The US Department of Defense (DoD) is set to consolidate the organisations that account for US military prisoners of war (POW) and those missing in action (MIA) into one new agency.
The defense prisoner of war / missing personnel office, the joint personnel accounting command and related laboratories will be integrated into one DoD agency.
Overseen by the office of the under secretary of defense for policy, it will have comprehensive oversight of personnel, accounting for resources, research and operations.
US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said: "Finding, recovering and identifying the remains of these individuals is one of our highest responsibilities, and I believed that DoD could more effectively and transparently account for our missing personnel while ensuring their families receive timely and accurate information."
Hagel added that the agency will centralise communications with family members of the missing and streamline the identification process, centralise budgetary resources, improve the search, recovery and identification process, and develop proposals to expand public / private partnerships.
US Navy rear admiral Michael Franken will be the interim director, while JPAC commander air force major general Kelly McKeague and the under secretary of defence for personnel and readiness military deputy army lieutenant general Michael Linnington will serve as deputy director and senior adviser to the under secretary of defense for policy Christine Wormuth.
Franken said: "Their efforts have been crucial to meeting our mission and fulfilling the commitment to the nation and the families of our missing and unaccounted-for heroes."
Initially, the new agency will be headquartered in the Washington area. A decision on its permanent location is expected in early 2016.
Approximately 83,000 US service personnel are still listed as missing from past conflicts.