Dumping of military equipment at Tacoma landfill spurs inquiry

Staff writerOctober 25, 2013 

Dozens of U.S. Army HIIDE4 biometric collection devices were dropped at the Tacoma landfill last week. They’re commonly used by soldiers in Afghanistan.

COURTESY PHOTO

Army police have opened an investigation into a pile of military equipment that was dropped off at the Tacoma landfill last week, a spokesman for Joint Base Lewis-McChord said Friday.

Photographs of the material showed dozens of biometric scanning devices soldiers use in Afghanistan to collect fingerprints and iris scans of people they encounter on patrols.

They’re common tools among infantry units, but could be used by any troops heading outside the wire to meet with Afghans. Lewis-McChord has three infantry brigades that contain about 13,000 soldiers.

The devices, known as Handheld Interagency Identity Detection Equipment (HIIDE), would not have much use for civilians. Soldiers use them to enroll foreigners in a database that can be checked to identify insurgents. They’ve been standard equipment in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A person who saw the gear told The News Tribune the material arrived at the landfill Oct. 19. The images the newspaper obtained show military serial numbers. Some of the material appeared to be new and was in fresh packaging.

Lewis-McChord spokesman Joe Kubistek confirmed an investigation was underway by the Army’s Criminal Investigative Division.

The images looked suspicious to Lewis-McChord officials, who did not know why the material was in the landfill, he said.

Adam Ashton: 253-597-8646
adam.ashton@thenewstribune.com

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