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Army Wants to Automate Base Access With Facial Recognition at Drive-Thru Checkpoints

The proposed system uses a reliable form of facial biometric identification but would need to control for variables like weather and low light.

The Army wants to make sure drivers entering bases through automated checkpoints are, in fact, who they claim to be, and is developing a new biometric camera system to assist.

The military branch issued a call on its Small Business Innovation Research, or SBIR, broad agency announcement—a contract vehicle used for working with small businesses on phased, iterative development programs—seeking early-stage design for a camera system able to pull usable images of drivers approaching checkpoints and matching those photos against a facial biometric database.

“The results would be displayed to the guard with a photo of the driver indicating an access granted or access denied response in time to allow uninterrupted vehicle traffic flow for approved users,” the call states.

For this specific use, the Army would compare the images taken by the camera with a preset gallery of approved entrants. This method threads the needle between one-to-one verification methods, which compare a new image with known photos of a person to verify their identity, and one-to-many identification algorithms, which compare an image to a broad database in search of the person’s identity.


Army probes missing rifle from National Guard unit deployed to the Capitol

04/01/2021 08:49 PM EDT

The Army has dispatched its in-house criminal investigative arm to probe the potential theft of a rifle from the D.C. National Guard while the unit was training in Virginia three weeks ago, an Army spokesperson confirmed on Thursday.

The M4 rifle and its scope went missing around March 11, according to two people familiar with the investigation, as members of a quick reaction force that was formed to protect the U.S. Capitol were training at a weapons range at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia.

A misplaced or unaccounted-for rifle is a major security risk, Guard members said, especially due to the current mission of securing the Capitol after a mob of insurrectionists breached the building on Jan. 6. The nation’s capital remains on high alert nearly three months after the attack, amid continued warnings about potential extremist threats to the area.


Naval Academy Seeking Student Vaccines for Summer Training

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Naval Academy is developing plans to begin vaccinating midshipmen this month so students can deploy to ships and with Navy teams as part of their training this summer, Vice Adm. Sean Buck told Congress Tuesday.

If the vaccines are available, the midshipmen would be the first military academy students to receive the COVID-19 shots. The plans come as the Naval Academy wrestles with a new uptick in positive coronavirus cases, and has locked down the campus in Annapolis, Maryland, for 10 days. Students have been restricted to their rooms for classes and meals, and can go outside for a maximum of two hours a day, with only one roommate.

The lockdown was announced on Sunday, and includes the suspension of sports events and practices, other than the men’s varsity basketball team, which will participate in postseason play because the athletes have been isolated since last week.

Speaking to the House Defense Appropriations subcommittee, Buck said that he’s given Navy leaders a timeline for when he’d like to begin giving vaccines to midshipmen who will be deploying out to the fleet.

Generally, students go out on fleet cruises in the summer after their freshman year, do a four-week training stint in the fleet after their sophomore year and go on a higher-level fleet cruise after their junior year. Often the training is part of the process to determine what service job interests them.


West Point football was all-White until 1966. So why does this 1920s photo show an all-Black squad?

National Archives scans reveal rare images of a Black team at the then-segregated military academy.

Richard Schneider had just scanned the old negative of a West Point football team into his computer. It was a classic black-and-white shot from the 1920s — linemen posed in formation, the center about to snap the ball.

It was one of thousands of fragile West Point nitrate images he had retrieved from a refrigerated vault at the National Archives’ site in College Park, Md. He opened a program to flip the negative to positive and clicked invert.

To his surprise, the image that popped up showed a team of all African American players. But the U.S. Military Academy did not have its first varsity Black football player until 1966, 40 years later.

“Who are these guys?” he said he wondered.

Schneider had opened a fascinating window into West Point’s past — a time when, amid entrenched racial segregation, units of the famous African American troops known as Buffalo Soldiers were brought to West Point to teach horsemanship.