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Hagel announces changes to POW/MIA accounting command

By William Cole

LAST UPDATED: 12:17 p.m. HST, Mar 31, 2014

The embattled Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command in Hawaii will no longer report to U.S. Pacific Command and is instead being assigned with other agencies to the Pentagon's Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, officials said.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced changes on Monday to the handful of agencies that investigate, recover and identify missing American war dead after reviews found the longstanding system was inefficient and dysfunctional.

According to officials, the changes will:

>> Align JPAC, headquartered at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, along with the the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office in Washington, D.C., and parts of the Air Force Life Sciences Equipment Laboratory in San Antonio, under the direct supervision of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy.

>> Establish medical oversight of all research.

>> Establish one case data management system.

>> Expand public-private partnerships to recover missing war dead.

The Pentagon's efforts to recover Americans missing from past wars are fragmented, overlap and are hampered by interagency disputes -- inefficiencies that threaten a congressional mandate to identify 200 missing service members by 2015, the Government Accountability Office said in a July report.

The Defense Department has averaged about 70 identifications a year, while more than 83,000 Americans remain missing. Of those, between 25,000 and 35,000 are estimated to be recoverable.

"DoD's capability and capacity to accomplish its missing persons accounting mission is being undermined by long-standing leadership weaknesses and a fragmented organizational structure," the GAO's report found.

The GAO report comes on the heels of an internal JPAC efficiency report that harshly criticized "military tourism" trips to Europe by JPAC staffers as extravagances that included luxury hotels and fine dining.

The internal report, researched in 2010, described aspects of JPAC as dysfunctional -- a charge still leveled today by some staffers who complain that interdepartmental rivalries interfere with the recovery mission.

JPAC is finishing a new $82 million headquarters and lab at Hickam and expects the facility to be completed in late July. The center will be named for the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye.

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HD36 wrote:
How aout redirecting the money to finding children.
on March 31,2014 | 12:22PM
Slow wrote:
"Ain't gonna study war no more," from the old spiritual Down By The Riverside. Do we lead the world in MIAs? Why?
on March 31,2014 | 01:11PM
Jpacker wrote:
A lengthy list of scandals regarding the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) has now been publically exposed by NBC, CBS, NPR, Stars and Stripes, the Associated Press, and a host of other media investigative reports. Scathing official reports by multiple federal agencies painted efforts by JPAC as dysfunctional, duplicative, inefficient, wasteful and so poorly managed and led that JPAC simply could not do the job assigned to it. No matter how hard the JPAC Central Identification Laboratory (CIL) and JPAC management tried to spin the fact that only 385 identifications in seven years with an annual budget far exceeding $100 million was someone else’s fault, the American public and Congress refused to buy this hogwash. The JPAC CIL finally admitted that it takes them an average of ELEVEN YEARS to make an identification after remains are recovered. Investigations by the Department of Defense found 600 to 1,000 sets of American servicemen's remains in cardboard boxes in the JPAC Laboratory that the CIL is incapable of identifying because their methods are antiquated and obsolete. The American public and families of MIAs who accepted the smoke and mirrors from the JPAC public relations machine for years through fraud, phony “arrival home” ceremonies, and out right lies; feel angry, humiliated, and betrayed beyond belief. A large number of current and former employees of JPAC cooperated with these investigations because they are dismayed, disillusioned, disheartened, disgusted, and still disbelieving of what they experienced at JPAC. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, in congressional testimony, spoke for many of them when he called JPAC “disgraceful”. Despite being accused of being “vindictive”, “disgruntled”, and “low lifes”, many past and present employees braved severe retaliation by the JPAC management to come forward with the truth. There are many truly dedicated men and women who work at JPAC who believe in the mission. Researchers, military recovery specialists, and field investigators who hack through jungles, climb mountains, and wade rivers only to be sabotaged in their work by a completely dysfunctional command deserve great credit for their efforts to expose JPAC’s corrupt operation. In the final analysis, no one with any common sense whatsoever believed the excuses of the JPAC Laboratory Scientific Director and other members of the leadership clique at JPAC when their disgraceful actions became public. The Secretary of Defense finally ordered JPAC dissolved and the entire operation be “overhauled”. The changes are long overdue. Yet, even now, those who remain in command at JPAC continue to make excuses and are trying to keep their high paying jobs through their usual finger pointing, denials of responsibility, and boasts that they can “overhaul” their own severe dysfunction if Congress will just give them more millions. Bovine excrement. It is now incumbent upon the Secretary of Defense to ensure that his pledge to the American public for a "paradigm shift" away from "outdated, institutionalized thinking" at JPAC becomes a reality. Such needed massive reform cannot be accomplished by changing the name of the organization, re-shuffling the same poor managers to new desks and titles, and allowing those at fault for not keeping up with modern science such as DNA, to keep their jobs. To do so would only allow the same infectious disease of arrogance and lies to the families of American heroes to take root all over again. Everyone at any level of management and culpability in the many JPAC scandals must be removed. And removed now! The disaster at JPAC has been added to the Dover Mortuary, Arlington Cemetery, and the Viet Nam Unknown debacles. We cannot allow it to happen again.
on April 13,2014 | 02:59PM
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