Pentagon overhauls effort to identify its missing

The restructuring promises to address many of the problems laid out in a recent ProPublica and NPR investigation.

The Pentagon is overhauling its efforts to find and identify missing service members from past wars, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Monday.

The changes address the problems laid out in an investigation by ProPublica and NPR, including outdated scientific methods, overlapping bureaucracy, a risk-averse disinterment policy for the 9,400 unknowns buried around the world, and poor laboratory management that inhibited the mission.

“The time has come for a paradigm shift,” said Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michael Lumpkin, who headed up a 30-day review of the mission Hagel ordered in February.

One of the bigger changes involves the military’s failure to embrace DNA. Our investigation detailed how the Pentagon identification effort relegated DNA to only a confirmation tool, rather than using it to lead the process as is now done in other countries.

Using a DNA-led process is “absolutely something we’re going to move toward,” Lumpkin said.

The Pentagon will “break away from the way of traditionally doing business...that didn’t fully embrace progressive science,” he said.

The Pentagon spends about $100 million a year on the MIA mission, yet it solves surprisingly few cases. Last year, the military identified just 60 service members out of the about 83,000 Americans missing from World War II, Korea and Vietnam. The lackluster efforts have been subjected to intense Congressional scrutiny and media coverage, including holding fake arrival ceremonies and mismanaging overseas excavations.

In restructuring the mission, the Pentagon is eliminating the two main agencies — the Hawaii-based Joint Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command and the Washington-based Defense Prisoner of War Missing Personnel Office — and creating a new single agency. There will be one chain of command and one budget.

“We’re streamlining everything,” Hagel said.

The reorganization “resolves issues of duplication and inefficiency” and makes the effort “more transparent and responsive” to families, he said. The changes will be implemented over the next 18 months.

Although it’s unclear at this point what positions and personnel will be eliminated besides the commanders of JPAC and DPMO, Lumpkin insisted the as-yet-unnamed agency will be a “fundamentally new organization.”

“It’s not business as usual,” he said.

The restructuring pushes aside J-PAC’s scientific director, Tom Holland, who has held the position for 19 years. As ProPublica and NPR detailed, Holland has had nearly total control of each step in the identification process. That job will now be handled by an Armed Forces Medical Examiner.

The move appears meant to address the fact that sign-offs on the lab’s decisions were little more than a rubber stamp. Putting a medical examiner at the head of the process — someone who is scientifically knowledgeable — ensures “the opportunity for rubber stamping doesn’t exist,” Lumpkin said.

Outsiders and former J-PAC officials said the changes were promising.

“I think the Armed Forces Medical Examiners are probably as well suited to do that as anyone else I could think of,” said Mark Leney, a former JPAC anthropologist who now teaches at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

“Selecting a scientific leader with a track record of working in an interdisciplinary scientific environment, preferably someone who has managed a large group of diverse technical and scientific experts before, will be key to making this work,” Leney said.

Hagel also announced a plan to develop public-private partnerships to “leverage capabilities” of nongovernmental groups who work on recovering and identifying MIAs – we which included last month in a rundown of potential ways to fix the effort. “I think that would be a waste if we didn't do that,” Lumpkin said.

ProPublica and NPR also reported that under Holland’s leadership the lab rejected 96 percent of potential disinterments of unknown servicemembers, despite DNA advances that could help lead to their identification.

Lumpkin said that policy will be changed, though he had no specifics.

The Pentagon is also considering a national campaign to collect DNA samples from family members of the missing.

The restructuring will create one case management system for all missing persons, which should make it simpler to conduct research and keep families informed. DPMO and JPAC, long embroiled in a turf war, have often fought over records, duplicated trips to the National Archives, and done competing investigations.

“We’re now taking concrete, enforceable steps to fix what has been a management mess—but as with any effort to demand accountability, the devil will be in the details and the implementation,” Senators Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said in a statement. “So we’re looking forward to working with the Pentagon to ensure the families of our missing heroes receive nothing less than honesty and transparency in our efforts to recover their loved ones.”




Mahindra group merges its truck and buses division with M&M Ltd

Mahindra group has merged its subsidiary, Mahindra Truck and Buses Ltd with its M&M Ltd for achieving greater synergy business

Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd (M&M), one of the largest tractor manufacturers in the world, has informed in a regulatory filing that it has completed the merger of trucks and buses vertical of its subsidiary Mahindra Truck and Buses Ltd (MTBL) with its parent company M&M Ltd for greater synergy with the group business.

The Mahindra Group had last year approved the de-merger of its trucks and buses operations from MTBL into M&M Ltd to derive greater synergies. The trucks and buses vertical got demerged from MTBL Ltd and then it got merged with M&M Ltd. M&M said in a regulatory filing, the scheme of arrangement has become effective from 30 March 2014.

As per the approved scheme, all assets and liabilities of MTBL have been transferred to M&M. MTBL had registered an accumulated loss of Rs920 crore during FY2013, which will be included into M&M Ltd account. However its regulatory filing does not include any financial details about its merger.

Earlier on 07 March 2014, M&M has informed in its regulatory filing that, The Bombay High Court has approved a scheme of arrangement between MTBL, a wholly owned subsidiary of the company and its shareholders, creditors and M&M Ltd.

M&M in its December quarter posted 12% higher net profit at Rs934.06 crore from Rs836.19 crore in a same period a year ago, despite fall of 2% in its total sales at Rs10,555.68 crore from Rs10774.28 crore a year ago perid.

M&M Ltd shares closed 1.39% up at Rs980.65 on BSE. While S&P BSE Sensex ended the day flat at 22,386.


Sensex, Nifty upmove may slow down: Monday closing report

Close below 6,650 on the Nifty may pull it lower

Last week we had mentioned that the market is currently highly overbought. Today the NSE recorded a huge volume of 90.60 crore shares but the index witnessed a weak upmove. Although the market opened and hit its all time high at the beginning of the session the benchmarks soon lost momentum and started heading down until it completely moved into the red where it traded for nearly two hours. In the last few minutes of the session the indices pulled back into the green and closed marginally higher from Friday’s close. 


The Sensex opened at 22,423 while the Nifty opened at 6,723. The benchmarks hit a high of 22,467 and 6,730 from where they went loser to hit a low of 22,254 and 6,662. The Sensex closed at 22,386 (up 46 points or 0.21%) while the Nifty closed at 6,704 (up 8 points or 0.12%).


Among the other indices on the NSE, the top five gainers were Metal (3.75%), Realty (2.86%), Smallcap (1.70%), M N C (1.44%) and Commodities (1.42%). The top five losers were P S E (0.87%); Infra (0.81%); F M C G (0.58%); C P S E (0.45%) and Bank Nifty (0.10%).


Of the 50 stocks on the Nifty, 28 ended in the green. The top five gainers were Hindalco (7.72%), Jindal Steel (4.20%), Tata Steel (3.22%), A C C (2.75%) and Sesa Sterlite (2.68%). The top five losers were O N G C (3.34%), I D F C (2.95%), Dr Reddy (2.65%), Bhel (2.55%) and Tech Mahindra (2.36%).


Of the 1,543 companies on the NSE, 1,024 companies closed in the green, 430 companies closed in the red while 89 companies closed flat.


Market now looks ahead for the RBI First Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement, 2014-15 on 1 April 2014.


India's fiscal deficit in the first eleven months of the FY 2013-14 touched Rs 5.99 trillion, or 114.3% of the full year target, government data showed on Monday. The deficit was 97.4% during April-February a year ago. In the interim budget in February, the Congress-led government had revised the full-year fiscal deficit target to Rs 5.25 trillion, or 4.6% of gross domestic product, from Rs 5.42 trillion, or 4.8%, earlier.


RBI on Friday said it will borrow Rs 1.9 lakh crore through issuance of short-term bills in the market in the April-June 2014 quarter.


Tata Steel was among the top five gainers among the BSE 30 stocks. It rose 3.40% to close at Rs393.85 on the BSE. Tata Steel was in news for that it will start production from its greenfield plant at Kalinganagar in Odisha from the last quarter of next fiscal. The Kalinganagar project, which will produce flat products, will have 3 mtpa capacity in the first phase. This would be doubled in the next phase.


Dr Reddy’s Lab was among the top five losers in the pack of Sensex 30 stocks. The stock fell 2.15% to close at Rs 2,560.80 on the BSE. The company plans a fresh foray into the Japanese market. This comes in after last June the company decided to terminate their memorandum of understanding to enter into an exclusive partnership in the generic drugs business for the Japanese market and to establish a joint venture in the island nation in East Asia with Fujifilm Corporation.


Except for Shanghai Composite (down 0.41%), KLSE Composite (down 0.08%) and NZSE 50 (down 0.06%) all the other Asian indices trading today closed in the green. Nikkei 225 (0.90%) was the top gainer.


European indices were trading solidly higher. US Futures were also trading higher.


US indices closed flat with positive bias on Friday. Data from the US showed that household purchases rose the most in three months. Household purchases, which account for almost 70% of the US economy, climbed 0.3% after a 0.2% gain in January that was smaller than previously estimated, Commerce Department figures showed. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is scheduled to deliver remarks at a conference in Chicago on Monday.


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