MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. – The Marine Corps plans to field a portable biometric capability that discerns friend from foe on the battlefield.
The Identity Dominance System-Marine Corps Increment 2 is a handheld device capable of capturing biometric data—including fingerprints, iris and face. Marines can compare this information with an existing database to ascertain a suspect’s identity.
“With the IDS-MC Increment 2, operators can determine if a suspect is nefarious or on a watchlist,” said Sarah Swift, former team lead for Identity Operations at MCSC.
The device is smaller, more ergonomic and more user-friendly than the first version of the system. IDS-MC Increment 2 comprises enhanced matching algorithms, rapid processing speed and data synchronization capabilities enabling Marines to share data across the battlespace without manually submitting information at the tactical edge, said Swift.
“IDS-MC Increment 2 allows Marines to share information quicker,” she said. “As a result, the operator on the ground can make an informed decision more quickly.”
The device also lightens the load for Marines. Teresa Sedlacek, the lead systems engineer for Identity Operations at MCSC, emphasized the importance of the technology’s compactness, noting how users can carry it in a cargo pouch.
“With the smaller form-factor, it allows Marines to enroll suspects and access their weapon if necessary,” said Sedlacek. “The device gives them more control at an entry control point, and it gives them the technical rigor they lacked previously.”
System reaches major milestone
In June 2018, MCSC’s Rapid Innovation Fund program awarded a contract to Incadence Strategic Solutions Corporation on behalf of MCSC’s Command Element Systems.
Under Secretary of Defense guidelines, the goal of the RIF program is to, “stimulate innovative technology from small businesses that resolve operational challenges or other critical national security needs and transition the technology into defense acquisition programs.”
The program office was tasked with developing a next-generation biometric mobile collection device. In fourth quarter 2019, IDS-MC Increment 2 received a favorable Milestone C full-rate production, allowing MCSC to award a contract and eventually field.
Prior to achieving Milestone C, the Identity Operations Team leveraged various user assessments to solicit feedback from Marines. The most notable user evaluation occurred in April 2019, when dozens of Marines from I, II and III Marine Expeditionary Forces tested IDS-MC Increment 2.
The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, said Sedlacek.
“We sought user input throughout this process,” added Swift. “Fostering user input is a good way to go after the Commandant’s Planning Guidance of ensuring we’re getting the best operator-informed capabilities to Marines.”
IDS-MC Increment 2 offers the modernization capabilities Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David Berger outlined in the CPG, said Swift. The Corps is also collaborating with industry partners and naval counterparts to enhance their forensic technology, which speaks to the naval integration aspect of the CPG.
“We’re excited about leveraging potential partners in the near future to ensure these capabilities can be taken shipboard as well,” said Swift.
A lifesaving capability
Keystella Mitchell, an IDS-MC Increment 2 program analyst, underscored the importance of the system for the Corps. As she explained, a device that removes guesswork from an aspect of a mission can help bring Marines back safely.
“In today’s environment, it is hard to determine who is friend or foe because we are not fighting a traditional battle now,” said Mitchell, a retired Marine Corps major. “That is what makes this system so important.”
Cameron Whitelam, a system engineer for the Identity Operations Team, noted the system is vital for identifying bad actors and preventing them from entering designated areas, such as military base.
“IDS-MC Increment 2 truly saves Marines’ lives,” he said.
The system is projected to be fielded in the spring of 2020.
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