Friend-or-foe biometricsU.S. Marines train in collect biometrics, evidence

Published 6 December 2011

U.S. Marines train in an “Afghan” city built inside a California Marines base; they train in foot-patrols, room clearing, and search operations where they collected biometric data and other evidence on citizens displaying suspicious behavior or possessing contraband


Biometrics is now part of military training for some unites of the U.S. Marines. Military policeman with Combat Logistics Battalion (CLB) 4 participated in tactical site exploitation training at the training city of Wardah-Mir, Marine Air Ground Combat Center Twenty-nine Palms, California, on 18  November.

The Marines conducted foot-patrols, room clearing, and search operations where they collected biometric data and other evidence on citizens displaying suspicious behavior or possessing contraband.

“We are trying to give the Marines the skill set to assist the Afghan government in criminal prosecutions and to help teach the Afghan National Police these skills,” said Patrick Garrahan, law enforcement professional, Tactical Training Exercise Control Group, MAGCC Twenty-nine Palms.

Wardah-Mir is a city within MAGCC Twenty-nine Palms designed for the purpose of large-scale urban training operations and includes actors who portray both Afghan citizens and insurgents to give Marines a training environment similar to situations on the ground in Afghanistan, according to Garrahan.

The CLB-4 Marines, assigned to Combat Logistics Regiment 3, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, worked with infantry Marines from 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, during the training evolution.

A Marine Corps release reports that the ground and combat logistics Marines joined for the training evolution to learn a skill set that either group could be expected to use when forward deployed.

“Every day in Afghanistan, any Marine outside the wire has a chance to conduct TSE operations, and it is important they have a good knowledge of how to do that,” said Garrahan.

The three-day training evolution included classroom sessions, practical application of TSE [tactical support element], and evidence processing, according to Garrahan.

The Marines practiced several TSE scenarios, including vehicle and home searches, where they also applied military operations in urban terrain techniques.

“We cordoned-off the area, provided perimeter security, and conducted room clearing before executing the TSE,” said Sgt. Joseph R. Apsey, security team leader, Company B, CLB-4.

Suspects were processed using a handheld interagency identity detection equipment system, which compared their biometric data, such as fingerprints and iris scans, to a central database, according to Apsey.

The system allows Marines positively to identify individuals wanted for questioning or detainment.

The Marines also collected and processed evidence, such as bomb-making materials, weapons and ordnance during the training.

Using TSE to gather and consolidate this evidence is a significant step toward catching bomb makers and intercepting bomb-making materials, which lowers the number of improvised explosives devices built and employed, according to Apsey.

The tactics and techniques the Marines learned during the course offer them another tool to help the government of Afghanistan and the Afghan National Police improve security in the country.

“The techniques we learned here will help us capture insurgents and track down the bigger fish, which will help us accomplish our overall mission of making Afghanistan more secure,” said Apsey.