Secret Report Slams Inept MIA Recovery Effort
Suppressed Pentagon report says effort is approaching 'total failure'
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Jul 8, 2013 9:28 AM CDT
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)

(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.

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Showing 3 of 5 comments
Jul 8, 2013 2:47 PM CDT
Our government doesn't care about our veterans. They only care about their own personal power and money. Why any one would join the military now is beyond me, except for love of country. Because they are dying, while our government puts their boots on our necks and let the mexican invaders have preference.
Jul 8, 2013 12:04 PM CDT
Depends on the place and the politics. I wouldn't expect much help from North Korea. The Vietnamese periodically find a GI's remains and tell us about it. Remains of WWII casualties, both US and Japanese, show up fairly often. I'm not sure what anyone could really do to speed up a process like that.
Jul 8, 2013 11:49 AM CDT
I would estimate that more that the majority of the of the people who have family members missing, their remains are beyond any kind of salvage or recovery due to deterioration by natural processes, including the bones, which are consumed by bacteria over a period of many years. And then consider in what countries they are missing and that country's climate.