Conventional Weapons Destruction (CWD)

U.S. Efforts to Combat the Proliferation of Conventional Weapons including Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS) and Small Arms/Light Weapons, and to Provide Physical Security & Stockpile Management Assistance for At-Risk Arms and Munitions.

The proliferation of illicit conventional weapons, including small arms and light weapons (SA/LW), in regions of the world suffering from political instability and violent conflict has proven a major obstacle to peace, economic development, and efforts to rebuild war-torn societies. In places like Afghanistan, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, and Colombia, thousands of innocent civilians have been killed and tens of thousands more displaced by ethnic and civil conflicts perpetuated in large part by easy access to illicit conventional weapons, particularly SA/LW. Man-portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS), which are light weapons that are commonly referred to as shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, when in the hands of criminals, terrorists and other non-state actors, also pose a potential danger to commercial aviation around the world.

Soldier standing near small arms

The United States is a global leader in efforts to mitigate the illicit trafficking and destabilizing accumulation of conventional weapons through multilateral diplomacy and bilateral assistance to countries in need. Specifically, the United States has directed its policies at building and enhancing enforcement and legal capacities, controlling proliferation of conventional weapons to areas of conflict, providing training on export controls and customs practices, discouraging irresponsible and indiscriminate arms exports, strengthening sanctions against violators of embargoes, and enhancing stockpile security and destroying excess or otherwise at risk conventional weapons, to include destroying MANPADS, at the invitation of foreign governments. The U.S. approach focuses on practical, effective measures to address the problem of illicit conventional weapons trafficking in conflict regions where it is most urgent, while acknowledging the legitimacy of legal trade, manufacture, and ownership of arms.

The focal point for conventional weapons destruction (CWD) including SA/LW and MANPADS at the U.S. Department of State is the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs. This Office works closely with the Office of Conventional Arms Threat Reduction in the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation which is responsible for preventing the proliferation of MANPADS and other conventional weapons. PM/WRA also works closely with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (http://www.dtra.mil/) to render Physical Security and Stockpile Management assistance and CWD to foreign countries who have requested such help from the United States.

[More information about CWD, small arms/light weapons, and MANPADS can be found in the Press Releases, Remarks, Fact Sheets, etc. sections of the main Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement webpage.]