Hagel Orders Revamp of POW/MIA Accounting Efforts

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel directed the Pentagon to come up with a better way to recover and identify the remains of service personnel still missing in action from past conflicts. Reviews of this mission have shown that it is “not being done as efficiently as possible from an organizational perspective,” Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters during a Feb. 20 briefing. To address that, Hagel issued a memorandum on Feb. 20 to the Pentagon’s policy office, tasking it to draft a plan for improvement within the next 30 days. The plan should highlight the changes needed to consolidate the Defense Department’s activities into a single organization. It should also propose methods to increase the number of missing service personnel accounted for each year, improve transparency for families of the missing, and establish a centralized system for the case files of missing personnel going back as far as World War II, said Kirby. “As a veteran himself, the Secretary has an especially personal commitment to ensuring we account for and bring home as many of our missing and fallen service personnel as possible,” said Kirby. (Kirby transcript) (See also Not All Dysfunctional.)