Secret Report Slams Inept MIA Recovery Effort

Suppressed Pentagon report says effort is approaching 'total failure'

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 8, 2013 9:28 AM CDT

(Newser) – An internal report that military leaders tried to bury is revealing serious concerns from within about the effort to account for those American troops still listed as missing in action. "The descent from dysfunction to total failure ... is inevitable" if action isn't taken to fix the program, says the report, obtained by the AP via a FOIA request. The system to retrieve remains and identifying material has "collapsed," and officials are finding far too few leads: When the Korean War ended, some 8,200 were missing. In the 60 years that have eclipsed, only 290 of them have been accounted for. More from the report, which the then-leader of JPAC (short for the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command) banned using "for any purpose":

  • Congress wants 200 identifications a year by 2015, but last year saw just 80, and only 35 of those were based on recoveries by JPAC.
  • Publicly funded JPAC searches are "unnecessary, excessive, inefficient, or unproductive," the report says: Some call them "military tourism," with some trips, particularly those to Europe, amounting to boondoggles.
  • Its databases and maps are both dubbed "unreliable," and it doesn't even have a comprehensive list of the people it's looking for. Some 83,348 are still listed as missing after World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, the AP notes.
The current head of JPAC doesn't deny the problem: "I'd say you're right, and we're doing something about it," says Gen. Kelly K. McKeague. One possible fix: Putting the Joint Chiefs of Staff in charge, he says. Click for much more from the report, including a claim that North Korea "snookered" the US into digging up planted remains there from 1996 to 2000.

Shelia Reese, right, sits with her mother Chris Tench holding a portrait of Tench and her father Kenneth F. Reese, a soldier who is still Missing In Action from the Korean War.
Shelia Reese, right, sits with her mother Chris Tench holding a portrait of Tench and her father Kenneth F. Reese, a soldier who is still Missing In Action from the Korean War.   (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
In this Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2009 photo, Bill Staton places a POW-MIA flag on a pole to decorate the town for an upcoming Vietnam Veterns parade, in Shelby, Ohio.
In this Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2009 photo, Bill Staton places a POW-MIA flag on a pole to decorate the town for an upcoming Vietnam Veterns parade, in Shelby, Ohio.   (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
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