Biometric gear developed in West Virginia used locally -- and in Iraq

Published 20 March 2006

Biometric identification gear developed in West Virginia is being used at the West Virginia National Guard’s headquarters buildings, as well as ten field locations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iris-scanning identification technology produced through the U.S. Department of Defense’s Biometrics Fusion Center (BFC) in Clarksburg is being used to control access to key offices in the Guard’s headquarters building.

The Biometric Identification System for Access (BISA) modules were reportedly produced in response to the bombing of an American dining hall in Mosul, Iraq, in December 2004. “BISA was integrated here in West Virginia under an extremely tight time constraint,” said David Lohman, deputy director of the BFC. “Azimuth Corporation of Morgantown produced the first prototype within a month. Within another month, 10 of them were in the field and in use.” Nine of the ten BISA units were delivered to the Persian Gulf last August by C-130s from Charleston’s 130th Airlift Wing. The biometric units are used primarily to screen foreign personnel seeking to enter or work at American military bases. “The BISAs have already been successful in interdicting unauthorized personnel” attempting to gain access to the bases, Lohman said. Other biometric gear developed by the BFC is being used by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), and the Department of Defense’s U.S. Northern Command, which provides command and control functions for homeland defense.