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It's important to distinguish military mine clearance, usually referred to as “mine field breaching” from post-conflict humanitarian demining.. Military breaching involves opening a lane through which troops and vehicles can advance. Perfect clearance is not possible, and some casualties are accepted to achieve the tactical advantage of a rapid advance.

Until the last few years, most work in demining was oriented toward military breaching of adversary mine fields. Some of the tools for that mission may be applicable to humanitarian demining, but rarely are breaching technologies directly applicable to demining.