KUWAIT CITY -- Former Georgia National Guard explosives technician David Peters celebrated the second anniversary of the Iraqi invasion by blowing up another 900 Iraqi land mines.
"Basically, you are a blind man with an electronic seeing eye dog," Mr. Peters, 30, said, squinting at a minefield that ran from horizon to horizon in the vast desert.
Mr. Peters and his 150 fellow American human mine sweepers were actually doing something on this anniversary. For the most part, though, the day was marked throughout this volatile area more with words than with deeds:
* Marines staged a mock amphibious landing in Kuwait today, kicking off monthlong military maneuvers in the emirate, a Kuwaiti spokesman said.
The mock landing was part of Operation Eager Mace, due to run until Aug. 19.
* Kuwait's Information Minister said today Iraq was unlikely to invade Kuwait again despite its warning that it would try to take over the emirate a second time.
* Kuwait published official references to "an emergency plan" to deal with subversive activities in the capital. Crown Prince Sheik Saad al-Sabah declared that the government will use retired policemen, as well as national guard and military veterans, to strengthen internal security. The Kuwait Times quoted Mr. Saad as expressing hopes that "nothing would delay the elections" which the ruling family has promised to hold this October.
Meanwhile, Mr. Peters and his fellow heroes for hire spread out across 1,130 square miles of southwestern Kuwait.
It's the kind of job that takes the nerves of a rodeo bull rider, the manual dexterity of a surgeon and the mental endurance of an air flight controller.
All 150 American explosive ordinance technicians in Kuwait made it through the rigors of the Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal School in Indian Head, Md. The school trains a few specialists for each military service every year.
After Kuwait was recaptured, a military contractor in Tampa, Fla., Conventional Munitions Systems Inc., won a $134 million contract from the Kuwaiti Defense Ministry to clear the southwestern sector of Kuwait.
The clearance company, owned by Germany's Daimler-Benz Group, spread the word among the tight fraternity of retired U.S. military explosives techs that Kuwait was going to be the biggest such job in history.
The money was enough to bring explosives veterans from all directions to the scorpion-infested desert.
Former Marine master sergeant Les Clarke, 38, of Murrieta, Calif., who fought over this same terrain in Operation Desert Storm, showed up too. "It's kind of weird," he said. "Sometimes I go down a road where I've been before."
Fortunately the Iraqis laid out their anti-tank and anti-personnel mines in a fairly predictable pattern, following old Soviet Army manuals.
The Americans have identified two belts of mines totaling 85 miles long that were meant to keep American tanks from entering Kuwait City.
One of the U.S. technicians has been killed in Kuwait. He was blown up when an artillery shell exploded.