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News & Stories
News | Nov. 3, 2017

Families/VSO/MSO and Partners DPAA Quarterly In Person/Teleconference Update Notes

Families/VSO/MSO and Partners DPAA Quarterly In Person/Teleconference Update Notes Friday, October 6, 2017, 2:00 PM
DoD Participants:

Mr. Kelly McKeague, Director, DPAA

Mrs. Fern Sumpter Winbush, Principal Deputy Director, DPAA

RDML Jon Kreitz, Deputy Director for Operations, DPAA

Mr. Scott Ebell, Chief of Staff, DPAA

Mr. Todd Livick, Director, Outreach & Communications, DPAA

Mr. Johnie Webb, Deputy Director, Outreach and Communications, DPAA

Mr. Mike Fowler, Outreach & Communications, DPAA

Colonel Chris Forbes, Director, European-Mediterranean Operations, DPAA

Dr. John Byrd, Director, DPAA Laboratory

Colonel Mike Gann, Director, Asia Pacific Operations, DPAA

Lt Col Nathan Powell, Military Assistant, DPAA 

Mr. Jack Kull, Policy and Plans, DPAA

SGM Mike Swam, Senior Enlisted Advisor, DPAA

Families-VSO-MSO-Partner Participants:

American Legion: Freddy Gessner, National Security

Coalition of Families: Keith Luse, Board Member

Disabled American Veterans: LeRoy Acosta, Legislative Director

Honor Release Return, Inc.: Moe Moyer, National Co-Chairman

Korea-Cold War Families of the Missing: Frank Metersky

National League of POW/MIA Families: Ann Mills-Griffiths, Chairman of the Board

Special Operations Assn/Special Forces Assn: Wade Ishimoto

TAPS: Jen Holland, Director, Casework Support Svcs

VFW: Sarah Maples/Joe Davis

WWII Families for the Return of the Missing: Mary Ann Reitano


• Update on the Personnel Accounting Mission (Director Mr. McKeague). 

• Operational Update and Southeast Asia Visit (Deputy Director RDML Kreitz). 

• USRJC Update (Director, Europe-Mediterranean Operations, Colonel Forbes).

• IDs/Disinterments Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Review (Lab Director, Dr. Byrd).

• Q&A. 

Director’s Update:  

• Welcomed all and privileged and humbled to be able to contribute to this mission.  

• Leadership Philospophy

• Shared his four tenants: Trust, Teamwork, Transparency and Tenacity.  These will be practiced both internal to DPAA, as well as externally.  Our mission of providing the fullest possible accounting for our missing personnel to their families and the nation serves as our “North Star’ and our Agency values of Compassion, Integrity, Teamwork, Respect, and Innovation are the “navigational tools” we will use adhere to our mission. As Director, fully accountable to the mission and to those DPAA serves.  Intend to aggressively pursue external engagements so as to be a force multiplier to the Agency and the mission.

• Budget outlook o We received $21.14M of authority for the 70-day continuing resolution (CR) period (expires on December 9, 2017).  Once enacted, DPAA should be appropriated our full FY2018 budget request of $131.268M.  However, an extended CR will impact our budget and operations as it did in FY2016.  In addition, Congress must pass legislation to amend the Budget Control Act to avoid sequestration and an even greater reduction to our appropriation. 

• Case Management and Public Portal Update  o On track to successfully complete the first year of CMS deployment (two-year project). o Will begin testing and deployment this quarter.  o CMS will provide more efficient and transparent information flow within DPAA, while Public Portal will help establish a system for more accessible and clearer two-way communication with families and other audiences. • Partnership Capacity  o Working with partners, contractors, and volunteers on 13 terrestrial and under water recoveries and investigations this fiscal year -- all at reduced costs, thereby allowing for more missions overall.  These efforts include: four (4) underwater arrangements, two (2) terrestrial field schools, one (1) terrestrial contract, and several public-private partnership/volunteer efforts o Expanding on the recent successful field schools, which involve training university archeology/anthropology faculty and students to conduct recovery operations at lower costs.  Very positive results so far, including what appears to be successful mission involving a Tuskegee Airmen P-51 aircraft crash. o Launching "Hub and Spoke" networks nationwide with 8 participating universities/academic institutions to provide historical, genealogical, archival and historical research. o Assisting with expanding the Agency's digitization efforts and identified a potential program to utilize veterans (some disabled) for this vital work o History Flight continues to provide critical and very successful contract work on Tarawa, recovering Marines lost during World War II. o Instrumental in securing a Defense Forensic Enterprise $3.5M grant to develop improved underwater survey methods and techniques to increase our ability to find sites and recover remains.
Significant Events Since Last Update:

• We have had a very busy summer since the last update call.

• We participated in the National League of Families Annual meeting where we briefed the families of the missing from the Vietnam War, hosted the Korean and Cold War Annual briefing, and held a Family Update in Detroit on September 9, 2017. 

• Detroit Family Update –228 Family members representing 118 missing (58- Korean War, 47-WWII, 13-Vietnam War) attended with 166 of those being first time attendees.

• National POW/MIA Recognition Day Ceremonies 

• Pentagon Ceremony hosted by DepSec Patrick Shanahan. o Remarks by Command Sergeant Major John Troxell, Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff. o Guest Speaker United States (U.S.) Senator John Boozman of Arkansas.

• National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP) Ceremony:  Guest speakers included Vietnam Veteran and former Director of the Office of Veteran’s Services for the State of Hawaii Mr. Edward Cruickshank and Director of the NMCP, Mr. Jim Horton.

• National D-Day Memorial Ceremony, Bedford, Virginia.  Remarks by Mr. Russell Scott, WWII veteran, and Dr. Michael Dolski, DPAA


Upcoming Events: 

• October 10-17, Director Travel to Hawaii

• October 13, U.S. Navy Birthday

• October 16-20, Special Operations Association Reunion Annual Conference 

• November 4, Boise Family Update at the Red Lion Boise Downtowner

• November 6-9, the United States-Russia Joint Commission on POW (Prisoners of War)/MIAs (Missing in Action) 21st Plenary Session

• November 10, U.S. Marine Corps Birthday

• November 17 Ministry of National Defense Agency for KIA (Killed in Action) Recovery and Identification (South Korea)visit (HI)

• November 21 Repatriation Ceremony in South Korea
Operational Update (Deputy Director RDML Kreitz): 
Current Operations: All DPAA teams are at home station as we close out FY 2017. Currently, one of our Strategic Partners (History Flight) has a team conducting recovery operations on Tarawa to recover our service members lost there. Cambodia:  According to a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Diplomatic Note, the Royal Government of Cambodia has decided to temporarily suspend its cooperation extended to U.S. military-led teams that seek to account for the remains of U.S. personnel missing in Cambodia.  DPAA is working with the appropriate Department of State and DoD officials to resume these humanitarian efforts.
Past Operations (60 days back) Vietnam War: Vietnam (17-4VM):  We completed the final joint field activity (JFA) for FY2017 in September.  The JFA consisted of six (6) x Recovery Teams and three (3) x Investigation Teams (IT).
DPAA hosted the Vietnam Technical Talks September 19-21, 2017, to solidify plans and agreements that will shape future recovery operations in Vietnam. Laos (17-4LA):  Three (3) Recovery Teams and additional support personnel completed excavations operations in September.

Korean War: South Korea:  There were no operations conducted in South Korea this month. Cold War: DPAA conducted initial coordination with the Ukraine and Latvian Ministries of Defense for possible Cold War underwater loss investigations utilizing partnerships.

WWII: Asia-Pacific: Japan (17-2JA): We conducted an investigation to find the crash site of a missing aircrew member from WWII in September.  Tarawa:  History Flight, a DPAA contractor, is continuing recovery operations in support of our mission to recover the Marines lost in the Battle of Tarawa. Euro-Med: DPAA just concluded investigations in France, Austria, Romania, and in Northern Germany along the Baltic coast from Kiel to Ruegen, Germany.  We also conducted a focused investigation in the Hürtgen Forest where we are partnering with local third-party researchers, a local university, and the U.S. Army's Geospatial Center.  We also just concluded organic recovery missions in Bulgaria, Slovenia, and partnered recoveries in Austria (x 2), Northern Italy, France (x two (2)), and off the Coast of Croatia (underwater).  All yielded extremely positive results.   DPAA conducted 52 disinterments in Europe this year as well and secured a commitment from the American Battle Monuments Commission to allow us to disinter 75 unknowns in FY2018.
Future Operations (60-days out): Vietnam War: Laos:  DPAA will conduct a full JFA beginning the third week of October, which will include four recovery teams.  This will be a 45-day JFA. 

Vietnam:  We will conduct a full JFA starting the first week in November, which will include three recovery teams and a Vietnamese unilateral excavation team.

Korean War: South Korea:  We will deploy one (1) investigation team to South Korea in mid-October.

World War II: Asia-Pacific: Palau:  One underwater recovery team and one underwater investigation team will deploy to conduct operations in mid-November.  India:  One organic investigation team is deploying traveling to conduct investigations of multiple World War II aircraft crash sites.  Philippines:  One of our Strategic Partners (University of Illinois at Chicago) is deploying a team to excavate a World War II crash site.  A DPAA team is also deploying o assist with the disinterment of Unknowns from the American Memorial Cemetery with follow-on missions to conduct investigations of loss sites. Euro-Med: Investigations are scheduled in Italy in October/November.  In October, we will conduct an organic recovery in Southern France of an isolated burial of a missing paratrooper and conduct a contracted recovery mission with History Flight in Northern France.  We continue to plan and prepare for 3rd and 4th quarter missions, which are our main effort periods in Europe. 


USRJC Update (Director, Europe-Mediterranean, Colonel Forbes

Since June, USRJC has conducted two (2)  Tech Talks; June – Vietnam War and Cold War Working Groups, August - Korean War Working Group.  The Russians attended the League of Families Annual Meeting where they spoke and fielded questions from families.  They also participated similarly in the U.S. Government Korean/Cold War Annual Government Briefing. General Robert Foglesong, USAF (ret) and Colonel Forbes traveled to Moscow in September where they met with the U.S. Ambassador to Russia and secured his commitment to continue to support our efforts in Russia despite that fact that we lost our detachment during the Russian directed drawdown of our Moscow office.  General Foglesong also met with his Russian counterpart who agreed to support our continued commission work in Russia.  We currently are seeking to contract for research support in Russia and send JCSD personnel to the U.S. Embassy on a temporary duty basis in our efforts to continue our work there.

This month the Russians will visit the U.S. and continue preparations for the proposed monument in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.  We will also conduct detailed planning for our upcoming 21st Plenum in Moscow scheduled for November 7-9, 2017. Efforts continue for Veterans of the Former Soviet Union interviews in Ukraine, Russia, and other former Republics.  We also continue to pursue archives in Ukraine holdings from the former Soviet Union.  All efforts are receiving favorable cooperation.
Accounted – For and Identifications for Fiscal Year 2017 Review (Lab Director, Dr. Byrd):

In FY 2017, DPAA accounted for 183 missing personnel (131-WWII, 42-Korean War, 10Vietnam War).  Additionally, we individually identified the remains of 18 personnel who were previously accounted for in a group (12-WWII, 6-Vietnam War), bringing DPAA's identification total for FY 2017 to 201.
Question and Answer:

Question 1:  Frank Metersky asked for the breakdown of the FY 2017 IDs?   
Answer 1:  Dr. Byrd:  Accounted for and Identifications for FY 2017 Review:  In FY 2017, DPAA accounted for 183 missing personnel (131-WWII, 42-Korean War, 10-Vietnam War).  Additionally, we individually identified the remains of 18 personnel who were previously accounted for in a group (12-WWII, 6-Vietnam War), bringing DPAA's identification total for FY 2017 to 201.

Question 2:  Mr. Frank Metersky asked, “What do you think for next year?”  
Answer 2:  Dr. Byrd:  We can't predict the future, but we are already working and have about 20 IDs in the final stages of preparation.  Our goal is over 200.  RDML Kreitz:  I have asked the DPAA laboratory to look at what our max goal is taking into account the capacities of the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory and the Service Casualty offices.  It needs to be an achievable goal.

Comment:  Wade Ishimoto highlighted to Mr. McKeague, “LTG Brian Fenton is a good friend of mine, and you should let me know if you need any support from him.”  
Response:  Mr. McKeague:  I know him too and we already are getting his support.  We are dependent upon augmented support for our missions.  Breakdown is roughly:  450 Asia Pacific and 150 Europe-Med.

Question 3:  Mr. Keith Luce said, “Thank you for your organization's good work.  Can you tell us about Chinese cooperation/support on the archives?”  
Answer 3:  Mr. McKeague:  Our work covers all four conflicts, the results in recent years have yielded actionable leads that we have and continue to pursue.  The Chinese reinforce the point that getting material declassified is labor intensive and slow.  Col Gann highlighted there is a visit by a Chinese delegation to the U.S. planned for November 2017 and a DPAA investigation in China is planned for May 2018.  Mr. McKeague also highlighted that we also have the support of DoD leadership in reinforcing our mission when they meet with the Chinese.
Mr. Metersky commented that despite positive talk when it comes to China and Russia, it seems as nothing concrete ever comes from it.  COL Forbes highlighted that we have had two cases where we have worked with the Russians that yielded positive results.
Mr. Metersky expressed his opinion that US-NK relations will not move forward since the administration wants NK to give up their nuclear weapons, and they never will.
Mr. McKeague reiterated the good news that the Richardson Center is still pursuing a NK unilateral turnover of recovered remains.
Mr. Wade Ishimoto echoed that we must never stop talking with NK.
Mr. Luce stated he can report efforts are underway to establish track 2 contacts between retired military officers of both nations.  He stated, “I am hopeful that potential for interaction is there regardless of track 1.” There is bipartisan support for engagement on this issue.
Mr. McKeague asked who the lead was, and Mr. Luce stated, “In the past, it was Representative Rangel.”  Sen Gardner is also involved.

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