(RT) – Officials at US Special Operations Command said they were testing rapid DNA scanners for use in sensitive overseas missions, citing DNA identification of Osama Bin Laden in the 2011 raid as a model for future targeted operations.
Two types of devices are currently being tested at “forward
locations,” a representative of the US Special Operations
Command (SOCOM) confirmed to Defense One. While the exact location of the
tests was not revealed, the magazine mentioned “midnight
raids in places like Pakistan and Syria.”
Because the program is very new, “we’re saving it for the
juicy missions,” said Michael S. Fitz, manager of the
Sensitive Site Exploitation Special Reconnaissance, Surveillance
& Exploitation program at SOCOM.
“These things are downrange and we’re spending a year
gathering data – on the utility, on how well is it working, the
match rate, how well are the operators keeping them up and
running,” Fitz told Defense One.
Two devices being tested are the RapidHIT 200, from the
California-based company IntegenX, and the DNAscan from the
Massachusetts-based NetBIO. The devices weigh about 60 pounds
(27kg) apiece, and are about the size of a photocopying machine.
Each costs about $250,000. They only require a single operator
and can turn out a result in 90 minutes.
“In the past, when we captured DNA, the guy would put it in
an envelope, send it back to the States and two or three weeks
later, he would get a result,” said Fitz. While that may
work for the judiciary, it was worthless for the military’s
purpose of confirming targets.
“Our whole program is built around follow-on targeting. We
don’t gather biometrics for criminal prosecution,” Fitz
said. “Our primary objective is actionable intelligence for
Fitz brought up the 2011 Bin Laden raid, where the terrorist
mastermind was reportedly identified via DNA analysis. The idea
behind the program is to extend the same treatment to future
“terrorist suspects and insurgents” targeted by US
special operations teams.
According to the official, the ultimate goal is to have a DNA
reader the size of a cell phone, rugged and battery powered, that
could be used by soldiers to collect DNA during the mission, and
connect to a database to verify the results.
Such devices do not yet exist, however. The earliest a prototype
might be available for testing is 2019, and that would require a
Another problem is the lack of records in the database. Current
databases only have records on US citizens. Very little DNA
collection has been done in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan,
Iraq and Syria, Fitz explained, adding that the military saw
little use for the process at the time since getting DNA results
was taking too long.
He compared DNA scanners to currently used biometric technology.
“When we first went out with fingerprints we got about a 5
percent match rate. Now we’ve populated the database, so we get
40 percent match,” said Fitz. “You’ve got to start
This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license.