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Hearing of the Military Personnel Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee - Oversight and Oversight and Status of POW/MIA Activities

Location: Unknown


REP. MURPHY: I want to thank both of you for your service to our country. I'm Patrick Murphy from Pennsylvania.

I want to open up my comment real quick and I want to tip my hat, even though it's not in your domain, but to the CIA agencies that actually just helped free three of our hostages over in Colombia. I think they did an incredible job, and the 15 hostages overall, they did an incredible job with those three hostages for the past -- they've been in captivity in Colombia with the FARC for over five years. So I know they don't get a thank you enough, and I wanted to publicly acknowledge their work.

You know, I understand that the policy of the United States is to pursue the most recent first strategy in deciding how to allocate funding assigned to each conflict unaccounted for servicemen, and obviously if there's a chance that any MIA or POW serviceman is still alive, then we should do whatever it takes to rescue them.

The most recent first strategy leads to a funding breakdown where 65 percent of the funds are allocated to Vietnam, 20 percent of the funds to Korea, and 15 percent of the funds to World War II. But when you look at the numbers, there are over 74,000 servicemen unaccounted for from World War II, but only 8,000 from the Korean War and about 1,700 from Vietnam.

Again, if there's any chance that there are servicemen still alive we need to pursue that vigorously, as I know you already agree. However, the DPMO and JPAC estimate that the remains of 19,000 of the 74,000 unaccounted for World War II servicemen might be recoverable.

So my question is, how much of the funding allocated to Vietnam is actually dedicated to the search for those possibly still alive? Is that funding separated from the funding used to recover remains?

So what am I -- I guess what I'm trying to get at is, you know, can we still continue to aggressively search for possibly living servicemen but also focusing at the same time for recovering and identifying the most remains possible, even if those remains are not from the most recent conflict?

ADM. CRISP: If I could just share -- when I have the percentages, I actually don't apply them to the money, although I could do that. I don't have that right now. But I do apply them to the different functions within JPAC. So I look at recoveries and investigations, and so if I were to just look at that over a four-year period of time, 67 percent of recoveries and investigations are Vietnam, 14 percent are Korean War and 19 percent are for World War II.

But when I look at the laboratory and I also look at their level of effort, identifications are 36 percent for Vietnam, 42 percent for World War II, 21 percent for Korea. And I also look at the sampling, because the scientists have to spend their time cutting samples and sending them to AFDIL for designation, so 65 percent of the samples are for the Korean War, just as an example, and 24 percent for Vietnam.

So I look at the guidance given by OSD of the 65, 20 and 15, and then I try to apply that to all of the areas of work that we're doing, knowing that each war is different and just trying to ensure that we comply to the best way possible.

REP. MURPHY: Thank you.

MR. RAY: On the issue, sir, of possible living personnel and their recovery, we have not broken down what is spent on that effort, and the reason for that is that shapes everything we do. Every contact we have with governments on this issue, that's the number one priority.

It's also difficult for us to break down how this is funded because there are other agencies besides our two that are involved in it. The intelligence agencies have standing requirements on this issue. Most embassies in areas of interest, these are pieces of information that they would be responding to for us.

So this effort, what we spend on recoveries of remains across the various conflicts, has no impact on what we do to try and recover any living people, and if we should find someone alive you can bet that everything else would stop while we took effort to get that person back.

REP. MURPHY: May I ask a very brief -- another question, ma'am? I have a little bit of time left?

For years, the government of China has denied that any U.S. service member were moved from North Korea into China, and the Pentagon has long held that China returned all the POWs that were inside of China.

I'm not sure if this panel already addressed this issue, and I apologize if it did, but obviously last month we all became aware of Sergeant Richard Desautels, who was buried in the Chinese territory in 1953.

I have a constituent Charlotte Minick (ph) whose brother has been missing in action in Korea since June of 1952. I just want to make sure that I can respond to her effectively and to say that she can believe in her government, that we're all working together and that we're going to make sure that we're being straight with her and the rest of the Americans that, you know -- because it was, obviously, we said -- we've known this for five years that there was remains in China, and yet we just made the American public aware of this a month ago.

MR. RAY: This is true, and it is not at all unusual that we would provide information to the next of kin without providing that information publicly. There are a number of reasons why that might not be done.

In terms of prisoners taken to China, as I said earlier, we do have -- the only information we have, other than Desautels, who we have been told was buried in China -- we know that, we are now working with them to try and determine where, so that we can do a recovery. The others that we have information on were prisoners who were taken into China for interrogation and returned.

REP. MURPHY: Thank you.

Thank you, ma'am.


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