Legislators move to combine POW/MIA operations

The Senate Armed Services Committee approved an amendment Thursday to consolidate the nation’s POW/MIA accounting operations under a single agency with a single federal official in charge.

The amendment — introduced by Missouri Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill — was included in the annual National Defense Authorization Act during the committee’s markup, according to a statement from McCaskill’s office.

McCaskill said the move would strengthen recovery efforts after the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office and Joint Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command have come under fire for systemic problems.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered an overhaul of the agencies in February. No concrete plans have been released yet. Families and advocacy groups have criticized the efforts as not going far enough to fix the two agencies.

McCaskill said that the amendment addresses the key deficit identified by the Government Accountability Office — that no one agency or official was in charge to coordinate and be held accountable for POW/MIA recovery.

“With a single agency responsible, and a single federal official in charge, we can stop the finger-pointing and know exactly who to hold accountable for fixing this troubled program and honor our POW/MIA personnel and their families with a transparent and responsible recovery effort,” McCaskill said in the statement.


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