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2012 Brieflys Archive

Foreign Veterans Visits U.S.

In January, DPMO provided interpreters and logistical support to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) as they hosted a group of foreign veterans in Washington, D.C. The five visiting veterans representing Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan, received briefings on the state-of-the-art medical care provided to our veterans by the U.S. government, and met with senior DoD officials to discuss the POW/MIA mission. The visitors will report back to their respective governments with a goal of developing similar medical, financial, and educational services for their own veterans. DPMO's support assisted in fostering a closer relationship with the foreign veterans, which in turn helps DPMO analysts collect information relating to U.S. Servicemen missing from past wars.

DPMO Policy Director Receives Award

On January 30, Ms. Melinda Cooke, DPMO Director for Personnel Accounting Policy, received the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Civilian Service. Since 2009, Ms. Cooke has worked issues that span the globe, to include playing a critical role during the negotiations that led to a signed arrangement with the Government of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea; expanding personnel accounting activities with China; codifying long standing relations with Southeast Asia, Japan, and the Republic of Korea; and formalizing proactive WWII loss investigations in the European theater.

Russian Archives

DPMO's Moscow Office is conducting research in the Central Archives of the Russian Ministry of Defense in Podolsk, Russia to locate information from the 64th Fighter Aviation Corps (FAC) archival records on missing U.S. servicemen. These records include information such as shoot down reports, maps, photographs, and descriptions of crash site locations. The 64th FAC was the parent unit of approximately 70,000 Soviet servicemen that fought against the U.S. and United Nations forces during the Korean War.

Family Update in Tampa, Florida

On Jan. 28, government officials from the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO); the Pacific Command's Joint POW/Missing Personnel Accounting Command (JPAC); the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL); the military Services' Casualty Offices; and the Air Force's Life Sciences Equipment Laboratory (LSEL) went to Tampa, Fl., and conducted DoD's 150th Family Update for 139 attending family members of MIA servicemen. There were 64 first-time attendees who participated in the event. Throughout the day, family members were presented information by DoD experts on current U.S. Government policy, DNA identification processes, and life sciences equipment technology. Attending family members were provided an opportunity to meet, 1-on-1, with DoD officials and systems experts to review the specific details of their MIA serviceman's loss case.

Research at The National Personnel Records Center

In January 2012, DPMO conducted a research trip to the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis. Researchers obtained copies of morning reports, patient rosters, unit rosters, and official personnel files of unaccounted-for service members. They also gathered records from living former service members, which may assist with collecting information on those that are missing. NPRC is the only government facility outside of the Washington, D.C. area that contains this particular information. The results of the trip provided information that was requested by family members, service casualty officers and DPMO analysts. From this trip, 18 sets of morning reports and nine personnel records were copied and dispatched to interested parties.

U.S and Vietnam Discuss Last-Known-Alive Cases

On January 10, analysts from DPMO, JPAC, and the Defense Intelligence Agency (Stony Beach) met in Hanoi, with analysts from the Vietnamese Office for Seeking Missing Persons from the Ministry of Defense, to discuss the status of 36 Last-Known-Alive (LKA) cases. Of the LKA cases, 23 are Vietnam cases, 10 are Laos cases, and 3 are Cambodia cases. The discussions clarified requirements for future investigations in Vietnam, and identified challenging cases that will require assistance from the Vietnamese to resolve. The meeting also helped prioritize LKA investigation planning for the year. The cooperative discussions resulted in next steps for every LKA case reviewed.

Remains Recovery Operations in Laos

JPAC operations are temporarily suspended in Laos due to JPAC's decision not to renew the contract with the Lao company providing helicopter support to its operations there, and the Lao Government's subsequent rejection of JPAC's request to move the teams by vehicle. The decision not to renew the contract was prompted by safety concerns created when the Lao company began using helicopters not meeting Department of Defense safety standards for the JPAC mission. The Lao denied the subsequent JPAC request to move teams by vehicle, claiming road safety and security issues. If JPAC is able to renegotiate a helicopter contract with the Lao company for only those helicopters meeting U.S. Government safety standards, they may be able to resume operations later this spring. Alternately, Lao approval to move teams by vehicle will enable JPAC to resume limited operations in the country. The rugged terrain and lack of road network in areas where Americans went missing during the war make helicopter support to the JPAC mission in Laos critical. U.S. Ambassador Karen Stewart is fully engaged in these discussions with Laos, and the issue will be on the agenda during the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue with Laos, scheduled for February, in Washington.

Fiscal Year 2012 Budget for the Accounting Community

In FY2012, Secretary Panetta and the Department of Defense remain fully committed to supporting the accounting mission for all past conflicts. With the passage of the recent Defense budget, the DoD has increased funding for JPAC to meet statutory requirements to increase accounting from all past conflicts, including the emergent North Korea requirement.

89 Service Members Accounted For in 2011

In 2011, 89 service members were accounted for from past conflicts. Of those accounted for, 26 were from World War II, 39 were from the Korean War, and 24 were from the Vietnam War. A service member becomes "accounted for" only after their remains have been identified and the next of kin have been notified. For the past four years, there has been an increase in the number of service members accounted-for, a trend we hope will continue as the accounting community begins to increase its capacity in 2012.

8 exhumations of Korean War unknowns proposed

On Feb. 27, 2012, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) submitted requests to DPMO, the Under Secretary for Personnel & Readiness, and the U.S. Army to exhume eight unknown burials from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl). All eight graves are believed to hold the remains of unaccounted-for U.S. soldiers from the Korean War. JPAC's analysis of existing records suggests that all eight cases may be identifiable using current forensic science techniques. The accounting community has a deliberate and transparent review process to ensure that remains can likely be identified before they are exhumed. To date, JPAC has exhumed 26 Korean War unknown remains from the Punchbowl and identified 22 men (the identifications of the remaining men are still pending). The Department's program has been an success story for the Korean War families.

U.S.-India Bilateral Meeting

During a bilateral meeting with the Indian Government in February, senior DoD officials raised DPMO's desire to meet and discuss resumption of remains recovery activities in India. There was no objection from the Government of India, and even signs of willingness, however no steps have been taken to get started. DPMO had some optimism that things were moving ahead in India when Indian troops visited a crash site after asking for background information on sites of interest, but we have seen nothing more to give an idea of when officials might meet to discuss starting recovery operations. In this most recent engagement between DoD and the Indian government, DoD officials were informed that the Ministry of National Defense would not be in charge of our operations as we were originally advised, but would only support them. Instead, Indian officials stated that the Ministry of Home Affairs will have oversight responsibility. This ministry deals with internal matters in the Indian states. DPMO is working with the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi to initiate contact with the ministry. DPMO is determined to pursue the WWII accounting mission in India and has the support and assistance of DoD and the Department of State.

Remains Recovery in Burma

On Feb 23, DASD Newberry met with the Burmese Minister of Defense and leadership from other Ministries in Burma to discuss options for accounting for Americans missing in Burma from WWII. He briefed them on the Department's current worldwide personnel accounting mission and the importance of these activities to the U.S. government and families of the missing personnel. The Burmese officials were supportive of the request to resume investigations and remains recovery operations in Burma. They agreed that the next step would be for the Commander of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command to lead a meeting with the Defense Ministry to discuss the way ahead at the technical level.

Record Attendance at Family Update in Dallas, TX

On Feb. 25, government officials from DPMO, the Pacific Command's Joint POW/Missing Personnel Accounting Command, the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory, the military Services' Casualty Offices, and the Air Force's Life Sciences Equipment Laboratory went to Dallas, Texas to conduct a Family Update event. Over 275 family members of missing servicemen were in attendance, which made it one of the largest Family Update events ever. There were 143 first-time attendees who participated in this event. Throughout the day, family members were presented information by DoD experts on current U.S. Government policy, DNA identification processes, and life sciences equipment technology. Attending family members were provided an opportunity to meet, 1-on-1, with DoD officials and systems experts to review the specific details of their MIA serviceman's loss case. Upcoming family events include: The Korean and Cold War Annual Briefing, held on April 19-20; and the next Family Update, May 19, in Indianapolis. For more information about these events click HERE.

U.S.-Laos Technical Talks

On Feb. 20, a representative from DPMO participated in semi-annual consultative talks sponsored by U.S. Pacific Command's Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) with representatives of the Lao People's Democratic Republic in Vientiane, Laos. The Lao agreed to JPAC's proposal to change the number of joint field activities (JFAs) executed per fiscal year in Laos from five to four beginning in Fiscal Year 2013, but to extend the number of days allowed for several of the JFAs. JPAC believes this revision will provide greater flexibility and efficiency to its work in the country. However, for alleged security and safety reasons, the Lao did not agree to JPAC's requests to allow teams to drive to excavation sites where possible or to have base camps for recovery teams near sites.


DPMO in Poland to discuss remains recoveries

From 13-17 February, representatives from DPMO, Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, and the European Command convened a joint working group in Warsaw and Wroclaw, Poland. They met with members of the U.S. Embassy and both national and local level Polish officials. The group outlined host nation requirements for investigations, excavations, exhumations, and archival research on WII losses in Poland. The joint working group will continue to collaborate on standard operating procedures designed to ensure that all cultural and legal considerations are addressed prior to any future operations.

DPMO historians acquire 1,000s of French records

From 3-17 February DPMO historians and a JPAC analyst collected and analyzed historical records from the French Ministry of Defense archives in Vincennes, France. Through the director of research for the Air Force records, the team obtained three major collections of dossiers, photos, and maps recording details of American, Allied, and German aircraft crash sites throughout France, with additional material for Belgium, The Netherlands, Northern Africa, and Italy. Working from DPMO's case tracker and databases of WWII losses, the team determined that these thousands of documents directly inform more than 50 active cases for missing American aviators in France. The team returned with over 10,000 images and is analyzing them in order to present cases for investigation, build new data sets and assessment tools, and augment the GIS mapping system .

All X-Files To Be Digitized This Year

Following WWII, the American Graves Registration Service recovered numerous sets of remains of American service members, some of which were not able to be identified. Those not identified were given a title that started with "X" to signify "unknown." After 1952, there were approximately 8,475 of these cases for WWII. The same process was followed for unknown remains following the Korean War, which resulted in 846 X-files. In 2010, DPMO initiated a scanning project to digitize all of the "X-files" so as to preserve the information, make the files more readily available, and to share the information within the accounting community. As of Feb. 2012, 87 out of 124 boxes of files have been scanned. The scanning project is expected to be completed by the end of 2012.

DPMO Visits CENTCOM

On January 30, several DPMO officials traveled to the Central Command Headquarters in Florida to meet with Rear Admiral Donegan. The officials discussed best practices for personnel accounting in Iraq, for which responsibilities were officially handed over to DPMO last December. Both organizations, DPMO and CENTCOM, are committed to bringing all of our service members home, and will continue to work together to pursue all actions possible to do so.

DPMO & JPAC Discuss North East Asia Activities in 2012

During the week of Feb. 6, DPMO analysts met with the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) J-2 representatives for a case coordination conference. Part of the event was a comprehensive review of the last 6 months of Personnel Accounting efforts in Northeast Asia. Another session was held to identify information collection requirements and actions to support search and recovery missions for 2012. The excavation targets for North Korean operations for 2012, and the refinement of JPAC's Joint Survey Team investigative coverage for Unsan and Changjin Counties in North Korea were also discussed.

Web-based Case Management System Development

On Feb 1st, DPMO's Federated Case Management System (FCMS) development team held the first in a series of video teleconference meetings with representatives of the Service Casualty & Mortuary Affairs offices (SCO). The purpose was to define requirements related to case file information requests for future FCMS development. FCMS is a web-based information sharing and collaboration tool that will enhance the POW/MIA Accounting Community's ability to work as a team. A second meeting is scheduled for Feb 6th to discuss a Family Contact Log feature in FCMS and a third meeting is set for the week of Feb 13th to talk about DPMO's Family Portal, which would allow families direct access to select files in their cases.

Worldwide Personnel Recovery Conference

The Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) recently co-hosted the 2012 Worldwide Personnel Recovery Conference at Quantico, VA. The conference shared information related to Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape (SERE) Training, SERE Psychology, Intelligence Support to Personnel Recovery, and Non-conventional Assisted Recovery. Two full days were devoted to discussions of personnel recovery, and support for the rescue of missing or isolated personnel.

U.S. Briefs China on Future Remains Recoveries in North Korea

On February 2, officials from the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) met with Chinese Officials to provide background information on plans for resuming investigation and remains recovery operations in North Korea. Because U.S. personnel entering the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea (DPRK) will pass through China, the Americans will need Chinese visas. The operations in North Korea are scheduled to begin this spring and will mark the first in North Korea since 2005.

Personnel Recovery Visit with Pacific Command

On March 13, the DPMO Director for Personnel Recovery conducted an oversight visit with the Personnel Recovery staff at U.S. Pacific Command, Hawaii. At the core of their discussions was how all elements of the U.S. Government will play an important role when recovering personnel in a peacetime governmental detention or non-governmental detention scenarios, and under the leadership of the U.S. Chief of Mission in the specific country involved. Addressing these possible scenarios in advance are important not only to our military and civilian personnel deployed to or assigned in nations throughout the Pacific region, to include the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command's investigation and recovery teams operating in remote areas of the Pacific region.

Moscow Office

During March, researchers in the DPMO Moscow office reviewed files in Russia's Podolsk Archive files that included combat reports, combat orders, and other data from the Soviet Fighter Aviation Division (133rd FAD) and Regiments (16th FAR, 415th FAR, and 177th FAR) that operated in the Korean Theater of Operations during the period of 1951-1953. The files contained information on the circumstances of U.S. aircraft shoot downs. The Russians will digitize the documents and the Moscow office will also send summaries of the files to DPMO. Additionally, a researcher in the Moscow Office gained access to materials from the State Archive of the Russian Federation (GARF), specifically from the Prison Department of the Soviet Ministry of Internal Affairs, dating back to WWII and the early post-war period. To further increase mutual cooperation with Russia, the Moscow Office met with Dr. Kharitonov from the Saxony Center for Historical Documentation of Resistance and Repression in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Occupied Zone of the German Democratic Republic. Dr. Kharitonov briefed them on Russian and German cooperation on researching the whereabouts of missing German and Soviet soldiers. He expressed an interest in aerial reconnaissance photos of German POW and concentration camps which were taken by the Allies during WWII and intends to request assistance through the Russian Side of the USRJC in determining if these photos exist in US archives.


Proposed exhumation in Czech Republic

In March, DPMO received approval from the British Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) in response to a request to exhume the grave believed to be that of an American Serviceman missing from WWII, who was buried as an unknown in the CWGC section of Olsany Cemetery in Prague, Czech Republic. DPMO WWII investigators' analysis of war-era records suggested that the possible identity of the British unknown is a missing American. After a joint U.S/British exhumation, the Accounting Community should be able to confirm the soldier's identity quickly.

Southeast Asia Case Coordination Conference

From Feb. 27 to March 2, analysts from DPMO's Southeast Asia Division, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), the Defense Intelligence Agency (Stony Beach), and Life Sciences Equipment Laboratory participated in a biannual coordination conference at Pearl Harbor, HI to review 303 cases of personnel loss, share research, and come to an analytic consensus as to what to do next on each case. The team identified recommended leads for each case during the five day conference. Through this coordination process specific leads for JPAC field teams were selected, and information to support site surveys and excavations was shared .

Interagency Personnel Recovery Working Group

DPMO hosted the Interagency Personnel Recovery Working Group on April 30th, 2012. This working group, comprised of 19 Executive Branch agencies, is a sub-working group of the National Security Staff's Hostage and Personnel Recovery Working Group. The major efforts center around implementing national personnel recovery via the Presidential Directive. The group focused on implementation updates, how to recover isolated personnel in a host nation-led environment, developing table top personnel recovery exercises, and discussed future participation in the Department's Angel Thunder personnel recovery exercise in 2013.

Remains Recovery in Burma

On April 26, the Commander of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command led technical meetings with the Burmese Ministry of Defense and Office of the Chief of Military Security Affairs to discuss resuming investigations and remains recovery activities for WWII missing. Echoing what was previously expressed to the DASD for POW/MIA Affairs, both ministries were supportive of the proposal to resume operations in Burma, and they agreed to continue discussions to refine the details in the near future.

U.S. - Russia Joint Commission Meeting

DPMO's Moscow office forwarded a letter from Mr. Verga, Chief of Staff for the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, to Ms. Priyezzheva, the Russian Co-chair for the U.S.-Russia Joint Commission on POW-MIAs, in which he proposes a meeting in St. Petersburg or Moscow in June, 2012.

Korean and Cold War Annual Government Briefings

The Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) hosted the annual briefings for the families of servicemen missing from the Korean War and Cold War on April 19-20, 2012, in Vienna, Virginia. During the two-day event, 322 family members received briefings from analysts and senior officials from DPMO, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), the Department of State, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory, and the Military Departments. This year's event included a separate breakout meeting for 26 family members of Cold War losses. Families also had the opportunity to sit down with their respective casualty officer and analysts from DPMO and JPAC to discuss their loved ones' cases. To view the slides that were presented at the briefing, click here.

Remains Recovery Operations in India

In April, the State Department led a U.S delegation to India. One of the topics of discussion was our desire to recover the remains of U.S. servicemen still missing from World War II in India. Indian officials expressed sympathy for the humanitarian nature of the mission and proposed further discussions this summer regarding the details, locations, and support requirements for proposed remains recovery operations. The Indian officials advised that if the government of India and the U.S. come to an agreement on future operations, they should not take place until after the end of the monsoon season in September.

Chuck Henley Recognized for Service

On April 20, during an annual dinner hosted by Korea and Cold War Families of the Missing, Mr. Chuck Henley, Director of External Affairs at DPMO, was recognized for his outstanding 20-year commitment to the POW/MIA issue and for his sincere service to the families of missing personnel. In his current position, Mr. Henley oversees DPMO's Family Update programs and interactions between DPMO and Veteran's Service Organizations.

Accounting Community Meeting

On April 18, DPMO hosted a meeting for leadership of the Accounting Community to address issues and topics of concern for all agencies involved in the personnel accounting mission. Topics of discussion included the strategic approach for the collection of family reference samples from World War II families; the use of other Defense resources to increase the capacity for locating and identifying remains; disinterment policies for Korean War and World War II remains; and funding requirements for specific organizations.

DPMO Hosts Japanese Delegation

On April 13, DPMO hosted a seven-member Japanese delegation led by a Special Advisor to the Japanese Prime Minister and member of the Japanese Diet, HONDA Hiranao and Deputy Director Yamaguchi Masami from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. The group discussed cooperation on WWII remains recovery missions in the Pacific; to include organizational structure, information and technology exchanges, forensic and DNA techniques, sharing of annual plans for investigations and excavations, and the benefits of joint U.S.-Japan forensic reviews of discovered remains. The delegation was particularly interested in remains recovery operations on Iwo Jima, where Japan is attempting to recover remains of its military personnel and the U.S. also has missing personnel. The two sides discussed the benefits of jointly reviewing remains recovered to ensure they are returned to the correct nation. The delegation also thanked the U.S. for past assistance in locating information in U.S. archives that has been helpful to their work.

New Date for Providence FMU

The Family Member Update scheduled in Providence, R.I., will now be held on August 11th. Please make a note of this change if you are planning to attend.

New Leadership at DPMO

Major General Winfield On May 21, Major General (Ret) W. Montague Winfield was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/Missing Personnel Affairs and Director of the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office. As DASD, he is responsible for developing policy and strategy for personnel recovery, personnel accounting, and DoD support to civil search and rescue. As the Director, he leads the national effort for the fullest possible accounting for American personnel missing as a result of hostile action.


DPMO Moscow office

Researchers are reviewing materials at three Russian Archives: the Russian State Military Archives (RGVA), the State Archives of the Russian Federation (GARF), and the Central Archives of the Ministry of Defense (TsAMO). The first two, RGVA and GARF, contain documents on the Soviet involvement in repatriating U.S. POWs liberated from German captivity at the end of WWII, as well as potential information on the handful of U.S. servicemen that were liberated by the Soviets and are still listed as missing. Additionally, we continue to work in TsAMO with documents related to the Soviet involvement in the Korean War.

Vietnamese Documents

During semi-annual U.S. - Vietnam technical talks in Hanoi, on May 4, officials from the Vietnam Office for Seeking Missing Persons provided several archival documents that the U.S. has been seeking for several years. Although analysis is pending translation, DPMO assesses that this is another positive step forward in the maturing U.S. - Vietnam relationship.

Investigations in Italy

A joint DPMO/JPAC team of four historians and analysts, supported by a translator from the Army's Military Intelligence Reserve Command, recently returned from a successful mission to Italy and Austria where they investigated seven loss incidents involving eleven MIAs from World War II. These investigations derived from historical research using archival records and contacts with local authorities and researchers in both countries. The team located several aircraft crash sites and conducted research in local archives and cemeteries in both countries. The team enjoyed assistance from municipal authorities in each of the cities visited. The team also met with the superintendent of the American Battle Monuments Commission Sicily-Rome Cemetery in Nettuno and collected data concerning the 490 unknown remains interred there.

A Note from DASD Winfield

It is my honor to have been appointed the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) for POW/Missing Personnel Affairs and the Director of the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office. Before retiring from a 31 year military career, one of my assignments was the Commanding General of Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, thus I thoroughly understand the importance of ensuring our Nation remembers the sacrifices of our missing warriors. The families who still wait, count on us to work diligently to account for their loved ones-no matter how long it takes.

I am placing increased emphasis on communicating with family members, Veteran Service Organizations, and the accounting community. This website is developed to help you find information about your missing loved one, sign up for Family Updates and read our newsletter "The Torch," order free copies of the 2012 POW/MIA Recognition Day posters, and explain the work that the Department of Defense does to recover our missing personnel. Please do not hesitate to contact us with questions and comments.

Remains Recoveries in India

In June, the United States and India agreed to resume remains recovery activities in parts of Northeastern India. There are approximately 400 unaccounted-for service members from some 90 aircraft crashes in the area during World War II. Secretary Panetta said, "This is a critical step toward bringing home our service members lost during World War II. The United States and India, working together, can help provide comfort to the families of Americans who were lost during the war." The Department deeply appreciates the close cooperation of the Government of India in helping our teams resume their critical work. Returning our fallen heroes is a top priority of the Department of Defense.

DPMO Briefs Families

In June, the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia held their 43rd annual meeting in Crystal City, VA. During the three-day meeting, 186 family members, representing 97 cases of personnel missing from the Vietnam War, received briefings from senior officials and analysts from DPMO, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, the Department of State, each of the Military Services, the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory, the Life Sciences Equipment Laboratory, and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Balkans Research Project

In May, DPMO and the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, concluded a 4 1/2 month Balkans Research Project with an investigation in Croatia, Slovenia and, for the first time ever, Serbia. The results of this research include one case to present to the JPAC Excavation Decision Board, two possible exhumation requests, and additional information on one case that may involve one U.S. serviceman and the Slovenian Partisans with whom he fought and died. The DPMO/JPAC team also advanced other cases, and useful contacts were made in all countries especially Serbia, where DPMO believes several cases may be resolved in coming years.

Vietnam Developments

In May, after years of requests, Vietnam turned over policy, strategic, and tactical level archival documents regarding unaccounted for Americans. While our analysts continue assessing the documents, we are encouraged by Vietnam's action and look forward to further progress. During Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's recent visit to Vietnam, Vietnamese officials announced they would open access to another three sites previously off limits to U.S. teams. This action, coupled with previous Vietnamese announcements removing sites from restricted lists, leaves a handful of sites still inaccessible to U.S. teams. We continue to seek access those sites.

Chinese Archives Agreement

From May 16-17, DPMO staff met with Chinese military archivists and signed a technical arrangement renewing cooperation for another three years on sharing information about American military personnel missing in conflicts in China. The U.S. negotiating team also included staff from the USPACOM Joint POW/MIA Command and personnel from the U.S. Embassy, Beijing. The Director of the PLA Archives Department reported that China's Ministry of National Defense considers the archival research arrangement to be the most successful component of the U.S.-China mil-to-mil program.

Estonian Officials Attend Vietnam Loss Burial

A group burial for Maj. Aado Kommendant, and Lt. Col. Charles M. Walling, U.S. Air Force, was held at Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday, Aug. 8, 46 years from the day their F-4 Phantom was lost over South Vietnam. Uniquely, in honor of Kommendant's Estonian heritage, military and government officials from Estonia attended on behalf of their President.

VFW National Convention

From July 22-25, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) held its 113th National Convention in Reno, Nevada. There was a wide range of impressive guests, speakers and participants at the convention. President Barack Obama addressed the convention on Monday, as did MG Tom, JPAC Commander, and Ms. Ekaterina Priyezzheva, the Chairperson of the Russian side of the U.S.-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs. Representatives of the War Veterans Committee, an international veterans service organization, whose members represent a number of countries from the former Soviet Union, participated in the event. DPMO's Joint Commission Support Directorate (JCSD) provided translation support with two Russian linguists. JCSD has a long history of working with the War Veterans Committee, whose members have greatly facilitated its work. DASD Winfield addressed the VFW National Security and Foreign Affairs and POW/MIA Committee on Sunday about the work going on in the Accounting Community.

Meetings with Congressional Staff

On July 10th, DASD Winfield met with key staff members from the House and Senate Armed Service Committees to discuss accounting for our missing service members. They spoke at length about the personnel accounting community and DPMO's expectations for achieving our goals in the coming years. These committees have congressional oversight of the personnel accounting issue and have been unwavering in their support for the POW/MIA mission for many years.

Secretary Clinton Visits Laos

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton became the first U.S. Secretary of State to visit Laos in 57 years when she stopped in Laos on her way to an ASEAN forum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The visit by a U.S. Secretary of State, long requested by U.S. officials and the National League of POW/MIA Families, was well received by Lao officials. Secretary Clinton met with the Lao Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister, and came away with pledges from the Lao of greater flexibility for our Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) teams. U.S. and Lao officials will flesh out these issues out at the semi-annual U.S. - Lao Consultative Talks scheduled for next month in Vientiane. The U.S. continues to press the Lao for greater flexibility for DIA's Stony Beach POW/MIA investigators and more reasonable charges for helicopter support.

Proposed Legislation for Volunteer Assistance

Earlier this year, the Department of Defense submitted to Congress a DPMO legislative proposal that gives the Secretary of Defense authority to accept services from volunteers to assist in accounting-for our missing. Both the House and Senate included the proposal in their versions of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, and we are hopeful it will be enacted into law. If passed, this legislation will allow us to work collaboratively with volunteers.

DPMO Briefs Families

In June, the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia held their 43rd annual meeting in Crystal City, VA. During the three-day meeting, 186 family members, representing 97 cases of personnel missing from the Vietnam War, received briefings from senior officials and analysts from DPMO, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, the Department of State, each of the Military Services, the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory, the Life Sciences Equipment Laboratory, and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Balkans Research Project

In May, DPMO and the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, concluded a 4 1/2 month Balkans Research Project with an investigation in Croatia, Slovenia and, for the first time ever, Serbia. The results of this research include one case to present to the JPAC Excavation Decision Board, two possible exhumation requests, and additional information on one case that may involve one U.S. serviceman and the Slovenian Partisans with whom he fought and died. The DPMO/JPAC team also advanced other cases, and useful contacts were made in all countries especially Serbia, where DPMO believes several cases may be resolved in coming years.

Vietnam Developments

In May, after years of requests, Vietnam turned over policy, strategic, and tactical level archival documents regarding unaccounted for Americans. While our analysts continue assessing the documents, we are encouraged by Vietnam's action and look forward to further progress. During Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's recent visit to Vietnam, Vietnamese officials announced they would open access to another three sites previously off limits to U.S. teams. This action, coupled with previous Vietnamese announcements removing sites from restricted lists, leaves a handful of sites still inaccessible to U.S. teams. We continue to seek access those sites.

Chinese Archives Agreement

From May 16-17, DPMO staff met with Chinese military archivists and signed a technical arrangement renewing cooperation for another three years on sharing information about American military personnel missing in conflicts in China. The U.S. negotiating team also included staff from the USPACOM Joint POW/MIA Command and personnel from the U.S. Embassy, Beijing. The Director of the PLA Archives Department reported that China's Ministry of National Defense considers the archival research arrangement to be the most successful component of the U.S.-China mil-to-mil program.

JPAC's NGO Outreach Symposium

From Sept. 27-28, four members of DPMO participated in the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) Outreach Symposium hosted by JPAC in San Diego. More than 50 WWII enthusiasts attended the symposium to discuss the U.S. Government's MIA accounting program in the Pacific and South Asia areas, along with more than 20 government officials from the Accounting Community. Government officials briefed the NGOs on policy, legal issues, research, remains recovery and identifications, and outreach efforts. The venue also provided opportunities for informal interactions and candid discussions that helped to establish better communication between government and NGOs as we all work on this important mission.

POW/MIA Recognition Day

Sept. 21 was National POW/MIA Recognition Day, a day to pause and remember those who have given so much in service to our country. The Department held a POW/MIA Recognition Day Ceremony at the Pentagon and invited more than 600 families, veterans and veteran organizations in the local area, every "3-star" equivalent or higher and key foreign Ambassadors to attend. ADM James A. Winnefeld, Jr., The Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, gave opening remarks, followed by remarks from Dr. Ashton Carter, Deputy Secretary of Defense, and the key note speaker was former Senator Chuck Hagel. As a community, we can be proud that so many people, military and civilians, are taking time to honor service members who were prisoners of war or missing in action.

Research in Korea

From Sept. 5-15, two research analysts from DPMO traveled to Seoul, South Korea to coordinate with the Korean Ministry of National Defense Archives about access to records related to U.S. losses in the Korean War. The researchers also augmented JPAC's Korean Field Element at two investigation sites.

Technical Talks in Vietnam

On Sept. 13, representatives from JPAC and DPMO participated in semi-annual technical talks with Vietnamese government counterparts in Hanoi, Vietnam. Topics discussed included a review of recently completed joint field activities, a review of proposed Fiscal Year 2013 activities, and other matters affecting the accounting mission in Vietnam. A highlight was Vietnam's turnover of another set of long requested archival documents, which summarize annual activities of the unit responsible for the security and maintenance of the Ho Chi Minh Trail during the war. Vietnam also agreed to continue searching for other documents previously requested by the U.S. The talks were conducted in an atmosphere of good will and friendship.

WWII Accounting in Japan

From Sept. 12-14, DPMO and JPAC representatives met officials from the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare (MHLW) of Japan, U.S. Embassy and military personnel in Tokyo, Japan. During the meetings with MHLW officials, DPMO and JPAC representatives shared plans for World War II personnel accounting activities of both countries for 2012 and beyond. DPMO and JPAC representatives emphasized the importance of notifying the U.S. immediately if the Japanese suspect that they may have located U.S. remains during their recovery operations.

WWII Accounting in India

Due to the recent escalation of ethnic violence in northeast India, the government of India has officially postponed all JPAC operations in India until spring 2013.

WWII Accounting in Indonesia

On Sept. 18, DPMO, in coordination with JPAC, provided a policy level briefing on remains recovery and the prospect of operations with the Indonesian Ministry of Defense during the annual Indonesia-United States Strategic Dialogue hosted at the Pentagon. The briefing was very well received, and the Indonesian delegation pledged their full support and assistance for our mission.

DPMO Researchers Identify WWII Cases for Excavation

On Aug. 27, DPMO presented five World War II cases for excavation to JPAC's Excavation Decision Board. Four of the cases were investigated in France and one was in Austria. All five cases were approved. DPMO also presented a case for phase two testing (a more comprehensive survey, which requires the skills of an anthropologist and/or archaeologist) in Italy, and this also was approved.

Technical Talks in Laos and Cambodia

On Aug. 22, representatives from JPAC and DPMO participated in semi-annual consultative talks with representatives of the Lao People's Democratic Republic in Vientiane, Laos. The Lao reaffirmed their government's commitments made to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her visit earlier this year, to allow the use of ground transportation, where appropriate and safe, and allow the use of remote base camping near excavation sites on a case-by-case basis. This change will provide greater flexibility and efficiency for recovery operations in Laos. On Aug. 27 representatives from JPAC and DPMO participated in similar talks with representatives of the government of Cambodia. The Cambodians continue to be accommodating and supportive of our recovery operations in their country.

FY13 Family Updates

DPMO is currently planning six Family Update events in Fiscal Year 2013. A tentative schedule with locations will be released soon. Additionally, the annual Korean/Cold War meeting will take place in April in the Washington D.C. area, and the annual briefings for Vietnam War families will take place during the National League of Families 44th Annual Meeting, June 13-15 in Crystal City.

Burmese Officials Visit JPAC

On Aug. 7-10, eight representatives from the Burmese Office of the Chief of Military Security Affairs visited JPAC. One representative from DPMO participated in the visit. The delegation received an orientation of JPACs methodologies, techniques, and procedures in how they conduct remains recovery missions. JPAC will provide general operating procedures to the Burmese via the Defense Attaché Office in Yangon, which will enable the Burmese to assess how recovery operations are conducted. The exchange of goodwill extended between the countries’ delegations was tremendous, and we hope to be able to resume recovery operations in Burma in the coming years.

U.S.-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIA (USRJC)

On Aug. 15, DASD Winfield had lunch with General (Ret.) Robert H. "Doc" Foglesong, the Chairman of the U.S. side of the USRJC. They are working together to shape the way ahead for the USRJC and the Joint Commission Support Directorate (JCSD). They plan to establish a strategy that will determine JCSD’s overall direction and measures of effectiveness.

General (Ret.) Robert H. "Doc" Foglesong visits DPMO

On Nov. 27, members of the DPMO team had the opportunity to host General (Ret.) Robert H. "Doc" Foglesong, the Chairman of the U.S. Side of the U.S.-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIA (USRJC). Gen Foglesong and DASD Winfield are working together to shape the way ahead for USRJC and DPMO support to it. They discussed the DoD draft inputs for a National Security Staff Charter for the U.S. Side of the USRJC, and agreed on the way ahead. They also discussed the plan to establish a strategy that will determine the Joint Commission Support Directorate's (JCSD) overall direction and measures of effectiveness. This week's meeting was one of the first steps toward re-building our relationship and developing this strategy. Following the meeting, Gen Foglesong took advantage of his time in Washington, D.C. to meet with several USRJC Commissioners.

Personnel Recovery Coordination Across the U.S. Government

On Nov. 28, members of the POW/Missing Personnel Affairs, Personnel Recovery Policy team participated in the latest National Security Staff-Hostage Personnel Recovery Working Group (HPRWG). The goal of this meeting was to inform members of interagency efforts, and discuss the strategic way ahead for personnel recovery. The FBI Office of Victims Assistance briefed their family support program for captives and their families. This is the equivalent of the DoD reintegration program that works with DoD covered personnel and their families. In addition, representative from the State Department briefed the various authorities, responsibilities and capabilities that are available in a host nation environment, under Chief of Mission led personnel recovery situations. The HPRWG will meet again in three weeks to analyze current hostage/personnel recovery cases and identify "Whole of Government" implementation challenges.

Secretary Panetta Speaks on Commitment to Accounting Mission

On Nov. 28, the Secretary of Defense spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Education Center at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. He reiterated the Nation's commitment to accounting for the missing by saying, ". in Hanoi, I met with Department of Defense officials who were there working diligently in Hanoi to locate the remains of service members missing in action in that country and throughout the region. It is our sacred duty to leave no one behind." To read the entire speech, click here.

World War II Research

On Nov. 8-21, a researcher from DPMO and two from JPAC traveled to Berlin, to conduct research at several archives. The team followed-up on archival leads from the prior JPAC research trip in March 2012, went to the German Foreign Office Archive and met with several key contacts. The trip was successful in finding documents that further the accounting mission and forged a close working relationship with the staffs of several archives .

Vietnam Research

On Dec. 10-14, analysts from the Vietnam War sections of DPMO, JPAC, LSEL and DIA's Stony Beach met at JPAC for at the semi-annual coordination conference to discuss details of cases. During the meeting they came up with new next-step leads on over 500 cases.

 

 

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