The Courage Behind De-mining Operations
Most Americans admire the courage Navy SEALs exhibited during their successful raids against Osama Bin Ladin, Somali pirates, and, on January 30th, the rescue of Jessica Buchanan and Poul Hagen Thisted in the haunted mainland of Somalia. Now, Americans need to admire the courage of survivors Buchanan, Thisted, Jama Nuur Shire, and others who devote their lives to demining old battlefields.
Demining is not just the removal of unexploded landmines; these days unexploded ordinance of bombs, mortars, grenades, and missiles provide an even greater threat to people’s safety. Usually, all sides in a conflict contribute to these hazards. Demining operations include marking, removing, and destroying unexploded ordinance (UXO), educating the populace about the risks they face, providing medical assistance and rehabilitation to victims, advocating for treaties and ending production of weapons, and, as in the case of the organization that Buchanan and Thisted worked for, persuading villagers to relinquish all kinds of weapons, or at least to follow lock and safety practices. Demining projects are occurring throughout Africa, the Middle East, Cambodia, Cyprus, Asia, and Eastern Europe.
After looking at the Danish Demining Group’s information page on Somalia, I would surmise that Jessica Buchanan and Poul Thisted were involved in Village Outreach programs to reduce or secure small arms. This is something that the American military has poor success at.
It is not only foreign organizations that try to reduce the risk of UXO in war-torn communities. According to Garowe Online, Somali Jama Nuur Shire was an expert in the field, who had worked on projects in his country for many years. Last Christmas Eve (24 Dec 2011), he died while removing a mine in the Bari region of Somalia.
Chuck Pfarrer, in his memoir Warrior Soul, wrote that, “In the SEAL teams, we say a survivor is a victim with an attitude.” According to former SEAL Mark Devine, in his blog post “Courage 2,” SEALs define courage not as a lack of fear, but as managing that fear with an attitude of “Bring it on.” Buchanan, Thisted, and Shire, along with all the in-country volunteers for de-mining operations, including pacifists, exhibit this same warrior attitude and courage. “Hooyah” for all they sacrifice.