Deactivation ceremony merges JPAC, DPMO, LSEL to become Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency

Defense Media Activity Forward Center - Pacific
Story by Staff Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal

Date: 01.30.2015
Posted: 01.30.2015 20:07
News ID: 153215
Deactivation ceremony merges JPAC, DPMO, LSEL to become Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii – Service members and civilians attended the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) Deactivation Ceremony Jan. 30.

The ceremony also served as a way to officially merge the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO), based in Washington, select functions of the Air Force Life Sciences Equipment Laboratory (LSEL) and JPAC into the newly established Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA).

The Secretary of Defense announced U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Mike Franken as the DPAA interim director, U.S. Air Force Kelly Mckeague as the DPAA interim deputy, and U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Michael Linnington as the DPAA senior adviser Jan. 9, 2015.

McKeague explained the reason behind the reorganization efforts.

“The nation and the Department of Defense have been always committed, staunchly committed, to the solemn obligation that we have to search for, recover and identify the remains of service members from past conflicts,” McKeague said. “Today’s ceremony is a culmination of an effort that started with Secretary Hagel last March where he saw an opportunity to improve the way we do this mission. Today brings together, in an operational forum, three organizations that will now be charged with fulfilling this mission.”

McKeague said that the integration of DPMO, JPAC and LSEL will create challenges but will also promote and increase the mission’s capabilities.

“There are obviously structural differences and changes with an organization that brings together three different organizations into a solid and integrated organization, there are always challenges with that,” McKeague said. “With that also comes the opportunity to improve our processes, build upon established strengths that we have, and more importantly, move this mission forward with more effectiveness and more efficiency in how we fulfill this promise.”

JPAC’s mission was to provide the fullest possible accounting for U.S. personnel to their families and the nation. McKeague said that DPAA’s goals in fulfilling this promise won’t change but only become stronger.

“It will become stronger,” McKeague said. “It will be more integrated, it will have access to a higher structure within the department, the agency will report directly to the Undersecretary of Defense for policy, and more importantly it will provide a focus. Now with these organizations all coming together in an integrated, comprehensive fashion we’re able to improve our strengths and build upon the efficiencies and effectiveness to make us better.”

For McKeague, the merge allows service members and civilians assigned to DPAA a better opportunity to serve those who are still missing, their families, and the nation.

“We appreciate the opportunity to not only serve this nation but more importantly the fallen heroes who remain missing and fulfill the commitment to their families,” Mckeague said. “There is no greater reward than that, no greater mission for someone in uniform than to be able to be associated with this mission and be able to fulfill it.”