General Question

Introverted_Leo's avatar

If a U.S. soldier went missing would the FBI ever have reason to get involved with the search for him, or is that just strictly the military's job?

Asked by Introverted_Leo (1957points) May 2nd, 2009

This may seem like a random question, but I’m just curious. I generally wonder how the FBI and other branches of the U.S. armed forces might relate to each other, but I figured this might be a good place to start.

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7 Answers

MrKnowItAll's avatar

They could if a federal law was violated. AWOL, desertion

Introverted_Leo's avatar

Oh yeah, and I ask the same question for the CIA, too. Wish I could have changed the question…oh well.

FrankHebusSmith's avatar

The FBI can typically only deal with federal crimes or crimes that are carried out across state lines. National security issues falls to either the NSA or CIA, unless a law is involved.

Bluefreedom's avatar

If a soldier went missing and it was determined to be from suspicious circumstances, departments within the military would probably be the first agencies to act on the situation before soliciting outside help. Examples would be the Army’s CID (Criminal Investigation Division), Air Force’s OSI (Office of Special Investigations), and the Navy’s NCIS (Naval Criminal Investigative Service).

If the person’s missing status was determined to be from them going AWOL (Absent Without Leave) or desertion, it might very well fall upon the military police units from their respective services to attempt to locate the individual before requesting help from the agencies I previously listed above.

Eliciting help from the FBI would be beneficial assistance due to the large amount of agents stationed around the United States and their ability to coordinate resources to locate the missing person faster. I would imagine, though, that the reasons to enlist the FBI’s help would have to be significant because I don’t know if they’re in the business of normally helping the military to find missing individuals.

quarkquarkquark's avatar

In many cases it is left to the discretion of the original agency involved, i.e. if military police were the first to determine a soldier is missing, they might search for him (possibly with CID) assuming he is AWOL or call in another agency if foul play or what are commonly agreed to be FBI matters are involved (i.e. specific counterterrorism, organized crime, etc.). As @Bluefreedom stated, the FBI’s broad reach and resources are better equipped to locate a missing person. Army CID, for example, does not have the size, presence or resources to go hunting for missing grunts.

As for the CIA, @Introverted_Leo—the Agency does have an Inspector General and a police force with limited domestic law enforcement capability, complete with employees classified as 1811 (Criminal Investigator). Bringing the FBI in to hunt for a missing spook might be problematic because of security clearance issues, so I think it would depend on the missing officer’s work specialty as to whether or not it would be handled in-house. My initial response would be to say that the FBI would be brought in and provided with a CIA liason, and given secret information on a strictly need-to-know basis.

justwannaknow's avatar

If the military and thier sources requested it, They would help immediatly. If their was a federal crime involved, they would be there from the start. The military will even let local authorities go after AWOL and deserters. It saves thier resources for other things.

Introverted_Leo's avatar

I see. Thanks for you guys’ answers!

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