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Grange: POW recoveries 'high priority'

Retired Brig. Gen. David Grange
Retired Brig. Gen. David Grange

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(CNN) -- The rescue of U.S. Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch from an Iraqi hospital early Wednesday left her West Virginia family overjoyed as details of the daring raid slowly emerged.

Retired U.S. Army Brig. Gen. David Grange, a CNN military analyst, discussed the likely handling of Lynch's rescue with CNN's Larry King.

GRANGE: The situation is very sensitive. The military's obligation is first to the family of the rescued soldier. Once that duty is accomplished and protocol is followed -- and the protocol in this situation is very detailed -- then the information is put out to the rest of America.

After the rescue, there is usually some kind of a quick debriefing of the rescued individual. Medical care, of course, is immediately provided as well as any psychological care because of the stress the individual may have endured.

The news is reported back up the chain of command, through Central Command, all the way to Washington, D.C. There are administrative offices that handle this type of notification. It's done by telephone, or it may be done face to face. I'm not sure how it happened in this case.

The process is sensitive because of the emotions and stress involved. You don't want a family member or next of kin to see this information for the first time on television, hear it on the radio or read about it in a newspaper. You have to have the personal aspects. You have to notify the family directly through the military service that's responsible for that individual. The government's very caring about this.

Also, there may be other things happening that the military does not want to jeopardize. Everybody has to be careful other efforts aren't compromised and other soldiers aren't put at risk. Too much discussion or information getting out at the wrong times may jeopardize a serious, dangerous, ongoing operation.

The highest priority missions are the recoveries of lost service members, POW or MIA, even if the government knows people most likely will be killed to recover the remains.

It's a high priority, and it should be. The other service members in the field -- those Marines, those soldiers, those pilots -- know the government will go to extraordinary measures and even risk other lives to recover the MIA or POWs of the United States armed forces.

Retired Brig. Gen. David Grange was in the U.S. Army for 30 years. He last served as commanding general of the 1st Infantry Division, the "Big Red One." In that position, he was in Germany, Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia. During his military career, Grange was a Ranger and Green Beret. Grange is an executive vice president and chief operating officer at the Robert R. McCormick Tribune Foundation in Chicago, Illinois. He is one of CNN's military analysts, along with retired U.S. Army Gen. Wesley Clark and retired Maj. Gen. Don Shepperd. Their briefings will appear daily on CNN.com.

EDITOR'S NOTE: CNN's policy is to not report information that puts operational security at risk.


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