while discriminating ferrous soils. In addition to high sensitivity and good discrimination abilities, these stick-shaped detectors are practical in overgrown areas. The large loop has proven useful on flat ground where vegetation is scarce and where there is limited scrap metal debris. The size of the large loop suggests swapping between the large loop and smaller detectors in areas with mixed vegetation. NPA has been successful in training state-of-the-art mine detection dogs (MDDs) and has lately trained dogs for CMR detection. One potential drawback is the extensive number of fragments with explosive residue that may be found within a strike zone. This could potentially increase false indication rates. Recent trials in Cambodia have shown that dogs can be trained to discriminate between CMR and fragments from detonated CM. NPA has therefore started to use CMR detection dogs in Cambodia. Dogs may have no or negative impact on the overall efficiency in some areas while they may enhance efficiency in other areas. The challenge is to balance the use of dogs with metal detection for highest efficiency.

NPA started a Completion Initiative in mid-2012 that combines non-technical survey, technical survey and clearance. The first phase of the non-technical survey was completed in May 2013, creating a baseline for the required follow-on response to release CHAs. The total size of CHAs is 1.715km2 spread across 3 municipalities in five populated areas. The second phase of the “Completion Initiative“ involves technical survey and clearance and will be completed by the end 2014.


CMR – methods of survey and clearance

Fadeout principles

The radius in a fadeout can be fixed to ease operational decisions (typically between 30-50m) but there is merit in flexibility when defining it. Factors that should be carefully assessed when defining appropriate fadeout distances include: • The perceived density of overall hits in a footprint • The fragment zone from CM detonations • The perceived density of CMR within the footprint • Speed of clearance when targeting CMR • Speed of clearance when targeting CMR and fragments Being able to reduce the fadeout distance may have a major impact on the efficiency of land release since the outer meters in an expanded circle are also the longest and most costly.

Foto: © NPA

Fadeout is the distance to which search will continue after finding what is perceived as the last target item in a footprint or the last box with evidence points. The perceived maximum distance between two items (CMR or fragments) should equal the minimum fadeout distance. The distance between fragments in a strike is much smaller than between CMR. When targeting CMR, a larger fadeout will apply than when targeting fragments. CMR detection is, however, faster as fragments are typically scattered over a larger area thus increasing the fragmentation radius. In cases where the density of CMR is low, fade-out distance based on fragment density may prove more efficient than CMR density.


9 cluster munitions strike areas were idenitified in the province of Tiris Zemmour and cleared by NPA in 2013 in coordination with the national authority (PNDHD). 2,438,538m2 were cleared, finding and destroying 1,246 CMR. Due to the hard soil conditions and lack of vegetation, BAC rates were very efficient using a limited number of resources.

CMR – methods of survey and clearance


The SE

Asia approach To effectively address CMR contamination, NPA has developed an evidence-based survey system that takes into account the unique characteristics of cluster munitions contamination in SE Asia. The methodology, known as Cluster Munition Remnant Survey (CMRS), has proven highly efficient and effective in defining accurate Confirmed Hazardous Areas (CHA). CMRS has been tailored towards the unique situation in SE Asia but basic principles can be conveyed to other contaminated countries. The CMR contamination in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos is a consequence from the war in this region from 1955 – 1975. There are clear similarities between the CMR contamination in all three countries, but also noticeable differences. Past CMR clearance techniques employed in the region were largely based on mine clearance teachings, which resulted in a reduction in efficiency when addressing CMR contamination. These mine clearance based techniques are not compatible with compliance with the CCM or the provision of reasonable levels of assurance that areas are free from CMR. NPA has worked hard to significantly improve its methods of CMR survey and clearance in SE Asia since this time. In SE Asia, CMR have a relatively high failure rate which, combined with their methods of delivery, make the pattern of contamination identifiable in ways that mines are not. The duration of CMR contamination can also affect a traditional survey’s ability to define the problem. Recent cluster munition strikes may provide clear footprints that can be surveyed rapidly and tasked for clearance, whereas assessing the location and extent of contamination in SE Asia that has been on the ground for over 30 years is more challenging. Changes in the vegetation and landscape, deterioration of CMR and interference from local populations, such as villagers completing partial clearance efforts, often make the location and extent of contamination difficult to assess.


Lao PDR is the most heavily bombed country per capita in the world and the clearance of CMR is a long and ongoing process. The Vientiane Declaration and Action Plan (November 2010) requires States Parties to “clearly identify all contaminated areas within one year of the Entry into Force of Treaty”. The requirement is found under action point 12 of the 66-point action plan. Given the magnitude of the problem in Lao PDR and the convention requirements, the onus must be on identifying all CMR contaminated areas (CHAs) before making efforts to prioritise and release them through clearance. NPA has developed a baseline survey methodology to address the unique challenges posed by cluster munition contamination in Lao PDR (as well as Cambodia and Vietnam). The CMR Survey concept (CMRS) combines impact assessment with non-technical and technical survey to identify and properly define CMR contaminated areas as well as their impact on local communities. These areas are recorded as Confirmed Hazardous Areas (CHAs) and reported to the National Mine Action Authority (NMAA) for input into the national contamination database (in the case of Lao PDR, the National Regulatory Authority or NRA). The CMRS methodology is essentially the same in all three countries (Lao PDR, Cambodia, and Vietnam) but country-specific adaptations have been made to accommodate the local differences and specific requirements from partners and governments. Noticeable differences include: • In Laos, national authorities require no formal recording of SHAs. Land where the CMRS has been completed with no evidence of CMR is reported as surveyed land. In Cambodia, national standards call for prior recording of SHAs that become the target for where CMRS is conducted. Parts of SHAs with no evidence of CMR are reported cancelled. The same is the case in Vietnam.

NPA commenced operations in September 2009. Operational staff were deployed to the province of Saravane in the south of the country. In 2012 NPA signed a 5-year agreement with the Lao Government, instigating a major expansion. By mid-2013 the program counts almost 400 staff and is one of the largest INGOs in Laos. The focus of the programme is very much the Cluster Munition Remnant Survey (CMRS), developed in the Laos context


CMR – methods of survey and clearance

• In Lao PDR, NPA has focused its entire work effort on identifying the CMR contamination problem through CMRS at the cost of a follow-on capacity for the release of identified CHAs. CHAs from CMRS are added to the national database where there will likely be a time gap between the CMRS and any further follow-on clearance response. The accurate CHAs from CMRS which are continually being added to the national contamination database do however provide ideal tasking material for other organisations which currently have less flexible survey capabilities. In Cambodia and Vietnam, CMRS is fully integrated with NPA´s follow-on response. Due to the very high levels of contamination, CMR evidence is prevalent throughout most of Lao PDR; however, determining the extent of each area of contamination is still difficult. This uncertainty hinders operators in ensuring clearance assets are focused on contaminated areas. By sourcing local information, NTS can determine where survey efforts should begin. These start or ‘evidence points’ are identified and used to target the TS, which then determines the extent of the contamination in that area and creates a CHA. NPA uses CMRS, which is a rapid technical survey technique to effectively determine the extent of the contamination before clearance assets are employed. In this process, the initial non-technical survey is conducted through village meetings and review of existing documentation. Instead of identifying SHAs, the NTS records only evidence points for both CMR and other UXO in the area. All evidence points identified in a given area (e.g., within the boundary of a village) are assigned to to either UXO spot task teams for ‘other UXO’ evidence points, or CMRS teams for CMR evidence points.

When NPA clears a CHA from a CMRS task, in addition to clearing all contaminated parts of the CHA (in Lao PDR this would be the entire CHA, plus any additional fadeout required outside the CHA boundary), a fade-out area is adopted from the outer-most CMR found within the CHA polygon. In Lao PDR the default fadeout distance is 50m but smaller or greater fadeout will be applied when appropriate. The area cleared within the polygon, which includes any cleared, fade-out areas that extended outside of the polygon, is classified as released land. In Laos, the rest of the area surveyed during the CMRS process, while determining the CHA, is classified as ‘area surveyed’ while classified as ‘cancelled’ in Cambodia and Vietnam. This area is not released as there was never a confirmed claim of contamination from which to release it. Notably, to release land there must have been an actual confirmed claim of contamination. As a means of surveying an area, visual observation cannot confirm contamination or release land. Likewise, an area determined by a request-based system should be considered an SHA and not a CHA. The SHA can be cancelled; when the actual contamination within the SHA has been determined through NTS and TS, it would then become a CHA. In the CMR survey methodology in Laos a SHA is not created, as it would be artificial and nothing more than a best guess. The TS process commences from a confirmed evidence point identified by the NTS, and a CHA is created through the TS activity.


NPA first set up a CMR survey and clearance project in 2008 with Project RENEW in Quang Tri Province – one of the most contaminated provinces in Vietnam.

CMR – methods of survey and clearance


Stages of

CMRS Non-Technical Survey (NTS); First stage of the CMRS process is preparation, planning and conduct of the initial non-technical phase of the land release process. It is typically conducted through village meetings and review of existing documentation. Other sources of information that may contribute to this process include local or regional authorities, military and police, and development organisations etc. Instead of identifying SHAs, the NTS only records evidence points for both CMR and other UXO in the area. No areas from NTS are recorded. Wherever possible, a field inspection of the area is conducted to investigate topography including natural features in the area and how they will affect work on the site. Consideration should also be given as to how the ground conditions may change in the case of heavy rain and over time. Local knowledge during the inspection can help to locate the general area of CM contamination. Villagers usually know, and are often willing to show, where CMR (e.g. bomblets) are. Not all informants may be available during the initial visit, so information gathering from local informants is a thorough and on-going process. All available NTS evidence and information from old surveys of the area should be examined. Wasted time and effort on the ground can be avoided by gaining information from any previous reports, including clearance reports, historical information (e.g. bombing data), other survey reports, and old roving task reports. These will indicate where contamination has been located in the area in the past, and may provide guidance for the CMRS process.


Impact Assessment (IA); The Impact Assessment (IA) reporting that is conducted as part of the NTS phase of the operation is significant as it will detail the evidence points of cluster munition remnant contamination that the CMRS will base its start points on. An evidence point is where actual physical evidence of CMR contamination has been identified during the IA. If no CMR evidence points have been located during the IA, other NTS evidence, such as bombing data or a strong claim by the local population, may be used as a basis for CMRS start points. In cases where no CMR contamination has been reported, but is suspected, and there is no other evidence in the NTS that can guide the CMRS, a random sample of the area can be undertaken (i.e. systematic technical survey) until contamination is found upon which to base further survey. Technical Survey (CMRS); Minor TS may be undertaken to verify the presence and accuracy of information and potential evidence points identified during the NTS. Information from the NTS and initial TS will form the basis for extensive assessment and planning of how and where to deploy the main bulk of TS. A tentative plan for the conduct of CMRS is produced for each site of suspected CM contamination, indicating the start points for CMRS sections. The plan will be updated on the ground as search boxes are selected based on survey data gained throughout the day. Limits on the area to be surveyed are set in accordance with the site requirements (e.g. location of medical support etc). Planning for the deployment of CMRS teams will depend on several factors, not all of which may be compatible. A balance may need to be found. Remote areas may not be accessible during the rainy season. In most instances, planning for CMRS deployment will follow that of other survey and clearance; i.e. remote areas are surveyed during the dry season and teams withdraw to areas with easier, and more reliable, access during the rainy season.

NPA has been present since 1992 with the first demining units deployed to the northwest of the country. In 2011, NPA implemented a CMRS and Clearance project in the east of Cambodia. The survey and clearance capacity consists of CMR dog teams and a multi-tasking team. In 2012, NPA surveyed 164 SHAs and destroyed 213 CMR and 137 ERW. The initial SHA identified by NTS was 33.362.735m2 but the Technical survey identified only 3.266.904m2 that contained evidence of CMR and were recorded as CHAs (90% cancellation by NTS and TS).


CMR – methods of survey and clearance

Stage 1: Desktop Assessment and review of historical data before IA/NTS

Stage 2: IA/NTS and data gathering process. Evidence point for CMRS identified

Stage 3: CMRS systematic search on 50x50m boxes to confirm presence of contamination

Stage 4: Establish Confirmed Hazardous Area (CHA) after CMRS and report to IMSMA

Stage 5: Confirmed Hazardous Area has been tasked for clearance

Stage 6: Clearance completed with 50m fade out and the land has been released

CMR – methods of survey and clearance


The composition of CMRS sections may vary depending on the circumstances. The standard composition of a section in Laos is illustrated in the figure below:

Section Commander


Deminers (Searchers) x 5

In Cambodia and Vietnam, the section commander and deminers have been trained as medics, drivers and pathfinders thus facilitating fewer staff in each section. The CMRS methodology involves rapidly surveying 50 x 50m boxed areas in and around the initial evidence point. If the terrain of the suspected hazardous area depicts the need, the boxes are divided into smaller grids of 25 x 25m. The TS determines which boxes contain evidence of contamination. The surveyors are assigned to each box and they normally use mine or UXO detectors set to maximum sensitivity. The speed of the search is thus potentially slow but small fragments are likely found much earlier during the search in a box than if the detectors were tuned on CMR or


CMR – methods of survey and clearance

Driver (optional)

Pathfinder (optional)

larger fragments. The surveyors move systematic through the box under the direction of the section commander. If extensive metal contamination is encountered in any area, the area may be skipped and the survey moves to an adjacent area. The purpose of the CMRS is to paint a general picture of the contamination in the area, from which surveyors can create a CHA. Guide ropes may be used to ensure even coverage of ground. Such aids to clearance may prove especially useful when new sections are trained and deployed on CMRS tasks. Once the deminers have become accustomed to the procedures and are able to judge the correct distances and spacing, the ropes can be dispensed with.

In order to visually report on the findings of CMRS, a series of colour codes have been adapted to indicate the different results of the CMRS in each search box. The colour codes and the result that they indicate are shown in the table below. Name









Figure 3 (not to scale) Searchers are allocated equally spaced areas of responsibility (60° search arcs). The CMRS Commander monitors individual deminers from a central location

Meaning CMR found by CMRS







CMR fragment found by CMRS







Not surveyed – inaccessibility Not surveyed

Nothing found by CMRS Other ERW found by CMRS







Desktop survey - CMR




Desktop survey - Unknown device

Light Blue



Dark Green



Desktop survey - UXO Desktop survey - 100% clearance - nothing found

CMRS colour codes

CMR – methods of survey and clearance


Foto: © Werner Anderson


CMR – methods of survey and clearance

While the CMRS is focused on identifying the CHA of CMR contamination during the TS phase, all other UXO in the area are recorded during the NTS and are destroyed by UXO teams. Five deminers and a section commander spend a maximum of 20 to 25 minutes in each boxed area. This includes the time to lay out the dimensions of the box which is done rapidly with a rope system. System trials in Lao PDR showed that this time frame allows the group of deminers to cover approximately 60–70 percent of each box in the allotted time. In Lao PDR, a CMRS team surveys up to 40,000m2 in each three-week period. This figure is based on average ground conditions and will drop as conditions deteriorate. When all boxes have been completed and CMR evidence has been plotted on the colour code gridded map, the final CHA is finally drawn based on assessment of the probable contamination area represented by the coloured boxes. In Lao PDR, search for evidence (e.g. full bomblets) continues beyond picking up CM fragmentations in a box. In Cambodia search is terminated in a box immediately after finding the first fragment or CMR within that box. The result is that more boxes are shaded yellow in a CHA in Cambodia than in Laos.

Clearance: In Cambodia and Vietnam, NPA follows up the CMRS with further TS and clearance of the defined CHA polygons. This does not yet happen in Laos. CHAs are used as a start point for BAC teams and all clear­ance starts from the centre of the CHA polygon and moves outwards, (inside/out approach). There is little focus on the detailed boundaries of the CHA because they normally differ from the boundaries of the real footprint strike despite the latter often well predicted size-wise. The centrepoint of the footprint is normally easy to identify on the final map in the CMRS survey report and is thus used as the starting point for deploy­ment of clearance teams. Fade­out is typically applied in a 50m circle around the last found CMR when searching from inside. Fadeout is increased or decreased based on the type of CMR and the nature of the footprint. National Mine Action Authorities (NMAA) in Cambodia have defined the minimum clearance depth as 20cm. This can normally be achieved using normal metal or UXO detectors. Other ERW found during the clearance of the CM footprint will be removed but fadeout will not be applied.

The efficiency of CMRS is possible due largely to the fact that excessive vegetation removal is unnecessary. This is especially significant in S.E. Asia where heavy vegetation is a dominant limiting factor in any mine or UXO operation. The CMRS methodology works efficiently in high levels of vegetation and only requires the ability of the detector head to be pushed through and around vegetation. In most cases, only minimal vegetation removal is needed for the CMRS methodology to operate.

CMR – methods of survey and clearance



Foto: Š NPA


The ability to retrieve, analyse and share information to eliminate redundant work and improve decisionmaking should be given highest priority when developing any information management system.

Information Management is the discipline that analyses and evaluates the kinds of data/information that NPA requires in order to function and progress effectively and make appropriate decisions. Information management primarily serves the functions of planning, controlling, and decisionmaking. New means of processing information may be able to identify patterns/correlations and create unique decision making features that change the basis of differentiation when conducting NTS, TS and clearance and when giving priorities to work in certain areas.


CMR – methods of survey and clearance

Information management is often a one-way collection process where information is collected by operators and stored by national authorities. The ability to retrieve, analyse and share information to eliminate redundant work and improve decision-making should be given highest priority when developing any information management system.

Essential components of information management in the context of CMR can be summarised as follows: • The ability to obtain, assess and extract vital bombing data • The ability to obtain and assess data from impact assessment, NTS and TS conducted by NPA • The ability to obtain and assess data from survey and clearance by other organisations • The ability to obtain and assess victims data • The ability to obtain data about population movement, people’s use of land and planned development activities Bombing data typically provides a variety of information and is potentially the most useful source of information for priority setting and the planning of survey and clearance. The location and number of strikes, accuracy of information, and the direction of delivery of CM is essential information, while information on the time of the year and weather conditions during CM deployment may be useful in determining the likely burial depth of sub-surface CMR. Recent satellite photos, if available, can also help determine the ground conditions in addition to the local population's pattern of living/using land in areas where CM has been deployed. Satellite photos can further help identify target points during the conflict if this was not recorded in the bombing data.

NPA will, as a principle, pay highest attention to careful assessment of the bombing data and is prepared to assist national institutions to establish more efficient information management systems for this purpose. Careful assessment of bombing data has the potential to strengthen national mine action plans by more accurately predicting the scope of the problem and the resources needed to address it. It is likely that an otherwise confusing contamination picture as it appears on the ground will be clarified and redundant excess clearance of CM free land will be avoided. The accuracy of bombing data is sometimes disputed. This is especially the case in SE Asia where bombing data has been found to be inaccurate. Relying heavily on this one source of NTS information, if inaccurate, could potentially exaggerate the problem by magnitudes and prolong the required response by decades. Trials conducted by NPA in Lao PDR suggests that up to half of the areas reported as CM strikes are actually CMR free. Likewise, areas where no strikes have been reported have been found to be CMR contaminated. NPA continues to collect and analyse data from survey and clearance in SE Asia in the hope that it will eventually facilitate decisions on how to make best use of bombing data us only used. Under the current circumstances, bombing data are only used as one of several clues to where CMR may be expected.

CMR – methods of survey and clearance



CMR – methods of survey and clearance

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Cluster Munition Remnants – methods of survey and clearance 2013