BATS helps ID insurgents, hostages

By 1st Lt. Chad CooperJanuary 7, 2010

BATS Instruction
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BASRA, Iraq (Jan. 6, 2009) -- Like technology from the latest spy movie, a system using finger prints and retina scans helps Soldiers tell the difference between the good guys and the bad guys in Iraq.

The Biometrics Automated Toolset System, otherwise known as BATS, is a database which assists in finding insurgents and other wanted individuals.

The system takes finger prints and retina scans and stores them with information like names, pictures and background information to form an individual profile. The profile provides information about an individual's past records, if the person has been previously detained, where they've worked or whether or not they are wanted for illegal activity.

BATS also can be used to help identify friendly forces.

The BATS system is used for a variety of missions, for example prior to conducting a rescue operation; the rescue team will download digital biometric files and associated biographical information on a captive from the authoritative source to confirm the individual's identity.

In worst-case scenarios, an isolated person may be found in a group; here the BATS is employed to clearly identify the proper person to rescue. Using a hand-held biometric device, the team immediately matches one sample to the fingerprint of the person they were sent to recover.

"The team is able to extract the individual to a safe area, secure in the knowledge that they have rescued the right person," said Staff Sgt. Orrin Thompson, 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment's senior intelligence analyst from Clark Fork, Idaho.

Using biometrics, hostage rescue teams can more quickly and accurately be sure that they have the right person. Prior to BATS it took days or weeks to record vital information about personnel that could be transferred to other units. Now, the process takes a relatively scant 12 to 90 minutes to obtain data.

"The system is very user-friendly. This equipment allows Soldiers to gather data on personnel in a short period of time that we would not have otherwise known without coordinating with other units, making our job a little easier," said Thompson.

The system is user-driven, however. The amount of information found in the database is dependent on how much data previous operators or administrators have entered into the system.

(1st Lt. Chad Cooper is assigned to 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment.)