WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is ordering a shakeup of agencies responsible for accounting for tens of thousands of Americans missing in action from foreign wars, a mission heavily criticized as wasteful and fragmented.
Hagel's press secretary, Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby, announced Thursday that Hagel wants the two main accounting agencies combined into a single organization. For years the two groups have engaged in bureaucratic warfare.
One of the two agencies, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, opened a forensics laboratory at Offutt Air Force Base in 2013. A Defense Department spokesman declined to speculate whether the merger would impact the Offutt lab.
Hagel ordered his policy chief to give him a plan within 30 days to better account for as many of the missing as possible — and to make the government's accounting work more transparent to families of the missing.
The issue surfaced last summer when the Associated Press revealed an internal report calling the accounting mission "dysfunctional" and inept.
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