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Reports: DoD Overturns Planned 2019 Ban on Cluster Munitions

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Defense Secretary James Mattis has called off a plan to stop the military use of certain cluster bombs by the end of 2018, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

The policy change would permit the Defense Department to resume the procurement of cluster munitions.

“The Department of Defense has determined that cluster munitions remain a vital military capability in the tougher warfighting environment ahead of us, while still a relatively safe one,” said Tom Crosson, a spokesman for DoD.

Crosson noted that senior officials at the Pentagon determined that a ban on the use of cluster bombs would weaken deterrence and result in a capability gap for U.S. warfighters.

The Hill also reported that the new policy would overturn a 2008 ruling by former President George W. Bush that seeks to ban by Jan. 1, 2019 the use of cluster bombs that failed to meet the standard detonation failure rate of 1 percent or less.

Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan issued a memo Thursday saying cluster munitions are “legitimate weapons with clear military utility.”

“Although the department seeks to field a new generation of more highly reliable munitions, we cannot risk mission failure or accept the potential of increased military and civilian casualties by forfeiting the best available capabilities,” Shanahan wrote in the memo.

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