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As of last week, there is now a U.S. Government national security agency called the Biometrics Identity Management Agency (BIMA). It supersedes a Biometrics Task Force that was established in 2000.
Though nominally a component of the Army, the biometrics agency has Defense Department-wide responsibilities.
“The Biometrics Identity Management Agency leads Department of Defense activities to prioritize, integrate, and synchronize biometrics technologies and capabilities and to manage the Department of Defense’s authoritative biometrics database to support the National Security Strategy,” according to a March 23 Order (pdf) issued by Army Secretary John M. McHugh that redesignated the previous Biometrics Task Force as the BIMA.
Biometrics is generally defined as “a measurable biological (anatomical and physiological) [or] behavioral characteristic that can be used for automated recognition.”
“Biometric data [are] normally unclassified,” according to a 2008 DoD directive (pdf). “However, elements of the contextual data, information associated with biometric collection, and/or associated intelligence analysis may be classified.”
“Biometrics-enabled Intelligence [refers to] intelligence information associated with and or derived from biometrics data that matches a specific person or unknown identity to a place, activity, device, component, or weapon that supports terrorist / insurgent network and related pattern analysis, facilitates high value individual targeting, reveals movement patterns, and confirms claimed identity.”
“Biometrics is an important enabler that shall be fully integrated into the conduct of DoD activities to support the full range of military operations,” the 2008 directive stated.
“Every day thousands of [biometric] records are collected and sent to the Department of Defense (DOD) Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) to store and compare against existing records,” a 2009 DoD report (pdf) said. “The technology is improving such that a submission from theater [e.g., in Afghanistan] can be searched in the DOD ABIS and a response sent back to theater in less than two minutes.”
“Realtime positive identification of persons of interest enables Coalition forces to target, track, and prosecute known or potential adversaries,” the DoD report said.