- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 15, 2015

HONOLULU (AP) - The new director of a streamlined program to identify the missing remains of war veterans says he’s optimistic that goals will be reached this year.

Former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in 2014 that 60 veterans’ remains identified in a year fell far short of the projected capacity of 200, and that the program would be reformed, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported (http://bit.ly/1CEg69o).

Efforts nationwide were consolidated with retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Linnington leading the group. He says he predicts the agency will surpass the annual identifications mandated by Congress.

“I frankly think we can do many more than 200,” he said.

About 500 researchers, investigators and identification personnel are now based in Hawaii, where Linnington visited last week.

He said he’s still assessing the newly-organized Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command.

“Whenever you go through a (reorganization) and you move responsibilities from one office to another, that’s always challenging,” he said.

Of the 83,000 Americans that are still missing from combat, it’s estimated that anywhere from 25,000 to 35,000 can be recovered.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

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