Two Green Beret associations are frustrated that only one veteran listed as missing from the Vietnam War has been publicly announced as accounted for since June 9. They expressed bitter disappointment that a new director hasn’t been appointed to the DoD’s Defense Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Agency (DPAA) since the sudden departure of Director Michael Linnington eight months ago.
In October, knowledgeable sources told SOFREP that a replacement for Linnington was selected, but before any formal announcement of that candidate’s name—another Army general—was publicly made, that man withdrew from consideration. This further clouded the DPAA top leadership selection process for an agency formed over 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.
The wheels of change that led to the formation of DPAA began rolling in early 2014, when then-Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel directed the undersecretary of defense for policy to reorganize the DoD’s efforts to account for personnel missing from our nation’s past conflicts. Hagel said, “Finding, recovering, and identifying the remains of these individuals is one of our highest responsibilities, and I believed that the DoD could more effectively and transparently account for our missing personnel while ensuring their families receive timely and accurate information.”
In 2015, the DPAA was formed through the consolidation of three federal organizations: the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO), based in the D.C. area; the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) based in Hawaii, where two of three forensic laboratories are located and from which search teams are launched on missions to recover unaccounted-for Americans; and the Air Force’s Life Sciences Equipment Laboratory (LSEL) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. LTG Mike Linnington was the first DPAA director, appointed in June 2015 for what he announced would be a 10-year tour of duty with the fledging federal, merged agency. However, Linnington resigned last June after one year on the job, thus necessitating a search for a new director that continues today.