By Reginald Rogers/ParaglideMarch 30, 2012
FORT BRAGG , N.C. - U.S. forces have become more sophisticated in the fight against terrorism. In the past, it was necessary to apprehend suspected terrorists and transport them to a central location in order to determine if they're a threat or non-threat.
Now, Soldiers are able to perform the same process at the remote locations the suspected conspirators are apprehended, thanks to a portable, camera-like instrument that allows them to photograph, fingerprint and receive feedback from authorities in the U.S. within minutes.
"They're actually getting qualified as operators of the handheld interagency identity detection equipment. It is used by deployed Soldiers to collect fingerprints, facial recognition photos and iris scans of people in Afghanistan or where ever the theater is to establish their identity," explained Rob Cairn of Booz Allen Hamilton, which conducts the counter improvised explosive device integration cell training.
"All of the information that is collected is sent through the biometrics automated tool set, or BAT. Those things are collected by the National Ground Intelligence Center in Virginia and those guys basically perform matches against forensics that have been collected from IEDs or weapons that have been found on the battlefield.
"Then they load up what's called a watchlist, which is sent back down to these devices. So if they collect someone who is on the watchlist, it will let these Soldiers know that this is a bad guy and they need to detain him," he added.
Cairn explained that the list is not instant, but a new watchlist is issued every week and that allows Soldiers who are on the battlefield to know when they encounter enemy insurgents.
He added that the HIIDE also allows allied forces to provide evidence to the Afghani court system to help in the prosecution of the suspected terrorists.
The HIIDE course is being instructed differently now, as noncommissioned officers who were trained by Cairn earlier in the week are now serving as lead program instructors of the Soldiers within their units.
So instead of serving as primary instructor for the class of students that were in attendance Thursday, Cairn oversaw the instruction delivered by the sergeants.
"I think the NCOs getting back in front and training the troops gives them a better sense of credibility and the Soldiers are more likely to take information from Soldiers than they are from some guy who used to be a Soldier," Cairn said.
"(This training) has been incorporated into our pre-deployment training, so every Soldier who's deploying has to go through it," explained Sgt. Zachary Crane, 4th Brigade Combat Team, who served as primary instructor for Thursday's training. "I think they're responding to it quite well. Everyone is getting it down and, at least, they are familiar with the equipment, so if they see it, they'll know how to use it."
Staff Sgt. Christopher Davis, who's assigned to 2nd Battalion, 321st Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, also oversaw the training said he was pleased with the way the Soldiers responded to the training.
"I think it good familiarization. That way, when they get downrange and are given this piece of equipment, they're not going into it blind. They'll have a good guess of how to operate it and how to make the mission go a little bit quicker," Davis said.