FALLUJAH, Iraq -- Lance Cpl. Tyler Duffin spends his days inside a room full of high-tech gadgetry, where he monitors and photographs potential criminals for hours on end.
Although some here have taken to calling his workspace the BAT cave, this 20-year-old Michigan City, Ind. native is anything but a comic book caped crusader.
“BAT stands for Biometrics Automated Toolset,” explained Duffin, a 2003 Michigan City High School graduate. “It refers to the entire system we use here.”
He currently works as one of 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment’s Marines manning Entry Control Point-2, a series of stations in which all people entering northern Fallujah are checked for weapons, explosives and other illegal contraband. BAT is one system at the ECP used to keep the city free of insurgents.
“The people who want a badge (American issued ID card) come here to the BAT cave,” Duffin stated, signaling to his workstation’s computer and photographing equipment. “These badges allow them quick entrance through the ECP, so a lot of guys out there want them.”
To receive an ID, Duffin must first photograph each citizen’s eyes by using an iris scanner, one of BAT’s components.
“It takes a photo of their eye and catalogs it into a computer,” he explained. “We can also do fingerprint scans here.”
Once all scans are complete, Duffin inputs the resident’s vital statistics into the computer, such as name, nationality, date of birth, and marital status.
“Pretty much, anything you want to put in there, you can, including if they have a weapons possession card or any kids,” he stated.
He then photographs the resident and hands him or her a new plastic ID card. All the data Duffin inputted into the computer goes into a city-wide database, where military personnel can bring it up for later use.
“It’s similar to our military ID cards,” he added. “You can pull up all the information that was entered into the computer later on, if necessary. Every once in awhile, people from other ECPs will come to download their set of names into our computer, so we’ll have access to all the info that everyone has collected. It helps us identify everyone in the city.”
These American-issued badges also help the Marines here track potential insurgent activity, he added.
“It helps the grunts (infantrymen) when they go out on patrol. If they see someone doing something suspicious, they’ll stop them and ask them for their badge. If they detain the guy, they can punch his name into the system and look up his record to see if he’s done anything wrong in the past.”
If so, a red bar appears over the detainee’s name, alerting the Marines of troublemaking history. A resident who has been detained before will have an orange jumpsuit icon in the computer.
“This system lists everything from illegal weapons possession, to fighting with the ISF (Iraqi Security Forces) and Coalition forces,” Duffin stated.
The ID badges themselves also help Marines differentiate the citizens. Due to safety concerns, only residents, students and those on official business are allowed into the city. For this reason, letters on the ID cards denote what line of employment a citizen works.
“The ultimate goal is to get everyone a badge,” he added.
ID cards are only one measure the ECP Marines take to protect the city, however. To even enter the BAT cave, locals must first pass through numerous check stations manned by Iraqi soldiers and policemen.
At the first stop, Iraqi forces verify a resident’s ID card, and then send them to a baggage search area. Afterward, policemen search the males for contraband and weapons.
Meanwhile, female Marines pat down the Iraqi women in a separate booth.
The ECP also contains a vehicle check station, where ISF search every automobile and passenger.
Since Duffin’s battalion and ISF took charge of this ECP in mid-March, they have prevented numerous insurgents and contraband from entering Fallujah.
“The latest accomplishment was an informant who came over and told us about a large cache of weapons,” explained Staff Sgt. Edwin Mota, ECP-2 staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge. “We get a lot of informants because of the good job the ISF and Marines have been doing here.”
The Iraqi forces and Marines continue interdicting terrorist activity in their corner of Fallujah through their constant vigilance.
“I think this ECP has done a lot to keep terrorists outside the city,” Duffin stated. “We’ve taken lots of measures to prevent things like car bombs and insurgents from coming in.”