By: U.S. Army Spc. Cody Barber
LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – The Pathfinders have numerous tools in their arsenal to facilitate stability and security in Operation Enduring Freedom. Soldiers with Company F, 2nd Aviation Assault Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, use tactical site exploitation as one of those tools to obtain evidence to a crime.
“Tactical site exploitation entails an understanding of a scene and being able to analyze and preserve a scene,” said U.S. Army Capt. Ric Jones, a native of Bethlehem, Pa., Pathfinders company commander. “It focuses on the actions taken by soldiers at the point of initial contact.”
tactical site exploitation is the act to ensure that documents, material and personnel are identified, collected and evaluated in order to facilitate follow-on actions.
“Whether its weapons, drugs or any other contraband, we preserve the fingerprints and biometrics off of the evidence so we can get a conviction of the enemy personnel,” said Jones.
The Army has come a long way in being able to link evidence to criminals and Jones said that’s why he wants to make sure his unit is 100 percent trained in TSE.
“They need to understand that when they arrive to a scene they need to know the importance of the evidence,” said Jones. “It’s evidence that links the perpetrator to the crime and them knowing TSE will pay off dividends in the end as a force multiplier.”
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. William Hacker, a native Bradenton, Fla., squad leader Company F, 2nd AAB, 82nd CAB, said that knowing how to perform TSE is helping them out on the battlefield.
“When we do a raid into a building and we gather the evidence, we’re able to convict the person we went after,” said Hacker. “That’s important because by doing that [TSE] we are helping get the bad guys off the field.”
When soldiers conduct a patrol they use the biometric automated toolset and the handheld interagency identity detection equipment on individuals to collect and store critical biometric data, said Hacker.
Combined that equipment with evidence they pull from a scene, they are able to aid in the process of linking individuals to a certain crime.
“We get the evidence and biometrics and maybe a few months later another unit BATs and HIIDEs an individual and it’s a match,” said Hacker. “So then right away they can detain that individual [and that person] can be convicted for an incident that happened a month earlier.”
The evidence they obtain goes to a biometrics cell such as the Expeditionary Forensic Laboratory at Bagram Air Field.
Getting evidence is not only important for coalition forces but since the Afghans are taking charge it’s important for the Afghan judicial system, said Jones.
‘It’s like being in the states, you need evidence to convict,” said Jones. “It’s important for the development of the court system to make sure the right people are being prosecuted.”
U.S. Army Cpl. Samuel Murphy, a native of Gainesville, Fla., a mission gun team leader with Company F, 2nd AAB, 82nd CAB, said that’s it’s been very rewarding being a Pathfinder.
“It’s defiantly been fulfilling,” said Murphy. “To know that we were well trained and well prepared, the enemy never had a chance.”