SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

July 17, 2013

Our view: Repairing a 'dysfunctional' MIA program

In the urgency and chaos of battle, the fallen are often left behind.

That’s certainly been true in earlier eras of warfare, when transportation options were limited and the ability to deal with comrades killed in battle interfered with ongoing missions.

This is why the number of Americans listed as missing in action in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam War totals 83,348. For various reasons, the remains of most of these soldiers never will be recovered.

But some are. And in fact the United States government has an aggressive program that strives to locate and identify the remains of those killed in action, and return these soldiers to their families.

It’s a noble, if frustrating, goal that has limited success. For instance, at the end of the Korean War, 8,200 Americans were listed as missing in that conflict. Today, that number stands at 7,910, indicating minimal progress.

The effort to recover the remains of fallen soldiers is a somber mission for the military. It’s something you might suspect is undertaken with the utmost determination and aggressiveness. One needs only look to the effort taken to first correctly identify and then bring home to Salem the remains of Army Staff Sgt. Mieczyslaus Miaskiewicz, shot down over Bosnia during World War II, almost 70 years ago.

Then how do you explain a recent internal report from the Pentagon that describes the MIA recovery program as “acutely dysfunctional,” full of waste and mismanagement?

This document, authorized by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, paints a troubling picture of a system that is slow to assess evidence, relies too little on science to confirm its finding and even allows itself to be victimized by foreign governments running scams.

A key example of this in the report involved North Korea, where it was determined battle sites were “salted” with the remains of dead Americans. Later examinations showed the bones recovered from these sites had drill holes in them, indicating the North Koreans had been using the skeletons for lab specimens.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion

AP Video
SKorea Ferry Toll Hits 156, Search Gets Tougher Video Shows Possible Syrian Gas Attack Cubs Superfans Celebrate Wrigley's 100th Raw: Cattle Truck Overturns in Texas Admirers Flock to Dole During Kansas Homecoming Raw: Erupting Volcanoes in Guatemala and Peru Alibaba IPO Could Be Largest Ever for Tech Firm FBI Joining Probe of Suburban NY 'Swatting' Call U.S. Paratroopers in Poland, Amid Ukraine Crisis US Reviews Clemency for Certain Inmates Raw: Violence Erupts in Rio Near Olympic Venue Raw: Deadly Bombing in Egypt Raw: What's Inside a Commercial Jet Wheel Well Raw: Obama Arrives in Japan for State Visit Raw: Anti-Obama Activists Fight Manila Police Motels Near Disney Fighting Homeless Problem Michigan Man Sees Thanks to 'bionic Eye' S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers
Comments Tracker
Roll Call
Helium debate
Helium