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Photo Information

Lance Cpl. Andrew Derr, Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, scans an Afghan man's retinas with the Biometric Enrollment and Screening Device while conducting counter-insurgency operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan, July 17.

Photo by Cpl. Alejandro Pena U.S. Marine Corps

New biometrics device helps Marines determine friend or foe

20 Aug 2013 | Bill Johnson-Miles, MCSC Corporate Communications Marine Corps Systems Command

Marine Corps Systems Command has made it easier for Marines to tell the bad guys from the good guys. Within six months after receiving an Urgent Statement of Need, MCSC’s Force Protection Systems team, under Marine Air-Ground Task Force Command, Control and Communications, also called MC3, coordinated with the Army to field the Biometric Enrollment and Screening Device to warfighters in Afghanistan.

The BESD system is an ultra lightweight, ruggedized, handheld portable device that collects and stores biometrics information. It compares and matches fingerprints, iris images and facial photos against an internal biometric database to identify individuals encountered on the battlefield. It is an enabler in the areas of detainee management and questioning, base access, counterintelligence screening, border control and law enforcement.

“The BESD provides Marines the ability to identify friendly or neutral individuals’ true identities while denying the enemy anonymity,” said Ilich Bello, FPS senior program analyst. “It supports the biometric enterprise requirement to capture forensic-quality rolled fingerprints, and meets Department of Defense and FBI standards.”

According to FPS authorities, for the past 12 months more than 2,000 Marines and coalition warfighters have received BESD training, and in turn, they have enrolled about 19,000 persons of interest resulting in more than 300 placed on a watch list.

The early assets were fielded as “theater-provided equipment, as an interim and immediate fielding solution,” said Sarah Longava, Identification and Detection Systems team lead for FPS.

On May 30, the MC3 program manager approved the fielding of the BESD assets to Marine units as a formal fielding. Since then the new biometric devices have been fielded to I, II and III Marine Expeditionary Forces, and to the Command and Control Training and Education Center of Excellence on Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.

“The successful fielding decision culminates more than a year's worth of hard work by all members of FPS to stand-up an acquisition program to ensure that the fielded capability is safe, suitable and supportable,” Bello said.

“The primary accomplishment was the team’s ability to facilitate rapid procurement and fielding of BESD assets through the Army Biometrics Program Office,” Longava added. “Thanks to extensive negotiations in establishing a memorandum of agreement with the Army, all the entities and stakeholders worked together to devise a plan to ensure the system was deployed. We are very proud to have met our customer’s expectations in providing an upgraded capability for biometrics collection.”