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Organizations Collaborate To Capture and Share Adversaries' Identity Traits

April 2008
By Rita Boland
E-mail About the Author

 
A U.S. Army staff sergeant fingerprints an Iraqi policeman prior to entering his information into a database in the police station. Biometrics information such as fingerprints allows U.S. forces to positively identify people through unique personal characteristics.
New technologies link tools and personnel to find enemies through one-of-a-kind modalities.

According to the military and its partners, for the United States to succeed in the Global War on Terrorism, they must be able to share biometrics information across a network-centric environment. To that end, personnel at various agencies are developing new architectures and streamlining methods to identify terrorists based on their unique characteristics, and they are putting systems in place to efficiently share that information. The most useful pieces of a variety of stovepipe systems already in place are being combined to create a synchronized joint program.

In early 2007, representatives from a range of government agencies and the U.S. Defense Department attended a biometrics conference at the U.S. Central Command’s (CENTCOM’s) forward headquarters in Qatar. Attendees identified a broad range of biometrics challenges. They also determined that for solutions to be effective, many organizations would have to be involved, including CENTCOM, the National Ground Intelligence Center’s (NGIC’s) Biometric Analysis Cell, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI’s) Biometric Fusion Cell and other government agencies, such as the National Detainee Reporting Center and the Terrorist Explosion Device Analytical Center. The conference resulted in collaborative biometrics architecture development and the establishment of a Joint Biometrics Architecture Working Group (JBAWG).

The working group includes Defense Department biometrics consumers and producers. It is developing a biometrics-enabled identity superiority architecture for Iraq-area operations. The architecture will serve as a building block for the Defense Department biometrics enterprise architecture.

The military community addressed its biometrics operations later in 2007 when it transferred program management of the Biometrics Automated Toolset (BAT) from the Army Intelligence (G-2) office to the Project Manager DoD Biometrics (PM DoD Biometrics) under the Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems (PEO-EIS). “The BAT system facilitates the use of biometrics for intelligence exploitation and provides U.S. forces with an ability to positively identify, authenticate, authorize and potentially track, target and further exploit individuals encountered wherever U.S. forces operate,” explains CENTCOM’s CCJ6 Strategic Architecture Branch Deputy and Chief Architect James Ramirez.

BAT is a biometrics collection processing system that captures and fuses biometric and biographical information about persons of interest. BAT matches biometrics data against existing databases so latent fingerprints from an improvised explosive device, for example, could be collected as a subset of data in the biometrics program to help locate individuals and track their movements and patterns. It also analyzes and shares the information with various intelligence systems and offers real-time feedback.

The toolset was developed to support human intelligence and counterintelligence, and it links to the NGIC, the intelligence community and certain intelligence products. It is employed worldwide. CENTCOM officials say that with BAT, U.S. forces have an unprecedented capability to positively identify and track terrorists, recidivist combatants, explosive device makers, detainees, criminals, locally employed persons and other persons of interest.

The transition of the management of BAT is nested within the Defense Department strategy to shift all common biometrics systems and devices to the oversight of a single Program Manager for Biometrics. The goal is to effectively integrate the development, acquisition and fielding of biometric capabilities.

CENTCOM, whose area of responsibility (AOR) includes Iraq and Afghanistan, has its own biometrics architecture, the CENTCOM Biometrics Architecture (CBA). The CBA not only addresses information technology systems but also integrates operational and system views that describe CENTCOM biometric activities, processes, systems and system functions within the 2007 to 2010 time frame. “The CBA identifies capability gaps, shortfalls, redundancies and potential technologies and offers recommendations to improve command biometrics capabilities,” Ramirez says. “This architecture documents the operational and systems relationships, nodes, activities and information flows.”

Ramirez’s input on the CBA and other biometrics initiatives comes from his own position and experience as well as from other CENTCOM officials. Most notably these include Anthony Kluz, the lead architect for the CBA and a contractor with Booz Allen Hamilton, and Maj. Gary Delgado, USMC, the CCJ6 Strategic Architecture Branch biometrics project lead.

In an environment where information is power, the CBA aids tactical users. It serves as a reference and enables the command to improve identity dominance. This capability is achieved through effective use of biometrics data captured from all persons of interest. “Identity dominance delivers a tremendous battlespace awareness and force protection advantage that CENTCOM is committed to exploit,” Ramirez says.

 
While on patrol in Iraq, a U.S. Army soldier with 3rd Platoon, Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, collects biometric data from an Iraqi.
A key concern of CENTCOM officials is tactical communications, especially the last tactical mile, and the expanded use of biometrics applications will increase demands on dependent communications resources. To address this issue, the command’s leadership initiated an end-to-end study of theater infrastructure to determine the availability of bandwidth and the potential to support efficient biometrics information flow using available and emerging biometrics systems. Early findings already have resulted in improved process completion times, and a collection team has been deployed in theater for the second phase of the study.

One thrust of the study is to obtain sufficient data on deployed networks to determine transport limitations and the potential of in-theater infrastructures to support the increased number of file transfers that various biometrics solutions require. The study also will measure the inherent performance of current and emerging biometrics applications and their respective systems components to include throughput, latency and packet loss. According to CENTCOM officials, operators need agile network management tools so they can change transmission priorities and reallocate bandwidth to meet operational requirements.

Various communications technologies are involved in the biometrics collecting, storing and sharing processes. Current information technology solutions include BAT, the Biometric Identification System for Access (BISA), the Defense Biometric Identification System and the Handheld Interagency Identity Detection Device (HIIDE). The communications tools must be linked to the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) database. Biometrics tools are available via the nonsecure Internet protocol router network and the secret Internet protocol router network. Additionally, biometrics datasets or watch lists may be loaded into remote entry devices.

Ramirez and his colleagues say CENTCOM plans to have officials who are involved in conducting and planning military operations employ biometrics capabilities aggressively. During such operations, the biometrics data will help military personnel make rapid decisions about whether to detain or release individuals encountered during the course of an operation. U.S. forces will follow the movements of various persons by logging the locations where their biometrics data has been collected.

In addition to helping warfighters determine the identity of the people they encounter during operations, biometrics improves force protection. Operationally critical installations and systems can be protected and secured by using biometric identity authentication. Access and entry controls verify the identity and authorization of anyone attempting to gain access to a location each time they attempt to enter.

Biometrics also enables military forces to manage indigenous populations during military operations such as Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom by identifying and enrolling citizens. “This management capability is critical throughout the full spectrum of operations,” Ramirez says.

In terms of controlling terrorists, the CBA allows tactical troops to collect and compare data. Suspects whose information matches the fingerprint database are placed on a watch list dataset that is downloaded to HIIDE, which is operated remotely by troops in the field. Fingerprints collected in Iraq and Afghanistan are stored digitally in a Defense Department archive in Clarksburg, West Virginia.

The CBA simplifies operations for CENTCOM and supports future planning, improved techniques, tactics and procedures, standard operating procedures, concept of operations (CONOPS) development, process re-engineering, information technology investment strategies, and system integration and supportability analysis. Officials are rewriting the command’s Biometric CONOPS to incorporate lessons learned from conferences, communications studies and other information. “The CBA will perpetually contribute to joint program viability and determination of change requirements to improve biometric system capabilities in the CENTCOM AOR,” Ramirez says. The architecture identifies shortfalls, gaps and redundancies in current systems so personnel can improve command and control biometrics capabilities.

Outside of CENTCOM, the military is working to enhance biometrics capabilities in other ways, including combining successful technologies into one system. Past requirements mandated the rapid fielding of various biometrics initiatives for specific purposes and needs. The military now is moving away from those stovepipes and attempting to ensure that when new requirements or funds are identified, the Office of the Secretary of Defense can influence how the solutions are integrated.

To accomplish that goal, PM DoD Biometrics within PEO-EIS is working to ensure that equipment and software packages are designed to interoperate. According to Col. Ted Jennings, USA, PM DoD Biometrics, one way to guarantee interoperability is to have all data feed into a central repository. His organization manages the Next Generation ABIS system—in addition to BAT and BISA—so all systems can flow into the same system to be collected, matched, stored and analyzed.

The work is tied to the Joint Staff at the acquisition and requirements level to facilitate interoperability at the services level. “The jointness is part of the solution,” Col. Jennings explains. He says his job is to develop the Next Generation ABIS. The ABIS is designed to interoperate with other architectures such as those at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the FBI. PM DoD Biometrics is designing its architecture framework in accordance with the standards set by the Defense Department.

Col. Jennings says that the military has been able to field test concepts and designs for biometrics technology so that personnel writing requirements on behalf of soldiers in the field create mandates based on actual events. With that information, technology developers can weave together solutions from battlefield-tested devices such as cameras, scanners, readers and certain computers. “We’re integrating equipment that has been put on the battlefield and trying to still meet warfighter needs,” he says.

In addition to writing requirements and bringing disparate technologies together in a single system, the Next Generation ABIS is moving biometrics capabilities into the virtual world. In the past, collecting biometrics data mainly meant taking people’s fingerprints with ink on a card. “We had to be able to take that information and put it into the digital age, and now we’re collecting information in the digital age,” Col. Jennings says.

The military also is discovering and gathering new modalities. The Next Generation ABIS will be the authoritative database with multimodality storage. Whenever biometrics information is collected, the storage part of the process will allow for matching and analyzing against the various types of personal characteristics and identifiers.

PM DoD Biometrics works closely with the NGIC, which is one piece in the collection, matching, storage and analysis of data flow process. The project manager also works with the other services, the Army staff and the JBAWG. “We’re trying to clearly define the enterprise and architecture so that it is a joint solution and is able to work with other agencies,” Col. Jennings explains.

Advances in biometric capabilities are taking away one of the adversary’s major advantages: anonymity. “What makes this program exciting to me is that we are using cutting-edge technology that allows us to go after an enemy that has strength in being anonymous,” Col. Jennings says.

Web Resources
Biometrics Enterprise Architecture: www.biometrics.dod.mil/CurrentInitiatives/Architecture/tabid/68/Default.aspx
Defense Department Enterprise Architecture: www.defenselink.mil/cio-nii/cio/earch.shtml
Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems: www.eis.army.mil
NationalGroundIntelligenceCenter: http://avenue.org/ngic