United States Code
USC most recently checked for updates: Mar 22, 2023
Program to resolve missing person cases
The Secretary of Defense shall implement a comprehensive, coordinated, integrated, and fully resourced program to account for persons described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of section 1513(1) of this title who are unaccounted for from the following conflicts:
World War II during the period beginning on
December 7, 1941, and ending on December 31, 1946, including members of the armed forces who were lost during flight operations in the Pacific theater of operations covered by section 576 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2000 (Public Law 106–65; 10 U.S.C. 1501 note).
The Cold War during the period beginning on
September 2, 1945, and ending on August 21, 1991.
The Korean War during the period beginning on
June 27, 1950, and ending on January 31, 1955.
The Indochina War era during the period beginning on
July 8, 1959, and ending on May 15, 1975.
The Persian Gulf War during the period beginning on
August 2, 1990, and ending on February 28, 1991.
Such other conflicts in which members of the armed forces served as the Secretary of Defense may designate.
The Secretary of Defense shall implement the program within the Department of Defense through the designated Agency Director.
The Secretary shall assign or detail to the designated Defense Agency on a full-time basis a senior medical examiner from the personnel of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System. The primary duties of the medical examiner so assigned or detailed shall include the identification of remains in support of the function of the designated Agency Director to account for unaccounted for persons covered by subsection (a).
In carrying out functions under this chapter, the medical examiner so assigned or detailed shall report to the designated Agency Director.
The medical examiner so assigned or detailed shall—
exercise scientific identification authority;
establish identification and laboratory policy consistent with the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System; and
advise the designated Agency Director on forensic science disciplines.
Nothing in this chapter shall be interpreted as affecting the authority of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner under section 1471 of this title.
Each unaccounted for person covered by subsection (a) shall be considered to be a missing person for purposes of the applicability of other provisions of this chapter to the person.
The Secretary of Defense shall ensure that a personnel file is established and maintained for each person covered by subsection (a) if the Secretary—
possesses any information relevant to the status of the person; or
receives any new information regarding the missing person as provided in subsection (e).
The Secretary of Defense shall ensure that each file established under this subsection contains all relevant information pertaining to a person covered by subsection (a) and is readily accessible to all elements of the department, the combatant commands, and the armed forces involved in the effort to account for the person.
Each file established under this subsection shall be handled in accordance with, and subject to the provisions of, section 1506 of this title in the same manner as applies to the file of a missing person otherwise subject to such section.
The Secretary of Defense shall establish and maintain a single centralized database and case management system containing information on all missing persons for whom a file has been established under this subsection. The database and case management system shall be accessible to all elements of the Department of Defense involved in the search, recovery, identification, and communications phases of the program established by this section.
If new information (as described in paragraph (3)) is found or received that may be related to one or more unaccounted for persons covered by subsection (a), whether or not such information specifically relates (or may specifically relate) to any particular such unaccounted for person, that information shall be provided to the Secretary of Defense.
Upon receipt of new information under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall ensure that—
the information is treated under paragraph (2) of subsection (c) of section 1505 of this title, relating to addition of the information to the personnel file of a person and notification requirements, in the same manner as information received under paragraph (1) under such subsection; and
the information is treated under paragraph (3) of subsection (c) and subsection (d) of such section, relating to a board review under such section, in the same manner as information received under paragraph (1) of such subsection (c).
For purposes of this subsection, new information is information that is credible and that—
is found or received after
November 18, 1997, by a United States intelligence agency, by a Department of Defense agency, or by a person specified in section 1504(g) of this title; or
is identified after
November 18, 1997, in records of the United States as information that could be relevant to the case of one or more unaccounted for persons covered by subsection (a).
In carrying out the program, the designated Agency Director shall ensure coordination with the Secretaries of the military departments, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the commanders of the combatant commands.
In carrying out the program, the Secretary of Defense shall establish close coordination with the Department of State, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Council staff to enhance the ability of the Department of Defense to account for persons covered by subsection (a).
In carrying out the program, the designated Agency Director shall coordinate all external communications and events associated with the program.
(Added Pub. L. 104–106, div. A, title V, § 569(b)(1),
Feb. 10, 1996, 110 Stat. 348; amended Pub. L. 104–201, div. A, title V, § 578(f)(1), (2)(A), Sept. 23, 1996, 110 Stat. 2537; Pub. L. 105–85, div. A, title V, § 599(e), Nov. 18, 1997, 111 Stat. 1769; Pub. L. 106–65, div. A, title X, § 1066(a)(14), Oct. 5, 1999, 113 Stat. 771; Pub. L. 111–84, div. A, title V, § 541(a), Oct. 28, 2009, 123 Stat. 2296; Pub. L. 113–291, div. A, title IX, § 916(d), (f)(1), Dec. 19, 2014, 128 Stat. 3478, 3479.)
cite as: 10 USC 1509