ERBIL AIR BASE, IRAQ - Military intelligence Soldiers assigned to the Syrian Logistics Cell at Erbil leverage biometric technology to screen drivers for a long haul to outposts in the area of operations.
“Biometrics screenings are important because they not only keep the drivers safe as they enter Syria, but they also help protect military convoys as they complete the Syrian haul line,” said Chief Warrant Officer David Lente, the officer in charge of the SLC’s military intelligence team, or S2. “It’s a way to filter out any drivers who have nefarious goals.”
The Syrian Logistic Cell operates out of Erbil Air Base in the northern section of Iraq, where the Soldiers equip and sustain the warfighters in the AO.
The principle biometrics tool includes scans of the iris and fingerprints and taking the driver’s photo, said Lente. If there is a hit on the driver’s record, then the Soldier performs additional follow-up.
“This is utilized when a deeper dive in the driver’s history of activity is required. It is a more thorough scrub of the driver for any criminal activity,” he said. It has more in-depth information on the drivers and allows the military or civilians checking a driver into a secure installation to view any previous notes left on their file.
Drivers are vetted often and their photos and personal information must be updated regularly. “The biggest task we are working through now is updating all the records of the drivers for 2021 since there are hundreds of drivers who could potentially be used each cycle,” said Lente.
According to Spc. Nicholas Filak, an SLC intelligence specialist, the biometrics program is supplemented with driver interviews used to collect atmospherics concerning the area of operation. “Road conditions, possible hazards, traffic delays, enemy threats, any kind of disruptions along the route could cause the GLOC [ground lines of communication] to be halted or delayed,” Filak said.
Chief Warrant Officer Mark Tegtmeyer, the officer in charge of the SLC Mobility Team, said the drivers are part of a rigorous logistics planning cycle allowing continuity among all key personnel, including the truck drivers.
The SLC team also works closely with other strategic partners on EAB to further gather information, Lente said. This ensures that cross communication is occurring with all agencies involved.