News / USA

Hagel Revamps Effort to Find US Troops Missing From Foreign Wars

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel answers questions from the media during a press conference held in the Pentagon Press Briefing Room, March 31, 2014.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel answers questions from the media during a press conference held in the Pentagon Press Briefing Room, March 31, 2014.
Reuters
— Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Monday ordered the Pentagon to reorganize its much-criticized effort to account for U.S. troops missing from foreign wars, creating a single agency to improve accountability and speed recovery and identification of remains.
 
Hagel's announcement came as the U.S. Congress is putting pressure on the Defense Department to boost its accounting for some 83,000 missing U.S. troops - about 73,000 from World War II and 10,000 from other conflicts.
 
The Pentagon spends about $100 million per year on the effort and identifies the remains of about 70 people annually, but it is under a congressional mandate to boost its capacity to 200 annually by the 2015 fiscal year beginning in October.
 
“There's not a more poignant, emotional, important issue in our society today ... than you take care of the people who gave their lives to this country, and you take care of their families,” Hagel told a Pentagon news conference.
 
“We will continue to do everything we can to account for and bring as many of our missing and fallen service personnel as possible home here to the United States,” he said.
 
An investigation by the Government Accountability Office last year said the effort to recover and identify missing military personnel was “undermined by longstanding leadership weaknesses and a fragmented organizational structure.”
 
Hagel ordered the Pentagon to consolidate two different offices involved in the effort to account for missing personnel, as well as parts of an Air Force laboratory, into a single agency to be led by a civilian appointee.
 
“By consolidating functions, we will resolve issues of duplication and inefficiency and build a stronger, more transparent and more responsive organization,” Hagel said.
 
He said the new organization would be responsible for all communications with family members of troops missing from past conflicts, giving them a single point of contact for information.
 
Hagel said a single military medical examiner would be named as the authority responsible for identifications, and that the agency would create a centralized database and case management system to track information about missing troops.
 
The Pentagon chief said he would work with Congress to consolidate all funding for the accounting mission under the new agency.
 
Mike Lumpkin, the acting undersecretary of defense for policy, said later the Pentagon spends about $100 million annually to locate and identify the remains of missing American military personnel. He said the funding commitment was expected to remain the same for the new agency.
 
Lumpkin, who crafted the recommendations for the overhaul, told reporters the current effort was hampered by “outdated, institutionalized thinking.” He said the new agency needed to “break away from the traditional way of doing business.”
 
He said that meant not only working the issues in-house at the Defense Department, but also partnering with outside groups that work on related issues, such as universities or people doing research on genealogy or searching for lost planes.
 
Of the approximately 83,000 missing U.S. military personnel, some 43,000 are considered unrecoverable without additional information or the discovery of new technologies.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid