On Dec.1, 2011, the responsibility to account for missing U.S. personnel in Iraq transferred from the U.S. Central Command to Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO), which is now the Department of Defense (DoD). The current number of personnel missing from operations in Iraq and the Persian Gulf being actively pursued by DoD is five - two service members from Desert Storm, and three DoD contractors from Iraqi Freedom. DoD continues to pursue the fullest possible accounting of one serviceman lost in 1986 during Operation El Dorado Canyon in Libya.
DoD is not only responsible for accounting for service members missing from past conflicts, it also provides policy and oversight of efforts to account for and recover personnel who become separated from their units or are captured in the future. This includes the rescue, recovery, and reintegration of captured or missing personnel through diplomatic and military means. DoD works to ensure that personnel accounting policies address the challenges of accounting in modern conflicts, including properly training and accounting for the increasing numbers of DoD contractors and civilians who accompany the military force.
Much of the emphasis for current personnel recovery focuses on preventing or preparing service members, civilians and contractors for isolation, and training to provide proper response in the event that they are captured. Improvements in technology, comprehensive planning, training and education, and improved command and control have all combined to form a rapid, well organized response to isolating events. DoD continues to ensure lessons learned during current conflicts are incorporated into future capabilities.
The policy of the U.S., to never offer remuneration for the return of captured personnel, serves as a deterrent to hostage-takers and is one of the keys to protecting our service members.