Hagel Orders a Revamp of POW/MIA Effort
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 20, 2014 Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered the undersecretary of defense for policy to develop a plan to reorganize the department’s POW/MIA accounting effort, Pentagon press secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said today.
Hagel issued a memo directing Michael Lumpkin, the acting undersecretary, to develop a plan within 30 days “to increase to the maximum extent possible the numbers of missing service personnel accounted for annually, while ensuring timely and accurate information is provided their families.”
Kirby said the goal is to consolidate relevant department assets into a single organization with oversight of and accountability for the entire mission of accounting for missing personnel. In addition, the plan will propose ways to increase the number of identifications, improve transparency for families and expand the case file system to include all missing personnel, including those from World War II.
“The secretary expects this plan to recommend changes ranging from civilian and military personnel to contracting, facilities, budgets, and oversight of laboratory operations,” Kirby said. “He’s also asked all services, combatant commands and relevant DOD components to assist Mr. Lumpkin with anything he needs in this effort.”
Hagel’s memo is consistent with congressional legislation and will continue to be informed by analysis that DOD and other governmental agencies have conducted. The plan will also incorporate suggestions and recommendations offered to DOD by military and veteran service organizations.
“This remains a top priority for the secretary and for this department,” Kirby said. “In fact, we believe it is a sacred obligation. We take it seriously, and we’re going to keep it at. We’re going to keep improving.”