The device is a SEEK II -- Securte Electronic Enrollment Kit and Multimodal Identification Platform -- built by Cross Match Technologies. The device is probably best known for helping Navy SEALs identify Osama Bin Laden on the raid in which the former head of Al Qaeda was killed.
Marines have received 334 SEEK IIs over the past year, according to Corps officials. The devices have been sent to the I, II, and III Marine Expeditionary Forces, as well as the Command and Control Training and Education Center of Excellence on Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.
The Army also took part in the program, but it's unclear how many SEEK IIs soldiers have received thus far. When we hear back from the Army, we'll update those numbers.
The SEEK II collects biometric data on individuals by recording finger prints, an iris scan, and a facial image scan. It then compares that data to a watchlist that can include up to 120,000 people.
Thus far, Marines have used the SEEK II to scan and enroll 19,000 people in Afghanistan. Of those 19,0000, 300 have been placed on a watch list, according to the Marine Corps.
The device is built for all conditions including harsh environments. It's connected via 3G communications and can store 2 GB of dynamic random access memory. The iris scanner features 1.3 megapixel IR sensors and can match an iris against 500,000 samples every second. The SEEK II is also qualified to collect finger prints to the FBI Image Quality Specification.
Cross Match Technologies President and CEO David Buckley said the company has shipped at least 15,000 SEEK II's to military personnel and groups around the world.
"This device is often listed by the troops as nearly as essential as their weapon, as the world has changed, and we don’t always know just by looking whether the person is a friend or a foe," Buckley said in an email to Military.com.
Biometric devices have been in use by U.S. troops. Notably, soldiers used them in Iraq as part of the counter insurgency strategy.
The SEEK II ended up in Marines and soldiers hands after an Urgent Statement of Need was issued. Six months later the devices began arriving in Afghanistan last summer.