Joint Personnel Recovery Agency

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Joint Personnel Recovery Agency
Active October 1, 1999; 14 years ago (1999-10-01)
Country United States
Type Chairman's Controlled Activity
Headquarters Fort Belvoir, Virginia
Motto "These things we do that others may live to return with honor."


The Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA) is a Chairman's Controlled Activity. JPRA is designated as DoD's office of primary responsibility for DoD-wide personnel recovery matters, less policy. JPRA is headquartered in Fort Belvoir, Virginia with schools located in Fredericksburg, VA and Spokane, WA.[1] JPRA currently provides for commanders, forces, and individuals on joint PR activities through development and conduct of education and training courses, and specialized individual training. The agency assesses, advises, and evaluates PR curriculum and establishes Joint PR standards in collaboration with the DoD Components for formal Joint PR training, including Code of Conduct and (SERE). JPRA also provides DoD Components with analytical support, technology research and integration, maintenance of databases and archives, and development of lessons learned. JPRA encourages partnerships by assisting with non-DoD agencies, multinational partners, and others, with PR-related education and training programs.[2]

Mission Statement[edit]

Provide operational support, training, education, oversight, guidance, analysis, and technology integration to enable commanders, forces, and individuals to prevent, prepare for, and respond to isolating events across all phases of operations.

Strategic Goals[edit]

  • OPERATIONAL SUPPORT – Task-organized support and specialized products meet personnel recovery challenges
  • TRAINING AND EDUCATION – Commanders, forces, and individuals possess the knowledge, skills, and abilities to prepare for, prevent, and respond to isolating events.
  • GUIDANCE AND OVERSIGHT – Personnel recovery capabilities are standardized within DoD, and integrated and interoperable within the USG and multinational partners.
  • ANALYSIS – Timely and focused assessments identify current and future challenges to support the evaluation, development, and validation of personnel recovery capabilities and processes.
  • TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATION – Relevant PR technologies are compatible and interoperable with existing and developing command and control architectures.

The goals of the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency include: Returning isolated US personnel to friendly control, denying enemies of the US a potential source of intelligence, preventing the exploitation of captured US personnel in propaganda programs, and maintaining the morale of US fighting forces and the "national will." According to the US Department of Defense (DoD), the agency's "core" capabilities consist of providing personnel recovery guidance, developing, conducting, and supporting personnel recovery education and training, providing support to operations, exercises, and deploying forces, and ensuring that personnel recovery remains viable through the adaptation of lessons learned, research and development, and other validated inputs.[3]


The JPRA has its roots in World War II and the Korean War. In 1942 a military intelligence service was formed to aid US forces to evade and escape from the enemy. In 1952 the United States Department of Defense (DoD) designated the United States Air Force as executive agent (EA) for escape and evasion activities. Training was mostly for pilots and aircrew as they were considered the most likely to be isolated. After the Korean War, DoD implemented a Code of Conduct for the Services; it was revised after the Vietnam War.

In the early 1990s, DOD began to focus more on the importance of personnel recovery (PR) and in 1991 the Joint Services Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) Agency (JSSA) was designated the DoD EA for DoD Prisoner-of-War/Missing-in-Action matters. In 1994 the Joint Staff appointed the JSSA as the focal point for PR. The Department appointed the US Air Force as the Executive Agent for Joint Combat Search and Rescue (JCSAR). In 1999 JPRA was created as an agency under the Commander in Chief, US Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) and was named the Office of Primary Responsibility (OPR) for DoD-wide PR matters. After the disestablishment of USJFCOM, JPRA was designated a Chairman’s Controlled Activity in August 2011.

In April, 2009 it was revealed that the JPRA had provided assistance to Central Intelligence Agency officials in the use of harsh interrogation tactics. The assistance was approved by DoD Undersecretary Douglas J. Feith. The tactics included cramped confinement, waterboarding, manhandling, slaps to the face, and stress positions which were later used with captured alleged Al Qaeda fighters.[4]

In a July 2002 memo sent to the Pentagon's chief lawyer by the military's Joint Personnel Recovery Agency, or JPRA, the military agency that provided advice on harsh interrogation techniques for use against terrorism suspects, not only referred to the application of extreme duress as "torture" but warned that it would produce "unreliable information". [5] [6]


  1. ^ JPRA Public Homepage. "About the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency" (Agency Identity). United States Department of Defense. Retrieved July 22, 2014. 
  2. ^ JPRA Public Homepage. "About the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency" (Agency Identity). United States Department of Defense. Retrieved July 22, 2014. 
  3. ^ Rhem, Kathleen (May 10, 2006). "Personnel Recovery Agency Works to Bring All Americans Home Alive" (Press release). United States Department of Defense. Retrieved April 23, 2009. 
  4. ^ Barnes, Julian E. (April 22, 2009). "Senate Report: Military Training Basis of CIA Interrogation Tactics Cited in Legal Memos" (Newspaper article). Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 23, 2009. 
  5. ^ JPRA (July 25, 2002). "Operational Concerns Over Application of Various Means of Induced Duress" (PDF). hosted by the Washington Post. Retrieved April 24, 2009. 
  6. ^ Finn, Peter (April 24, 2009). "Document: Military Agency Referred to 'Torture,' Questioned Its Effectiveness" (Newspaper article). Washington Post. Retrieved April 24, 2009.