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.