Hagel revamps effort to find U.S. troops missing from foreign wars I Reuters Page 1 of 3
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BY DAVI D ALE X AN DE R
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U.S. Secre tary of Defense Chuck Hagel speaks d uring a retirement ceremony at the National Security
Agen cy in Fort Meade, M aryland ft.lar ch 28, 204.
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RE LATE D TOPICS (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on M ond ay
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ord ered the Pentagon to reorg anize its much-criticized
effort to accountfor U.S. troops missingfrom foreign
wars, creating a single agency to improve accountability and speed recovery and identifica tion of remains.
H agel's announcement came as the U.S. Congress is putting pressure on the Defense Depa rtment to boost its accountingfor some 83,000 missing U.S. troops - about 73,000from World War Two and 10,000from other conflicts.
The Penta gon spend s about $100 million per year on the effor t and identifies the remains of about 70 people annuall y , but it is und er a cong ressiona l mand a te to boost its capacity to 200 annual ly by the 2015_/i.scal year beginning in October.
"There 's not a more poignant, emotional , impor tant issue in our society
today ... than you take care of the people who ga ve their lives to this country , and you take care of theirfam ilies,"Hagel told a Pentagon news coriference.
http://www.r euters.com/article/2014/03/3 l /us-usa-defense-mias-idUSBREA2U l T320140... 20 14/ 04/04
Hagel revamps effort to find U.S. troops missing from foreign wars I Reuters Page 2 of 3
"We will continue to do everyth ing we can to account for and bring as many of our missing and fallen service personn el as possib le 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 mili tary personnel was "undermined by longsta nding lead ership weaknesses and a .fragmented organizational structure ."
Hagel ord ered the Pentagon to consolid ate two different offices involved in the effort to accountfor missing personnel , as well as parts of an Air Force labora tory , into a single agency to be led by a civilian appointe e.
"By consolid ating functions , we will resolve issues of duplicatio n and inefficiency and build a stronger , more transparent and more responsive organization,"Hagel said.
He said the new orga nization would be respons iblef or all communications withfa mily members of troops missing.from past conflicts, gi ving them a single po int of contact for iriformation.
H agel said a single military med ical examiner would be named as the authori ty responsible f or identifications, and tha t the agency would create a centralized database and case management system to track itiformation about missing troops.
ThePentagon chief said he would work with Congress to consolid ate all fund ingfor the accounting mission under the new agency.
M ike Lumpkin, the acting undersecreta ry of d efensefor polic y , said la ter the Pentagon spends about $100 million a nnually to locate and identify the remains of missing American military personnel. He said thefunding commitmen t was expected to remain the sa mefor tlte new agency.
Lumpkin , who crqfred the recommend a tionsfor the overhaul , told reporters the current effort was hampered by "outdated , institutiona lized thinking."H e said the new agency needed to "break a way.from the traditional way of doing business. "
He said tha t meant not only working the issues in-house at the Defense Departm ent, but also par tnering with outside groups that work on rela ted issues, such as universities or people d oing research on genealog y or searchingfor lost plan es.
Of the approxima tely 83,000 missing U.S. military personn el, some 43,000 are considered unrecoverable without additiona l iriforma tion or the discovery of new technologies.
(Reporting by David Alexander; Ed iting by M ohamma d Zarg ham)
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http://www .reuters.com/article/20 l 4/03/31/us-usa-d efense-mias-idUSBREA2U1 T320140... 2014/04/04