In Fiscal Year (FY) 2019, bolstered by the strengthening and expansion of partnerships, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) accounted for 217 formerly missing persons from past conflicts, the highest yearly total reached by the agency or its predecessor organizations. Of the 217 newly accounted for, 140 were from World War II, 72 from the Korean War, and five from the Vietnam War, including two civilians who flew for Air America.
“The noble mission of accounting for Americans missing from past conflicts continues to succeed because of the myriad partners DPAA is fortunate to work with,” said DPAA Director Kelly McKeague. “Foreign governments, Department of Defense and other U.S. agency partners, and private organizations all contribute to providing more answers to families.”
Besides the more than 35 partner nations whose cooperation in FY 2019 contributed to this success, DPAA’s mission also benefited from stronger collaboration with the casualty offices from the Military Departments and Department of State; the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory; the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and U.S. European Command; the Defense Intelligence Agency - Stony Beach; the Department of Veterans Affairs; and the American Battle Monuments Commission.
By increasing its capability and capacity to reach this accounted-for milestone, DPAA also benefited from its strong relationships with groups representing families of missing Americans and to veterans service organizations.
“As we continue to increase the roster of private partners in both depth and breadth, we are able to leverage the talents they bring to the table to make the most of the agency’s organic resources,” said Dr. Thomas Holland, DPAA’s Director of Partnerships and Innovations. DPAA currently has 57 active partners with another 34 potential arrangements in development, in addition to the 15 Federal Entities with which they routinely work.
These larger public-private partnerships have significantly enhanced DPAA’s accounting efforts by expanding capacity and capability. Some of the core areas of assistance include field investigatory and excavation work (36 field missions in FY 2019, alone); historical research and analysis projects; database and systems development; data collection, such as with water samples collected worldwide to assist with isotopic analyses and historical record digitization activities; technology application testing and assessment; and public outreach and education efforts.
Central to the agency’s success is a strong communication program to stay connected to the family members of Americans still unaccounted for from past conflicts. During FY 2019, DPAA briefed 2,347 family members at seven Family Member Updates throughout the United States, and at the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia Annual Meeting and Government Briefings, and the Korean War/Cold War Annual Government Briefings, both held in Arlington, Virginia.
DPAA and its many partners remain committed to the research, investigation, recovery, and identification of nearly 39,000 unaccounted-for Americans who are assessed to be possibly recoverable from World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, and other designated past conflicts.