National Alliance of Families

For The Return of America's Missing Servicemen

+ World War II + Korea + Cold War + Vietnam +

BITS 'N' PIECES - February 5th, 1999

Dolores Apodaca Alfond

National Chairperson - (

Voice/Fax 425-881-1499

Lynn O'Shea

New York State Director - (

Voice/Fax 718-846-4350

The following is from a column titled "Inside the Ring," written by Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough and published in the Washington Times on Friday - February 5th, 1999.


"The Pentagon's Defense Prisoner and Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) took steps last week to rein in a kindred office. Its crime: discovering Russian documents on a KGB plan to bring captured Americans to the Soviet Union in the late 1960s for interrogations.

The Joint Commission Support Directorate (JCSD) is slated to be moved under DPMO's research and analysis arm and its director has been demoted, according to Pentagon officials. A political battle is under way to block the move, spearheaded by Rep. Sam Johnson, Texas Republican and member of a U.S.-Russian POW commission.

The move appears to be retaliation by Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Robert L. Jones, the top POW official in charge of DPMO, against Norm Kass, a hero to POW activists. Mr. Kass led the way last year in uncovering Russian documents about the KGB plan, mentioned in the memoir of the late Russian Gen. Dimitri Volkogonov. Mr. Kass is being moved out of his leadership position on the JCSD, a group in the POW office helping the joint commission.

The group has been battling Clinton administration officials, primarily within the State Department and even within the DPMO, who are against pursuing the KGB report. Russia claims the document does not exist.

Delores Alfond, chairman of the National Alliance of Families, said the reorganization was opposed by some members of the Joint Commission.

The commission's new chairman, retired Maj. Gen. Roland Lajoie, had been working as a special consultant to the Pentagon for U.S. aid to Russia. This role raises questions about his commitment to pressing Moscow for information on lost Americans from the Vietnam War and other conflicts.

"In this case, `reorganization' is a buzz word for the dismantling of the JCSD," she said in a letter to President Clinton. "When we asked JCSD employees a question, we knew our questions would be answered truthfully. Sadly we cannot say the same of other employees in the Defense POW/MIA office."

This effort to dismantle the JCSD is not the first attempt to stifle the only truthful and productive investigative element with DPMO. The first attempt occurred on Friday August 15th, 1997, under the direction of former DPMO head, General James Wold.

The Joint Commission Support Directorate established in 1994 supported the efforts of the U.S./ Russian Joint Commission. Staffed by qualified experts, this office, in spite of roadblocks, made considerable progress on the POW/MIA issue as it relates to Russia, Korea, China and the Eastern Bloc Countries.

When the U.S./Russian Joint Commission was first established it operated independently. The U.S. Army was given the responsibility to provide research and analytical support to the commission. This group, under the direction of Col. Stuart Herrington, was known as Task Force Russia. Task Force Russia remained in force until July 1993 when it was absorbed by the DPMO. At that point, it became part of the "Trowbridge Empire." In spite of roadblocks, the JCSD, under the management of Norman Kass, as its Executive Secretariat, made considerable progress on the POW/MIA issue as it relates to Russia, Korea, China and the Eastern Bloc Countries.

It was the JCSD, who discovered the "Volkogonov Papers," discussing plans to move captured American Servicemen to the former Soviet Union, from Southeast Asia. The discovery and release of those papers, was in our opinion, the final nail in the JCSD coffin.

The DPMO decision to "reorganize" the JCSD and remove Norman Kass from his leadership position within the directorate is all part of the new ""Defense Missing Personnel Recovery & Accounting Strategic Plan." With regard to the JCSD, the actions taken were without the authorization or approval of the members of the U.S./Russian Joint Commission.

In a letter dated January 27th, 1999, to Assistant Secretary of Defense of International Security Affairs Franklin D. Kramer, Senator Bob Smith wrote: "Nowhere in this plan is there reference to the requirement for the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/MIA Affairs to ensure that his office provides an Executive Secretariat for the U.S. Members of the U.S. Russian Joint Commission on POWs and MIAs...."

The letter continued "As you know form our earlier discussions in 1997 (when you aborted DPMO's reorganization attempt as it related to JCSD), the Executive Secretariat function was delegated to DoD by the U.S. Commissioners in response to a proposal by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/MIA Affairs on April 9, 1992...."

"If the DPMO, and indeed your office, is no longer interested in adequately fulfilling the U.S. Commissioners' requirement for an Executive Secretariat, as the Strategic Plan appears to indicate, then the U.S. Commissioners should be formally notified. Conversely, if you are proposing continuation of the support requirement function, then we should work together, along with Congressman Johnson and our new U.S. Chairman of the Commission, General Lajoie, to accomplish this objective to our mutual satisfaction."

In closing the letter stated; "As you also know, I am not optimistic at this point in view of the proposed changes within your office that directly bear on JCSD's management and location, the credibility of the rationale behind these proposals, and the overall manner in which these proposals were conveyed to my office by Deputy Assistant Secretary Bob Jones on January 14, 1999."

Since DPMO was aware of Smith and Johnson's objections we can only conclude the actions taken against Mr. Kass and the JCSD were an intentional slap in the face to both Congressman Johnson and Senator Smith. This arbitrary action clearly establishes a pattern of "Punishing Success."

If the new "Defense Missing Personnel Recovery & Accounting Strategic Plan" is allowed to progress, JCSD will be moved into and eventually absorbed by Research and Analysis section of DPMO. That means DeStatte!!!!!!!!!! Enough said?

It has been confirmed to us by 5 independent sources, that there are over 50 solid leads, awaiting investigation in Poland. These leads relate to Polish citizens who claim to have seen American's in Soviet Prisons during the 1950's.

Additionally, information also indicates that up to 120 American servicemen from the Korean War were taken to Bulgaria, for medical experimentation.

Who do you want investigating those leads, Norman Kass or Bob Destatte?

So who is responsible --- In a poor rendition of an old Abbott and Costello routine the Chairman of the U.S. Russian Joint Commission and the Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/MIA Affairs are each saying the other was responsible for the removal of Norman Kass, from his directorate position.

While we have been assured that the "reorganization" of the JCSD does not mean an eventual dismantling of that organization. Yet, there is no explanation as to why there are no provisions for the JCSD in the new "Defense Missing Personnel Recovery & Accounting Strategic Plan," as pointed out in Senator Smith's letter.

With the "reorganization" of the Joint Commissions' support group, DPMO has taken a giant leap backwards in efforts to account for servicemen missing from the Korean - Cold War and Vietnam, who we believe were taken to the former Soviet Union and China.

Save the JCSD - Actions taken against the JCSD are the tip of the iceberg.


In spite of their Public Relations hype, DPMO considers POW/MIA family members, veterans and concerned citizens a nuisance and not much more. This is illustrated time and time again. Recently, we received complaints from both Korean and Vietnam War Family members regarding the rude and poor behavior of one DPMO employee, towards a family member at the Regional Meeting in Tennessee.

Fifty, one hundred, even two hundred calls or letters is only a couple of days worth of annoyance to DPMO and then for them it is over. As one DPMO employee was reported to say, "this is a sound bite, it will disappear." If we disappear now, if we do not demand and succeed in getting the reinstatement of Norman Kass and a DPMO hands off policy regarding the JCSD, it will disappear.

If the new "Defense Missing Personnel Recovery & Accounting Strategic Plan" is implemented it will end the POW/MIA issue as we know it.

According to the "Defense Missing Personnel Recovery & Accounting Strategic Plan" briefing slides, under the topic "Goals" item 4 reads "Transition the accounting process for prior conflicts from active operations to reactive efforts triggered by new information by FY2004."

In keeping with the above statement the personnel allocation from FY99 to FY04, for JTF in FY99 is 161. The space for the FY004 allocation is blank. Does that mean they don't know how many people they will need or that they will not need any employees? Do you need a JTF if you don't plan on active operations?

The National Alliance of Families is outraged over the actions of the DPMO leadership. The DPMO message is loud and clear. They have no interest in an honest and truthful accounting of our POW/MIAs. There is an old saying that "actions speak louder then words." The DPMO leadership is shouting and we get the message.

It's time to shout back. All we have is our typewriters, phones, faxes, e-mails and postage stamps and the knowledge that our POWs are waiting and we are their best hope.

Every POW/MIA family member, veteran and concerned citizen must act now, as individuals and through our organizations. From the local level of each veterans post and chapter up to and including the national organizations, action must be taken.

This is the line in the sand.

If we can not turn out major support for the JCSD, DPMO will ignore and privately laugh at our efforts and there is no question, they do laugh at us.

The decision to save the JCSD is yours. Ask yourselves this question -- Do you want the group that released the "Volkogonov Papers" dismantled? IF your answer is no, we need you to voice your outrage at the undercutting of the U.S./Russian Joint Commission and the further abandonment of our Korean, Cold War and Vietnam POW/MIAs.

Contact your congressman and senators - ask them to read the section titled "Punishing Progress" in the Feb. 5th edition of the Washington Times column "Inside the Ring" (page A6.) Ask him to contact DPMO, stating your objection to the "reorganization" of the only investigative arm of the DPMO whose work is truthful and produces results. Make sure you ask your Senator and Congressman for a written response to your inquiry. Follow-up your call with a letter or fax. The zip code for Congress is 20515. The Senate zip code is 20510.

There are 435 congressman and 100 senators - if DPMO does not hear from at least 300 congressman and 60 senators, we have failed.

Contact: Secretary of Defense William Cohen at the Dept. of Defense, The Pentagon, Washington D.C. 20301 - Call 703-695-5261 or Fax 703-697-9080. Send copies of your letter to: Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Walter Slocombe at, The Pentagon, Washington D.C. 20301 - call 703-697-7200 or fax 703-697-6602 and Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Franklin D. Kramer, 2400 Defense Pentagon, Washington D.C. 20301- 2400 - call 703-695-4351 or fax 703-697-7230.

If we do not stop and reverse this latest assault on the Joint Commission Support Directorate, it will give DPMO clear sailing to end all active investigation by fiscal year 2004.

The line has been drawn.... It is now up to you!

E-mail Contact us here!

  • Go to NAF Home Page

  • Go To Bits N Pieces Index