Mark Perry (and Landmine Restrictions)

I saw on Twitter yesterday that Mark Perry had passed away. I had not talked to him in over a decade, but we worked with him 20 years ago. Links to articles on him:

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/death-of-an-american-original-mark-perry-1950-2021/

https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2021/08/08/rip-mark-perry-an-extraordinary-journalist-in-extraordinary-times/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Perry_(author)

Back in the fall of 1995 we did a casualty estimate for our proposed deployment to Bosnia for the JCS (Joint Chiefs of Staff). This estimate is republished in Appendix II of my book America’s Modern Wars. This was a short fuse project, and we turned it around in three weeks.

Apparently Lt. Gen. Wesley Clark was impressed with this effort so contracted us when the issue came up of how DOD should respond to the proposed international landline ban. We started the effort knowing it was short fuse, but was told a couple days into the effort that they needed the report next week. So we cranked out the research, analysis and subsequent report in 8 calendar days. The report was submitted to JCS in April 1996. I think we were paid around $30K for this effort.

Our conclusions were fourfold on an APM ban (anti-personnel mines):

1. What would happen if a ban on APM’s were universally observed?

This clearly favors the attacker. In most conceivable near-term contingencies, the US would be the advancing force; hence this would be advantageous to the US. Our present estimate is a US casualty reduction of 2 to 5 percent, if the campaign does not deteriorate into a US defensive mode. In the case of a guerilla war, the reduction might be as large as 20 percent, but the assumption that guerillas would observe such a ban may be correspondingly low.

2. What would happen if the US observed such a ban, but the opponent did not?

This clearly hurts the US – the only question is how much. A model applied to a Korean-type engagement, augmented by our historical examples, says the US would have suffered 3 percent more causalities. Fast maneuvering typified by the Gulf War could well exact a smaller percentage penalty. We may have a better answer in the next ten days. A really good answer might deserve 3 months or more.

3. What if the U.S. continues to use APM’s, but agrees any such weapons will routinely be promptly disabled or destroyed after battles?

From a purely combat viewpoint, this has the virtue of eliminating whatever increment in casualties would otherwise occur. Beyond this, this feature for APM’s can be valuable in combat.

4. What related capabilities can influence the combat consequences of an APM ban?

There are many, and a careful look at them might well greatly reduce the casualty cost of our unilateral observance of a ban. Improvements in our mine clearance facilities (of enemy mines) may be at the top of the list.

 

We submitted the report to JCS and the active duty Marine major who was the action officer in charge expressed surprise at the results. We heard no other feedback from JCS at that time.

Some eight months later, Nick Krawciw, the president of TDI, asked for the report and supporting material and then came up with a one page letter that he attached to the report and sent over on 2 January 1997 to General John Shalikashvili, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff. He asked him to: ”Please look at the attached page with four summary points which were added to our study and given to Wes Clark just before he left for his current assignment. In my estimation points 1, and 4. outweigh 2. and 3.. Therefore, I recommend that the United States support a total ban on antipersonnel mines. Our historical research, when coupled with probable future engagements, indicates that a total ban on this type of mine, if eventually adhered to by most nations, will only benefit the US ground forces in the long run.” 

Nick Krawciw (MG, USA, ret.) had served two tours in Vietnam, one around 1962 as an advisor and another up at the DMZ around 1968. There are pictures in my book America’s Modern Wars from his tours and the effects of a mine blast (now called IEDS – Improvised Explosive Devices) on the M-113 he was riding in.

Needless to say, his experiences in Vietnam reinforced the view that landlines are a weapon that is often used against the U.S. military and rarely used by us. Certainly the widespread use of IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan has reinforced that picture.

John Shalikashvili did respond on 6 February 1997, saying in part: “Your study and summary points have been used on several occasions in considering this issue. Concur in the conclusion that the United should support a total ban on APL [antipersonnel landmines].”

The United States ended up not supporting the anti-personnel landmine ban, which I think is a mistake.

Flash forward four years later and suddenly a couple of people showed up at our office looking for the “suppressed DOD report on the landmine ban.” Well, it was not suppressed. We were never given any restrictions on access to it and like almost all of our reports, it was publicly available for purchase. See http://www.dupuyinstitute.org/tdipub3.htm. It appeared that not too many people had gone looking for our open-source, unclassified, publicly available report; and we were quite surprised to discover that people considered it “suppressed.”

Then Mark Perry showed up representing The Vietnam Veteran of America Foundation (VVAF) which was actively involved in supporting the landmine ban. He asked if they could publish it. We agreed, they published it along with the two letters, distributed it and I think VVAF donated $10K to TDI in response.

And then Mark Perry, who lived down the road from our office in McLean, Va., came over to our office and asked us if we would do another little study for VVAF (more on this in my next post).

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Christopher A. Lawrence
Christopher A. Lawrence

Christopher A. Lawrence is a professional historian and military analyst. He is the Executive Director and President of The Dupuy Institute, an organization dedicated to scholarly research and objective analysis of historical data related to armed conflict and the resolution of armed conflict. The Dupuy Institute provides independent, historically-based analyses of lessons learned from modern military experience.
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Mr. Lawrence was the program manager for the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base, the Kursk Data Base, the Modern Insurgency Spread Sheets and for a number of other smaller combat data bases. He has participated in casualty estimation studies (including estimates for Bosnia and Iraq) and studies of air campaign modeling, enemy prisoner of war capture rates, medium weight armor, urban warfare, situational awareness, counterinsurgency and other subjects for the U.S. Army, the Defense Department, the Joint Staff and the U.S. Air Force. He has also directed a number of studies related to the military impact of banning antipersonnel mines for the Joint Staff, Los Alamos National Laboratories and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation.
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His published works include papers and monographs for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation, in addition to over 40 articles written for limited-distribution newsletters and over 60 analytical reports prepared for the Defense Department. He is the author of Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka (Aberdeen Books, Sheridan, CO., 2015), America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam (Casemate Publishers, Philadelphia & Oxford, 2015), War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat (Potomac Books, Lincoln, NE., 2017) , The Battle of Prokhorovka (Stackpole Books, Guilford, CT., 2019), The Battle for Kyiv (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2023), Aces at Kursk (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024), Hunting Falcon: The Story of WWI German Ace Hans-Joachim Buddecke (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024) and The Siege of Mariupol (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2024).
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Mr. Lawrence lives in northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife and son.

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