WASHINGTON – A soldier's name, rank and serial number will no longer be enough for a Pentagon that is increasingly worried about security. Fingerprints and other physical characteristics will be encoded on future versions of military identification cards, Pentagon officials said Friday.
The "biometrics" data, most frequently seen only in futuristic movies, will include fingerprints, hand shapes, iris patterns, and voice and facial prints.
Not only will the IDs be used to gain entry into bases and Department of Defense offices, but they will be used alongside ID cards and passwords used to log on to Pentagon computers. Those terminals will then only grant access to the files that the workers are cleared to call up.
"The point of all of this is to allow people to have broader access to information, freely, over a network," John Stenbit, the Pentagon's chief information officer.
Computers will recognize who is on the network and will track what Web sites are viewed, e-mails sent and files retrieved.
The system will also provide a layer of security for users because encrypted e-mail will be protected from unauthorized users, Stenbit said.
Already one million cards have been handed out with computer chips that record military information underneath the picture. At Friday's demonstration of the new technology, Army Spc. Trenton Dugan, who got the one-millionth ID card, sent reporters an encrypted e-mail to the Defense Department press office.
The high-tech ID cards will be available to the more than three million military and civilian Defense Department workers in the next several years.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.