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Biometrics play significant role in new US Army intelligence doctrine

Biometrics play significant role in new US Army intelligence doctrine

Biometrics Enabled Intelligence (BEI) is playing a larger and essential role in U.S. Army intelligence, as described in the latest Army Doctrine Publication (ADP 2-0) for Army intelligence activities. These methods include recognizing an individual based on measurable anatomical, physiological, and behavioral characteristics, as well as intelligence resulting from the combination of biometric information with other intelligence, threat information, or information relating to other aspects.

ADP 2-0, Intelligence, provides a common construct for intelligence support in complex operational environments and a framework to support unified land operations across the range of military operations [and] serves as the intelligence doctrinal foundation for our Army,” ADP 2-0 states, noting, “every Army professional must understand the doctrinal principles of Army intelligence.”

Because “Army forces will conduct operations across multiple domains to gain freedom of action for other members of the joint force … These complexities place a significant demand on intelligence professionals for real-time detailed intelligence to develop situational understanding and answer the commander’s priority intelligence requirements,” ADP 2-0 states. “Intelligence enables mission command, facilitates initiative, and allows commanders and staffs to execute tailored solutions for complex problems in the fast-paced environments of the future. From this understanding, commanders can better identify windows of opportunity during operations to converge capabilities for best effect. Ready access to the intelligence networks facilitates timely decision making and provides commanders the flexibility to successfully shape and execute operations.”

BEI is not just the process of recognizing an individual based on measurable anatomical, physiological, and behavioral characteristics, but biometrics is also used as a process of confirming identities that are not exclusive to the intelligence warfighting function. “This enabler supports multiple activities and tasks of other warfighting functions,” the doctrine says.

The Army’s new intelligence doctrine also “defines BEI as intelligence resulting from the combination of biometric information with other intelligence, threat information, or information relating to other aspects of the operational environment [that’s needed] in order to answer intelligence requirements, such as Biometric Analysis and Biometric Intelligence Analysis Reports (BIARs).

ADP 2-0 clarifies that because it “is important for commanders, intelligence staffs, and all-source intelligence analysts across all echelons to assist in consolidating identities, other information, and intelligence to support tactical objectives as well as longer-term operational and strategic objectives … The production of biometrics-enabled intelligence products is critical as persons of interest move from location to location (within an [Area of Operation]) or are elevated in status (and move from one position to another), or as they transit from one AO to another. Products derived from biometric collection can provide context that is critical—related to persons of interest and their intent—to analysts across all echelons.”

Specifically, biometrics is being exploited pursuant to the U.S. Army’s new intelligence doctrine for two categories: All-Source and Identity Activities, and Complementary Intelligence Activities.

The ADP 2-0 joint doctrine regarding All-Source and Identity Activities describes “identity activities as a collection of functions and actions that appropriately recognize and differentiate one person from another to support decision making. They include the collection of identity attributes and physical materials; their processing and exploitation; all-source analytic efforts, production of identity intelligence and DOD law enforcement criminal intelligence products; and dissemination of those products to inform policy and strategy development, operational planning and assessment, and the appropriate action at the point of encounter.”

These functions and actions are conducted by maneuver, intelligence, and law enforcement components.

“Within intelligence,” the new doctrine states, “identity activities are the responsibility of the personnel within the all-source elements of the intelligence staff. Within all-source, identity activities combine the synchronized application of the complementary intelligence capabilities (biometrics, forensics, and document and media exploitation [DOMEX]) with intelligence and identity management processes. This establishes identity, affiliations, and authorizations in order to deny anonymity to the adversary and protect US and partner nation assets, facilities, and forces.”

These all-source activities result in the discovery of true identities; linking identities to events, locations, and networks, and revealing hostile intent, thus “enabling tasks, missions, and actions that span the range of military operations.”

Under the new Army intelligence doctrine, Complementary Intelligence Activities complement existing intelligence capabilities by contributing “valuable information for all-source intelligence to facilitate the conduct of operations. The complementary intelligence capabilities are specific to units and circumstances at each echelon, and can vary across the Department of Defense.

These capabilities include, but are not limited to:

• Biometrics-Enabled Intelligence;
• Cyber-enabled intelligence;
• DOMEX; and
• Forensic-enabled intelligence (also called FEI).

Another component of BEI analysis is DOD’s Biometric-Enabled Watchlist (BEWL), the management of which is a mission assigned to National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC).

“As the DOD BEWL mission manager,” the new doctrine says, “NGIC is responsible for: discovering threat identities; reviewing unit nominations (to ensure nominations meet DOD and intelligence community standards); maintaining, managing, and disseminating BEWL subsets; and managing encounters. Development and management of the unit watchlist is an intelligence staff duty. In producing their BEWL, units include collected biometric identities, related contextual information, and intelligence for future reference or further analysis in the analytic system. Unit level and DOD BEWLs are shared through a dissemination process to provide an unclassified data set on handheld devices to the other government systems and the DOD biometric network for positive identification of threat personnel.”

When alarms were triggered in mid-May, 2010, in response to intelligence indicating a suspected member of a Somali Al Qaeda terrorist organization was trying to enter the United States from Mexico, counterterrorism professionals were not surprised.

“Here was one more concrete example of Al Qaeda’s unrelenting efforts to get operatives into the country,” one agent, who requested anonymity, told Biometric Update.

Alarms like this have been triggered before, but this one was a siren that raised the hair of analysts at the National Counterterrorism Center. A flash message sent to their desktops alerted them that Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents had apprehended a man trying to sneak into the country whose fingerprints flagged him as a person “of extreme interest to the US government.” His prints matched those of a suspected Al Qaeda bomb-maker that had been lifted during an improvised explosives device investigation and entered into BEWL.

BEWL contains only “high-threat persons of interest” and was being tested in tandem with CBP’s Automated Biometric Fingerprint Identification System (IDENT) and other national terrorist watch lists. IDENT promptly red-flagged the man’s prints.

“They definitely tied the person to terrorism,” explained the agent, a former military intelligence officer whose company was involved in developing DoD’s Biometric Intelligence Program.

IDENT is central to the Department of Homeland Security’s Biometric Identification Management (OBIM) system, a continually growing database that holds biometric information and other personal data on over 200 million people who have entered, attempted to enter, and exited the US. It’s built around the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) supplied by Cogent Systems, now part of Gemalto.

“The speed with which the AFIS can operate is as impressive as its scale and accuracy. Combined with the skilled staff at OBIM, potential matches can be retrieved from a database that now runs to many millions of records in a matter of seconds,” the company said, noting in 2017 alone, OBIM identified 175,000 known or suspected terrorists.

Under the Army’s new ADP 2-0 intelligence doctrine, DoD divisions and above echelons develop many biometrics-enabled intelligence products to support operations, including Biometric Intelligence Analysis Reports, which are intelligence products that associate a biometric match with an individual in the biometric database. They are produced by sorting, analyzing, and linking the biometric match with the individual’s history, along with all-source intelligence, and may contain the identification, background, assessment, and intelligence value of the subject.

The BEWL, though, “is the primary analytic product produced through the all-source analysis production of collected and processed identity records,” according to the new doctrine. “It is exported from the analytic tool and shared with the biometric network to identify persons of interest within biometric matching systems and handheld devices. Establishing the BEWL to support specified missions is an intelligence staff-level responsibility. The intelligence staff can customize the BEWL based on the unit’s assigned mission and rules of engagement. Assistance in establishing a new customized BEWL based on a unit’s assigned mission can be coordinated through [the Army’s Intelligence and Security Command] and NGIC. After establishing the customized BEWL, the nomination, removal, or change process is automated through the analytic tool.”

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