DOD Official Visits Personnel Accounting Command Facilities
By Navy Cmdr. Amy Derrick-Frost
Department of Defense
WASHINGTON, April 15, 2014 A senior Defense Department official visited two DOD personnel accounting facilities last week as part of the ongoing dialogue about the department’s recently announced personnel accounting enterprise reorganization.
Michael D. Lumpkin, acting undersecretary of defense for policy, speaks with Joint Prisoner of War and Missing in Action Accounting Command staff members during a town hall meeting at Joint Base Pearl Harbor–Hickam, Hawaii, April 9, 2014. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brian Valencia
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
During his April 9-11 trip, Michael D. Lumpkin, acting undersecretary of defense for policy, spoke with Joint Prisoner of War and Missing in Action Accounting Command staff members during a town hall meeting, and he fielded questions about the reorganization.
Lumpkin highlighted the importance of the personnel accounting mission to the department, and how in its more than 40-year history, everyone involved in the recovery and identification of unaccounted-for Americans lost in conflicts remains steadfast and committed.
“I want to begin by expressing my utmost gratitude to each and everyone here today for your professionalism and dedicated service to our fallen comrades and their families,” Lumpkin said. “The time has come for a paradigm shift within our personnel accounting enterprise.
“We need to break down institutional barriers,” he continued. “By working as a team, we will develop the department’s new personnel accounting agency that embraces progressive science, streamlines the processes and practices and increases transparency -- getting families the answers to the questions they have and providing them the information they deserve.” He stressed that the personnel accounting mission is a top priority for Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
The reorganization calls for merging JPAC, the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office, the JPAC satellite laboratory in Nebraska and the Life Science Equipment Laboratory in Ohio. By pulling the organizations together, Lumpkin said, he hopes to “rebrand, refocus and re-emphasize” the mission.
“We are still in the early stages of developing how we are going to do this,” he said, “but know you have a voice in the process.”
JPAC, established Oct. 1, 2003, is located on the island of Oahu at Joint Base Pearl Harbor–Hickam, Hawaii, and conducts global search, recovery and laboratory operations to identify unaccounted-for Americans from past conflicts. The laboratory portion of JPAC, referred to as the Central Identification Laboratory, is the largest and most diverse forensic skeletal laboratory in the world.
Lumpkin also toured the JPAC satellite laboratory facility on Offutt Air Force Base, Neb, which JPAC opened in June. It provides nearly 40,000 square feet for laboratory and analysis work, evidence and record storage, as well as administration space. The satellite facility’s forensics laboratory is about 27,000 square feet, and it supports the department’s efforts to meet the congressionally mandated goal, set to take effect in 2015, to have the capacity to identify 200 unaccounted-for U.S. service members from past conflicts per year.
On Feb. 20, Hagel directed Lumpkin to review the department’s current personnel accounting program and provide him a reorganization plan to better organize the department most effectively and to increase to the maximum extent possible the numbers of missing service personnel accounted for annually, while ensuring timely and accurate information is provided to families.
On March 31, Hagel accepted Lumpkin’s plan, which addressed organizational and process changes, and consolidates all DOD assets into a single, accountable entity that has oversight of all personnel accounting resources, research and operations across the Defense Department.