Retina scanning Iraqi recruits

In today’s United States Department of Defense Image Gallery is this photo:

An Iraqi army recruit has his retina scanned with a Biometric Automated Toolset System at the Iraqi army recuiting station in Fallujah, Iraq, March 28, 2006. DoD photo by Cpl. Spencer M. Murphy, U.S. Marine Corps. (Released)

I thought it was sorta cool, and I found more info on the Biometric Automated Toolset System in this March 2005 Security Products article:

BAT provides users with various forms of functionality not otherwise available, such as iris recognition. The BAT system incorporates a handheld iris recognition device developed by Securimetrics Inc., of Martinez, Calif. Iris recognition is scalable, fast and capable of providing real-time responses. The recognition provides extremely accurate identification (false acceptance rate is 1 in 1.2 million), performing both un-tethered and tethered enrollment authentication.

This specific recognition device represents each individual iris as a small, 512-byte IrisCode and can function as a standalone device or in combination with custom network applications for identity recognition, security and tracking. Last year, the Army deployed an advanced prototype of this technology for use by Special Operations forces in Iraq.

BAT incorporates a face recognition engine developed by Viisage/Lau Technologies Inc., of Littleton, Mass. Recognition is scalable up to tens of millions of faces and capable of providing real-time response. The recognition process represents faces as an extremely concise 128-byte “eigenface” template for minimal storage and enhanced search speed. Viisage provides a full family of facial recognition products that include FaceEXPLORERTM, a powerful and scalable image retrieval and analysis database product.

Also of interest is an article on BATS training for the 1-22 Infantry Regiment which notes the use of BATS to identify prisoners and suspects on the scene of incidents such as an IED blast. The soldiers can quickly scan those in the area and cross-reference the results with suspects at other IED scenes.

As for army recruits, I suspect that their scans are also cross-checked against the prisoner and suspect databases. I hope they’re also cross-checked against the prisoner and suspect databases.

The scanner of choice seems to be the PIER



  • BATS has some amazing capabilities. They need it on the Mexican border. Getting a retina scan can take a long time if the subject doesn’t want to cooperate. Most of the larger FOB’s have Force Protection Screening Cells that provide the ID cards for the locals that work on base, and they work with BATS all day long.

  • phyche says:

    Your article has errors. retina != iris They are two totally different things yet you mix them freely. Ahd ‘eigenfaces’ are used for facial recognition, not iris, yet you show a nice iris picture next to the comment. Since retina scanning is rarely implemented and the picture seems to have been taken directly from Dr. Daugman’s (the creator of the iris recognition alogrithm most likely being used) webpage, it’s probably iris scanning.

  • Murdoc says:

    Psyche: Yes, you’re right that I didn’t differentiate between iris and retina scanning and I probably should have noted it. Thanks. I titled the post ‘Retina’ because that is what the photo was captioned by the source even though I thought it was really probably iris scanning. As for the photo of the eye, yes it is of the Afghan Girl and used iris scanning as I noted. The facial recognition quotation was made because facial recognition is part of the BAT System, not as a description of the eye photo. BAT uses iris, facial, and fingerprint ID. However, I really should have made the point that BATS uses iris and not retina scanning because the headline (based on the caption from the source) was misleading.

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