Biometrics technologies vital for combat success

Ever-evolving authentication takes many forms

In this time of unconventional warfare, using biometric technologies is essential to combat operations, according to several experts who spoke yesterday at an event in Washington.

“IDs can be faked and bad guys can lie. You can’t rely on physical attributes to identify bad guys in the field and protect warfighters,” said Army Col. Ted Jennings, biometrics program coordinator for the Defense Department's Program Executive Office–Enterprise Information Systems. The Bethesda, Md., chapter of AFCEA hosted the event. 

Jennings said using biometrics gives the military the ability to identify the “good guys” in the local population of a combat theater so they can work and conduct business. The technology also aids with interrogation, detainee management, base access and identifying persons of interest, he said.

Navy Capt. Gail Bovy, special assistant for antiterrorism at the Navy Department, said the Homeland Security Department’s US-VISIT immigration and border management program serves as a model for real-time biometric identification, tracking and accounting capabilities. She highlighted the need for physical access control.

“We’re in the infancy of biometrics,” Bovy said. “There’s no road map yet.”

As the science continues to evolve, so do the needs and demands for what biometrics can achieve. Army Biometrics Task Force Deputy Director Lisa Swan said that as her agency develops the next generation of a biometric database, it will include the participation of everyone in DOD who's involved with biometrics, including DOD’s numerous sub-organizations that present a challenge for departmentwide coordination.

To achieve the goal, Swan’s office is operating on an enterprise strategy that spans military operations, business functions, institutionalization and unity of effort.

“Data sharing is the future, and that’s where biometrics is going. That’s where it will be most useful,” Swan said.

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

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