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Terminology DoD Instruction 1300.18

TITLE:  DoD Instruction 1300.18, "Military Personnel Casualty Matters, Policies, and Procedures", December 18, 2000

Current DoD Terminology Replacing POW

Under DoD directives, specific situations determine the classification of military personnel. There no longer is a classification POW or Prisoner of War. The DoD dictionary does list POW, but it no longer exists as a controlling directive. Additionally, “Unaccounted for” is not a casualty status, and, unfortunately, is commonly being used when referring to personnel who are KIA/BNR. In the past, and in reality, unaccounted for would not automatically infer KIA.

The following information has been extracted from DoD Directive 1300.18.

E2.1.1.6.  Casualty Category.  A term used to specifically classify a casualty for reporting purposes based upon the casualty type and the casualty status.  Casualty categories include killed in action (KIA), died of wounds received in action (DWRIA), beleaguered, besieged, captured, detained, interned, missing, in action (MIA), and wounded in action  (WIA).

E2.1.1.7.  Casualty Status.  A term used to classify a casualty for reporting purposes.  There are seven casualty statuses:

  • Deceased;

  • DUSTWUN (Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown-a temporary status);

  • Missing;

  • Very Seriously Ill or Injured (VSI);

  • Seriously Ill or Injured (SI);

  • Incapacitating Illness or Injury (III); and

  • Not Seriously Injured (NSI)

The following section defines the new categories for those captured or missing.

E2.1.1.16.  Duty Status - Whereabouts Unknown (DUSTWUN).  A temporary designation, applicable to military members only, used when the reason for a member's absence is uncertain and it is possible that the member may be a casualty whose absence is involuntary, but there is not sufficient evidence to make a determination that the member's actual status is missing or deceased.

NOTE: Such classification is unsettling, because “ temporary’ is too indefinite; the urgency we would expect appears lacking: the first hours and days in such a situation are critical for rescue.

E2.1.1.16.  Duty Status - Whereabouts Unknown (DUSTWUN).  A temporary designation, applicable to military members only, used when the reason for a member's absence is uncertain and it is possible that the member may be a casualty whose absence is involuntary, but there is not sufficient evidence to make a determination that the member's actual status is missing or deceased.

Note: Such classification is unsettling, because “ temporary’ is too indefinite; the urgency we would expect appears lacking: the first hours and days in such a situation are critical for rescue.

E2.1.1.24.  Missing.  A casualty status applicable to a person who is not at his or her duty location due to apparent involuntary reasons and whose location may or may not be known. Further classification under this status follows.

E2.1.1.24.1.  Beleaguered.  The casualty is a member of an organized element that has been surrounded by a hostile force to prevent escape of its members.

E2.1.1.24.2.  Besieged.  The casualty is a member of an organized element that has been surrounded by a hostile force compelling it to surrender.

E2.1.1.24.3.  Captured.  The casualty has been seized as the result of action of an unfriendly military or paramilitary force in a foreign country.

Note: Does this preclude, as it appears, this classification applying to military  personnel in the hands of civilians acting as an aggressive enemy force (Somalia, Desert Strom, Iraqi Freedom, etc.)? The execution of war has changed dramatically; so must our Government’s approach and responses.

E2.1.1.24.4.  Detained.  The casualty is prevented from proceeding or is restrained in custody for alleged violation of international law or other reason claimed by the government or group under which the person is being held.

E2.1.1.24.5.  Interned.  The casualty definitely known to have been taken into custody of a nonbelligerent foreign power as the result of and for reasons arising out of any armed conflict in which the Armed Forces of the United States are engaged.

E2.1.1.24.6.  Missing.  The casualty is not present at his or her duty location due to apparent involuntary reasons and whose location is unknown.

E2.1.1.24.7.  Missing in Action (MIA).  The casualty is a hostile casualty, other than the victim of a terrorist activity, who is not present at his or her duty location due to apparent involuntary reasons and whose location is unknown.

Note: interestingly and alarmingly a HOSTILE ASUALTY as defined in this same directive as “a person who is the victim of a terrorist activity or who becomes  a casualty “in action”. As we have found so often in the past, the government wants it both ways.

E2.1.1.34.  Terrorism.  The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence against individuals or property to coerce or intimidate governments or societies, often to achieve political, religious, or ideological objectives.  A victim of a terrorist act directed against the United States or its allies is a hostile casualty.

The italicized areas are my concerns and additions. My concern for all the time I have been involved in POW/MIA activism/advocacy is that the protection which should be automatically accorded those in harms way is afforded with less alacrity and genuine concern than our worry about the interpretations of our actions on the part of our enemies and those whose interests we serve while they refuse to provide necessary resources.

Our government needs to know that American service men and women are not disposable items. Their security and well being are more significant than the concerns, goals, sensitivities, and idiosyncrasies of any other nation.

Don Amerosi, President
Northeast POW/MIA Network

DoD Directive 1300.18

http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/130018p.pdf

A review of the entire directive finds that the phrase Prisoner or War or the acronym POW is never used.

The fact that the terminology Prisoner of War is no longer used was confirmed by Secretary of the Navy Gordon R. England. In his 11 October 2002 memo announcing the change in status of Capt. Michael Scott Speicher from Missing In Action to Missing/Captured, Secretary England stated:

"Although the controlling missing persons statute and directives do not use the term "Prisoner of War," the fact supporting a change in Captain Speicher's category from Missing in Action to Missing/Captured would also support the conclusion that, if alive, he is a Prisoner of War."

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, call it a duck. If an American service member is captured by hostile forces he or she is a Prisoner of War. Why not designate them as such?

The phrase Prisoner of War says two thing. First it says Prisoner - living breathing human being. Second it says held by the enemy. Prisoner of War is a phrase that inflames. America does not leave its servicemen, its Prisoners behind. We don't leave POWs behind. At least that is what they'd like us to believe. We know differently.

The phrase Missing/Captured also says two things. First it says Missing - This dehumanizes the status. Missing can be anything from your car keys to a person. Even in law enforcement when a person disappears they become a Missing Person not Missing/Beleaguered or Missing/Besieged or even Missing/Captured. Second, Missing/Captured gives the implication that your not really sure - maybe missing maybe captured and that is the key. In future conflicts, no one gets left behind because not one is a Prisoner, they are just Missing with a slash....


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