How Do You Know Friend From Foe?

DoD’s Automated Biometric Identification System

by John D. Woodward

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The Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) has heightened the need for the Department of Defense (DoD) to give U.S. forces timely access to relevant and reliable information, including information based on biometrics, the measurable physical characteristics or behavioral traits distinctive to an individual. In turn, identity dominance, the ability to separate friend from foe by linking a person to a previously used identity or a past terrorist or criminal act, is rapidly becoming a priority for DoD. In this article, John D. Woodward, Jr., Director of DoD Biometrics from 2003 to 2005, explains the DoD’s Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) initiative, which allows biometric data gathered by U.S. military forces abroad to be searched in the DoD ABIS database and in the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS), a searchable database with the fingerprints of approximately 48 million people who have been arrested in the United States. By using the power of biometric technologies, the U.S. government will be able to positively identify terrorists or other suspected national security threats. This article was originally published in the December 2004 edition of the Homeland Science and Technology Journal and is included as a RAND reprint because its analysis is relevant to RAND’s work for the U.S. Army.

Reprinted with permission from Homeland Science & Technology, December 2004, pp. 112-113. Copyright © 2004 GDS Publishing.

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Originally published in: Homeland Science & Technology, December 2004, pp. 112-113.

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