A year ago Afghan tribesmen, with two months of NATO training and $70 bucks a month in NATO pay in their pockets, helped repel a major Taliban assault on the southern town of Chora.
But in April NATO decided the tribesmen — Afghanistan’s version of the “Sons of Iraq” militias — were a security risk, and fired them all. “The fix?” I asked in a piece for Wired.com. “Marines, of course, armed with fingerprint pads, iris scanners and electronic databases.”
With these biometric tools, the Marines are planning to recruit new cops who have no ties to tribal warlords. “We know there are some shadow police and some militia-type police,” Lt. Col. Ray Hall, the Marine commander, said. “Once we go through the vetting process, we’ll have everybody screened … so that problem should go away.”
That means scanning every new recruit’s unique iris “eye prints,” logging their thumb prints and feeding it all into a growing, but still very spotty, national database linked to criminal and intelligence records. If a cop has any known warlord ties, he’s disqualified from serving.
CIA teams used FBI biometrics while hunting for known Al Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan in 2001, and since then, the military has gathered data on almost every Afghan it comes in regular contact with.
There’s one more problem. Not all the military databases can talk to one another.
(Photo: Air Force)