What we do
UWC-A investigates all notifications of the discovery of human remains that are believed to be those of Australian soldiers. The unit also responds to reports or information that may lead to the recovery of human remains of Australian servicemen.
UWC-A investigates the fate of missing Australian servicemen and is currently investigating a large number of cases in Papua New Guinea, France, East Timor and Indonesia.
Investigations are usually initiated because human remains have been discovered and there is evidence that they may be those of an Australian serviceman. An investigation may also be initiated when UWC-A receives a submission that alleges the location of human remains (usually buried) of Australian servicmen. All investigations are thoroughly investigated and investigations can last several months or years.
Each investigation begins with comprehensive research by our team of forensic and historical experts, including examination of data and records related to the soldier's service history, area of operation, and forces that fought in the area of interest.
The identities of every soldier who went missing in the area under examination are closely examined for clues. Commonwealth War Grave Commission records are also examined to establish if any unknown soldiers have been buried there.
The area under examination is also surveyed and compared to war time mapping, and may be examined by forensic staff to identify likely burial locations. When a search area is positively identified permission is obtained from the host nation to conduct reconnaissance and possible recovery.
Each investigation is evaluated on its own merits and the strength of the evidence that is presented and irrespective of an individual's rank or status.