MIA Facts Site

Enough Already:
Time to Stop

In late October 2010 the “MIA activist community” issued warnings that the US-Russia Joint Commission (USRJC) On POW/MIA Affairs was about to be gutted and moved under the control of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW-MIA Affairs and the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DASD/POW-MIA, DPMO).  The National League of POW/MIA Families (“the League”) and the rump National Alliance of Families for the Return of America’s Missing Servicemen (“the Alliance”) both posted articles on their websites warning that a DPMO take-over of the USRJC would limit or destroy the activities of the USRJC.

 Here are links to their comments:

bullet The Alliance:  http://www.nationalalliance.org/ and click on the link to the 30 October 2010 newsletter
bullet The League:  http://www.pow-miafamilies.org/League/Updates.html

 While the specific issue that the League and the Alliance are cranked up about is the future of the USRJC, it is time for us to do what we should have done years ago regarding the entire "POW-MIA issue."

Enough already.  When a matter has been investigated, searched, re-investigated and re-searched time and again, at some point enough information is available to make final, definitive judgments and decisions.  In the issue of Americans who are “missing in action” from our past wars, that time is long past.

What we know -- and have known for years

The US intelligence and policy communities have, for years, had more then enough information to conclude:

bulletNo Americans were retained in captivity in Southeast Asia after the end of the Vietnam War.  The American prisoners who were released in Operation Homecoming and the few who were released at various times during the war were the only Americans who survived captivity.
bulletNo Americans who were captured in Southeast Asia were transported to the Soviet Union, Korea, China, or any other third country.
bulletNo American prisoners of war were retained in captivity after the Korean War.  The American prisoners who were released in the prisoner exchanges and releases at the end of the Korean War were the only men to survive captivity.
bulletNo Americans who were captured in Korea were transported to the Soviet Union, China, or any other third country.
bulletNo Americans taken captive during the Cold War remain alive in Russia, Korea, China, or anywhere else.  All Americans lost during the Cold War either were released or died in captivity.
bulletNo American prisoners of war from WW II were taken to the Soviet Union where they remained until their deaths or until today.

What do I recommend?

I recommend the following actions.

  1. The Department of Defense, or State and Defense jointly, need to issue a definitive statement concluding what we have known for years.  State the obvious.
  2. The US-Russia Joint Commission and its Research Directorate within DPMO need to go away.
  3. DPMO should be reduced in size.
  4. STONY BEACH should be dismantled.
  5. Information collection activities related to missing Americans should be transferred to US Defense Attaché Offices in the countries involved.

 The time has come to state the obvious

 The Department of Defense needs to issue a white paper or similar statement that states what we have known for years as I have outlined above. 

Several years ago I addressed the need to bring an end to our extraordinary efforts.  That years-old opinion is valid today.  http://www.miafacts.org/propose.htm
 

The USRJC needs to go away, along with its “Research Directorate” in DPMO 

 The USRJC Research Directorate within DPMO serves no useful function and has not served any useful function for well over a decade.  In fact, the USRJC Research Directorate has served mainly to (1) provide employment for some unemployable pseudo-analysts and (2) to spread nonsense.  This article from January 2006 summarizes the nonsense that the Research Directorate produces.  http://www.miafacts.org/january%202006.htm

 Yes, it is true that in the early days of US-Russian cooperation on the issue of Americans in Russia the Research Directorate made some valuable discoveries.  Through their efforts we:

bulletLearned the fates of several Americans lost in Cold War incidents.  In fact, the remains of a few US personnel lost during the Cold War were recovered and identified.
bulletLearned of the presence in Russia of Russian citizens who had fought either for the German or American armies in WW II and who returned to Russia to live after the war.
bulletLearned that the Russians had no information regarding the fates of US personnel lost in Southeast Asia or Korea.

Now we know enough to close the USRJC and its Research Directorate.  Whatever mission remains should be assumed by the US Defense Attaché office in Moscow.

 DPMO should be seriously reduced in size 

We know that no American prisoners of war were kept behind in Southeast Asia after the end of the Vietnam War. 

 Americans who were “missing in action” at the end of the war and who did not return died at the time they were lost or died shortly thereafter, either on the battlefield on in captivity. 

We should continue our efforts to recover remains from battlefield sites.  We are now and have been for years in the graves registration mode of collecting remains from the battlefield.  These operations are being conducted by the Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command (JPAC; http://www.jpac.pacom.mil/ ) based in Hawaii.

 A small number of analysts are required in DPMO to provide support to the JPAC and to respond to Congressional and public inquiries. 

STONY BEACH needs to be dismantled 

Following hearings by the Senate Select Committee on POW-MIA Affairs in 1993, the Defense Intelligence Agency established Operation STONY BEACH with the mission of collecting information from Southeast Asia that bears on the issue of American prisoners of war still alive in Southeast Asia.  While STONY BEACH has collected valuable information, every thing they have collected supports the conclusion that no US POW’s remained alive in captivity after Operation Homecoming.

 They have done their job.  Close them down, transfer what remains of their mission to the US Defense Attaché Offices in the countries of Southeast Asia.  The DAO in Hanoi could coordinate the activities of other DAO’s in the region that relate to the question of missing Americans.

 Transfer all in-country information collection activities to the respective Defense Attaché Offices

 While we know that no US POW’s remained alive in Southeast Asia after Operation Homecoming, and that no Americans were secretly held in or shipped to Russia, China, Korea, or any other third country as a result of WW II, the Cold War, the Korean War, or the Vietnam War, there still is a need for minimal collection actions bearing on the fates of missing Americans from those conflicts. 

bulletThere is some archival and oral history research to be done in Russian, Chinese, and Southeast Asian archives. 
bulletThere is the occasional indigenous person who may recollect a wartime incident or may have an artifact from the war that provides information as to the fate of a missing American.  
bulletOpen-source publications in other countries may reveal the fate of missing Americans.
bulletOther sources of information may present themselves from time to time.

 All this information can be collected by the US Defense Attaché Offices in the respective countries.

 Will any of this happen? 

So – will any of my suggestions be implemented?  Maybe.  But not for the reasons I have stated.

 My suggestions should be implemented because they make sense and are a direct consequence of years and years of information collection and analysis.  However, if any of my suggestions are implemented the reason may well be economic – the Department of Defense is facing serious budget cuts and it just may be that we can no longer afford the USRJC, the USRJC Research Directorate, STONY BEACH, and DPMO at its current size.

 Whether we take the steps I recommend because these steps are the natural result of years of information collection and analysis, or, because we can’t afford to continue at current personnel and activity levels, the important thing is that we stop searching for the answer we had years ago.