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PostThe Logistics of Demining Korea's DMZ (Brian Blodgett, USA, 10/13/18 6:00 am)
John E asked about how the demining of the Korean DMZ would occur. After doing some searching, I was surprised to learn that, from what I found, the Republic of Korea was not using demining machines like we saw in World War II but modern, and/or robotic machines. There is no word of what North Korea is using.
Regarding what I found on the RoK removal, it appears that at this time it is being done manually. Which I think would surprise most of us--perhaps the two sides agreed to prohibit mechanical devices into the area? So, small teams are doing the work with each team having 12-member crews working in two-hour shifts due to the excruciating nature of the job. They work two shifts a day and there is a rotation every 10 to 15 minutes. This has to make the task very slow-moving.
The lead members of the team have the task of finding the mines through use of metal detectors and the like. They are followed by a team that removes obstacles from the immediate area and have items like weed eaters to cut down the grass. These members are followed by the explosive ordinary disposal specialists who remove the mines from the ground and take them out of the DMZ.
The method used surely limits the size of the search area that they can cover each daily. Because of cold weather approaching, the demining operations can only last another month and a half or so. Once snow falls and they cannot see the ground, or it is cold enough and the ground freezes, the demining will have to stop for months.
A challenge for the demining crews is that they do not know where the mines were placed/planted, and in the case of Arrow Head Hill, since it was a combat area, the likelihood is that they were planted randomly and in the a mutual defense pattern based on where the troops were over 60 years ago. The demining experts' best guess is that the mines are along where the trenches surrounding Arrow Head Hill were, which was a major transportation route for combat forces under the hail of gunfire during the war. According to the commander of the southern demining operation, "We are going to conduct search operations along the trench. From there, we are going to expand the search area incrementally. It is like using previous pathways before venturing into a new area."
Personnel from the United Nations Command, which controls the DMZ, watch the demining area at the entrance of the restricted zone and monitor convoys carrying mine-removal equipment. This last sentence is all I could find that indicated that perhaps some mechanical devices were being used.
Note: This method is not much better than what I learned in the infantry back in the 1980s.
JE comments: This, my friends, is not the job for me! These deminers are the bravest of the brave, and unsung heroes.