Quick Reaction Force Deploys to Bougainville Island (Papua New Guinea) to Remove World War II-era Ordnance

Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
September 21, 2009

In a response to a request from the government of Papua New Guinea, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement’s Conventional Weapons Destruction Quick Reaction Force (QRF) will deploy on September 21 to Torokina District on Bougainville Island, part of an autonomous region of Papua New Guinea, where they will assess the potential impact of unexploded ordnance in the area, which was the scene of a protracted land battle between Allied and Japanese forces during World War II.

Abandoned and unexploded munitions have had a significant lingering effect, limiting area residents’ abilities to pursue even basic life-sustaining operations such as subsistence farming. Abandoned weapons, ammunition, and explosives scavenged from Torokina have also been used by militant groups and criminals over the years. The QRF will partner closely with the local population to find and prioritize areas for clearance so that land can be returned to productive use quickly and efficiently for area residents. The QRF will also gather data to consider future explosive ordnance clearance operations at Torokina, in cooperation with the government of Papua New Guinea and the Autonomous Government of Bougainville.

The Department of State’s QRF is a deployable team of conventional weapons destruction experts that works in concert with U.S. Embassies and host nations to respond to critical risks posed by explosive remnants of war, including cluster munitions, landmines and other types of explosive hazards. The QRF complements international humanitarian operations and post-conflict stability initiatives in the host nation, allowing them to proceed unhindered by the presence of explosive hazards.

The U.S. Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs manages the QRF, humanitarian mine action programs, including clearance of landmines and explosive remnants of war, survivor assistance and mine risk education, as well as conventional weapons destruction programs worldwide. More information is available at 2009-2017.state.gov/t/pm/wra.

PRN: 2009/948