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United States-Russia Joint Commission on POWs and MIAs and the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office Joint Commission Support Division Archival Documents Databases

History of the U.S.-Russia Joint Commission on POWs and MIAs

The U.S.-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs was established in March 1992 by the direction of the Presidents of the United States and of the Russian Federation. The Commission serves as a forum through which both nations seek to determine the fate of their missing servicemen.

The United States side of the Commission is chaired by Major General Roland Lajoie (USA, retired). Commission members include two United States Senators and two United States Congressman; National Archives of the United States; United States Department of State; representatives of the United States Department of Defense; and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/Missing Personnel Affairs.

The Russian side is chaired by General-Major Vladimir Zolotarev. It consists of officials from the ministries of Defense, Internal Affairs, and Foreign Affairs; the Russian archives; Federal Security Service; and the Russian Federation's Presidential Commission on POWs, Internees, and Missing in Action.

The Commission's objectives have been: to determine whether American servicemen are being held against their will on the territory of the former Soviet Union, and, if so, to secure their immediate release and repatriation; to locate and return to the United States the remains of any deceased American servicemen interred in the former Soviet Union; and ascertain the facts regarding American servicemen who were not repatriated and whose fate remains unresolved.

The Commission is organized into four working groups, each representing a key area of investigation. These groups encompass World War II; the Korean War; the Vietnam War; and the Cold War. This latter group has focused on American aircraft lost during the Cold-War period as well as Soviet military personnel unaccounted for from Korea, Afghanistan, and other areas of conflict.

The Commission meets in regular plenary sessions several times each year. To date, 16 such sessions have been held: 14 in Moscow and two in Washington, D.C. The plenary schedule has been augmented by a series of working group sessions held to define agenda topics and advance likely areas of inquiry.

The Department of Defense's POW/Missing Personnel Office (DMPO) provides analytical and investigative support to the Joint Commission. A staff of some eighteen personnel are assigned to the Washington headquarters and to a field office at the U.S. Embassy, Moscow, to assure close coordination with Russian counterparts and timely follow-up on a number of unresolved issues.

The documents found in the U.S.-Russia Joint Commission Database (the so-called "Task Force Russia" documents) consist of the minutes of plenary sessions, reports from the working group sessions, and the translation of Russian-language documents retrieved from various archives in the Russian Federation pertaining to American personnel missing from World War II to the present.

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  December 8, 2015
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