The government’s efforts to account for the tens of thousands of Americans who went missing in action during the U.S.’ foreign wars are in such bad shape that they risk becoming a “total failure,” an internal report buried by military officials but obtained by The Associated Press through a Freedom of Information Act request reveals.
“The report paints a picture of a Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, a military-run group known as JPAC and headed by a two-star general, as woefully inept and even corrupt,” The Associated Press writes. “The command is digging up too few clues on former battlefields, relying on inaccurate databases and engaging in expensive ‘boondoggles’ in Europe, the study concludes.”
The internal report is “unsparing in its criticism,” according to the AP, and was not meant to be released to the public. The news organization notes that other groups that had requested a copy of it were denied.
The Associated Press details some of the findings from the report:
-In recent years the process by which JPAC gathers bones and other material useful for identifications has “collapsed” and is now “acutely dysfunctional.”
-JPAC is finding too few investigative leads, resulting in too few collections of human remains to come even close to achieving Congress’s demand for a minimum 200 identifications per year by 2015. Of the 80 identifications that JPAC’s Central Identification Laboratory made in 2012, only 35 were derived from remains recovered by JPAC. Thirty-eight of the 80 were either handed over unilaterally by other governments or were disinterred from a U.S. military cemetery. Seven were from a combination of those sources.
-Some search teams are sent into the field, particularly in Europe, on what amount to boondoggles. No one is held to account for “a pattern of foreign travel, accommodations and activities paid for by public funds that are ultimately unnecessary, excessive, inefficient or unproductive.” Some refer to this as “military tourism.”
...Absent prompt and significant change, “the descent from dysfunction to total failure ... is inevitable,” [report author Paul M.] Cole concluded.