Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, and
Director of the Defense POW-Missing Personnel
Office made a major unsupportable statement in a
meeting in Moscow, September 2004. The
following Associated Press article reports on
Jennings' statements. Read the article; I
will comment after the article.
Wants Broader Search for Missing POWs
24 September, 2004
ISACHENKOV The Associated Press
MOSCOW (AP) ‹ The American co-chair of a
U.S.-Russian commission working to
determine the fate of missing servicemen
said that a more extensive search through
Russian government archives is needed to
determine if any American prisoners from
the Korean and Vietnam wars were taken to
the Soviet Union.
Jerry D. Jennings, the U.S. deputy
assistant secretary of defense in charge
of the worldwide search for missing
American servicemen, praised Russia's
contribution to the painstaking effort to
determine the fate of American servicemen
missing from World War II, Korea, Vietnam
and the Cold War. None have been found
But a key question has remained unanswered
since the Joint Commission on POW/MIAs was
set up in 1992: Were any American
prisoners from the Korean and Vietnam wars
taken to the Soviet Union?
"I think if there were high-value
prisoners, they would have taken them out"
to the Soviet Union, said Jennings, who
served as a CIA intelligence officer in
Southeast Asia during the Vietnam war.
"There have been clues, the problem is
there is no hard evidence."
A hint emerged when researchers found a
brief memoir written by the late Russian
military historian and the commission's
co-chair, Dmitry Volkogonov, shortly
before his death in 1995, in which he said
he had discovered in Russian archives a
Vietnam-era document assigning the KGB the
task of "delivering knowledgeable
Americans to the USSR for intelligence
Russian officials said there was no such
directive and that they are convinced such
transfers did not take place.
If such transfers occurred, relevant
documents would likely reside in KGB
archives, which unlike some of the Russian
Defense Ministry's files, remain
classified and off-limits to U.S.
researchers, Jennings said in an
"It's likely that the answers are in the
KGB files, it's likely that they would
hold these special prisoners if they were
brought in the country," Jennings told The
With Russian officials stonewalling U.S.
requests for access to KGB archives, a
possible solution could be engaging
retired Russian officers to rummage
through the sensitive files on behalf of
U.S. officials, Jennings said.
A similar approach had been negotiated
with Vietnam where retired senior
intelligence officers were recruited to
search through classified files for clues
to the fate of missing American
servicemen, Jennings said.
He said that he got assurances from senior
Russian officials that the Kremlin would
continue providing strong support to the
POW/MIAs panel despite a recent government
reshuffle that left the status of its
Russian part uncertain.
The Russian government has allowed the
commission's researchers to review
thousands of pages of documents from the
Russian Defense Ministry's Central
Archives relating to U.S. combat losses in
Korea. The search helped clarify the fate
of 264 Americans who went missing from the
The Russians have also provided extracts
from classified documents relating to the
downing of U.S. aircraft in Vietnam and
helped find remains or determine the fate
of American airmen whose planes were shot
down on spy missions over the former
Soviet Union during the Cold War.
The United States, in turn, has given
Russia archival documents shedding light
on the fates of about 450,000 Soviet
displaced persons from World War II and
163 Soviet soldiers who went missing
during the war in Afghanistan. It has also
provided information on many Russians
missing during the Cold War.
"This is a very sensitive, very important
issue to the veterans on both sides and to
the families of the missing on both
sides," Jennings said of the commission's
©2004 Associated Press
The heart of this article is these two
paragraphs; read them again.
So, Jennings is telling us there "have been
clues" that "high-value" U. S. POWs were taken
from Vietnam to the Soviet Union. The
article goes on to refer to a claim by the late
Russian General Dimitry Volkogonov that the KGB
was assigned the task of "delivering knowledgeable
Americans to the USSR for intelligence purposes."
I spent six years working on the question of
Americans missing in Southeast Asia and I am not a
novice to the issue. Jennings' statement has
no basis in fact. There is no reason
whatsoever to believe that U. S. POWs from Vietnam
or Korea were transferred to the Soviet Union.
Every "clue" to which he refers has been
investigated time and again and found to have no
Volkogonov's claim was investigated and found
to be a reference to a KGB directive aimed at
encouraging American defectors.
I am dismayed and am at a loss to explain why
an official at Jennings' level would make such
statements, knowing that his claims are
groundless. Perhaps he's trying to cozy up
to someone, maybe he's trying to please a superior
or ameliorate critics. DASD Jennings needs
to get a spinal transplant and stiffen his
No U. S. POWs were removed from Vietnam (or
Korea) the the USSR. He has no business
making such claims. Frankly, I am glad to be
retired and out of it -- but it still hurts to see
misrepresentations at such high levels.