FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Pacom Commander Supports Review of JPAC
By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 11, 2013 - The Joint Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command has an important and unique global mission and a sacred duty, so defense leaders must ensure the unit has the organizational construct, the right oversight and the right direction, the commander of JPAC's higher headquarters said today.
Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, responded to Pentagon reporters' questions about JPAC during a news conference here. JPAC conducts global search, recovery, and laboratory operations to identify the remains of unaccounted-for Americans from past conflicts. The Hawaii-based unit reports to Pacom.
Media outlets reported earlier this week that an internal review performed at JPAC had indicated organizational issues. Locklear pointed out the unit has a limited, set number of experts to perform its unique mission.
"I do think that there are areas where we need to take harder looks at how it is organized and how the mission steps are prioritized," the admiral said. He added he's very supportive of the announcement by James N. Miller, undersecretary of defense for policy, that the department will perform a deeper review of JPAC operations.
"The people in that organization are good people," Locklear said. "And they've done a lot of good work. And they continue to work in some very difficult conditions and difficult places under different political situations."
Locklear said the real issue, for him, is ensuring JPAC has prioritized where and how they pursue their mission, "so that we can get them on an up-ramp as far as number of remains that get recovered."
He noted the National Defense Authorization Act of 2010 set a goal of 200 recoveries a year by 2015. "And we're not approaching that," he said. Locklear said the political will of the nations JPAC operates in, along with support and access issues, often influence mission accomplishment.
"It's a very complex issue, globally, to try to get at," he said. " ... I just think that we need to work harder to make sure that the goal that they've been given, that they can achieve it."
Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told reporters during a July 9 news conference that reviewing JPAC operations is the prudent thing to do.
"We're going to review the concerns raised in the report to see how JPAC is or isn't functioning well," Little said. "And if steps need to be taken to remedy what's happening inside JPAC, then we'll take action."