Strikers Use Biometrics to Increase Force Protection

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By 1st Lt. Delaney Brown

Co. A, 3rd STB, 3rd BCT PAO, 4th Inf. Div., MND-B

FORWARD OPERATING BASE WAR EAGLE, Iraq – With more than five million Iraqis and five army and national police brigades in Baghdad, anonymity is a great weapon for insurgents.

Even if a unit identifies suspicious activity by a local national on their base, what is there to stop that individual from moving down the road to a new base? The answer for Coalition Forces is simple: biometrics.

The Soldiers of Company A, 3rd Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad, have fingerprinted, photographed and eye-scanned more than 400 individuals in their efforts to keep Forward Operating Base War Eagle safe.

Staff Sgt. Matthew Valek, a Ceres, Calif., native, holds up his biometric camera to store data for a worker on FOB Eagle.
Staff Sgt. Matthew Valek, a Ceres, Calif., native, uses a biometric camera to store data for a worker on Forward Operating Base War Eagle in northern Baghdad Sept. 16. Valek serves as senior NCOIC of badge operations with Company A, 3rd Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, MultiNational Division-Baghdad. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Zach Mott, 3rd BCT PAO, 4th Inf. Div., MND-B)

Capt. Mike Poaletti, commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd BCT, 4th Inf. Div., and the FOB War Eagle mayor, said he appreciates the biometric scanning.

“They enhanced force protection by screening local nationals with the (intelligence) system. Their screening enabled us to keep unwanted personnel off the FOB,” he said.

There are two Striker Brigade Soldiers who are primarily responsible for the biometric screening and badge issuing operations on FOB War Eagle. Staff Sgt. Matthew Valek, a Ceres, Calif., native, who serves as the senior NCOIC of badge operations, has seen the benefits of his works. In four months of operations he has identified one previously identified insurgent.

Staff Sgt. Matthew Valek, senior NCOIC of badge operations uses a biometric camera.
Staff Sgt. Matthew Valek, a Ceres, Calif., native, uses a biometric camera to store data for a worker on Forward Operating Base War Eagle in northern Baghdad Sept. 16. Valek serves as senior NCOIC of badge operations with Company A, 3rd Special Troops Battalion, 3rd BCT, 4ID, MNDB. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Zach Mott, 3rd BCT PAO, 4th Inf. Div., MND-B)

“It is reassuring to know that each local national we hire has not been involved in insurgent activities before. Force protection is important to us,” Valek said.

First Lt. George Rolston, the War Eagle Base Defense Officer, said he agrees.

Staff Sgt. Matthew Valek uses a biometric camera to store data for a worker on FOB Eagle.
Staff Sgt. Matthew Valek, a Ceres, Calif., native, uses a biometric camera to store data for a worker on Forward Operating Base War Eagle in northern Baghdad Sept. 16. Valek serves as senior NCOIC of badge operations with Company A, 3rd Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, MultiNational Division – Baghdad.(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Zach Mott, 3rd BCT PAO, 4th Inf. Div., MND-B)

“Badges are critical. They enable us to quickly identify local nationals and vehicles allowed on the FOB. Their badges explicitly state who is authorized where and with what; it’s a big help,” said Rolston, a Conrad, Iowa, native, who serves with Company B, 3rd STB, 3rd BCT, 4th Inf. Div.

The Soldiers of Company A and Base Defense work hand-in-hand to ensure optimal force protection on FOB War Eagle. Their hard work is amplified by other brigade’s biometric efforts resulting in a vastly improved, theater-wide tracking effort.

By 1st Lt. Delaney Brown