The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s Detachment Three is located in Vientiane, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, with its offices in the U.S. Embassy. Detachment Three was officially established in January 1992 as one of four geographically separated Detachments under Joint Task Force-Full Accounting Headquartered at Camp Smith, Hawaii. On October 1, 2003 a merger between Joint Task Force-Full Accounting and the Central Identification Laboratory, Hawaii resulted in command authority of Detachment Three being assumed by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), a component command of the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM). On 15 January 2015 Detachment Three was officially integrated into its current parent organization upon the establishment of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA). DPAA integrated the former JPAC, the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO), and the Life Sciences Equipment Laboratory (LSEL) to carry on the accounting mission.
Although the names of the parent agencies have changed, the functions of Detachment Three remain the same; i.e. to provide coordination, control, and logistical support required to conduct search and recovery field operations for unaccounted for Americans from past conflicts in the Lao PDR. Detachment Three utilizes host country facilities for transit of personnel and pre-positioning of equipment. Four active military personnel (1-Army, 1-Navy, and 2-Air Force), two Department of Defense civilians, and seven host nation civilian personnel are permanently assigned to Detachment Three and are responsible for the safe conduct of four joint field operations per year. Detachment Three also facilitates unilateral investigations carried out solely by the Lao government component of the joint U.S.-Lao POW/MIA team, and coordinates trilateral investigations with Vietnamese witnesses to cases in the Lao PDR. Additionally, Detachment Three facilitates bilateral technical meetings (“Consultations”) with senior members of the Lao POW/MIA team to review progress and plan future field operations.