Thursday, September 11, 2014

America's Everlasting Enemy

America’s Everlasting Enemy 


– William E. Kelly (billkelly3@gmail.com)

“We ought not to fight them at all unless we determine to fight them forever.” – John Adams

Arab dictators were pirating American merchant ships off Africa, holding their passengers and crews hostage and demanding ransom and tribute while armies of Islamic extremists were running rampage across Africa and the Middle East, killing infidels, destroying relics, graves and libraries and establishing Sharia law everywhere they conquered, beheading the men and selling women and children off as slaves.

Sound familiar? Well that was the situation at the turn of the 18th century – over two hundred years ago, when the Barbary state tyrants of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Tripoli pirated American ships, demanded ransom and tribute, and sparked an American political debate over whether the ransom and tributes should be paid or whether a Navy should be formed and sent to fight them.

“Millions for defense but not one cent for tribute” was the battle cry, which led John Adams to say, “We ought not to fight them at all unless we determine to fight them forever.”

So Congress approved the funds for the construction of four frigates and the establishment of a Navy, which today, finds itself in ships named after the heroes of the Barbary Wars – the USS Barry, USS Bainbridge, USS Serrett have all been fighting pirates off Africa and radical Islamist armies running rampage over Afghanistan, Africa, Syria and Iraq.

John Barry, the first flag officer of the US Navy was charged by President Washington to train midshipman to be the first offices of the new navy and the first three - Richard Somersault, Stephen Decatur and Charles Stew art went on to distinguish themselves in the Barbary wars and have warships named after them. Somers never returned home and is buried in Tripoli despite the efforts to have his remains repatriated.

The first American ship to engage the Islamic pirate over two hundred years ago, the schooner U.S.S. Enterprise was commanded by Lt. Sterret, who raked the pirate ship Tripoli with a number of broadsides before the Libyan pirate captain surrendered., but since the United States had yet to officially declare war, Sterret left the pirates with one sail so it could return to report what the Americans were capable of.

When the frigate U.S.S. Philadelphia, assigned to blockade Tripoli harbor, ran aground, Captain Bainbridge surrendered, and his 300 man crew became prisoners of the Basha of Tripoli, the tyrant Yousef Karamanli, who held the prisoners in the dungeons of the old castle fort, except the five sailors who agreed to convert to Islam.

As on Islamic text explained how The Prophet Mohammed treated those he conqured, “The Prophet agreed to save their lives as long as they repented their treachery and agreed to abide by the Muslim law, which they (Jews) refused to do. All of the men of the tribe were put to the sword. It was intended to underline the point the Prophet was trying to make: that the laws of Islam had superseded those from the ancient past. This incident had nothing to do with anti-Semitism and shortly afterwards, as if to prove the point, the Prophet married one of the Jewish widows.”

As an excuse for their barbarism, the Islamists quoted the bible (Deuteronomy 7:2): “When the Lord your God give them over to you and you defeat them, then you must utterly destroy them, and make no covenant with them, and show no mercy to them.” -

President John Adams said: “As the essential principle of the Islam faith is the subjugation of others by the sword, it is only by force that his false doctrines can be dispelled and his power annihilated.”
In the early 1800s, when Americans went to Tripoli to fight the Barbary Pirates, they did so for the same reasons we fight the radical Islamic terrorists today – for the things we believe in – liberty, freedom and democracy, concepts they reject.

And just as the American prisoners who were enslaved and held for ransom were given the opportunity to convert to Islam to earn their freedom, five of the 300 men of the captured frigate USS Philadelphia decided to defect.

Others who were killed in the Battles of Tripoli, including the men of the USS Intrepid, are buried today in clearly marked graves and above ground crypts in a small walled cemetery near the harbor.


Here lies an American sailor who gave his life in the explosion of the United States ship Intrepid in Tripoli Harbor September 4, 1804 



The graves of the American Naval heroes in Tripoli are now in great peril as the cemetery where they are entombed is now under the control of radical Islamist militias who also control the airport (formerly Wheelus AFB) as well as the American embassy compound, and frequently engage in grave robbing as a tactic to promote their cause.

These fierce fighters are salafist jahidist who despise democracy, hate Americans and believe in an extreme orthodox form of Islam that prohibits the veneration of the dead and they don’t t allow others to do so.  They impose a strict form of Shara law that governs everybody in lands where they control, and they now control the grave site of the American Naval heroes that should be repatriated home whenever the situation permits.
They follow the same brand of Islam that we know as the Taliban, the Al-Shabab, ISIS and the radical Islamists who now control Trpoli, as well as the Barbary Pirates America fought over 200 years ago.

Although Mohmar Gadhafi and the dictators of Tunisia and Egypt suppressed and imprisoned many of these religious warriors, the early successes of the Arab Spring revolutions freed them to try to take advantage of t he post revolutionary power vacuum to violently take control and impose a caphalate and sharah law.
One of the first things they did after Gadhafi was deposed was to desecrate the graves of Sufi Muslim saints, some centuries old, dig up their remains from below the floors of ancient Mosques, and run off with their bones and relics into the desert like they did with Gadhafi, never to be seen again.

They also desecrated the graves of American and British soldiers in a military cemetery in Tabrok, and will certainly destroy the graves of the American Naval heroes in Tripoli if they knew and recognized their significance.

We don’t need to get large numbers of people to petition or convince Congress, but only have to convince one person – Secretary of Defense Charles Hegel that the repatriation of the remains of these men can and should be done as soon as the security situation in Tripoli allows.

Fortunately Hegel is the first enlisted man who has seen combat in Vietnam to serve as Secretary of Defense, and he listened to the MOMs wives and widows of the POWMIAs from the Vietnam era, recognized the incompetence and inefficiency of the military POW/MP office/x and cleaned house, fired those who refused to utilize DNA testing, revamped their procedures and combined both agencies.


That same office refused to repatriate the remains of the Naval heroes in Tripoli and were the primary contributors to the 2012 study authorized by Congress that concluded the remains should not be repatriated and remain where they are, without even a mention of the threat imposed by the radical Islamic extremists.
Since those military offices and that report have now been totally discredited, it is imperative that their policy regarding the Tripoli remains be reversed, and can be by order of the Secretary, who has the authority to order the exhumation and repatriation of American military personal from abroad. -  

It will be easier for us to convince on man who is already familiar with these issues, and can recognize the positive benefits of repatriation besides preventing the desecration and destruction of the graves of American heroes. 







                         Graves of Centuries old Sufi Saints Robbed from Mosques in Tripoli 

Chuck Hagel  Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000
May 22, 2014 

Dear Secretary Hagel,

Thank you for listening to the families of the MIA and POWs and reorganizing the POW-MP-JPAC offices, as their most glaring failure was the refusal to repatriate the remains of the men of the Intrepid from Tripoli, a mission that must still be completed.

The last official report (2012) fails to mention the serious threat to the remains by the grave robbing Salfists - the same radical extremists believed to be responsible for the murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens and the recent wave of political assassinations, diplomatic kidnappings and grave desecrations.

The Benghazi headquarters of the Salfist Ansar Shariah militia, designated a terrorist organization by the US government, was recently attacked by a general who inflamed their passions and hatred for Americans, making the situation more critical now than ever before.

These orthodox Islamists don’t believe in the education of women, singing and dancing or the reverence of the dead, and try to impose their beliefs on everyone. They are of the same sect as the Taliban, who kill schoolgirls in Afghanistan, and those who desecrated the tombs of Islamic holy men in Derna. They are of the same religious beliefs as the Boco Horan, who kidnapped schoolgirls in Nigeria and they espouse the same fanatical beliefs as the Tripoli pirates we fought in the Barbary Wars.

One of the first things Chris Stevens did as ambassador was to visit the graves of the men of the Intrepid. When the US Navy conducted a ceremony at the graves in 1945, the Mayor of Tripoli was Yousef Karamanli, a namesake and descendent of the despot we fought two centuries ago. So it’s not difficult to understand why Chris Stevens sympathized with the Libyan people, supported their revolution, and was helping them establish a democratic nation when he was killed by the same radical extremists who now threaten the graves of the American military heroes who were left behind.

The Libyan Revolution ended at Tripoli’s Martyr’s Square where the only real martyrs are the Americans who perished on one of the first special op missions, a mission that continues today and won’t be completed until they are brought safely home.

A few years ago the State Department arranged for the emergency repatriation of nearly a hundred Americans from Wheelus Air Force base cemetery near Tripoli, but they left behind the remains of the men of the Intrepid, and the eminent danger posed by the grave robbing Salafists presents an emergency that requires the repatriation of their remains as soon as the situation their permits.

As the Secretary of Defense you have the power to order a Joint Service mission to recover the remains of these men so the POW/MP office can reclaim its honor, a real historic repatriation ceremony can be held and these men can be honored and buried safely at home with their shipmates.

 Unlike at the Grave of the Unknowns, there are no armed guards protecting these men, and it will be to our everlasting shame if their graves are found to be empty and desecrated.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter,     

William E. Kelly, Jr.



             US Ambassador Chris Stevens at the graves of the American Naval Heroes in Tripoli 







Thursday, May 22, 2014

Dear Secretary Hagel

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel
 1400 Defense Pentagon
Washington DC 20301-2600

May 22, 2014 

Dear Secretary Hagel,

Thank you for listening to the families of the MIA and POWs and reorganizing the POW-MP-JPAC offices, as their most glaring failure was the refusal to repatriate the remains of the men of the Intrepid from Tripoli, a mission that must still be completed.

The last official report (2012) fails to mention the serious threat to the remains by the grave robbing Salfists - the same radical extremists believed to be responsible for the murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens and the recent wave of political assassinations, diplomatic kidnappings and grave desecrations.

The Benghazi headquarters of the Salfist Ansar Shariah militia, designated a terrorist organization by the US government, was recently attacked by a general who inflamed their passions and hatred for Americans, making the situation more critical now than ever before.

These orthodox Islamists don’t believe in the education of women, singing and dancing or the reverence of the dead, and try to impose their beliefs on everyone. They are of the same sect as the Taliban, who kill schoolgirls in Afghanistan, and those who desecrated the tombs of Islamic holy men in Derna. They are of the same religious beliefs as the Boco Horan, who kidnapped schoolgirls in Nigeria and they espouse the same fanatical beliefs as the Tripoli pirates we fought in the Barbary Wars two hundred years ago.

One of the first things Chris Stevens did as ambassador was to visit the graves of the men of the Intrepid. When the US Navy conducted a ceremony at the graves in 1945, the Mayor of Tripoli was Yousef Karamanli, a namesake and descendent of the despot we fought two centuries ago. So it’s not difficult to understand why Chris Stevens sympathized with the Libyan people, supported their revolution, and was helping them establish a democratic nation when he was killed by the same radical extremists who now threaten the graves of the American military heroes who were left behind.

The Libyan Revolution ended at Tripoli’s Martyr’s Square where the only real martyrs are the Americans who perished on one of the first special op missions, a mission that continues today and won’t be completed until they are brought safely home.

A few years ago the State Department arranged for the emergency repatriation of nearly a hundred Americans from Wheelus Air Force base cemetery near Tripoli, but they left behind the remains of the men of the Intrepid, and the eminent danger posed by the grave robbing Salafists presents an emergency that requires the repatriation of their remains as soon as the situation their permits.

As the Secretary of Defense you have the power to order a Joint Service mission to recover the remains of these men so the POW/MP office can reclaim its honor, a real historic repatriation ceremony can be held and these men can be honored and buried safely at home with their shipmates.

Unlike at the Grave of the Unknowns, there are no armed guards protecting these men, and it will be to our everlasting shame if their graves are found to be empty and desecrated.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter,     

William E. Kelly, Jr.
20 Columbine Ave.
Browns  Mills, N.J. 08015
609 425-6297





Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Real Enemy

OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
Don’t Fear All Islamists, Fear Salafis
By ROBIN WRIGHT
Published: August 19, 2012


THIS spring, I traveled to the cradle of the Arab uprisings — a forlorn street corner in Sidi BouzidTunisia, where a street vendor, drenched in paint thinner, struck a match in December 2010 that ignited the entire Middle East. “We have far more freedoms,” one peddler hawking fruit in the same square lamented, “but far fewer jobs.”

Another noted that Mohamed Bouazizi, the vendor who set himself on fire, did so not to vote in a democratic election but because harassment by local officials had cost him his livelihood.

As the peddlers vented, prayers ended at the whitewashed mosque across the street. Among the faithful were Salafis, ultraconservative Sunni Muslims vying to define the new order according to seventh-century religious traditions rather than earthly realities.

For years, many Salafis — “salaf” means predecessors — had avoided politics and embraced autocrats as long as they were Muslims. But over the past eight months, clusters of worshipers across the Middle East have morphed into powerful Salafi movements that are tapping into the disillusionment and disorder of transitions.
A new Salafi Crescent, radiating from the Persian Gulf sheikdoms into the Levant and North Africa, is one of the most underappreciated and disturbing byproducts of the Arab revolts. In varying degrees, these populist puritans are moving into the political space once occupied by jihadi militants, who are now less in vogue. Both are fundamentalists who favor a new order modeled on early Islam. Salafis are not necessarily fighters, however. Many disavow violence.

In Tunisia, Salafis started the Reform Front party in May and led protests, including in Sidi Bouzid. This summer, they’ve repeatedly attacked symbols of the new freedom of speech, ransacking an art gallery and blocking Sufi musicians and political comedians from performing. In Egypt, Salafis emerged last year from obscurity, hastily formed parties, and in January won 25 percent of the seats in parliament — second only to the 84-year-old Muslim Brotherhood. Salafis are a growing influence in Syria’s rebellion. And they have parties or factions in Algeria, Bahrain, Kuwait, Libya, Yemen and among Palestinians.

Salafis are only one slice of a rapidly evolving Islamist spectrum. The variety of Islamists in the early 21st century recalls socialism’s many shades in the 20th. Now, as then, some Islamists are more hazardous to Western interests and values than others. The Salafis are most averse to minority and women’s rights.

A common denominator among disparate Salafi groups is inspiration and support from Wahhabis, a puritanical strain of Sunni Islam from Saudi Arabia. Not all Saudis are Wahhabis. Not all Salafis are Wahhabis, either. But Wahhabis are basically all Salafis. And many Arabs, particularly outside the sparsely populated Gulf, suspect that Wahhabis are trying to seize the future by aiding and abetting the region’s newly politicized Salafis — as they did 30 years ago by funding the South Asian madrassas that produced Afghanistan’s Taliban.

Salafis go much further in restricting political and personal life than the larger and more modern Islamist parties that have won electoral pluralities in Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco since October. For most Arabs, the rallying cry is justice, both economic and political. For Salafis, it is also about a virtue that is inflexible and enforceable.

“You have two choices: heaven or hellfire,” Sheikh Muhammad el-Kurdi instructed me after his election to Egypt’s parliament as a member of Al Nour, a Salafi party. It favors gender segregation in schools and offices, he told me, so that men can concentrate. “It’s O.K. for you to be in the room,” he explained. “You are our guest, and we know why you’re here. But you are one woman and we are three men — and we all want to marry you.” Marriage may have been a euphemism.

Other more modern Islamists fear the Salafi factor. “The Salafis try to push us,” said Rachid al-Ghannouchi, founder of Ennahda, the ruling Islamist party in Tunisia. The two Islamist groups there are now rivals. “Salafis are against drafting a constitution. They think it is the Koran,” grumbled Merhézia Labidi, the vice chairwoman of Tunisia’s Constituent Assembly and a member of Ennahda.

Salafis are deepening the divide between Sunni and Shiite Muslims and challenging the “Shiite Crescent,” a term coined by Jordan’s King Abdullah in 2004, during the Iraq war, to describe an arc of influence from Shiite-dominated Iran to its allies in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Today, these rival crescents risk turning countries in transition into battlefields over the region’s future.

The Salafis represent a painful long-term conundrum for the West. Their goals are the most anti-Western of any Islamist parties. They are trying to push both secularists and other Islamists into the not-always-virtuous past.

American policy recently had its own awakening after 60 years of support for autocratic rulers. The United States opted to embrace people power and electoral change in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Yemen. Yet Washington still embraces authoritarian Gulf monarchies like Saudi Arabia, tolerating their vague promises of reform and even pledging the United States’ might to protect them.

Foreign policy should be nuanced, whether because of oil needs or to counter threats from Iran. But there is something dreadfully wrong with tying America’s future position in the region to the birthplace and bastion of Salafism and its warped vision of a new order.

Robin Wright, the author of “Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World,” is a fellow at the United States Institute of Peace and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.


Monday, May 12, 2014

DOD Sec. Hegal Reorganizes POW-MP-DPM/JPAC

DPMO/JPAC


After unflattering reports, Hagel orders shake-up of MIA accounting agencies

WASHINGTON — In the wake of numerous reports of misconduct and poor management practices by personnel charged with recovering and identifying the remains of missing servicemembers from past conflicts, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has ordered the Pentagon to come up with a plan to consolidate all Defense Department assets into a single, more accountable entity that will manage all personnel accounting resources, research and operations.

On Thursday, Hagel directed Michael Lumpkin, the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, to deliver the plan to him within 30 days, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters.
In a memo obtained by Stars and Stripes, Hagel said Lumpkin’s action plan should propose ways to:
Maximize the number of identifications.

Improve transparency for families.
Reduce duplicative functions.
Establish a system for centralized, complete, fully accessible personnel case files for missing personnel.
In the memo, Hagel suggested he is considering making wide-ranging changes in areas such as:
Civilian and military personnel policies.

Contracting and acquisition policies.
Statutory and regulatory authorities.
Facilities.
Budgets.
Procedures.
Oversight of laboratory operations.

“This is a top priority for the Department,” Hagel said.

The initiative follows embarrassing revelations and unflattering reports about Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office, the two agencies with primary responsibility for recovery and identification efforts.

In July, the Associated Press reported that a JPAC internal study of its operations concluded that DOD’s effort to account for the tens of thousands of Americans missing in action were so incompetent and mismanaged that it risks descending from “dysfunction to total failure.”

In October, the Pentagon acknowledged that JPAC had been holding phony remains arrival ceremoniesfor seven years.

In December, Stars and Stripes reported charges that JPAC and DPMO officials ignored leads, prematurely declared MIAs deceased and unrecoverable and argued against identifying unknown remains in government custody when evidence suggested they could be identified.

In January, Stars and Stripes obtained internal communications from JPACdocumenting allegations that JPAC’s Central Identification Laboratory personnel were involved in the desecration and mishandling of remains, failure to keep critical records, excavation of incorrect sites, and waste of taxpayer funds on duplicate efforts.

A Government Accountability Office audit released in July cited leadership failures and bureaucratic infighting as problems plaguing Pentagon recovery and identification efforts.

Kirby said the JPAC report and other reviews led Hagel to issue his directive.

“The reviews that we've seen of this mission tell us lots of things. One of them is, it's not being done as efficiently as possible from an organizational perspective,” he told reporters.

Hagel served in combat as an Army infantry squad leader during the Vietnam War. More than 1,600 Americans involved in that conflict remain unaccounted, according to DPMO.

“As a veteran himself, the secretary has an especially personal commitment to ensuring we account for and bring home as many of our missing and fallen service personnel as possible,” Kirby said.


Department of Defense Press Briefing by Secretary Hagel in the Pentagon Briefing Room
Presenter: Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel
March 31, 2014

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE CHUCK HAGEL:  Many of you know that I'm going to leave tomorrow morning for a ten-day trip to Asia Pacific.  Some of you will be accompanying me on that trip.  And I think you've seen the itinerary of where we're going.  And some of the more important part of that -- of the trip and the focus starting with ASEAN defense ministers' meeting in Hawaii for two and a half days and then on to Japan and China and Mongolia.

It's to, again, reemphasize the rebalance strategic interests of our country, to reassure our allies, to, again, make very clear of our commitment to our allies in the Asia Pacific.  This will be my fourth trip since becoming Secretary of Defense to Asia Pacific.  The meeting in Hawaii and the full agenda of this trip, again, underscores the importance of this rebalance.  And it's going to give us an opportunity to talk specifically about some of the issues that we're dealing with in the Asia Pacific, all of our partners, the security challenges, the issues that are of concern to peace, prosperity, the future of that region.  And as you all know, we have been, the United States of America, a Pacific power for many years.  We've looked forward to a continuation of building those relationships and those partnerships as we go forward.

Security and stability are key anchors for prosperity, for economic development and we rebalance to the Asia Pacific with all of those different responsibilities and dimensions as our focus.  And it's pretty clear the tremendous progress that's been made in the Asia Pacific the last few years has been much the result of a secure area, an area that has worked through many of its differences peacefully.  There are still issues.  There are still questions.

But it's a region that has prospered because they have worked through many of these -- these differences.
And the ASEAN institution itself, that organization is a critically important part of that.  So to have the 10 ASEAN defense ministers in Hawaii, on United States soil, is important.  And I'm looking forward to that meeting with my ASEAN counterparts.

Let me now turn to another matter before taking your questions, and that is the finding and recovering and identifying the remains of America's missing from past conflicts.  This effort is not just a top priority for the Department of Defense; it's our responsibility and our obligation.  

In February, I directed the acting undersecretary of defense for policy, Mike Lumpkin, to provide me with recommendations on how to reorganize the Joint Prisoner of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command or otherwise known as JPAC, so that DOD could more effectively account for our missing personnel and ensure their families receive timely and accurate information.  

Based on his recommendations, I've directed the department to undertake the following steps to reorganize this effort into a single, accountable organization that has complete oversight of personnel accounting resources, research and operations.

First, we will establish a new Defense agency that combines the Defense Prisoners of War, Missing Personnel Office, or otherwise known as DPMO, the JPAC office, and select functions of the U.S. Air Force's Life Scientists Equipment Laboratory.  This agency will be overseen by the undersecretary of defense for policy.  

By consolidating functions, we will resolve issues of duplication and inefficiency, and build a stronger, more transparent and more responsive organization.

All communications with family members of the missing from past conflicts will be managed and will be organized by this new agency.  

Second, to streamline the identification process, an armed forces medical examiner, working for the new agency, will be single -- will be the single DOD identification authority.  They will oversee the scientific operations of the central identification laboratory in Hawaii and other laboratories in Omaha and Dayton.
Third, to centralize budgetary resources for this important mission, we will work with Congress to realign its appropriations into a single budget.  

Fourth, to improve the search, recovery and identification process, the department will implement a centralized database and case management system, containing all missing service members’ information.
Fifth, I've directed the department to develop proposals for expanding public/private partnerships in identifying our missing.  The goal is to leverage the capabilities and the efforts of organizations outside of government that responsible work to account for our missing.

These steps will help improve the accounting mission, increase the number of identifications of our missing, provide greater transparency for their families, and expand our case file system to include all missing personnel.

We will continue to do everything we can to account for and bring as many of our missing and fallen service personnel as possible home here to the United States.  

We've been listening to and consulting with veterans' service organizations about how to improve the department's MIA operations.  And I appreciate, we all appreciate, their input and their support to ensure the full accounting of all of our country's missing service members.  And we will continue to work closely together as we go forward.

I want to particularly thank Mike Lumpkin and his team for their efforts.  

And I also want to thank the veterans' organizations who have been so important over so many years to this effort.  

And in particularly – in particular, I want to thank Ann Mills Griffin of the National League of Families, for her many, many years of service and leadership on this project.

Ann came to see me last December.  I've known Ann and worked with her for over 30 years on many projects.  And she presented to me a five-page, single-spaced, well thought through, first, identification of the issues; a framing of the problems; and I thought some very, very solid recommendations on how we go forward.

So she deserves a lot of credit.  Her organization deserves credit, as well as the institutions and veterans organizations that have been key to this effort for many years.

Thank you.  I'd be glad to respond to questions.

Q:  Mr. Secretary, on that -- on that last issue, how does all this address the basic demand of the families of the missing that you provide faster and more reliable accounting?  And if I may throw in a second question, if you don't mind, could you confirm the reports that the Russians have begun pulling forces back from the border with Ukraine.

SEC. HAGEL:  Well, on the first question, Bob, I think if you really break this down as to what we've done here, as to how it relates to the families, we're streamlining everything.  We're streamlining the organization, the process and the resources.  And what that means to families is, first, they will be communicated with clearly, directly, and it will be communications from one central location.  That has not been the case.
They'll have a place where they can go to identify updates, questions, concerns.  And it won't be a one-way street.  It will be a two-way street.  We'll communicate with them.

I think another reason the families will strongly support what we're doing is it helps us do the job.  It helps us get the mission accomplished.  We've got tens of thousands of missing all over the world.  And it's a difficult -- it's a very difficult mission.  And if we put together a better institution, organization, better management, better structure, better use of our resources, then I hope we'll be far more effective in being able to accomplish the mission of identifying these missing remains and getting these missing remains brought home to the families.

So, I'm much encouraged, and I again want to say how much we all appreciate the good work that's been done here.  There's -- there's not a more poignant, emotional, important issue in our society today, and you all know this, than you take care of the people who gave their lives to this country, and you take care of their families.  And that has been a critical component of who we are as Americans from -- from beginning -- from the beginning of this republic.

Your second question, I cannot confirm, Bob, one way or the other whether the Russians are pulling troops back from the Ukrainian-Russian border.  As you know, President Obama made it very clear to President Putin in their conversation that that is going to be required, necessary in order for us to have any -- any further meaningful conversation about how we resolve and deescalate this crisis.  

I think it was also made pretty clear by Secretary Kerry yesterday in his conversations with Minister Lavrov.
Q:  If I could follow up on what Bob said.  Is it your understanding that there was an agreement by the Russians to pull back those 40,000-plus troops in those conversations with the president or with Secretary Kerry?  

SEC. HAGEL:  No, I didn't say that.  What I said was, what the president told President Putin and what Secretary Kerry told Minister Lavrov, as I told Minister Shoigu when Minister Shoigu and I spoke last week.  Minister Shoigu, I think as we reported out, assured me that those troops were there for exercises.  And he assured me they were not going to cross the border and I think Mr. Lavrov has said the same thing, as has President Putin.

But that said, there's still a tremendous buildup of Russian forces on that border.

Q:  What do you mean by "tremendous buildup?  Can you give us a sense of how many troops are...
SEC. HAGEL:  Tens of thousands.  

Q:  Mr. Secretary, why do you think -- why do you think President Putin amassed those troops on the border?  Do you think that there was really any intent to actually enter Ukraine with those forces?  Or that he simply did that as a bargaining chip so that the rest of the world would forget the fact that they took over Crimea and think, well, as long as they're not going in the Ukraine, they can keep Crimea?

SEC. HAGEL:  Well, you're not going to like the answer, but I don't know, Jim, what the -- his intentions were.

Barbara?
Q:  Sir, could I ask you about North Korea?
The artillery firings that we saw by the North Koreans into the Western Sea earlier today plus the Nodong medium-range missile firings and their statements on a nuclear test, number one, do you worry or what evidence do you have we might be entering a new provocation cycle with North Korea?

And a very quick follow-up on a different subject, the Malaysian minister early today, his press conference talked about traveling to ASEAN and meeting with you and said that he would be asking you for additional capabilities or equipment to help search for the plane, but he wasn't specific and I was wondering if there's any -- you can think of any additional assistance that the U.S. might realistically, practically be able to give to that effort, but North Korea first.

SEC. HAGEL:  On North Korea, I'm in touch with our commander there, the U.N. commander, briefing, Commander General Scaparrotti.  He had a report about two hours ago this morning on briefing me on what was going on.  I think you all have the latest.  There has been artillery exchanges.  As you know, the fishing vessel was released.  So the provocation that the North Koreans have, once again, engaged in, is dangerous and it -- and it needs to stop.

As to the Malaysian acting transportation minister, defense minister, I've spoken with him twice in the last week.  In both instances, when he's requested assistance, we have provided that assistance, some of the latest equipment being the pinger locator, which I think, as you know, has left Australian -- on an Australian ship headed toward this vast area, where we all think we may have identified something.  But just a reminder, that area is the size of New Mexico.  And this very sophisticated equipment that we have provided and we have provided, as far as I know, everything the Malaysian government has requested of us, is really reliant totally on defined search areas.  It's got tremendous capability but we've -- we're going to have to narrow the search area.

I don't know what additional requests he will make of me.  I certainly will listen carefully to whatever those are.  I think the Australians, as you all know, now are in the lead on this and they've been doing a tremendous job.  We're providing everything we can provide as are other countries.  But the Australians have this now and are really doing quite a good job with it, too.

Thank you.
Q:  On North Korea, North Korea foreign minister announced yesterday North Korea were going to look for nuclear tests soon.  How did you respond toward this North Korea's putting statement?
SEC. HAGEL:  Well, as I've said, the North Koreans have to stop these provocative actions.  And we have been very clear on that.  And obviously when I'm in China, that will be a subject that I will discuss with my counterpart in China.

Q:  Mr. Secretary, Ukraine has asked that the United States for weapons and for other military supplies, as they feel vulnerable, in light of what's happened in recent weeks, can you bring us up to speed on how those deliberations are working through the U.S. government, whether there's any new thinking about what type of aid would be -- would be a good idea that -- to render?

SEC. HAGEL:  Well, as you know, the Ukrainians have asked for different kinds of materiel and their requests for assistance.  You also know that the MREs have now been delivered.  The interagency is going through the last cuts of decision-making on what additional assistance the United States would provide.  As you all know, Secretary Kerry is in Brussels today, will be there for NATO meetings the next two days.  I suspect these are gonna be issues that our NATO partners and the United States will be discussing as well.
I'll come back to you...

Q:  Mr. Secretary, General Breedlove was scheduled to testify in front of the Armed Services Committees this week, but he was recalled to Europe because of the Ukraine-Russia crisis.

In light of what's happening with North Korea, is there any thought being given to having General Scaparrotti stay there, rather than testify this week, as he's scheduled to do?

SEC. HAGEL:  Well, certainly, the kind of world that we live in is not a prescribed week-long schedule kind of world.  Depending on issues and challenges that occur, we have the flexibility of always adjusting our military commanders, depending on where they're required.

In General Breedlove's case, I think it was the smart thing to do to have him go back in light of his importance to NATO, especially with the NATO foreign ministers meeting the next two days.  The supreme allied commander is going to be an integral part of that -- of that session over the next two days.
So we're flexible in depending on where we need our commanders, where the focus is the most important is the way we'll do it.

Jen?

Q:  Mr. Secretary, I'd like to get your thoughts on this March 14th memo from your department about the banning of tobacco sales on military bases and in the Navy in particular.

You were in Vietnam.  You know how cigarettes are often used by forces in combat.  It's a morale issue.  
Where do you stand on the issue of banning tobacco sales and possibly smoking on bases and ships?
SEC. HAGEL:  Well, as you know, the Navy already has taken some action on this over the years.
I think you start with, like any of these issues, you look at the health of your force.  I don't know if there's anybody in America who still thinks that tobacco's good for you.  Maybe there are some.
The surgeon general 50 years ago made that statement pretty clear.

We don't allow smoking in any of our government buildings, restaurants, states and municipalities have pretty clear regulations on this.

I think in reviewing any options that we have as to whether we in the military through commissaries, PXs, sell or continue to sell tobacco is something we need to look at.  And we are looking at it.  And I think we owe it to -- our people.

The costs, health care costs, are astounding.  Well over a billion dollars, just in the Department of Defense, on tobacco-related illness and health care.

Now, the dollars are one thing, but the health of your -- of your people, I don't know if you put a price tag on that.
So I think it does need to be looked at and reviewed.
Yes?
(CROSSTALK)

Q:  In regards to Mexico, Mexico and U.S. military forces have developed recently a very close relationship, and they have achieved agreements to support each other in case of natural disasters or other common threats.
But recently, there have not been any meetings between both secretaries.
Do you plan to go to Mexico or the secretaries will come over here?  And what is the current -- current level of cooperation?  Is there any training -- training to Mexican troops, or are they participating in military exercise with the U.S.?

SEC. HAGEL:  Well, first, I think you probably know that our secretary of homeland security, Secretary Johnson, was just recently in Mexico and met with all the senior leaders, including the president. 
I will be going to Mexico.  I'm not sure we were going to announce that today, but -- (Laughter.) -- I get nervous when Kirby gets too close to me here, and I -- tells me not to say something.

But I will be going to Mexico.  Mexico is a very important partner, and we'll continue to strengthen that relationship.

Thank you very much.  I'll see you on -- some of you on the plane.


As family members with loved ones still unaccounted-for from past wars prepare for changes in how the US Government will speed up recoveries, there is a likelihood that more emphasis will be placed on exhumations of service members’ remains interred in America’s  24 burial grounds on foreign soil and presumably in Hawaii.  Most are located in Europe and have been a major attraction by American visitors for decades.

The U.S. military’s recent pivot to Asia Pacific generated an urgency for recoveries/identifications of MIAs in that region.  In the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, many of our WWII losses were killed in New Guinea or the Battle of the Philippines and the Allied recapture of the islands, according to the American Battle Monuments Commission — the organization that maintains our military cemeteries.  There are no American-maintained cemeteries in Korea or Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

THE BASICS

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel made it official on March 31st during a press conference, explaining that the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel  Office (DPMO) and the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) are to be consolidated into one agency, of which has yet to be named.  The newly formed agency will report to a civilian, appointed by the President.

At this point, it appears that Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michael Lumpkin has assumed temporary responsibility.  Lumpkin was assigned the task of presenting a plan of how to reorganize the accounting community and given 30 days to complete the assignment.  Whoever is appointed to lead the new agency will need nerves of steel.  No date was given as to when the agency will be stood up, but it is expected to be headquartered at the Pentagon with changeover coming in weeks, according to one report.

CHANGE IN LAB IDENTIFICATIONS

JPACs Central Identification Laboratory (CIL) will no longer be the lead organization for MIA identifications.  The Armed Forces Medical Examiner will work for the new agency and be the single identification authority and oversee operations at the CIL in Hawaii, and satellite labs in Omaha, NE, and Dayton, Ohio.  It appears that most remains are expected to be identified through DNA.  The Pentagon should have the resources to ensure that all DNA is captured efficiently and quickly.  I know how hard DPMO and JPAC worked at every annual meeting and regional meeting to spread the word, but their resources were limited.

Although nothing was mentioned about the role of anthropologists, who have traditionally worked in the field and the lab, I am hopeful that they will continue to assist in the process.    Most people do not know that the CIL has earned some of the highest ratings possible in the field of forensic science.  It is in the same league as the FBI lab, and in fact has consulted over time with Bureau specialists.  The CILs certifications allow their scientists to assist with major disasters throughout the world.  The lab, under Dr. Tom Holland, has reportedly never produced a mistaken identification in 20 years.  Holland is respected on a global level, as are those who work for him at the top management levels.  It was not clear if Holland will be offered a role with the new agency.

JOIN THE SEARCH?

Few details or hardcore questions were asked of Hagel or Lumpkin by the press corps assigned to the Pentagon, namely as to how the military will fit into the newly organized agency, since JPAC is a military command.  Because the military is critical for the overall success of the accounting mission, I actually anticipate that military involvement could increase, but with the drawdown, who knows!  Even though Lumpkin’s plan calls for expanding opportunities for private search groups to get involved and a host of other ways of doing more with less, I am hoping that the government is sufficiently  concerned about liability — operations are dangerous and sometimes hazardous because of UXOs.  Plus, there can be political ramifications of sending private groups, as opposed to official groups, to global locations.  However, JPAC has been involved with a number of outside groups, and those will likely be given a larger role. Each country has a little different type of welcome mat for teams conducting field operations. My guess is that the new agency will be doing a lot of  internal and external policy revisions.

WORKABLE DATABASE

The agency will create a centralized database and case management system that will be comprised of all missing service members’ information.  In my opinion, this will be the biggest, most complex part of the reorganization and should reveal a lot about the difficulties that predecessors have had in working many of the cases, especially ones from WWII.

Unless officials understand that historic MIA case files from WWII need to be updated and prioritized before passing  them along to operational teams, they will be kicking the can down the road.  A good, functioning database should be able to flag those cases that are ready to go.  A word of caution — I suggest that the government be very careful not to get rid of experienced forensic analysts and forensic investigators familiar with MIA recoveries — these people can work with whomever is creating a new MIA solutions-oriented program and, hopefully, avoid the garbage in, garbage out situation.  One of the biggest advantages that could come out of a good system is the grouping of well-prepared cases to allow multiple field operations in one geographic area.  Good logistics will save money as this program becomes bigger in the near future. JPAC has worked effectively in Southeast Asia — mainly in Vietnam — using this type of model.

MAKING THE NUMBERS

It appears that making 200 identifications annually by 2015, as mandated in the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act, is still a go.  My assumption is that there are plans for exhumations to ensure that the goal is met.  However, I would caution about relying too much on exhumations, because there are different schools of thought about the sanctity of these graves.  But perhaps even more concerning would be the potential for exhuming remains for which there is no

DNA match.  I know that families and the general public will be eager to learn the results of these recoveries.  Most of us are more familiar with hand-overs or field operations.  It has been my understanding that many interments consist of co-mingled remains, which can be challenging to sort out, but perhaps science has now broken through most of the barriers.

TRANSPARENCY FOR FAMILIES

Hagel also noted that the new agency would provide a single point of contact for all families.  The theory is to offer easy access for learning about search and identification activities and is part of the government’s promise of transparency.  With thousands of families wanting information but not being computer literate and living in different time zones, I’m not sure how this will work but we’ll soon find out.

For those of us with loved ones still unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War, there were apparently  no sidebar conversations with Lumpkin or Hagel – at least that surfaced immediately – about the future of the detachments in Southeast Asia.  But most reporters that cover the Pentagon would not necessarily be aware of the intricacies of recovering our loved ones from the field.  However, you can bet that every Vietnam War family who has been following their loved one’s case is eager to know that the work in Southeast Asia will continue and perhaps increase.  Time is running out for recovering our MIAs in that part of the world, and I hope that Lumpkin will visit Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia ASAP to see for himself.  How large a role our government will play in future Vietnam War recoveries, versus the Vietnamese government, is likely to be a big issue down the road.

ADVICE FOR LUMPKIN

Obviously, the reorganization is in the early stages, and no one at this time is making any promises of when the agency expects to be fully operational.  The DoD will officially own this program and be responsible for its achievements and failings and, as most of us know, there are no sacred cows in this arena.  My advice to Lumpkin is that he embrace some of the long-time internal experts in DPMO and JPAC, and forget all the BS that has literally taken over the MIA program with journalists looking for the big scoop and people wanting to earn their bones — no pun intended, telling you they know the latest and greatest about historical recoveries.  It is the families that need to be convinced that the new agency is not overselling and under delivering, but prepared to keep its promise.  We want this new effort to work.

What do I think of the plan?  Guardedly optimistic, but as Ann Mills Griffiths was quoted in an article, “the proof is in the pudding.”


Monday, March 17, 2014 @ 10:03 PM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is preparing to overhaul the MIA Accounting Community. He has directed the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Michael Lumpkin, a retired Naval Officer and former SEAL with a distinguished service record, to come up with a plan by 20 March.

ALERT!

Families with loved ones missing-in-action from WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam War and Cold War could soon learn of the direction that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel plans to take the accounting community in the near future.  Undergoing a huge overhaul, the community is comprised of several organizations involved with MIA operations – most of which also support our nation’s active-duty military.  If all goes well, they will find themselves operating as one big happy family.

Included in the group are the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO), Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), Armed Forces DNA Laboratory (AFDIL), Life Sciences Equipment Laboratory of the Air Force (LSEL), casualty and mortuary affairs offices of the military departments and other groups as designated by the Secretary of Defense.

Hagel has directed the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Michael Lumpkin, a retired Naval Officer and former SEAL Team Commander, to take all information given to him by the Military Departments, Combatant Commands and OSD to reorganize the accounting community “into a single accountable entity that has oversight of all personnel accounting resources, research, and operations across the Department.”  Hagel signed the directive, Feb. 20th with a 30-day deadline, meaning that Lumpkin has until March 20th to pull it all together.

ON THE TABLE

Hagel’s directive involves the following issues:  how to maximize the number of identifications; improve transparency for families; reduce duplicative functions; and how to establish a system for centralized, accessible case files for missing personnel.

Hagel also wants recommendations for changes to the civilian and military personnel policies, contracting and acquisition policies, statutory and regulatory authorities, facilities, budgets and procedures to ensure effective oversight of laboratory operations.

REALITY CHECK

In my opinion the most misunderstood – yet critical component — is in the area of field operations, which fall under JPAC – the military organization that conducts investigations, excavations and recoveries around the globe.  The ultimate goal is to bring home remains that will lead to identifications of MIA service members.  Currently, all remains are processed at JPACs Central Identification Laboratory (CIL) at Hickam AFB in Hawaii – most are identified by the scientists at the CIL, but with advances in DNA capability and when appropriate, more and more are sent to the AFDIL at Dover AFB in Delaware for identification.
JPAC also conducts exhumations, which are expected to increase over time, especially when DPMO updates policies related to exhumed remains.  In addition, JPAC facilitates the recovery of remains, handed over by foreign countries, that have been missing for decades and may belong to an American MIA.  All remains are unique, as is the process of identifying them.

MANDATE MADNESS

Many family members and government officials do not understand the nature of field operations, namely because the uniqueness factor comes into play once again.  Finding and identifying historic remains is very difficult, as is making the numbers of IDs to meet new government guidelines imposed by the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The NDAA included a mandate that JPACs lab produce 200 identifications annually by 2015, without paying attention to how the system works and the difficulty of executing such a broad-reaching mandate without sufficient resources across the board.  The idea may have been well-meaning, but it was poorly thought out and, in some ways, led us to where we are now.
SUCCESS IN THE FIELD

What the operational teams do in the field is nothing short of amazing.  Imagine conducting a recovery in an Alaskan glacier, related to a 1952 Korean War missing aircraft; or finding pieces of aircraft and life support gear 150 ft. below the waters, off the coast of Vietnam — four decades after it crashed.  Contrary to what may appear in some recounts of these missions, JPAC is actively involved in the process.

SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM (May 27, 2011) – A Vietnamese Naval Officer, left, learns about the USNS Bowditch from the ship’s Captain and another crew member during an ongoing investigation off the coast of Vietnam. The USNS Bowditch is a Pathfinder Class oceanographic research ship which uses specialized sonar to survey the ocean’s floor, searching for U.S. aircraft lost during the Vietnam War. (JPAC photo by DON civilian Ron Ward/Released)

Our military and experts from other countries or disciplines provide critical support for many  operations, beyond boots-on-the-ground.  They bring with them specially-equipped ships to look for off shore crashes, while others bring innovative equipment.  There is so much that goes on behind the scenes, often not producing immediate success, but slow is not “no” in the recovery business.

We have hundreds of thousands of people who have gone missing in America, never to be found — even when the case was hot and generated a lot of hype and searches; JPAC field teams go out and find our missing service members (some from nearly a century ago), working on cold cases in some of the most horrific conditions in foreign countries, and yet we seem more interested in denouncing instead of crediting them.

MIA EDUCATION

It is never going to be easy to find our MIAs.  No one knows the actual number of missing service members due to historic recordkeeping, particularly during the WWII era, nor do we really know how many are recoverable; however, the effort to bring home remains of our loved ones is as much a part of military lore as it is a part of our nation’s promise to help MIA families find closure.

As our nation becomes more disconnected from the military, it is obvious that stories and TV coverage about the MIA situation often lack credibility, because fewer people understand what death in combat is like — never mind historical combat. They do not know how bodies go missing on the battlefield; how aircraft from wars in different eras result in different types of crashes.  And how in-country geographic conditions can vary, making it impossible to say that a piece of ground penetrating equipment that works in one area will do likewise in another.

And when field teams are armed with poorly prepared case data, as can exist in WWII cases, the results can be costly on several levels.  Finding a former enemy’s remains does not lead to closure for a family back in the states, and JPAC ends up eating the cost of a very time intensive excavation.
The need for solutions oriented software may finally find its way to the accounting community — in my opinion this will be a key element in any plan.

MAKING GOOD CHOICES
Although Lumpkin has not been involved in the global MIA effort, his credentials are impressive, especially as they apply to his military career.  Lumpkin spent time in Iraq, Afghanistan, Horn of Africa and the Philippines.  He also held top leadership positions throughout his distinguished SEAL career.

Michael Lumpkin
I am confident that Lumpkin will come up with a solid, realistic plan.  Where it goes from there remains to be seen.
There are so many moving parts to this huge undertaking that placing emphasis in the right area will be difficult but not impossible.    Above all, we have the greatest military in the world, and with proper support and budget, they are well-positioned to take care of their own.  I hope Hagel and Lumpkin agree.
We all want the same thing — to bring home our MIAs from former battlefields.  It is what America does, and we don’t give up.
Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) News
From DASD Winfield  May 5, 2014:
G-o-o-o-o-o-d Afternoon


Teammates, Partners, Stakeholders and Friends,
Spring has finally sprung. After the cold winter the sunshine and cherry blossoms are a welcome sight.  I hope this finds warm and sunny skies arriving to your home too.  As the weather warms here, there is a lot going on in the Personnel Accounting Community.
Oral History Program:
On March 24 a DPMO analyst attended the annual reunion of the Army’s 24th Infantry Division, West Coast Chapter, in Laughlin Nev.  Forty-one Korean War veterans were interviewed to collect information useful for pursuing leads on unaccounted for service members from the Korean War.

National Personnel Records Research:
From March 31 to April 4, two analysts from DPMO conducted research at the National Personnel Records Center for DPMO, JPAC, and the Service Casualty Offices.  During their visit, they scanned 320 personnel files related to the Vietnam conflict and 27 related to World War II.

Meeting with Kuentai USA:
Mr. Bruce Harder (DPMO), Dr. Cynthia Chambers (DPMO), Dr. Ian Spurgeon (DPMO), Mr. Dan Melton (JPAC) and Ms. Atsuko Hayashi (JPAC), met with members of Kuentai USA.  Kuentai USA is a non-profit organization dedicated to recovering American and Japanese dead from World War II battlefields in the Pacific.  Building a relationship with this new organization will enhance our efforts to repatriate our fallen heroes.

Recently laid to rest:
-Cpl. William F. Day, U.S. Army, Company C, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 31st Regimental Combat Team, was lost on Dec. 2, 1950, in North Korea.  He was accounted for on March 6, 2014.  He was buried with full military honors on April 7, 2014, in La Center, Ky.
-1st Lt. Louis L. Longman , U.S. Army Air Forces, 433rd Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group, 5th Air Force, was lost on April 16, 1944, in Papua New Guniea. He was accounted for on Nov. 1, 2013.  He was buried with full military honors on April 12, 2014, in Rock Island, Ill.
-2nd Lt. Verne L. Gibb, U.S. Army Air Forces, 72nd Area Service Squadron, 52nd Area Service Group, 10th Air Force, was lost on Oct. 23, 1945, in Burma.  He was accounted for on Nov. 22, 2013.  He was buried with full military honors on April 23, 2014, in Leavenworth, Kan.
-Pfc. William T. Carneal, U.S. Army, Company D, 1st Battalion, 105th Infantry Regiment, was lost on July 7, 1944, in Saipan.  He was accounted for on Jan. 21, 2014. He was buried with full military honors on April 25, 2014, in Paducah, Ky.
From DASD Winfield  April 4, 2014:
DPMO — Did you know? April 4, 2014

To:
G-o-o-o-o-o-d Afternoon Teammates, Partners, Stakeholders and Friends,
It’s hard to believe that spring is upon us! Here is an update on what has
been going on in the Personnel Accounting Community.

Personnel Accounting Community Reorganization:

On February 20, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel directed the Acting Under
Secretary of Defense for Policy, Michael Lumpkin, to provide him with
recommendations on how to reorganize the Personnel Accounting Community so
that DoD can more effectively account for our missing personnel and ensure
their families receive timely and accurate information.  Based on his
recommendations, those of past reviews, and inputs from Veteran Service
Organizations and Family Organizations, Secretary Hagel announced on March
31, the actions he has directed the DoD to undertake to reorganize the
mission of accounting for our personnel from previous wars into a single,
accountable organization that has complete oversight of personnel accounting
resources, research and operations.

Secretary Hagel’s decision to reorganize DoD’s Personnel Accounting mission
includes the following:

1.      DoD will establish a new Defense Agency that combines DPMO, JPAC,
and select functions of the U.S. Air Force’s Life Sciences Equipment
Laboratory.  This agency will be led by a presidentially appointed official
with a General officer deputy, and will be overseen by the Under Secretary
of Defense for Policy.  All communications with family members of the
missing from past conflicts will be managed and organized by this new
agency.  DoD will provide proposed changes to existing legislation needed to
support this decision for consideration in the 2015 National Defense
Authorization Act.
2.      To streamline the identification process, an Armed Forces Medical
Examiner working for the new agency will be the single DoD identification
authority for past conflict identifications.  They will oversee the
scientific operations of the Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii,
the satellite laboratory in Omaha, Neb., and the Life Science Equipment
Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio.
3.      DoD will work with Congress to realign its appropriations for this
mission into a single budget line, allowing for greater execution
flexibility in the accounting mission with the ability to align resources to
respond more effectively.
4.      To improve the search, recovery, and identification process, the DoD
will implement a centralized database and case management system containing
all missing service members’ information.
5.      Secretary Hagel has also directed DoD to develop proposals for
expanding public-private partnerships in identifying our missing.  The goal
is to leverage the capabilities and efforts of organizations outside of
government that responsibly work to account for our missing.

Implementation of these steps will help improve the accounting mission,
increase the number of identifications of our missing, provide greater
transparency for their families, and expand our case file system to include
all missing personnel.  DoD will continue to do everything possible to
account for and bring home our missing and fallen service personnel.
Meeting with Japanese non-governmental organizations:

On February 20, DPMO representatives from Accounting Policy and World War II
Division met with two representatives from the Kuentai, a Japanese
non-governmental organization. Since last summer, both DPMO and Joint
POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) representatives have met several times
with the Kuentai. At this meeting, JPAC J5 representatives participated in a
telephone conference call with DPMO and Kuentai representatives. The Kuentai
conducts research and field activities in the U.S. and Asia to locate
remains of missing Japanese servicemen from World War II. For the last two
years, the Kuentai have conducted work in Saipan and have discovered the
remains of five probable U.S. soldiers from World War II, which have been
transferred to JPAC’s central identification laboratory to undergo the
identification process and analysis. Pfc. William Carneal was accounted for
Jan. 21, 2014.  The other identifications are still in progress.

U.S. – Laos Consultations:

On February 28, in Vientiane, Laos, DPMO joined counterparts from JPAC, DIA
(Stony Beach), and the U.S. Embassy Vientiane in semi-annual consultations
with the government of Laos missing in action committee. This meeting was
used to discuss recently completed joint field activities and review planned
future operations in the country.  In addition to JPAC commander Maj. Gen.
Kelly McKeague, U.S. Ambassador to Laos Honorable Dan Clune and Deputy Chief
of Mission Paul Mayer also participated in the discussions. The talks were
cordial, with much discussion and useful exchanges, and contributed to our
goal of achieving the fullest possible accounting for Americans missing in
that country.  The next round of consultations is tentatively scheduled for
late summer.

Charlotte Family Member Update:

More than 229 families of servicemen missing from the Vietnam War, Korean
War, Cold War, and World War II attended our latest family update meeting on
March 15, making it the second largest monthly meeting since we started the
program in 1995.  Of the 229 families that attended, 162 had never been to a
monthly meeting before.  This demonstrates the continued strong interest and
support of the families.  The unfortunate reality is we will never be able
to account for all those who are missing, but we do have the capability to
reach out and try and provide answers to the families on the fates of their
loved ones. Presently, the DPMO staff is working on some of the follow-up
actions resulting from that meeting.

World War II division case coordination work:

World War II analysts and historians are working on fulfilling the
requirement to build case files for every loss as directed by National
Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2010.  This is being accomplished
by three related efforts.   The first effort is a contract with Lockheed
Martin (LM) to scan all the Individual Deceased Personnel Files (IDPF) so
that they are available in a digital format.  Scanning IDPFs will have
multiple benefits; it will save money in the long-run, it will reduce
contact with the original documents and therefore preserve the originals,
and it will increase the availability of information across the Personnel
Accounting Community.  Second, World War II Division is working on writing a
case summary for every missing individual.  This work begins with
acquisition of the IDPF and traveling to the National Archives (NARA) in
College Park, Md. to collect unit histories or other archival documentation
necessary to compose a case summary.  The primary source documentation held
at NARA allows analysts to reconstruct the circumstances of loss and
previous search and recovery efforts.  The standard being applied is the
case summary product that DPMO provides to families that attend the family
member updates.  Third, analysts are working to aggregate the historical and
geographic data already collected by DPMO and JPAC into a consolidated
Personnel Accounting Community database.

Vietnam War case coordination work:

Representatives from DPMO, JPAC, LSEL and DIA (Stony Beach) met in Hawaii
from February 24 – 28 for the 48th Case Coordination Conference to determine
the way ahead for 384 of our service members still unaccounted for in
Southeast Asia (SEA).  Analysts and field investigators reviewed all
available information on 243 cases involving those lost in Laos (72),
Vietnam (170) and China (one).  They agreed upon the next steps toward
accounting for each individual while ensuring all efforts by the Accounting
Community were coordinated and focused on the same goal.  SEA Accounting
Community participants also invited the JPAC Deputy Commander and the JPAC
Deputy J2 to observe our coordination process.  All parties came away with a
much clearer understanding of how our analytical judgments can and do
support JPAC’s operational planning and resourcing decisions.
Northeast Asia (NEA) case coordination work:

Analysts from DPMO’s NEA Branch, Joint Commission Support Division, and
JPAC Research and  Analysis  held a Case Coordination Conference February
26-27 to review the past six months of case investigations in the Republic
of Korea and determine next steps for operations for the rest of fiscal year.
Archival research and oral history initiatives from the past year were
also reviewed. The total number of cases covered was 2,706 individual
losses.

Recently laid to rest:

-Pfc. Donald C. Durfee, U.S. Army, Company M, 31st Infantry Regiment, 31st
Regimental Combat Team (RCT), was lost Dec. 2, 1950 in North Korea. He was
accounted for Jan. 30, 2014. He was buried March 6, 2014 in Rittman, Ohio.
-Staff Sgt. Lawrence Woods, U.S. Army, Head Quarters, 5th Special Forces
Group, 1st Special Forces, was lost Oct. 24, 1964 near the Cambodian border.
He was accounted for Sept. 27, 2013. He was buried with full military honors
in Arlington National Cemetery, March 21, 2014.

-Cpl. Cristobal Romo, U.S. Army, Company L, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry
Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, was lost Dec. 12, 1950 in North Korea. He
was accounted for Jan. 13, 2014. He was buried with full military honors in
Riverside, Calif., March 22, 2014.

All the best, Q
W Montague “Q” Winfield, Maj Gen (Ret)

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense
POW / Missing Personnel Affairs and Director, Defense POW / Missing Personnel Office
For additional information visit the DPMO webpage at: www.dtic.mil/dpmo.

Pentagon Overhauls Effort to Identify its Missing

The restructuring promises to address many of the problems laid out in a recent ProPublica and NPR investigation.

by Megan McCloskey 
ProPublica, March 31, 2014, 7:20

The Pentagon is overhauling its efforts to find and identify missing service members from past wars, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Monday.

The changes address the problems laid out in an investigation by ProPublica and NPR, including outdated scientific methods, overlapping bureaucracy, a risk-averse disinterment policy for the 9,400 unknowns buried around the world, and poor laboratory management that inhibited the mission.

by Megan McClosey. Mar. 6, 2014

“The time has come for a paradigm shift,” said Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michael Lumpkin, who headed up a 30-day review of the mission Hagel ordered in February.

One of the bigger changes involves the military’s failure to embrace DNA. Our investigation detailed how the Pentagon identification effort relegated DNA to only a confirmation tool, rather than using it to lead the process as is now done in other countries.

Using a DNA-led process is “absolutely something we’re going to move toward,” Lumpkin said.
The Pentagon will “break away from the way of traditionally doing business...that didn’t fully embrace progressive science,” he said.

The Pentagon spends about $100 million a year on the MIA mission, yet it solves surprisingly few cases. Last year, the military identified just 60 service members out of the about 83,000 Americans missing from World War II, Korea and Vietnam. The lackluster efforts have been subjected to intense Congressional scrutiny and media coverage, including holding fake arrival ceremonies and mismanaging overseas excavations.

In restructuring the mission, the Pentagon is eliminating the two main agencies — the Hawaii-based Joint Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command and the Washington-based Defense Prisoner of War Missing Personnel Office — and creating a new single agency. There will be one chain of command and one budget.
“We’re streamlining everything,” Hagel said.

The reorganization “resolves issues of duplication and inefficiency” and makes the effort “more transparent and responsive” to families, he said. The changes will be implemented over the next 18 months.

Although it’s unclear at this point what positions and personnel will be eliminated besides the commanders of JPAC and DPMO, Lumpkin insisted the as-yet-unnamed agency will be a “fundamentally new organization.”
“It’s not business as usual,” he said.

The restructuring pushes aside J-PAC’s scientific director, Tom Holland, who has held the position for 19 years. As ProPublica and NPR detailed, Holland has had nearly total control of each step in the identification process. That job will now be handled by an Armed Forces Medical Examiner.

The move appears meant to address the fact that sign-offs on the lab’s decisions were little more than a rubber stamp. Putting a medical examiner at the head of the process — someone who is scientifically knowledgeable — ensures “the opportunity for rubber stamping doesn’t exist,” Lumpkin said.
Outsiders and former J-PAC officials said the changes were promising.

“I think the Armed Forces Medical Examiners are probably as well suited to do that as anyone else I could think of,” said Mark Leney, a former JPAC anthropologist who now teaches at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

“Selecting a scientific leader with a track record of working in an interdisciplinary scientific environment, preferably someone who has managed a large group of diverse technical and scientific experts before, will be key to making this work,” Leney said.

Hagel also announced a plan to develop public-private partnerships to “leverage capabilities” of nongovernmental groups who work on recovering and identifying MIAs – we which included last month in a rundown of potential ways to fix the effort. “I think that would be a waste if we didn't do that,” Lumpkin said.

ProPublica and NPR also reported that under Holland’s leadership the lab rejected 96 percent of potential disinterments of unknown servicemembers, despite DNA advances that could help lead to their identification.
Lumpkin said that policy will be changed, though he had no specifics.

The Pentagon is also considering a national campaign to collect DNA samples from family members of the missing.

The restructuring will create one case management system for all missing persons, which should make it simpler to conduct research and keep families informed. DPMO and JPAC, long embroiled in a turf war, have often fought over records, duplicated trips to the National Archives, and done competing investigations.
“We’re now taking concrete, enforceable steps to fix what has been a management mess—but as with any effort to demand accountability, the devil will be in the details and the implementation,” Senators Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said in a statement. “So we’re looking forward to working with the Pentagon to ensure the families of our missing heroes receive nothing less than honesty and transparency in our efforts to recover their loved ones.”

Long quote follows:

"It became clear that DNA analysis, though a crucial element in determining identity, is not in itself sufficient to provide a definitive identifiy for all these mortal remains. The principal reason is that so many bodies were disposed of in mass graves. In secondary and tertiary mass graves in particular - which are to be found all over BH [Bosnia Herzegovina] but especially in relation to the genocide in Srebenica - the remains are frequently commingled (Honig and Both 1997; Rhode 1998; Skinner et al. 2001). In such cases it is possible only to match the DNA profile of samples from bones or teeth with the DNA profile of blood samples provided by relatives. One problem of the DNA-led identification systems are childless brothers, who cannot be differentiated by DNA.

These are the main reasons for the need to resort in each case, nothwithstanding a positive DNA match, to other methods in order to arrive at a positive, definitive and official identification for a given set of skeletal remains. Every fact that is possible to ascertian must be taken into account (e.g., witness statements on the place and circumstances of death, statements by the family on personal effects and clothing), and a careful comparison between the ante-mortem [before death] and post-mortem [after death] data must be conducted (Sarajlic and Skulk, pers. comm. 2005-9; Yazedjian et al. 2005). The basic post-mortem element of this comparison is an anthropological analysis of the moartal remains thta have been exhumed, to determine the biological profile (Klonowski 1997).

Amila Zukanovic et al., 2011:66 - The Routledge Handbook of Archaeological Human Remains and Legislation: Bosnia and Herzegovina.

We need to credit Paul Cole for his report or the IVC. He predicted correctly that JPAC would fail and he was right. He did report that JPAC was dysfunctional because of Tom Holland and he was right. He did call for a reorganization an he was right again. 

So the lab will be led by the Air Force and Tom Holland is looking for another job? I believe that Tom Holland did not understand the mission of JPAC and did not want to turn over lead of the mission to the people that did the DNA. He tried to hold on to the system he built without DNA, and he punished people that tried to help to improve and bring the JPAC Lab into the scientific forefront. In my opinion he applied "shallow" science to try to hold on to his failure. JPAC = FAILED

Thanks, Secy Hagel for promising to create a modern, responsible "paradigm shift" in identifying remains of American soldiers. 

Two questions: How will the public know whether he's carrying out his promise?

And: Would it have happened if ProPublica had not carried out another of its powerful investigations? Why did no SecDef, present or past, think it worth dislodging the infamous timeserver Tom Holland despite decades of pitiful appeals by family

The families won't let the efforts to go back to where we came from. Tom Holland is gone and now real science can take over. Tom Holland fought for and held on to the only thing he had and that is a phony "Forensic anthropology" system that did not understand or agree with the science of DNA. The reason Tom Holland held on so dearly was because the other commands took the science or the DNA and made it theirs, Tom Holland had nothing.

We often wondered why would Tom Holland be so hard and cold to the science of bringing them home. The earlier NPR said it all, "Tom did not want to lose the autonomy and authority of the process", so he held them all up and kept JPAC away from the DNA science because he did not want to lose the power, pay, and prestige.

Eakins has a law suit that will deliver so results that would make it impossible to go back to where we can from. Tom is finished with the science but he got the scientist of the decade award or lifetime achievement award or some phony award. I hope they had his resignation stapled to the award.

So now what for Holland? Gone is his lab, gone is his certification for the lab and gone is his power. How stupid can one man be? He hires Paul Cole to write the report that brought down the house of cards.

Paul Cole wrote a report that described the house that Holland built out of cards, and poof....it is gone. The biggest loser in this one is Major General McKeague and Holland, gone are their command, soon to be replaced by honest men of real integrity.

What about Paul Cole, well he admitted that he is Marcus Svedicus and now is exposed to a huge liable law suit and violating the law by releasing confidential government documents and privacy act information. How about the rest of the Lab management? I think they are all fired, they are so gone.

Pity the fools that tried to hurt and punish their peers by writing the IVC report to hurt people like Dr. G. and others, little did they know that the knife cuts both ways. They were so arrogant to think they could cut off their nose in spite of their own face. They tried to destroy J2 and destroyed themselves in the process.

How ironic that JPAC hires Paul Cole and his ICV report start the ball rolling to shut down the CIL and the new lab. How ironic that Holland receives the Big award in March and gets fired in April. Maybe this is all an April fool's joke.

Wait, what? McCloskey's piece ran March 6 and Hagel announces a restructuring on March 31 and McCloskey is breaking her arm patting herself on the back taking credit? The change already was on the fast track when she wrote her "expose" so why didn't she write that? The muck-rake was bogus. Nicely timed and orchestrated but a fake. Shame on ProPublica!

McCloskey also never mentioned reviews of JPAC (which certainly could stand an overhaul) that are public record, which she never quoted. This is from today's Army Times:

"A series of internal investigations into JPAC and other defense offices involved in recovering remains found repeated instances of shoddy science and mishandling of remains. JPAC also admitted to holding phony repatriation ceremonies that misled families about how the remains of their loved ones were handled.

"The so-called arrival ceremonies involved honor guards removing flag-draped coffins from cargo planes on a tarmac, giving the impression the remains had arrived that day. But military officials acknowledged that the aircraft used for the ceremonies could not fly and the remains typically arrived days or weeks before the ceremonies."

How did she miss that? Stars and Stripes
Published: October 10, 2013
An honor detail comprised of joint military members prepares to escort the remains of fallen servicemembers who died during World War II and the Vietnam War during an arrival ceremony April 26, 2013, hosted by the U.S. Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command.

SEAN FUREY/U.S. NAVY
RELATED

WASHINGTON — The Department of Defense unit charged with recovering servicemembers’ remains abroad has been holding phony “arrival ceremonies” for seven years, with an honor guard carrying flag-draped coffins off of a cargo plane as though they held the remains returning that day from old battlefields.
The Pentagon acknowledged Wednesday that no honored dead were in fact arriving, and that the planes used in the ceremonies often couldn’t even fly, and were towed into position. The story was first reported on nbcnews.com.

The ceremonies at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii are held up as a sign of the nation’s commitment to its fallen warriors. They have been attended by veterans and families of MIAs, led to believe that they were witnessing the return of Americans killed in World War II, Vietnam and Korea.

In a statement sent to NBC News, the Pentagon wrote:

“Part of the ceremony involves symbolically transferring the recovered remains from an aircraft to a vehicle for follow-on transportation to the lab. Many times, static aircraft are used for the ceremonies, as operational requirements dictate flight schedules and aircraft availability. This transfer symbolizes the arrival of our fallen servicemembers.

“It is important to note that recovered remains ceremoniously transferred from the aircraft to the [bus] have been in the lab undergoing forensic analysis to determine identity. When remains first arrive in Hawaii, JPAC cannot confirm if the remains are those of an American servicemember.”

NBC writes that the ceremonies have been known among some of the military and civilian staff at the base as The Big Lie.

The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, or JPAC, has come under intense scrutiny in recent months after two scathing reports were released this summer.

In July, The Associated Press ran a story exposing a 2012 internal JPAC report that found the agency to be “acutely dysfunctional” with some missions that amounted to little more than paid vacations for staffers.
A second investigation released weeks later by the Government Accountability Office found that Pentagon efforts to account for fallen troops missing overseas were inefficient and in need of overhaul, according to congressional sources.

In 2010, lawmakers mandated JPAC to reach an annual goal of recovering at least 200 fallen troops from overseas battlefields by 2015, but it had failed to build the capacity to do so, the GAO found. Currently the Hawaii-based command averages less than 70 individuals per year.

Much of the inefficiency found by the GAO researchers comes down to a turf war between JPAC and the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office, which shares some of the same responsibilities, Congressional sources said.

The show

According to the NBC report, here’s what the audience was shown:

A C-17 military transport aircraft was parked, its ramp down, outside a hangar at the base. After generals and dignitaries were introduced, a military chaplain said a prayer, the audience sang “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and “Taps” was played. Then an honor guard carried flag-draped transfer cases, which look like coffins, down the ramp and placed them in the back of blue buses, which were driven away.

The emcee thanked the audience for “welcoming them home.” The script continued, “After removal from the aircraft, the remains will be taken to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command’s Central Identification Laboratory. There, JPAC scientists will begin the identification process.”

Citing eyewitnesses and photographs taken behind the scenes, NBC wrote that what actually happened is very different:

Before 6 a.m., the honor guard assembled behind the JPAC headquarters on the base. They loaded transfer cases onto the buses and drove to the hangar.

The honor guard loaded the transfer cases into the pre-positioned C-17, then rehearsed for the ceremony. They then returned to the plane, and waited.

The public was allowed in for the 9 a.m. ceremony: invited politicians, media, families of the missing and veterans. Employees from JPAC were bused over to fill out the crowd.

Then the show began, with tears and salutes as the remains were marched to the buses, then driven off to the lab to “begin the identification process.”

Jesse Baker, an 81-year-old Air Force veteran of World War II and Korea living in Honolulu, told NBC News that he has been to more than 50 of these ceremonies. He said he’s always been under the impression that the plane had just arrived carrying recovered remains.

Baker tried to make sense of why the DOD would work so hard to trick him and other veterans. “That’s disturbing. I don’t know when they stopped being honest and switched over to this Mickey Mouse, but whoever did it, I hope they find him a new job somewhere.”


The anti-American sentiment among radical Islamists in Libya is running at a fevor pitch, as the kidnapping and killing of Americans is advocated by the grave robbing Salafists, who will certainly attack and desecrate the clearly marked graves of the Americans buried at Old Protestant Cemetery in Tripoli, especially the remains of the American naval heroes of the USS Intrepid. 

Now an emergency mission must be undertaken by an expert forensic archaeology team to excavate and repatriate the remains of these Americans before they are destroyed. 

News Item from Tripoli: 

Libyan militants have called for the kidnapping of American citizens in Tripoli and for attacks on gas pipelines, ships and planes to avenge the capture of a senior al Qaeda figure by U.S. special forces in Libya last week, Reuters reported.

Nazih al-Ragye, better known by the cover name Abu Anas al-Liby, is a suspect in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 civilians.

He was snatched on the streets of Tripoli on Saturday and is being held aboard a Navy ship in the Mediterranean Sea, U.S. officials said.

Messages posted by Libyan jihadists on the Internet and monitored by the SITE service included a Facebook page called "Benghazi is Protected by its People".

It told Libyans to close off entrances and exits to the capital and kidnap citizens of the United States and its allies in order to use them to bargain for the release of imprisoned militants. It also urged them to damage pipelines exporting gas to Europe, and target ships and planes.

"Libya today is still a place of disbelief that is ruled by something other than the Shariah of Allah; thus, there is no security for disbelievers there," the message said.

In another message posted on forums and social media, a group called "the Revolutionaries of Benghazi - al-Bayda, Derna" condemned the al Qaeda leader's capture.

It accused Libya's leaders of having prior knowledge of the operation, although Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said at the weekend that the government had asked the United States to explain the raid.

The group vowed to fight "everyone who betrayed his country and involved himself in this conspiracy. We say that this shameful act will cost the Libyan government a lot and it will be as you will see and not as you hear."

Since Muammar Gaddafi's fall, Islamist militants, including groups linked to al Qaeda, have used Libya to smuggle out weapons and as a base for fighters.

North Africa is home to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and other Islamist affiliates who either cooperate with the network or sympathize with its ideology.

Liby is wanted by the FBI, which gives his age as 49 and had offered a $5 million reward for help in capturing him.

He was indicted in 2000 along with 20 other al Qaeda suspects including Osama bin Laden and current global leader of the militant network, Ayman al-Zawahri.