Hagel acts to improve POW-MIA accounting effort after reports pointed out conflicts, failings

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Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is shaking up the bureaucracy responsible for recovering and identifying the remains of U.S. war dead by collapsing it into a single office managed by a more senior Pentagon official.

Hagel made the announcement Monday at a news conference.

The Pentagon has been under congressional pressure for months to take decisive action to improve the POW-MIA accounting effort. Its failings were highlighted last summer when The Associated Press disclosed an internal report that said the search for remains on foreign battlefields was mismanaged, wasteful and dysfunctional.

After lengthy study, Hagel decided to combine the two leading agencies in this field — the Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command, based in Hawaii, and the Defense POW-MIA Office, based inside the Pentagon.