Sunday, March 26, 2006

new warfare: fingerprint matching

The U.S. Army is equipping soldiers with new instruments of warfare in Iraq. These are field kits used to collect digital fingerprints and other physical evidence from battle sites. The Pentagon has changed the way they look at Iraq - from combat theater to crime scene. Following an encounter with insurgents, soldiers sweep the area looking for physical evidence that will confirm if the same group of insurgents were responsible for mutiple attacks. Fingerprints is one area in which concentration is focused. Soldiers use an Automated Biometric Indentification System database to store evidence. Once in the database, the information is available for a number of applications. One such program is the identification card system for non-U.S.-born contractors in Iraq. The effort was launched as a result of the December 2004 attack in Mosul. The conclusion was that attack was conducted by a suicide bomber who gained access to the base. Now foreign contractors must submit to a security check. If cleared, they wear a biometrically encoded smart card that has fingerprint images on it. These images are stored in the database and when an explosive device is used in an attack investigators can check for fingerprint matches found at the attack scene. The work is risky at the forward areas and transmitting the data is a challenge. This effort has been used to catch and identify insurgents, terrorists, and other enemy combatants.

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