Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced on Friday, June 19th the Department of Defense Executive Service appointment of Lt. Gen. Michael S. Linnington as director of the newly formed Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA). Linnington, a 33-year Army veteran, previously served as the military deputy to the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness in Washington, D.C.

Under the new plan, DPAA will consolidate three previous federal operations: the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO), which was based in the D.C. area; the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), based in Hawaii where the forensic laboratories are located and where the search teams are launched for missions to recover unaccounted-for American remains; and the Air Force’s Life Sciences Equipment Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.

On January 30, the JPAC colors were cased during a formal ceremony in Hawaii, after which the DPAA was formally activated. Rear Adm. Mike Franken is the interim commander until Linnington is sworn in Monday as the new DPAA director. Air Force Maj. Gen. Kelly McKeague, the former JPAC commander, remains as the interim deputy director.

Lieutenant General Michael Linnington

Through 2015, the headquarters for the new agency will be in Washington, D.C., but it will also operate from its Hawaii location, with satellite laboratories in Nebraska and Ohio. A decision on the agency’s permanent location will be made by early next year, DoD officials said.

Reaction to the announcement was positive from both the POW/MIA community and many veterans organizations. “In my view, he is the right man in the right job,” said Ann Mills-Griffiths, chairman of the Board of Directors for the National League of POW/MIA Families, based in Washington, D.C.

“He has the character, humility, principles and dedication to serving our nation and this mission that will earn the respect and trust of the official accounting community workforce and the POW/MIA families,” she added. “I believe we finally may have the leader long sought, a person who is committed to the longer term and truly welcomes the challenges and is determined to succeed in achieving our shared objectives.”

Special Operations Association President Rick Estes echoed Mills-Griffith’s comments. The SOA is a veterans group composed of Green Berets, SEALs, and Force Reconnaissance men who fought in the secret war in Vietnam, conducted in Laos, Cambodia, and North Vietnam under the aegis of the Military Assistance Command Vietnam – Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG), as well as the airmen who supported the cross-border missions.

“We’re happy to have a respected officer such as Lt. Gen. Linnington’s appointed to this critical position,” Estes said. “Once he gets settled in as director, I hope we will have an assurance that efforts to return the remains of 50-plus Green Berets listed as missing in action in Laos alone, plus the more than 250 American airmen who served valiantly in that war, will be properly accounted for and returned to the United States for closure.”