Afghans improve biometrics capability, take step forward

Release No: UNRELEASED Oct. 9, 2010 PRINT | E-MAIL

KABUL, Afghanistan (Oct. 8, 2010) — Afghan National Army Soldiers, advised by Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan service members, are building Afghanistan’s biometrics capability by enrolling incoming recruits at the Afghan National Army Recruiting Center at the Kabul Military Training Center.

“The enrollments here at the ANAREC contribute to our mission by enabling the Afghans to biometrically enroll their folks to ensure the identity  of those entering the Afghan national security forces,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Cris Marchiori, CSTC-A biometrics and personnel security advisor.

About 70 to 80 percent of Afghan recruits train at the Kabul Military Training Center, said Marchiori.  Each training iteration, or kandak, is approximately 1,400 recruits and lasts two months and 15 days.

When recruits arrive at KMTC, they stop at medical for a screening.  Those who can read then test their proficiency, while the rest of the trainees head first to biometrics for the screening.  The biometrics screeners attend a four-day training class conducted at the Ministry of Interior by Afghan instructors.

One recent day, several dozen recruits lined the hall of a building on ANAREC, awaiting their turn for biometrics enrollment.  As each one entered, ANA enrollers collected biometrics data by taking “10/2/1,” which consists of 10 fingerprints, two iris scans and facial pictures (front and side).  The biometrics data is then transferred to the Ministry of Interior Criminal Investigation Division Biometrics Department, which loads it onto the Afghan Automated Biometrics Identification System to match the biometrics records against its database.  Any match that shows a previous criminal record is then reported to MoI CID for further investigation.

In a recent 40-day period, the ANA biometrics enrollment team collected 5,231 separate enrollments, which is approximately 130 per day; a performance Marchiori said is exemplary.

“They’re very proficient in what they do,” Marchiori said.

The ANA biometrics team also travels to Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif to the smaller recruit training sites, said Col. Abdul, head of biometrics enrollment at ANAREC.  During the last mission to Mazar-e-Sharif, Abdul said the team deployed four enrollers with two biometrics enrollment kits, collecting 755 biometrics enrollments in one week.

“Biometrics is a very efficient and effective field in society and its benefit is to bring peace and keep secure the country and in the long run it will reduce corruption, administrative fraud, criminal activities and possibility of drug trafficking,” said Abdul.  He added “Especially it is effective for the identification of the national public when we can differentiate easily criminals from innocent people.”

Because the enrollers at ANAREC are so experienced, collecting a biometrics sample takes about five to ten minutes per recruit, said U.S. Air Force. Tech. Sgt. Lashonida Wilson, CSTC-A biometrics advisor to the Ministry of Defense.

The recruit biometrics enrollments assist coalition forces because the system serves as a background check.

“The battle space owners want to make sure the guys they’re training have been vetted, that they’re safe and secure, when they’re out there on the firing line, they don’t have to worry about ‘checking their six’ all the time,” Marchiori said.