Current Department of Defense
Accounting for Missing Persons
On January 31, 2000, the Department of Defense approved a new instruction governing the
process of accounting for missing service members. The Defense POW-Mission Personnel
Office (DPMO) has on their web site a link to the DoD site where readers can find the
instruction and the forms associated with it; here is a link to the DPMO page: http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/special/dodi2310_5.htm
The DoD Instruction (2310.5) is long and detailed but I recommend that interested
people read it. Also, you may want to access the forms associated with the
instruction. Here is a quote from the DPMO page, complete with links to the
Quote from DPMO website
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE (DOD)
INSTRUCTION (DODI) 2310.5
ACCOUNTING FOR MISSING PERSONS
(January 31, 2000)
The Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (USD (P)) signed the DoDI on Monday, January 31,
2000. The DoDI prescribes uniform DoD procedures for the determination of the status
of missing persons lost as a result of hostile action. The ninety-eight page DoDI,
an extremely user-friendly document, fulfills the requirements placed upon the Secretary
of Defense (SECDEF) by Title 10, United States Code Sections 1501-1513, the Missing
Persons Act (MPA).
The MPA places three general requirements upon the SECDEF. First, the SECDEF must
establish within OSD an office having the responsibility for DoD policy relating to
missing persons. Second, the SECDEF is required to establish policies throughout DoD
for personnel recovery (including search, rescue, escape, and evasion). The
establishment of the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office and the issuance of
various publications concerning personnel recovery have satisfied these two
requirements. Third, the SECDEF is required to prescribe uniform DoD procedures for
the determination of the status of missing persons, and the systematic, comprehensive, and
timely collection, analysis, review, dissemination, and periodic update of information
related to such persons. In addition, these procedures must be prescribed in a
single directive applicable to all elements of DoD. The DoDI fulfills this third
requirement and completes the implementation of the MPA.
The DoDI implements policy, assigns responsibilities, and prescribes procedures regarding
missing persons to be followed by military department boards of inquiry and by officials
reviewing the reports of such boards; for the determination of the status of covered
persons; and for the systemic, comprehensive, and timely collection, analysis, review,
dissemination, and periodic update of information related to such persons. The
length of the DoDI is dictated by the fact that it meets the requirements of containing
the procedures regarding missing persons for all of DoD, and is a user-friendly document
that contains various aids for the user such as sample forms and schematics of the
individual procedures. The contents of the DoDI follow generally the sequence found
in the MPA, e.g., Enclosure 3 implements Section 1502, Enclosure 4 implements Section
1503, and so forth.
The DoDI assigns specific responsibilities to the USD (P), Assistant Secretary of Defense
(Command Control, Communications, and Intelligence), Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense
for Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Affairs, and Secretaries of the Military
Departments. Pertinent and helpful definitions are provided at Enclosure 2.
Implementation of the MPA accounting procedures follows the sequence of the MPA and is
contained in enclosures 3-8, i.e., commanders preliminary assessment and
recommendation (Enclosure 3); secretarial review and appointment of initial board
(Enclosure 4); subsequent boards of inquiry (Enclosure 5); further review boards
(Enclosure 6); case resolution files (Enclosure 7); and preenactment boards (Enclosure 8).
In addition to implementing the MPA, the DoDI at Enclosure 9 implements policy, assigns
responsibility, and prescribes procedures for the Armed Forces Identification Review Board
(AFIRB). Currently, the AFIRB is a creature of memorandum. Including the
related procedures of the AFIRB in the DoDI gives the AFIRB permanence and clear OSD
sanction. The AFIRB will be used for appellate review in those cases where the
person authorized to direct disposition of remains (PADD) declines to accept the remains
and requests review before the AFIRB. The DoDI sets forth procedures for the use of
mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). The procedures provide that if a case reaches the AFIRB,
in exceptional circumstance, as determined by the director, DPMO, the PADD shall be
afforded the opportunity to submit the remains for private mtDNA testing when the
Government has used mtDNA testing as part of its recommended identification and the
additional testing will not wholly consume the remains. In addition, the procedures
of the AFIRB have been made applicable to the remains from all conflicts and enhanced to
provide due process similar to that statutorily required at MPA boards.
The DoDI is extremely user friendly. For example, it provides definitions to help
the user understand the terminology, forms for the various boards to use for recording
their actions taken, schematics that detail the individual procedures, and a variety of
form letters for various officials to use in accomplishing their tasks.
Sections 1508, 1510, 1511, and 1512 of the MPA do not require implementation.
Washington Headquarters Services, The Pentagon, is distributing the DoDI and the DoD forms
contained therein on the Internet at http://web7.whs.osd.mil/corres.htm. Once at this site, to
access the DoDI, click on "INSTRUCTIONS" under the "DoD Issuances"
column and then scroll down to "DODI 2310.5". To access the associated
forms, click on "LINKS TO OTHER DOCUMENTS" under the "Information"
column, then click on "DoD Forms". Next, you click on "Department of
Defense Forms" and then scroll down to the appropriate form (DD2809, DD2910, DD2811
or DD2812). There also will be a link at the DoDI web site to the DoD forms
contained in the DoDI.
Publication of the DoDI completes implementation of the MPA. Not only does
publication satisfy the legal requirements of the MPA, but it will also implement the
protections for DoD personnel who are placed in harms way.
Posted 1 June 2000