Opening Statement of Chairman Wilson - Department of Defense's Challenges in Accounting for Missing Persons from Past Conflicts

Aug 1, 2013
Press Release

Rep. Joe Wilson (SC), Chairman of the Military Personnel Subcommittee, made the following opening statement as prepared for delivery at a hearing on Department of Defense’s Challenges in Accounting for Missing Persons from Past Conflicts. Witness testimony can be found linked below and on the Committee Repository as prepared for delivery; the committee is no longer providing paper copies of witness testimony. Additionally, a live video feed of the hearing can be seen on the Committee website.   "The hearing will come to order. Everyone is welcome to the subcommittee on Military Personnel on the topic of The Department of Defense’s Challenges in Accounting for Missing Persons from Past Conflicts.  Today the Subcommittee will continue its oversight on the important issue of POW/MIA recovery.  Last August, Congresswoman Bordallo and I had the opportunity to visit the Joint Personnel Accounting Command’s (JPAC)  headquarters as well as a field recovery team on the side of a mountain in Vietnam.  I was extremely impressed with the professionalism and work ethic of our service men and women as they worked in extreme heat and dangerous conditions to recover the remains of missing persons from an airplane crash site.  There are many dedicated military people involved with this effort.  The Joint U.S.-Vietnamese team was inspiring for its determination of recovery of remains.  They share the desire for the fullest possible accounting with the  many family members of those who are still missing.  We, as a Nation, owe the proper emphasis, resources and priority of effort to account for our missing persons from past conflicts and to bring closure to their family members. "That is why this subcommittee, then chaired by Rep. Susan Davis, in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 required the Secretary of Defense to increase significantly the Department’s capability and capacity to account for missing persons, with the objective that  the POW/MIA accounting community could identify at least 200 missing persons annually beginning in fiscal year 2015.   "In May 2012, after three years of little apparent progress by the Department of Defense toward achieving the 2010 mandate, this committee directed  a General Accountability Office review.   There have been approximately nine studies over the past decade on ways to improve the accounting community’s effort, to include a recent internal review of JPAC’s procedures conducted by Dr. Paul Cole who is employed as a fellow at JPAC.   "Our goal today is to better understand the ability of the POW/MIA accounting community to meet the requirements of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010, and to help the Department build the capability and capacity to identify 200 missing persons per year by Fiscal Year 2015.  "I would like to welcome our distinguished witnesses:

Dr. Paul M. Cole  ORISE Fellow, Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), Central Identification Laboratory

•  Witness Truth in Testimony [PDF]

•  Witness Biography [PDF]

Ms. Brenda S. Farrell  Director, Defense Capabilities and Management, U.S. Government Accountability Office

•  Witness Statement [PDF]

Witness Biography [PDF]"