Continued concern by Vietnam veteran groups about missing Americans from that war continue as the government office responsible for that mission, DoD’s Defense Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Agency (DPAA) has been without a director for 12 of its 23 months in existence since the departure of its first Director Michael Linnington in June. The concern mounts as the lack of visible progress to appoint a director continues despite formal written requests by several veterans groups to urge action on the vacated post.
In October, SOFREP learned that the replacement for Linnington had been selected but, before any formal announcement of that candidate’s name – another Army general – was publicly announced, he withdrew from consideration. This further clouded the DPAA top leadership selection process for an agency formed only two years ago to bring together three separate federal organizations to improve U.S. efforts to account as fully as possible for U.S. servicemen and designated civilians still missing from the Vietnam War.
Without a strong DPAA director to bring the issue before Congressional and public attention, the Vietnam War accounting operations have been reduced instead of increasing at the pace and scope of operations as requested by Vietnam veterans. In February SOFREP reported that two Green Beret associations and the National League of POW/MIA Families were frustrated with the low number of returned remains of Americans listed as still missing and otherwise unaccounted for from the Vietnam War – a failure exacerbated by a $20 million reduction in DPAA’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget of $132 million. The VVA (Vietnam Veterans of America) has joined them in requesting a renewed emphasis being placed on appointing a director.
That bitter frustration continues to grow with the members of the Special Forces Association, which has more than 10,000 members, and the Special Operations Association, which has more than 2,000 members, according to Michael Taylor, chairman of the joint SFA/SOA POW/MIA Committee.