A U.S.-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIA Affairs (USRJC) is making progress toward resolving unanswered questions on personnel missing and unaccounted-for from four separate wars. This positive development is evolving despite frayed nerves between these two nations over serious issues, from military involvement in Syria and the Ukraine, to politically-charged allegations of collusion and interfering with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

On November 8, the 21st Plenum of the USRJC met in Moscow at the Ministry of National Defense in their External Affairs facility. U.S. Co-Chairman General Robert “Doc” Foglesong, USAF (Ret), and Russian Co-Chairman General Colonel Valery Vostrotin led the talks. It was the first time that the director of the DoD’s Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) Kelly K. McKeague participated in the plenum as a U.S. commissioner. He was joined by two other U.S. Commissioners, Mr. Tim Shea, of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and Dr. Tim Nenninger, National Archives & Records Administration (NARA).

DPAA European-Mediterranean Regional Director Col. Chris Forbes, USA, and Lt.Col. Maxim Alekseyev, Chief of the Russian Commission Support Office, Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., were key to setting up the important sessions, assisted by members of the DPAA Joint Commission Support Directorate. Invited to participate as observers were VFW Executive Director Bob Wallace and National League of POW/MIA Families CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors Ann Mills-Griffiths, an MIA sister.

This plenary followed USRJC technical sessions, just prior to the Russian Commission’s participation in the National League of POW/MIA Families’ 48th Annual Meeting in June, as well as the August DPAA-hosted Korean War/Cold War Annual Government Briefings, both held in the Arlington/D.C. area.