Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) Quarterly Family/VSO/MSO Call Notes
March 1, 2018 —
Thursday, February 8, 2018, 2:00 PM
Mr. Kelly McKeague, Director, DPAA
RDML Jon Kreitz, Deputy Director, DPAA
Mr. Scott Ebell, Chief of Staff, DPAA
Mr. John Hamilton, Director Policy & Plans
Mr. Todd Livick, Director, DPAA Outreach & Communications
Mr. Johnie Webb, Deputy Director, DPAA Outreach & Communications
Mrs. Jennifer Nasarenko, Deputy Director, DPAA Policy & Plans
Mr. Mike Fowler, DPAA Outreach & Communications
Dr. Tom Holland, Director, DPAA Strategic Partnerships
Colonel Chris Forbes, Director, European-Mediterranean Operations
Dr. John Byrd, Director DPAA Laboratory
Mr. Stewart Holbrook, Deputy Director, Asia Pacific Operations
American Legion - Freddy Gessner
Coalition of Families - Donna Knox
Disabled American Veterans (DAV) - Vincent Darcangelo
Honor Release Return, Inc. - Moe Moyer
Korea-Cold War Families of the Missing - Sherra Basham
Korean War Veterans Association - Rocky Harder
Korean War POW/MIA Network - John Zimmerlee
Special Operations Assn/Special Forces Assn - Mike Taylor
TAPS - Kathy Moakler
Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) - Sarah Maples
Korean War Advocate - Frank Metersky
• Update on the Personnel Accounting Mission (Director Kelly McKeague)
• Operational Update and Southeast Asia Visit (Deputy Director RDML Jon Kreitz)
• Strategic Partnerships Update (Director, SP, Dr. Tom Holland)
• USRJC Update (Director, Europe-Mediterranean, COL Chris Forbes)
• IDs/Disinterments (DPAA Laboratory Director, Dr. John Byrd)
• Question and Answer
Update on the Personnel Accounting Mission:
Budget - Our FY18 budget request of $131M is solid, but Continuing Resolutions (CR) cap us at our FY17 budget of $112M and are chaotic; Regarding the full appropriations bill- Met with staffers and all fully support mission and budget request, only one Senate committee had reductions, but allowed us to rebut. They even added $5M to expand public-private.
Sec Mattis Trip - Last month, visited VM; 1st stop after landing was Detachment 2; Comment to Defense Attaché -- "I had a great visit to DPAA. Those people really know what they're doing." - Later met with Vietnamese President and Minister of Defense, spoke about issue being foundational and advocated for more operational flex and archival access President Trump had raised the POW/MIA issue twice.
Other Interest - Widely-recognized as a humanitarian effort, mission continues to garner great interest – allowed to be one of few engagements with Russia (US Ambassador, Cold War Investigative Team in May); Deputy Assistant Secretary of State advocated for us with Indonesian President.
League and SOA/SFA Visits - Delegation from National League of Families and Special Operations Association /Special Forces Association (SOA/SFA) visited 4 countries in Southeast Asia. Besides our Detachments, they met with senior US and Host Nation officials. - Particularly helpful in leveraging decades-long relationships and adding to our mission’s purposefulness to the host nation.
Sanctions - Visa sanctions imposed for deportee repatriation caused Cambodia to cease cooperating on MIA accounting (two FY18 missions cancelled); significant operational impacts, if sanctions are imposed on Laos and Vietnam, and either follows suit.
San Diego FMU - 250 family members, very successful event, representatives from Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, SOA, SFA, and one Representative’s office. Todd rightfully described the “definite vibe”; can’t help but come away even more convinced why ours is a noble mission, why it’s the right thing to do, and most importantly, why it matters.
CMS and Public Portal - Initial fielding next month; training and user acceptance testing will begin very soon - Case Management System (CMS) is one of the central directives, and codified in law, of DPAA’s existence.
Significant Events Since Last Call (October 6)
• November 4, 2017, Boise Family Member Update
• November 8, 2017, Congressional Dedication: Commemorative POW/MIA Chair in the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center
• November 11-12, 2017, POTUS to Vietnam; Detachment 2 participated in event at DaNang
• November 21, 2017, Repatriation Ceremony in South Korea
• November, 2017, Deputy Director traveled to Korea, Laos, Vietnam, & Thailand
• November 2017, USS Oklahoma 100th identification
• December 2, 2017, Director addressed the League Board Meeting
• December 7, 2017, Repatriation Ceremony in Vientiane, Laos
• January 12, 2018, Director addressed the Vietnam Veterans of America board meeting
• January 20, 2018, San Diego Family Member Update - 225 Family members representing 118 missing U.S. personnel (30.5%- Korean War, 29.6%-WWII, 39.8%-Vietnam War losses) attended with 106 first-time attendees.
• January 11-30, 2018, Separate delegations from the National League of POW/MIA Families and Special Operations Association (SOA)/Special Forces Association (SFA) visited Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand.
• January 24 – 26, 2018, SecDef Visit to Vietnam; event at Detachment
• February 24 Jacksonville, FL, Family Update - Doubletree Hotel Jacksonville Airport
• February 2018, Director travel to Germany, Ukraine, & France
• February 24, 2018, Deputy Director address Vietnam Veterans Assoc., Hawaii Chapter
• February 27-28, 2018, USRJC WWII Tech Talks
• February 25-28, 2018, American Legion Conference in Washington, D.C.
• March 2018, Director travel to Southeast Asia
• March 01, 2018, Case Management System Initial Operational Capability
• March 4-8, 2018, VFW Legislative Conference
• March 10-25, 2018, VFW Senior Vice Commander-in-Chief and Executive Director travel to DPAA (Hawaii) and Southeast Asia
• March 18-31, Deputy Director travel to Guam, Japan, Indonesia, & Burma
• March 23, 2018, El Paso, TX, Annual Accounting Meeting
• March 24, 2018, El Paso, TX, Family Member Update
• March 29, 2018, National Vietnam War Veterans Day
• Tarawa Repatriation Ceremony (Pending)
• April 9, 2018, National Former POW Recognition Day
• April 21, 2018, Rapid City, SD, Family Member Update
• April 23-27, 2018, Vietnam War Technical Talks
• April 26, 2008, DPAA-Families/VSOs/MSOs and Partners Update Call-2 p.m. (Tentative)
• May 2018, Director leads China Tech Talks; ROK repatriation ceremony; & Japan visit
• May 20187, Deputy Director visits Germany, France, Italy, & Tunisia
• May 19, 2018, Louisville, KY, Family Member Update
Operational Update (Deputy Director RDML Kreitz)
We are on track to account for more than 200 personnel in FY18.
We had very successful Joint Field Activities (JFAs) in SEA; almost every team brought back possible osseous material.
We are making significant progress in Laos; we are bivouacking on site and using contracted EOD support for the first time to clear unexploded ordnance (UXO) and conduct site preparations prior to the teams arrival saving time and money, allowing more time to conduct a recovery.
WWII; History Flight is making progress in Tarawa – we had to reschedule the repatriation ceremony due to the Government shutdown; it is rescheduled for mid-March. Working an underwater recovery in Palau.
Our investigation team in India had great success at three sites.
Doing lots of work with “partners” such as the University of Illinois- Chicago (UIC) in the Philippines.
Korean War; partnership with the Ministry of National Defense Agency for KIA (Killed in Action) Recovery and Identification (South Korea) (MAKRI) – great relationship and they continue to find U.S. unaccounted-for as they conduct their work.
Disinterments; we conducted 24 disinterments from the Manila American Cemetery.
In the upcoming months, I will be traveling to Guam, Japan, Indonesia, and Burma.
Past Operations (Prior 60 days)
Laos: 18-1LA (Oct 24 – Dec 12, 2017) 3 x RT (Recovery Team; 1 x IT (Investigative)
18-2LA (Jan 3 –Feb 12, 2018) 3 x RT; 1 x IT
Vietnam: 18-1VN (Oct 24 – 9 Dec 2017) 3 x RT; 3 x RIT (Recovery & Investigative Team);
1 x UE (Underwater excavation)
World War II:
Tarawa: 18-1KI (Jul 17 – Dec 2017) via HistoryFlight Group
Palau: 18-1PW (Nov 13, 2017 –Feb 14, 2018) 1 x UIT; 1 x URT (Underwater Recovery)
India: 18-1IN (Nov 1–Dec 10, 2017) 1 x IT
Philippines: 18-2PH (Nov 18, 2017–Mar 1, 2018) 1 x RT; 1 x IT via University of Illinois - Chicago
Korean War: FY18 Joint Planning Conference with MAKRI in Seoul, South Korea (Dec 4 – 8 2017)
Punchbowl: Jan 8, 2018
Manila: DIS 18-3PH (Jan 15-29, 2018)
World War II:
DPAA exhumed an isolated burial in Southern France, from October 9-14, 2017. Although the exhumation did not result in the recovery of remains, it did progress our efforts to account for the missing paratrooper. History Flight conducted recovery work in Northern France in August-September 2017, with positive results. Finally, DPAA conducted an investigation mission in Sicily from October 25 to November 12, 2018, investigating five cases, with three being recommended for future recovery work.
Future Operations (Next 60-days):
World War II:
DPAA will conduct four investigation missions between February and May 2018 in Italy, Poland, Romania, and Russia. DPAA will also conduct two recovery missions from April 15 to June 7, 2018 in Italy and France. Finally, DPAA will conduct recovery work from April 3-14, 2018 on three potential battlefield sites in Western Germany. DPAA will continue coordination efforts for future 4th Quarter (July-September) investigation and recovery missions.
Laos: 18-2LA (Jan 3–Feb 12, 2018) 3 x RT; 1 x IT
18-3LA (Mar 3–Apr 9, 2018) 3 x RT
Vietnam: 18-2VN (Feb 28 –Apr 15, 2018) 3 x RT; 1 x VRT; 2 x RIT; 1 x UE; 1 x URT
World War II:
Tarawa: 18-1KI (Feb 2018 – Jan 2019) via HistoryFlight Group
Palau: 18-1PW (Nov 13, 2017 –Feb 14, 2018) 1 x UIT / 1 x URT
India: 18-2IN (Feb 20 –Mar 21, 2018) 1 x RT via SEARCH, Inc.
Burma: 18-1MM (Feb 9–Mar 23, 2018) 1 x IT
Philippines: 18-2PH (Nov 18, 2017–Mar 1, 2018) 1 x RT; 1 x IT via University of Illinois - Chicago
*Note: 18-1PW (Palau), 18-1KI (Tarawa), 18-2PH (Philippines) and 18-2LA (Laos) started in the last 60 days are currently on-going
Punchbowl: Feb 12 & 26 and Mar 12 & 26, 2018
Manila: DIS 18-5PH (Mar 2 – 15, 2018), DIS 18-6PH (June)
Strategic Partnerships Update (Director, Strategic Partnerships. Dr. Holland)
DPAA’s Strategic Partnerships Directorate continues to mature the DPAA partnership program and processes, including planning, execution, and assessment of all activities. So far in FY18, we have completed or have in-progress three partner field missions, all in the Asia Pacific region (Philippines recovery, Philippines investigation, and UXO clearance in Laos). A new contract is on track for operations in Tarawa, which will provide for sustained recovery operations into the next fiscal year. To date, partner activities have led to four accessions in FY18.
Given the uncertainty of the current budget landscape, planning and execution of partner missions has been somewhat disrupted. Assuming full budget authority is provided for FY18, planned partnered field activities across the globe will include the following:
o Two investigations (UIC in the Philippines, University of Queensland, Australia in Papua New Guinea)
Discussed the relationship the University of Queensland has working with the National Museum in PNG
o One field school (East Carolina University conducting an underwater mission in Saipan; mapping sites)
o Eight investigations (Belgium, Poland, Italy, Germany, Latvia, Kuwait, Italy)
o Nine recoveries (Germany x6, Italy, Malta, France)
o Three field schools (Austria, France, Germany)
o Providing field support for activities (Germany, Poland, Russia)
o Partnering with Scripps Institution of Oceanography on a Data sharing project for low or no-cost field activities (Alaska, Latvia)
DPAA continues to rely upon and strengthen the relationship with other host nation partners, such as MAKRI, the Vietnamese Office For Seeking Missing Persons and the Papua New Guinea Museum. We also work with other host nation entities to expand access for partner institutions throughout the AP area of operations.
We have achieved a $6.9M in savings from using Strategic Partnerships.
Productive year; current or pending partnerships with 60 different entities.
Expect to double our partnerships in FY19.
U.S.-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs (USRJC) Update (Director, Europe-Mediterranean, COL Forbes)
• USRJC held the 21st Plenary Session on November 8, 2017 in Moscow, Russia. Co-chaired by General (retired) Robert Foglesong, and General-Colonel (retired) Valery Vostrotin, the commissioners discussed ongoing efforts to identify missing personnel from the Vietnam War, the Cold War, the Korean War and World War II. A major focus of this plenary session was to seek ways to access POW/MIA information from sensitive Russian archives and determine the best way to redact, declassify, and release pertinent information. At the invitation of the Russian government, representatives from the National League of POW/MIA Families and the VFW were observers at the November Plenum. DPAA is working with the Commission to extend invitations to other family and veteran organizations in the future.
• The World War II Working Group Technical Talks will be held on February 28, 2017, in Moscow, Russia. The focus will be research in the Russian Archives with former Foreign Service Nationals who are now working as contractors.
• In March, USRJC members will travel to Fort Ross Historic State Park in California to support Russia's efforts to restore the Russian cemetery there.
Identifications/Disinterments FY 2018 Review (DPAA Laboratory Director, Dr. Byrd)
During 1st Quarter, the Scientific Analysis Directorate successfully completed a five-year assessment for continued accreditation under ASCLD-LAB (ANAB). This included inspections of DPAA (Hawaii and Nebraska) laboratories. Exhumations from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific were completed for USS West Virginia (35 caskets). The large-scale project teams (e.g., Korean War Project, Tarawa Project, USS Oklahoma Project etc.), continue to work diligently and are adding to the losses for identification in monthly loss review meetings.
FY 2018 Identifications, as of February 7, 2018:
• Total = 33 identifications of unaccounted-forpersonnel
• WWII = 23 identifications of unaccounted-for personnel
• KoreanWar = 7 identifications of unaccounted-for personnel
• VietnamWar = 3 identifications of unaccounted-for personnel
Additionally, we have another 30 under review, and 25 cases recently presented to the Medical Examiner; this the largest number ever to be presented at a single time.
Question and Answer – Now, I’ll turn it over to Mike Fowler to start the Q & A.
Donna Knox, Coalition of Families: Comment: Senator Heller (NV) has introduced S. 120 the Bring Our Heroes Home Act on declassification; how can we get this mission back to a humanitarian mission and get us back to North Korea?
Mr. McKeague: We are in frequent contact with the National Security Staff and the Department of State regarding resumption of accounting operations and they understand the humanitarian nature of our operations. The challenge they have is they don’t want the accounting mission to be used as leverage by North Korea. As you know, the North Koreans offered Governor Richardson a number of remains they had recovered; however, they never followed through on their offer.
Sherra Basham, Korea-Cold War Families of the Missing: No questions. Comment: We continue to be grateful to be invited to these updates.
Kathy Moakler, TAPS: No questions. Comment: Thank you for allowing TAPS to be included on these calls.
Sarah Maples, VFW: Comment: Thank you for your assistance in preparing for our March 2018 trip to Southeast Asia. The VFW also sent a letter to Congress to press for full funding of DPAA.
Freddy Gessner, American Legion: Comment: The Legion also sent a letter supporting DPAA funding to Congress. Thank you for all of your efforts to account for our missing.
Vincent Darcangelo, DAV: Comment: Thank you for the impressive tour of the Hawaii laboratory when I visited last fall.
Rocky Harder, Korean War Veterans Assn: Would it be helpful for the KWVA to write a letter to the Congress asking for full funding for DPAA?
Mr. McKeague: DPAA has no objection if the KWVA wishes to express their support for the accounting mission.
Mr. Harder: Will the crash sites in China near the North Korean border area that DPAA has been seeking permission to go to would be addressed during the upcoming technical talks?
Mr. McKeague: They have been in the past and will definitely be again, but I am not very optimistic on the likelihood of the Chinese granting permission.
Mr. Harder: Is there still a $10M mark against DPAA’s budget?
Mr. McKeague: Yes; it is still being considered in the subcommittee; however the full Congress has not yet reconciled the differences in House and Senate versions of the appropriations bill.
Mike Taylor, Special Operations Assn: Comment: I want to express our thanks and just how impressed we were by each and every member of the DPAA team and augmentees that we encountered during our trip to Southeast Asia.
Moe Moyer, Honor Release Return, Inc.: No questions or comments
John Zimmerlee, Korean War POW/MIA Network: No questions or comments
Frank Metersky, Korean War advocate: Comment: “I disagree with the idea that the North Koreans would try to leverage the accounting mission for other issues.” He related his long experience with dealing with the issue and that previous administrations feared the use of proceeds from the accounting mission would be utilized for the North Korean nuclear program.
Closing Comments by Mr. McKeague: Thanked everyone for their participation, insights, and contributions to the discussion.
NEXT CALL: Tentatively 26 April 2018.