AP National Security Writer
POSTED: 02:26 p.m. HST, Jul 09, 2013
LAST UPDATED: 02:26 p.m. HST, Jul 09, 2013
WASHINGTON >> The Pentagon said today it will take a "second look" at how it goes about accounting for missing Americans on foreign battlefields, following the disclosure of an internal assessment that the work is "acutely dysfunctional" and at risk of failure.
"We have a sacred obligation to perform this mission well," Pentagon press secretary George Little told reporters, referring to the Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command, or JPAC, which is based in Hawaii and run by a two-star general.
The U.S. estimates there are more than 83,000 Americans missing from World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
Over the past three years, JPAC has reported an average of 69 identifications of recovered remains per year, down from 85 per year over the previous three years. Congress is demanding that it make at least 200 identifications per year starting in 2015, a target it is widely expected to miss.
The Associated Press reported on Sunday that a 2012 internal assessment of JPAC's field operations -- including the search for and recovery and identification of remains -- found it suffers from ineptitude, waste and mismanagement. JPAC leaders suppressed the study but the AP obtained a copy after it had been denied to others who requested it under the Freedom of Information Act.
"We're going to review the concerns raised in the report to see how JPAC is or isn't functioning well," Little said. "And if steps need to be taken to remedy what's happening inside JPAC, then we'll take action. This is an important mission."
The Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, also has examined JPAC. A Pentagon spokesman, Lt. Col. Jim Gregory, said the Pentagon has responded to the GAO's findings and recommendations and expects the results to be made public shortly.