By Army Cpt. Antonia Greene, American Forces Press Service:

“You have more of a chance of taking the enemy down using biometrics than you do using your M4,” said Army Lt. Col. Eric Stetson, deputy commanding officer of training for the 174th Infantry Brigade at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.

Trainers with the 174th Inf. Bde., part of First Army Division East, recently completed a weeklong biometrics course that taught them how to integrate biometrics into mobilization training. This type of “train-the-trainer” event allows the 174th Inf. Bde’s trainers to stay current on the tactics, techniques and procedures they relay to service members preparing for deployment.

“Biometrics is an important tool for separating the enemy from the rest of the population,’ explained Army Capt. Shawnette Haynes, chief liaison officer 174th Inf. Bde.. “It is an enduring capability that we must integrate into mobilization training at all levels, especially military operations on urban terrain.”

The way the Army currently operates, in a counterinsurgency environment understanding how the biometrics system works is key to success, explained Stetson, former training chief of biometrics for Regional Command East in Bagram, Afghanistan. Modern war fighting entails effective training and employment of biometrics capabilities from the ground up, he continued. Biometrics includes exploiting DNA collection, fingerprinting, facial recognition, and retinal scan. Trainers at the 174th Inf. Bde., plan to incorporate biometrics training into the situational training lanes they operate for mobilized and deploying service members.

“Biometrics puts a uniform on the enemy,” said Chris Melton, Chief of the Biometrics NETT, a sub-division of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. “It paints a picture of an otherwise hard-to-identify enemy.”

The Biometrics Operations Specialist course focuses mainly on operating the system components of biometrics. Specifically, enrolling and identifying individuals using biometrics equipment, and data transfer are the focal points of the 40-hour class. The Biometrics New Equipment Training Team made up of civilian and soldier subject matter experts deploys from the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., to conduct the weeklong training at unit home stations. Equipped with the system components and SMEs, the Biometrics NETT mentors those designed to operate the system, or in this case, trains the trainers.

“Our course is designed for those working the systems in country,” said Melton. “How to capture and input biometrics data and navigate the system effectively is our primary focus.”

The course, offered in accordance with the Army’s plan for modernization, trains biometrics at the operator level. The first two days cover the basics of the system, equipment and operation. The remaining time is scenario-based collection and database search.

At the tactical level, the Company Intelligence Support Team, the biometrics subject matter experts, provide patrol teams the training support and equipment necessary to conduct effective date collection and transfer.

“Biometrics influences, assists, and shapes outcomes across the area of operations,” said Army Col. Craig A. Osborne, 174th Infantry Brigade commander, also former Chief of Biometrics for coalition forces in Afghanistan. Charged at his previous assignment with integrating biometrics at the squad level up through the chain of custody, Osborne knows the importance of training effective collection procedures and how it directly correlates to taking enemies off the streets.

“Operationalizing biometrics allows us to be more focused on the people we should be targeting,” said Osborne.

“Taking the time to train and collect quality biometrics is central to getting hits,” said Nestor Rodriguez, TRADOC Capability Manager for Biometrics and Forensics.

Additionally, proper site exploitation goes hand-in-hand with biometrics system operation, said Rodriguez.

“Trash in, trash out,” explained Rodriguez. “If a soldier isn’t trained how to properly attain biometrics and evidence after-the-fact, the system is riddled with ineffective data.”

Rodriguez encouraged leaders to send soldiers to the Weapons Intelligence Team training offered to all military occupational specialties in Army Training Requirements and Resources System. The 80-hour, six-week course, trains soldiers as battlefield detectives, a capability Rodriguez said commanders at all levels must possess. . WIT members receive training on IED construction, complex latent fingerprinting, collecting DNA samples, biometrics evidence collection, and sensitive site exploitation.

Rehearsing biometrics and enhancing it with site exploitation battle drills should be incorporated at all levels of planning and executing in counterinsurgency operations, said Rodriguez.

“Although we are more or less reliant on individuals voluntarily submitting to biometrics collection, unless we catch them in the act, collecting a soda can or cigarette butt is fair game,” said Rodriguez.

Similarly, Stetson stressed the importance of gathering the right evidence.

“Efficient collection is where it starts, with soldiers at the lowest level,” explained Stetson. “It’s NCIS at work; and it works, taking bad guys off the streets.”

The latest fielding of biometrics equipment is scheduled for mid-May, early June. The Secure Electronic Enrollment Kit is expected to replace the current Handheld Interagency Identity Detection Equipment for those deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The SEEK II has already been tested downrange and is reported to increase the speed of processing field enrollments substantially.“By the time a service member completes an enrollment, the SEEK (Secure Electronic Enrollment Kit) will have completed the on-board database search and determine if the individual in on the watch list,” assured Melton. “This is a significant gain as well as the improved fingerprint and iris scan capabilities.”

The 19 series, scout and tanker MOS, have already incorporated training critical tasks of enroll, identify, and transfer data into its soldier’s Manual of Common Tasks, said Melton. There are plans in the works to adopt biometrics training at Advanced Individual Training in 35 series, intelligence, also.

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