Summary. In the normal course of events, Pentagon offices
undergo reviews to see if they are operating the best way possible. These reviews go
by different names but a common one is "Mission Area Analysis," or, MAA.
The Defense POW-Missing Personnel Office is undergoing a MAA (as of March 2000).
The National Alliance of Families has sounded the alarm, claiming that this MAA means that
DPMO will essentially stop looking for missing from Vietnam in 2004.
Nonsense. Read on.
As stated in the summary, Department of Defense agencies go through reviews from time
to time to determine if they are doing what they are doing in the best possible way.
"The best possible way" is determined by their mission. The best
possible way to run an infantry brigade may not be the best possible way to operate a
medical training unit.
In the mid-1990s, we started producing a strategic plan for DPMO. We wanted to
ensure that the accounting process for missing personnel in future conflicts took
advantage of lessons learned and took into account the changed environment. We
wanted to look at lessons learned and mission and determine the best way to address all
aspects of missing personnel matters.
The strategic planning process was distracted by several sideshows -- constant
harangues from "activists," dealing with the likes of "Chip" Beck and
Tim Castle, watching our six for stunts from TFR, the usual Bob Smith and Dino circus, to
name a few. Eventually, DoD contracted with an outside consultant who does this sort
of mission area analysis to do the DPMO MAA.
In preparing for the MAA, one of the first steps is to prepare a terms of reference
document (TOR). The TOR sets down, among other matters, the goal of the MAA.
In the DPMO MAA TOR (got that?), the goal is to modify the accounting process for
the future so that problems in the past are not repeated. Nothing in
the current DPMO MAA will have an impact on current accounting operations.
The Alliance's (Bogus) Alert
Not to be deterred by facts, the National Alliance of Families has seized upon the MAA
TOR. Visit the Alliance's web site. Once you get past the corny music and the
opening scripts, you find a link to their newsletter, Bits and Pieces. Here
is a quote -- complete with misspelled words and bad grammar -- from the newsletter for 26
February 2000. Quoted material is in this
typeface, colored whatever this color is.
46 Months till 2004 - That's when it all stops. The Defense Departments
Strategic Plan, that first mentioned POW/MIA investigations, as we know them would cease
as of 2004, was written in 1998. Unfortunately, it doesn't matter who the President is or
will be. This is a decision that was made in the Pentagon, without consultation with or
input from family organizations and their membership.
The recent study, commissioned by DPMO, "called
the Mission Area Analysis (MAA), is to help implement the best use of money, resources and
technology across the wide range of DoD's responsibilities in personnel recovery and
accounting," will provide DPMO the necessary cover to end active investigations as we
Here are DPMO's Words - "By the end of
the year 2004, we will have moved from the way the US government conducts the business of
recovery and accounting to an active program of loss prevention, immediate rescues, and
rapid post-hostility accounting."
DPMO can deny what we say is true. However, they can
not deny their own words. Actually, when it suits their purpose, they can deny anything
Your Mission, Should You Decide To
Accept --- Stop The Abandonment of our
POW/MIAs. In our January 15th 2000 edition of "Bits," we put out the call for
help and promised sample letters. Attached with this fax or e-mail are the sample letters
and suggestions on how we can exert pressure to change current DPMO plans. To access
sample letters, click here.
We are going to be brutally honest here. Many
will not like what we have to say... but it needs to be said. The decision to end
investigations by 2004 has already been made. The trial balloons are up. It doesn't matter
who the President is, or will be. This decision was made at a DoD policy level. Congress
can call for a change in that policy, but unless they legislate it, there will be no
change. Even if we can get congress to legislate continued investigations, we still have a
problem. If one of the four leading candidates for President is elected, he will surely
veto any pro-POW/MIA legislation. If he is not elected, he will surely block our efforts
By now, some of you may be asking... then why
bother. The answer is simple YOU ARE
THE ONLY VOICES LEFT FOR OUR PRISONERs AND MISSING. We need to make every congressional representative realize that the
honest accounting of our Prisoners and Missing is a real issue, important to a great many
This may well be the final battle of
the POW/MIA issue.
Our POW/MIAs are depending on you,
The clock is ticking.
The Alliance claims that, at the end of 2004, the US government will stop searching for
missing men in SEAsia: "That's when it all
stops. The Defense Departments Strategic Plan, that first mentioned POW/MIA
investigations, as we know them would cease as of 2004, was written in 1998 (sic)."
They base their claim on this passage from the MAA terms of reference:
"By the end of the year 2004, we will have
moved from the way the US government conducts the business of recovery and accounting to
an active program of loss prevention, immediate rescues, and rapid post-hostility
This statement in no way means that accounting for missing men will end in 2004.
This statement was written into the draft DPMO strategic plan. I recently received
e-mail correspondence from the individual who put together that draft plan and here is
what he says about the 2004 date:
"Actually, these are the words I placed in the
Strategic Plan which describe not the status of what we are doing today to recover remains
but new ways to do our job in the future so that we never again find ourselves in
the position we have been in since 1975. "
Got that -- "not the status of what we are doing today to recover
remains but new ways to do our job in the future." The words that the
Alliance claims are the death knell for current accounting efforts are actually a goal for
DPMO to incorporate all the lessons learned over the past decades to ensure that
accounting for future missing does not become the drawn out, torturous affair that it has
been since 1975. Many areas need to be reviewed and modified as appropriate, for