Seeking to inject vigor into the search for U.S. troops missing from foreign wars, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Friday unveiled a new consolidated agency responsible for the effort and named its temporary leadership.
Hagel ordered the reorganization earlier last year as the U.S. Congress pressured the Defense Department to boost its accounting for some 83,000 missing troops – about 73,000 from World War Two and 10,000 from other conflicts, mainly Korea.
“Finding, recovering and identifying the remains of these individuals is one of our highest responsibilities, and I believe that DoD (Defense Department) could more effectively and transparently account for our missing personnel,” he said in a statement.
Each year, the Pentagon spends about $100 million trying to account for missing personnel and identifies the remains of about 70 people. It is under congressional mandate to boost capacity to locating and identifying the remains of 200 troops annually by the end of the 2015 fiscal year on Sept. 30.
Few things are more unconscionable than subjecting the military and their loved ones to bureaucratic snafus that exacerbate their pain. Let’s hope and pray that this latest effort is a bit more successful at bringing some closure to these long-suffering families.