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New combined POW/MIA agency becomes operational

In this photo from May 19, 2014, members of a Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command recovery team screen soil during an effort to locate the remains of a missing airman from World War II as part of a JPAC recovery mission in Lonnewitz, Germany.

KYRAN ADAMS/U.S. ARMY

By STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 2, 2015

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency became operational Friday following deactivation ceremonies at the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office, Defense officials said.

The new agency is now the sole government entity tasked with recovering and identifying America’s war dead from past conflicts.

In February 2014, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel directed the merging of the two commands, as well as certain functions of the Air Force’s Life Sciences Equipment Laboratory, into a single, more accountable agency.

The move followed two years of scandal and inquest, and the new agency faced challenges and doubts even before it started operations.

In October, a report by the DoD inspector general said poor leadership and a hostile work environment could continue to plague the mission. Families of the missing and advocacy groups have criticized the reorganization due to lack of transparency and accountability.

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