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U.S. to Increase Staff Working on MIA Cases

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Pentagon announced plans Tuesday to significantly increase the number of personnel involved in resolving the cases of more than 2,200 U.S. servicemen still missing in Southeast Asia.

Pentagon spokesman Pete Williams insisted that the decision to beef up the operation has been “in the mill for a long time” and did not come in response to recent publicity that has drawn new attention to the long-simmering issue.

In the past few weeks, activists and family members of missing servicemen have released several photographs purporting to show live prisoners being held in Southeast Asia.

Earlier this year, Army Col. Millard A. Peck resigned in protest as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Special Office for Prisoners of War and Missing in Action. In an inflammatory memorandum left behind for his colleagues, Peck said the government has failed to make a serious effort at investigating cases of “live sightings,” and may be engaged in a cover-up.

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Williams said the additional personnel will be added to four offices:

--The staff of Joint Casualty Resolution Center in Hawaii, which keeps the official records, will roughly double, growing to 77 people from its current 39.

--The U.S. Army’s Central Identification Laboratory, where forensic anthropologists and odontologists examine remains that are recovered from Southeast Asia and attempts to match them with the names of missing servicemen, will receive an additional 25 people, bringing its total staffing to 70. It also is in Hawaii.

--At the Pentagon, the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Special Office for Prisoners of War and Missing in Action will increase its staff by 20 people, bringing the total to 57.

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--The DIA’s Stony Beach operation in Bangkok, which collects intelligence in the region, will receive an additional five people, bringing its total staff to 18.


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