Biometrics and a different side of the Afghan war

…from the Durango Herald:

“You never know who is coming through the gate – it is very important for me to see that I’m getting kids inside the gate and getting (them) to treatment they’re not going to receive anywhere else,” he said.

To ensure the hundreds receiving care each day are safe, Silvia and other troops scan each person’s eyes and fingers with high-tech biometric scanners that provide access to individual information.

Biometrics and “Green on Blue” Violence in Afghanistan

Another ‘green-on-blue’ attack kills NATO troop; 10 dead in 2 weeks (Stars & Stripes)

Afghanistan ‘insider’ attacks pose threat to West’s exit strategy (Stars & Stripes)

How to guard against such attacks is the subject of considerable debate in military leadership circles, because overtly heavy-handed measures can send a signal to the Afghans that they are not trusted, which can be taken as an insult. And in traditional Afghan culture, perceived insult can swiftly lead to exactly the sort of violence the attacks represent.

Efforts on the Afghan side include embedding undercover intelligence officers in some battalions, and stricter scrutiny of recruits, including the collection of biometric data to compare against a database of known insurgents. Some observers, though, believe the safeguards built into the recruitment process, including the requirement that village elders vouch for those who want to join the army, are routinely bypassed in many provinces.

Biometrics can help with identity management but they are always just a part of an overall organizational plan.

This short passage touches on a few important issues: technology, managing people, managing a security regime once it’s in place. All must work together in furtherance of organizational goals. If one leg of the stool goes, the whole structure is at risk. For some organizations that means embarrassing CEO speeches and annoyed customers. For others the results are utterly tragic.

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