air command and staff college
Tracking Deployed Personnel:
Maintaining Visibility of Every Airman AND CIVILIAN
Paul Gift, CIV, AF
A Research Report Submitted to the Faculty
In Partial Fulfillment of the Graduation Requirements
Advisor: Dr. Gregory F. Intoccia
Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama
The views expressed in this academic research paper are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the US government or the Department of Defense. In accordance with Air Force Instruction 51-303, it is not copyrighted, but is the property of the US government.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
List of Figures
"Deployment visibility," also known as personnel accountability, is a process within the US Air Force (AF) that is designed to track the location of personnel who are on deployment orders. Personnel accountability is vital to maintaining AF forces and helps AF leadership know how to best direct human resources committed to support contingency operations.
This paper identifies significant problems that currently exist in maintaining AF personnel accountability through the deployment cycle, including in-transit visibility of personnel when they are diverted to another location while enroute to their deployed location, personnel not processing through and updating the Personnel in Support of Contingency Operations team of their arrival at the deployed location, and of knowing who is physically on the base at any time of the day. Through an evaluation framework, this paper examines how the AF can employ Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technologies to provide greater accountability of its deployed personnel.
This paper maintains that RFID technology offers a greater degree of accountability for deployed personnel than currently exists since RFID technology allows for instant accountability. While current AF personnel accountability technology only tracks a deployed person as they depart from their home station, reports to or deploys from a deployed location, RFID allows for more information on where someone is located at various points of time. This can prove beneficial in a dynamic theater of war environment, where, in the event of an attack, RFID can provide greater speed in accounting for forces or speed search and recovery missions.
When an airman or US Air Force (AF) civil servant deploys, the AF is tasked to accurately account for them at all times regardless of their location.  This "visibility", or accountability, as the paper will refer to it within the personnel context, allows various AF organizations to be able to track a deployed member’s travels and these include their home unit, the deployed unit, and the Combatant Commander.
Accountability of all deployed personnel rests with the Personnel Support for Contingency Operations (PERSCO) team at the deployed location. The PERSCO team maintains accountability of not only AF personnel, but of all personnel at its location. However, with the current technology, it is too easy for someone not to be accounted for by arriving on unit owned aircraft or another form of transportation and not in-processing through the local PERSCO office.
Whether the AF was using a non-networked computer with its own database (a stand-alone computer) or a networked computer system sharing a common database, it has always relied on persons physically processing a form of identification to account for the fact that a member has arrived or departed a location. The location can either be home station, an in-transit location, deployment or redeployment location. Once accounted for, the processes uses automation to inform their home unit and deployed unit of their location and status, but since it requires a person to physically start the process, it cannot truly be called automated.
After departing their home station and arrival at a deployed location, no further accountability of an airman is maintained until he or she redeploys home or is forward deployed to another location. The current accountability system also cannot identify who is presently located on the base or camp or who is currently occupying a specific structure at any moment throughout the day; all vital information in the event of an attack.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) systems use electromagnetic waves to transmit and receive information stored within a tag or transponder to an electronic reader. When linked to a software application it can scan and receive information at specific intervals or read a tag after passing a designated reader. RFID provides a truly automated method of providing visibility or accountability that businesses use it to account for their inventory, track products during their manufacturing, and provide visibility to the location of patients within a hospital. With the success of RFID in businesses to account for their material or personnel, the question to as is; How can the AF employ RFID technologies to provide greater accountability of its deployed personnel? The use of RFID technologies can provide and maintain greater accountability of AF deployed members by allowing instant accountability of its personnel at deployed locations or at any other site where a member may stop in route. It also provides for an automated method of readily tracking deploying personnel as they travel from one location to another.
Unlike the current accountability technology that only tracks when a member departs from, reports to, or deploys from a location, RFID can allow for the specific knowledge of who is at the location at a specific time and also of who is currently occupying a structure. This capability would have allowed for greater speed in accounting for the personnel after the Khobar Towers bombing and could have sped up search and recovery efforts by not having members search buildings where no one was occupying the structure prior to the attack.
Through the use of an evaluation framework, this paper will determine what RFID technologies can provide the ability to mitigate accountability problems currently experienced within the AF. The Personnel Accountability section of this paper will identify what is required by the AF for accountability of deployed personnel in the deployment cycle and discuss the problems and difficulties encountered during AF deployments, exercises, and crisis situations that required actual accountability actions to be performed. The Radio Frequency Identification section will identify current RFID technologies used today for cargo, industry, the growing use for personnel visibility, and the benefits of RFID versus other technologies. Unique issues for personnel visibility like security and privacy will also be addressed within this section. The Comparison of Proposed Radio Frequency Identification Technologies section will review the identified shortfalls and problems with personnel visibility and assess if RFID can overcome them. It will also allow the reader to determine which technology is most appropriate based on the criteria of; signal strength, security, privacy, durability, and longevity.
This paper will address several RFID technologies that can be applied to the tracking and accountability of deployed personnel. While DoD has mandated the use of RFID in the tracking and visibility of cargo, there has been no discussion on using the same technology for personnel. This paper will allow for that discussion and hopefully launch future research on other methods of using RFID technology like: not allowing a US weapon to be fired without the user having a US RFID or preventing fratricide by not allowing a US weapon to be fired if it detects a US RFID tag in the bullet’s path.
The mission is the man.
Saving Private Ryan
Being able to locate US military personnel who have deployed has plagued the Services since their inception and was the basis of the 1998 Dreamworks movie, Saving Private Ryan. The movie centered on an Army squad attempting to locate Private Ryan and return him to the United States after all of his brothers have perished in battle. The squad must follow clues of Private Ryan’s last know locations as they attempt to track him down and almost bring the wrong man back due to a mistaken identity with another Private Ryan. The US Air Force (AF) recognizes the importance of being able to locate its deployed personnel and has attempted to establish procedures to assure that it can.
"Visibility" of deployed personnel, referred to as personnel accountability within the personnel policy directives and regulations, is an inherent responsibility between leadership and their personnel.  Commanders must account for and maintain visibility of their personnel using established accountability and reporting systems. 
Accounting for deployed personnel provides AF military and civilian leadership with the visibility of what human resources are committed to contingency operations. Accountability also provides a historical record of who was deployed, where they were deployed, and for how long. This allows for the analysis of personnel data for their association with specific military operations and possible future programs, initiatives, medical counseling, and other entitlements for such things as Gulf War Syndrome or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Air Force Instruction (AFI) 36-3802, Personnel Readiness Operations, documents the procedures for accounting of deployed personnel. It states that the accounting of all deployed personnel rests with the Personnel Support for Contingency Operations (PERSCO) team and that it is to perform Total Force accountability. Accountability is for all operations, contingencies, or exercises. Total Force accountability is defined as the accurate accounting for all AF personnel at all times regardless of location. Total Force is defined as AF active duty, Air National Guard and Reserve that comprise the Air Reserve Component (ARC), and Department of the Air Force (DAF) civilians. It also includes contractors and other civilian personnel not employed by the Department of Defense (DoD) but supporting the Air Force mission such as members of the Red Cross, United Service Organization (USO), and consultants. The term can also be expanded to include in-place forces supporting contingency operations, other DoD civilians, other DoD-essential contractor personnel, other US Services, allied forces, coalition forces, and any other personnel.  To make the complex simple, they are tasked with the accountability of all personnel at their location and other locations that they service.
Currently, for every contingency or exercise deployment there is an overall Operation Plan (OPLAN) that will contain the identification of all the forces used to support that operation. That identification is created through the use of a Unit Line Number (ULN), a unique designation for each unit or Unit Type Code (UTC) that is used within the OPLAN. For the other services, no other breakdown is created. However, for the AF, it breaks the number of requirements found in each UTC into individual lines known as ULN Position Numbers. For example, a UTC comprised of 44 Security Forces would have 44 unique ULN Position Numbers. Every individual that deploys is assigned to a ULN Position Number which is updated with the deploying member’s Social Security Number.
Figure Total Deployed Personnel
(Data Courtesy of AF Deployed Personnel History File)
Figure Deployed Locations Supported
(Data Courtesy of AF Deployed Personnel History File)
In reviewing the AF Deployed Personnel History file, the AF has averaged over 20,900 deployed personnel since 2004 (Figure 1). Roughly over six percent of its force was deployed in a given year. That force supported on average, over 50 different locations (Figure 2), comprised of those located both overseas and within the United States.
Early Accountability Hardware
The first use of automation to account for deployed personnel was the AF system titled the Contingency Operation Planning and Execution System (COMPES). COMPES was divided into Manpower/Personnel and Logistical data. The Manpower and Personnel data consisted of deployment requirements and deployed personnel information and was exchanged between two systems: Manpower Personnel (MANPER) Base (MANPER-B) level (Figure 3) and MANPER-M, the Major Command (MAJCOM) level. MANPER-B was a ruggedized computer system that resided at every base and was deployed with the PERSCO teams to contingency and exercise sites. The forethought that went into the toughness of these machines would prove themselves later after one of the machines was able to survive terrorist bombing in 1996. MANPER-M resided on the Worldwide Military Command and Control (WWMCC) main-frame computers at each MAJCOM and was not deployable. Each MANPER-M and MANPER-B computer maintained its own database that was used to account for deployed personnel. Assuring that all the databases contained the same information would be one of the prime reasons for the MANPER system to be upgraded in the late 1990s.
Figure MANPER-B (circa 1990)
(Photograph courtesy of CMSgt Lisa Kuehnl)
Figure MANPER Data Flow
(Created by author from compiled MANPER text)
Keeping the information between each of the MANPER systems accurate and synchronized relied on the exchanging of information between the systems through data exports and imports (Figure 4), commonly called "packages", and was transmitted via the wing’s Communication Squadron using DoD’s Automatic Digital Network (AUTODIN). AUTODIN was normally used to send messages, so packages had to be coded to assure the packages were saved as a data file instead of being printing. Each package was then uploaded into the MANPER systems where the MANPER deployment databases were updated through the use of transaction records that added, changed, or deleted deployment taskings. 
Early Accountability Processes
For the MANPER hardware, the accountability process began when the MAJCOMs transmitted, in a data package, deployment information such as the OPLAN, UTC, ULN, and ULN Position Number to the deploying base and home station. That information would update each of the MANPER-B databases. When an individual was identified to fill a specific ULN Position Number, the deploying member’s Social Security Number (SSN) was entered into the ULN Position Number by the base’s personnel office. If the SSN matched an individual assigned to that base, a mini-personnel deployment record was created that contained many of the personnel attributes found in the individual’s full AF personnel record. For non AF personnel, the personnel office had to manually enter those pieces of information that uniquely identified the person deploying. After creating the mini-personnel deployment record for each deploying member the deploying personnel office would forward the package or packages to update the other MANPER computers using AUTODIN or the Defense Messaging Service (DMS)  . Only then was it possible for the gaining MAJCOM and PERSCO sites to know who was deploying into the theater and at their deployed locations.
When the member arrived at their deployed location, their record was updated with the member’s arrival information and the information was forwarded to the gaining command, owning command, and home station. To assure that arriving personnel were accounted for, the PERSCO team would meet arriving aircraft to obtain orders from the troop commander of all personnel on that flight. If an individual arrived and did not have a deployment record in MANPER-B, the PERSCO team would manually create the record and enter the member’s information based on the orders that were gathered. PERSCO had the responsible for accounting for everyone, even aircrews that are transient to that location, even if only for a single night.  For these transient crews the PERSCO team would have to work hand-in-hand with the services unit to assure that visiting personnel were not assigned quarters unless their orders were shown as reviewed by the PERSCO team. This would capture most visitors unless they had prearranged billeting in one of the unit’s quarters and skipped going to the service’s unit for quarters.
A Need to Modernize
After Desert Storm it was recognized by AF senior leadership that the service needed to maximize the use of networking computers and begin sharing a common database between all the MANPER systems. The AF software became known as the Deliberate Crisis Action Planning and Execution Segment (DCAPES) and runs on the classified and secure Global Command and Control System (GCSS) platform. Home station personnel offices use a classified personal computer to access DCAPES and deployed bases use a ruggedized laptop that access PERSCO functions through the Secure Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNet) using internet web based applications. This secure platform and software allows for the sharing of all deployment data between the bases and MAJCOMs. This has eliminated the need of sending packages of information between MANPER-M and MANPER-B. Since there is a single database on the server everyone sees the most current information for their profile.
Access to the deployment data in DCAPES is controlled by profiles in the user's account. The profiles identify the user’s MAJCOM, base or PERSCO team of assignment, and data is visible to them based on the profile in their account. 
Unlike the previous MANPER-M databases, DCAPES’ OPLAN database is now linked to the joint deployment database, known as the Joint Operation Planning and Execution System (JOPES). As the AF modifies its ULNs and UTCs, the joint level planners can view those changes and given the correct profile, view into the AF’s requirements that comprise the ULNs and UTCs.
Difficulties in Accountability
The early MANPER computers were stand-alone computers, meaning that each computer had its own database that was used to record and store deployed personnel information. This often meant that the supported MAJCOMs, supporting MAJCOMs, and deployed sites could each report different numbers of deployed personnel. As mentioned earlier, the MANPER system used packages of transactional updates that would need to be imported into the MANPER-M and MANPER-B systems in order to update their databases. This worked so long as each MANPER system processed the packages in the correct order. To maintain that order, each MANPER location had its own sequential counter for incoming and outgoing packages for each MAJCOM and deployed site in the AF and could not process packages out of order or if a sequence was missing. If any packages were missing it meant that the MANPER databases did not have the most current accountability of the personnel it deployed or received from other locations. This system relied on notifying the user that there is a problem only if a package is received out of sequence. For example, if the location sent three packages (numbers 003, 004, and 005) and only two were delivered for processing (numbers 003 and 004), the importing site would have no knowledge that package 006 was missing until it received package 007, which could be days or weeks later. This is how personnel could arrive at a deployed location and the PERSCO team did not have a deployment record already in the MANPER-B database prior to their arrival.
Missing packages had to either be retransmitted or the location that had sent the missing package had to create a new package that would totally refreshed the MANPER database. No other packages could be processed for the location with the missing package until one of these packages were received and processed.
Through the use of a shared database, DCAPES today has eliminated the problems of relying on sequential packages of data having to be processed and not having everyone being able to see the same deployed personnel records at the same time. However, there still exist other problems in obtaining that accountability and they can be grouped into four areas of accountability: home station, in-transit, deployment location, and redeployment or forward deployment to another location.
Personnel accountability for individuals as they leave their home station is rarely a problem, especially when departing aboard an aircraft. As personnel prepare to depart they are grouped together at a deployment center and processed according to the aircraft that is departing. The process though, still relies on physically obtaining a copy of the member’s order and then scanning the order or the member’s identification (ID) card to account for the member’s departure.
In-transit visibility (ITV), the ability to maintain accountability of deployed personnel as they travel from one location to another, is not difficult if the member departs on a single mode of transportation, like an aircraft, at their home station and then arrives at the deployed location without ever disembarking en-route. Difficulties arise when an aircraft must be diverted to another location for a myriad of reasons such as mechanical failure of the aircraft or weather. In order to show the deploying members being at a different location than originally projected, a PERSCO team, if available, must meet the aircraft and account for the passengers by obtaining a copy of their orders, scanning their ID cards or orders, and then importing that data into DCAPES. This updates the deployed personnel database and shows all the passengers as being gained at the temporary stopping location. When they are able to depart, PERSCO repeats a process similar to that performed at their home station but changes the status of everyone departing from that of gained to that of being forward deployed to their original deployment location. If the transient location is not serviced by PERSCO, the passengers’ exact accountability is not updated and their deployment records inaccurately show them as in-transit to their deployed location. 
Accountability at the deployed site relies on the PERSCO team meeting each arriving aircraft to perform a head-count by collecting orders and scanning them or the member’s ID card to account for everyone arriving. Accountability is lost on personnel that arrive using their own organic transportation (e.g. cargo planes, helicopters, or fighter), aircraft belonging to a deployed unit, or other means such as ground transportation that are not announced to the PERSCO team. Because these personnel did not process through PERSCO, they are not shown as arriving at the location and their accountability is incorrectly listed as their previous deployment location or home station. Compounding the problem of accounting for all deployed personnel is that AF personnel are not always deployed or working at a location that has a PERSCO team physically at that location. Some personnel are deployed to sites with Army units or sites that are geographically separated from a main operating base. These locations only have a servicing PERSCO team that is responsible for them. Accountability for those personnel relies on a point of contact at those locations that inform the servicing PERSCO team of gains and losses of AF personnel.  A process that is problematic at best.
After arriving at their base, no other accountability is maintained on deployed personnel while they are at their deployed location except when the member departs either to their home station or is forward deployed to another location. When the June 25, 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia occurred, there were 2,300 American airmen assigned to the American sector of the Khobar Towers compound.  That event presented several problems for personnel accountability or specifically, visibility of the personnel previously accounted for at that location. The first is who was on the installation at the time of the attack. The second was who still remained in the surviving and damaged structures. Third, after the massive evacuation of 202 wounded airmen by ambulances to the various civilian hospitals, who was evacuated? Which led to who was currently on the installation after the evacuations? Last, and related to the evacuation of personnel, was how to identify airmen at civilian hospital that were bandaged, swollen, and disfigured. In one instance an airman could not positively be identified as he was in a coma, on a respirator, disfigured, and resembled another airman who was also missing. It was not until dental x-rays could be taken and examined on June 29, 1996, that the identity of airman could be confirmed. 
A member of the Khobar Tower’s PERSCO team, shared that after digging through the debris on the PERSCO building’s floor they were able to locate the MANPER-B computer, monitor, and printer. After relocating to another building they were able to power the computer up and began printing out personnel rosters for each squadron so that the accountability process could begin. As personnel were accounted for on the rosters, they were updated into the MANPER-B database and new rosters would be printed. It was a process that continued every day until every squadron was 100 percent accounted. 
When the final accounting of the Khobar Towers personnel was performed, there were 19 killed and 327 reported as injured. The medical personnel reported nearly an additional 200 more injured, though it is believed that the true numbers was not really known since many airmen refused treatment until their more seriously wounded comrades were first treated. Others did not seek treatment and others who were scheduled to depart shortly after the explosion, sought treatment once they returned to their home station. 
The attack of an Army dining facility tent in Mosul, Iraq, 2004 killed 22 and presented similar problems for accountability and visibility as the Khobar Towers.  Though the Army does not maintain accountability of its personnel in the same way that the AF does, the attack would cause the same questions to surface that where asked at the Khobar Towers; who was in the tent and who would be evacuated.
Difficulties in the accounting of personnel as they transit from their deployed location to their home station are nearly the same as that of accounting for them when they arrived at the deployed site. If deployed personnel do not use a method of transportation identified to the PERSCO team, such as arriving aircraft or ground transportation, their deployment record will not show them as departing and the PERSCO team will still account for them as being at their location. It is only when the deployed member’s home station updates their deployed record to show that they have arrived that the deployed PERSCO team becomes aware of the person’s departure.
Manual versus Automated Tools for Accountability
The heart of accountability has always been dependent upon the PERSCO team updating the deployed personnel database as deploying members are gained, forward deployed, or returned to their home station. The terms manual and automated are a bit of a misnomer since the PERSCO team always manually gets a copy of the deployed person’s orders. The difference between the two is how the information gets updated into the DCAPES deployed personnel database.
Manually accounting for deployed personnel relies on the PERSCO team gathering the orders of all personnel arriving at the locations that they service. This can be accomplished by the PERSCO team meeting all the arriving aircraft or other transportation if the team is large and scheduled to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If the team is not large enough, they can work in conjunction with the services work center to assure that orders are collected on personnel that arrive after-hours and need sleeping facilities. For personnel deploying with Army units, the PERSCO team relies on someone within that unit to keep the PERSCO team updated of arriving and departing personnel  . With orders in hand, the PERSCO team begins updating the deployed personnel record or creates a record for non AF members within DCAPES with their arrival information.
Automated accountability is perform currently through the use of a hand-held scanner (Figure 5) that is able to read the bar codes located on the front of back of everyone’s military issued identification (ID) card, or the bar code that is printed on an individual’s deployment order
Figure Accountability Scanner
(Source: AF Agile Force Accountability Scanner User's Guide)
After all the personnel have had their ID cards or orders scanned, the PERSCO team creates an interface file using the scanner and an unclassified computer. The interface file is then imported into DCAPES where it accounts for each member.  Using a scanner speeds the PERSCO team’s processing times to identify personnel as either as being gained or lost from the deployed location since it doesn’t require them to locate the deployed personnel record within DCAPES and entering their status of being gained, forward deployed, or returning to their home station. However, not all teams use the scanners and rely on manually updating DCAPES using only the deployed personnel orders that are collected. Reasons vary for not using the scanner and range from not liking the scanner, a lack of training, or the scanner being unserviceable but not reported as broken. 
Within the AF and the PERSCO teams, "the mission is the man" as it attempts to accurately track the location and status of each deploying personnel and those of other Services or supporting personnel assigned to the locations they support. It is a process that is enhanced through the use of automation, but is not totally automated. A method of automated accountability and visibility does exist and utilizes the growing technology known as Radio Frequency Identification.
Radio Frequency Identification
History and Types of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
RFID systems use electromagnetic waves to transmit and receive information stored within a tag or transponder to an electronic reader. The reader acts as both the transmitter and receiver. There are many examples of RFID being used throughout everyone’s daily lives that range from the tire sensor that warns the driver a tire is low on pressure, an RFID tag in the car key to prevent the car from being stolen, a tag that is mounted within a vehicle that pays for access to a toll road, a card that allows access to a building, an identification tag for your pet that is implanted under its skin, or a tag within a pet collar for a dog or cat that automatically unlocks the pet door so that only the correct pet can enter the house.
Obtaining the information in a tag can be performed in two ways. The first requires no action on the part of the tag as the reader performs a mass broadcast to access what tags are within its range. To query for the information, typically an application on a server will command the transmitter to broadcast a radio signal to identify all the RFID tags within its transmission range. The tags broadcast back to the transmitter, now acting as a reader, all the data encoded within them (See Figure 6). Since the transmitter and reader act together to gather the information it is sometimes referred to as an "interrogator" or a "scanner" since it scans an area for tags. The second method of gathering the information in a tag will have the reader only broadcast when a tag is placed within the proximity of reader. Only then will the scanner broadcast the signal that queries for the information within the tag. As in the first method, the scanner then reads the data encoded within the tag.
Figure Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) System
(Created by author from compiled RFID text)
RFID tags typically are divided into two groups based upon how they transmit their information: active or passive. An active tag contains or uses an energy source that either originates from the tag’s infrastructure or uses an internal or an integrated power source such as a battery.  The limiting factor for an internal source of power is the stored energy that the tag can hold or access. One day-to-day example of an active tag can be found in the transponder of aircrafts. This transponder broadcasts information about the aircraft via radio waves that can be used by both air traffic control and other aircraft within the transponding aircraft’s flight path and it uses the electricity generated by the aircraft or its internal battery should an electrical problem exist.
The second group of RFID tags are classified as passive tags and do not require an internal or connected energy source. Without a power source these tags can be quite small. These tags do not require an energy source because a passive tag’s antenna and circuitry converts the radio wave being used to query its information into energy. This energy is then used to broadcast the tag’s identification and information back to the scanner.
Both tags are contained or surrounded in glass or a plastic layer to ensure the tag’s integrity and also to protect the antenna and circuitry from harmful environmental factors or physical conditions that could possibly damage it. The tag can them be attached with an adhesive on one side so that it can be adhered to a solid surface or in the case of clothing, sewn into the material.
RFID Compared to Other Automated Identification Methods
Klaus Finkenzeller in his book titled ‘RFID Handbook: Fundamentals and Applications in Contactless Smart Cards, Radio Frequency Identification and Near-Field Communications identified five automated identification systems that can be used; Optical Character Recognition (OCR), Bar Codes, Biometric, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), and Smart Cards.  For this discussion Smart Cards and RFID are grouped together since they both operation in a similar manner.
The best example for OCR identification can be found on bank checks where the account number and the federal bank routing number is printed at the bottom of the check using a specialized font. The uniqueness of OCR is that it is designed to be read by a scanner and a person with the same understanding. Bar codes use lines and gaps arranged in a predetermined order to represent data when it is scanned using a laser. Biometrics use physical deference found in humans such as fingerprints, voice identification, and, less commonly, retina identification.  .
RFID unlike the previously mentioned methods does not require direct contact or a line of sight for scanning. The two printed methods, OCR and bar codes, also have the requirement of needing to be presented to the scanner flat and clean in order to read the code.  RFID also allows for the mass identification of each tag at one time as compared to the other system that require the scanning or reading of the identification tag one-by-one.
Cargo and Material RFID Examples
In a 23 October 2003 news release, DoD stated that its new policy will require suppliers to put passive RFID tags on the lowest possible level of packaging by January 2005. In its rationale, DoD stated that using RFID technology would improve its inventory management by providing hands-off processing and could quickly account for and identify massive inventories. 
Walmart has been using RFID on their pallet cargo since 2005 and in 2010 began using it on the individual or stock keeping unit (SKU) level for better tracking and to prevent an item from becoming out of stock or identify items that are failing to sale. Walmart found that if it was able to quickly verify the actual quantities of items in a store and it could restock them at the correct rate of sale. Having RFID identify the location of its products also eliminated wasted man hours and increased the productivity of its employees by not having them searching for needed products throughout the store. 
Implementation of RFID for cargo, material, or equipment, minimizes time spent through the normal means of inventory processing. RFI technology allows for improved management and visibility of a company’s assets or products.
Bavarian Motor Works (BMW) utilizes RFID technology that has active tags attached to the hoods of its 5 and 7 series automobiles. The BMW factory in southern Germany uses nearly 70 readers at various assembly stations throughout the plant. The readers allows the managers to monitor where any car it at in the assembly process. This is possible because when the car body enters an interrogation zone of a reader, a proximity switch causes the scanner to query the tag. The tag will then transmit the information it contains. 
J. M. Schneider Meats, of Canada, utilizes RFID technologies to assure product identification and tracking. With RFID, the company can easily know exactly what meat being processed, its location, and which process the meat is currently undergoing. 
Exxon/Mobil utilizes a tag named the "SpeedPass", that is small enough to attach to a key ring and allows an Exxon/Mobil customer to conduct financial transactions such as buy gasoline or other store products without using cash or presenting a credit. The SpeedPass is linked to a customer’s account that contains information for a valid credit card. The tag contains a passive tag made of glass surrounded in plastic. Each tag has its own unique key and identification code number that is encoded when it was manufactured. When a customer passes the tag within range of the reader, the reader queries the tag with a challenge code. In response, the tag transmits its unique identification number and replies back to the challenge with the unique key from the tag. The reader calculates what the response to the challenge should be based upon the tag’s identification number. If the response matches the calculated value, it allows the financial action to take place. 
Personnel RFID Examples
One little known use of RFID technology being used for civilian personnel visibility is used in passports.  RFID chips are now placed in the back of the passport for increased security as the information stored on the chip is the same information contained in the passport to include a digital picture that can be used with face recognition technology. Another use of RFID for civilian personnel visibility can be found in the health care sector where hospitals are using RFID technology to show where patients are located within a hospital. At St. Vincent’s Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama RFID technology tracks the location of each patient and presents it on a large screen display  . It has also allowed the hospital to keep their beds filled at a higher rate since they accurately know when patients have been discharged.
A more whimsical use of the technology can be found at Great Wolf Lodge recreational parks, located throughout the United States, where patrons can wear an RFID wristband and at selected areas of the park, are able to have their picture taken and then posted online to their social media website. Thus, allowing the patrons to share their experience with all their friends. 
RFID technology for personnel accountability is already being used in identification badges for both government and commercial use. These badges must be presented in front of a scanner for access into a secure or restricted area. When the individual places their badge next to the scanner, the cardholder’s identification is broadcasted to the reader where it is verified and access is either granted or denied. These types of badges are commonly referred to as "proximity badges", "smart cards", or "contactless cards".
Unique Personnel Issues for an RFID Solution
Using RFID for personnel visibility presents some unique challenges that are not present when it is used for cargo or inventory. Among these are privacy and security issues.
Jeffrey Silva in his 2006 article, ‘RFID tracking gets 'thumbs down' from gov't panel’ identified that RFID for human identification has been reviewed and a report was delivered to Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Emerging Applications and Technology Subcommittee on the use of RFI[D]. At the time, the Bush Administration was considering using RFID as a means of human identification. The report urged the DHS to think twice about embracing RFID to keep tabs on citizens. 
Silva also conveyed that the report stated,
‘[The] use of RFI[D] in identification would tend to deprive individuals of the ability to control when they are identified and what information identification processes transfer. Finally, RFI[D] exposes identification processes to security weaknesses that non-radio-frequency-based processes do not share.’ 
Security becomes a key concern when RFID is used to monitor personnel as the information contained within the RFID tag is transmitted electronic through radio waves. Elliott Maxwell, from Pennsylvania State University and a policy adviser to EPCglobal®, a standard setting group for the Electronic Product Code™ (EPC) used to support RFID, stated that data broadcast by RFID tags can easily be intercepted and misused, by high-tech thieves. 
Thieves are not the only ones that could intercept information from RFID tags that are currently being carried by individuals. This area of concern relates to both privacy and security. IBM in 2006 received patent approval for an invention it called, "Identification and tracking of persons using RFID-tagged items." It stated that its purpose was to collect information about people so that it could be "used to monitor the movement of the person through the store or other areas."  A search of the U.S Patent Office’s online search engine using the term "Track Customers" will uncover over 200 patent applications that utilize some form of tracking customers.  Using technology associated with IBM’s and the other patents, a store could obtain various pieces of information from one or many of the RFID tags contained within customer’s credit cards or any other item they are carrying that use RFID tags. From that scan as they enter the door, the customer’s identification could be determined and their movement in and around the store could be tracked.
RFID has proven its success as indicated by its mandatory use by DoD for cargo, its use in business to maintain control and accountability of its products, and the emergent and increased use for the visibility of personnel. The question is not "Can RFID be used for deployed personnel accountability?", but "What RFID technology can be used to account for deployed personnel?". In order to answer that, a comparison of RFID technologies must take place.
Comparison of Proposed Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Technologies
In comparing RFID technologies for use in accounting for deployed personnel there are several factors to consider in determining the RFID system’s ability to satisfy the user’s expectations of gathering the most accurate information and the cheapest cost. The factors are frequency choice, active or passive technology for the tags, security of information within the tags, privacy of the information being transmitted, durability of the tags, and the longevity of the tags.
One of the first factors to consider in deciding which type of RFID technology to use is what frequency range will it use to operate. Low frequency systems that operate at the 30 to 500 KHz range are limited to a reading range of less than six feet. Lower frequency systems therefore require the scanners to be placed closer to the tags. Benefits of the lower frequency systems are that they use less power, are less expensive to operate, and they are better able to scan non-metallic surfaces. Higher frequency systems operating within the 850 to 950 MHz and 2.4 GHz to 2.5 GHz can read tags at a greater distance but the system does come at a higher cost than the lower frequency systems, but an additional benefit is that the data from the tag to the reader is transmitted at a greater speed. 
One limiting factor for active tags is that its source of energy is the limited to what is stored in its battery. In essence, the tag can only perform a certain number of reads and transmissions before its battery is drained. Since they have their own energy source, active tags do have a stronger broadcast signal and can be further away from the transmitter and receiver. In the earlier example of St. Vincent’s Hospital, their implemented solution used this type of technology and the tags were attached to the patients' charts. Nearly the size of a keyless entry device used to unlock car doors, the tags accompanied the patients as they were transported throughout the hospital with the scanners scheduled to read every 10 seconds. 
Passive tags do not require a source of energy as their circuitry takes the radio signal it receives and turns that into enough energy to read the chip and transmits the information it contains back to the scanner. Unlike active tags, passive tags do not have as strong of a broadcast signal. This means that the scanner must be closer than that for an active tag.
Passive tags are cheaper to manufacture than active tags since they contain both less material and no energy source. There are also applications that allow the tag to be printed from a printer with special ink. 
Active and passive technologies offer the same inherent degree of security as this is a function that gets programmed into the tag. The security of data within a tag is always a prime concern and when that data is transmitted, the concerns only become heightened. Klaus Finkenzeller in his book titled ‘RFID Handbook: Fundamentals and Applications in Contactless Smart Cards, Radio Frequency Identification and Near-Field Communications identifies three things that RFID transmissions must be protected against:
‘• Unauthorized reading of a data carrier in order to duplicate and/or modify data
• The placing of a foreign data carrier within the interrogation zone of a reader with the intention of gaining unauthorized access to a building
• Eavesdropping into radio communications and replaying the data, in order to imitate a genuine data carrier’ 
To address these concerns, Klaus Finkenzeller recommends using a cryptographic key to secure the information but only so far as it makes since for the application. Applications that use RFID for parts identification or determining the contents of a shipping container would require a lower level of security and would not need a cryptographic key. Higher security application like those used for gaining access to a building or room would need a key to prevent unauthorized personnel to gain access to the area. 
As with security, both active and passive technologies will share the same privacy issues since the physical properties of the tag do not affect privacy. Privacy is an issue that rests primarily with the owner of the RFID system and how the owner uses or display the data collected. Using RFID for personnel accountability or identification amounts to surveillance and according to Jim Harper, author of How Identification is Overused and Misunderstood, surveillance is just "watching over" and that "identification is at its heart a surveillance tool"  . In the St. Vincent’s RFID model, patient’s names are never listed on the display, only their room numbers.  Businesses, as seen by IBM’s and other companies’ patent applications, are seeking to watch over and serve their customers. Their method of data collection though, can be viewed as an invasion of the customer’s privacy.
Using RFID to control access into facilities or rooms also has privacy concerns as the potential for an invasion into an individual’s privacy if scanners are located not only at the entrance and exits of facilities but also scattered throughout the facility. The multiple scanners would allow the RFID system owner to track an individual’s movements throughout their facility. For an employer, the privacy invasion of the individual could be used to correlate evidence of productivity. A similar misuse would be to extend it in solving a crime. If an individual is accused of a crime, the database of scans could be used as indirect evidence of their guilt or innocence. Extreme caution would need to be exercised however since exact identification of the individual may not be transmitted to the scanner. The scanner would only record that the tag was accounted for at that moment in time.
The US Air Force (AF) is required to deploy in a variety of environments. Some can be quite harsh and range from the blistering heat in the desert to sub-zero temperatures in both the Arctic and Antarctic regions. RFID tags must be able to function within this range of temperatures. RFID tags must also be able to survive the range of harshness found within the varied work centers of the AF that range from an office indoors to one surrounded with caustic chemical or the possibility of submersion in liquids.
One company, TrazeTag, has already designed a ruggedized, rubber passive RFID tag that can be used in a variety of harsh environments. By encasing the circuitry in a flexible but durable material, the company reports, "it can survive rugged handling, physical abuse and exposure to heat and water."  The label can also be embossed with graphic information or even identification numbers. Tests were conducted in 2011 by General Dynamics Electric Boat on 20 Traze Tags. General Dynamic Electric Boats is a U. S. Navy contractor that designs, builds, and maintains submarines. The tests exposed the tags to ultraviolet radiation, salt fog and temperatures of -80 degrees Fahrenheit for four weeks.  At the completion of the tests "the tags remained intact, with no signs of distortion, material degradation or crack formation" and TrazeTag " found that they could still be read effectively." 
Montreal's Igloofest, a festival of nightly music and dancing covering three weekends from mid-January until February, often experiences temperatures of -30 degrees Fahrenheit with wind speeds of greater than 30 miles per hour.  In previous years they have bar codes printed on the patron’s tickets for access to the festival. With the extreme weather, sometimes both the patron and workers scanning the bar codes found it awkward. This year the festival’s organizers decided to use an RFID solution that contained a tag built into the patron’s plastic coated pass. By using a proximity reader, the patron is granted access and their attendance is recorded. Sarah Girouard, Igloofest's box office manager reports that, "The RFID technology has made the process of admitting and accounting for attendees more reliable and more efficient." 
Related to durability, longevity is also a concern for any RFID technology. Longevity can be grouped into the same two categories that follow the active and passive tags. Active tags have the shortest longevity since they are dependent upon a battery to broadcast their information back to the scanner performing the inquiry. Previously they were of a short duration however the battery life for an active tag has improved as witness by those used in the BMW factory that have a reported life of eight years. 
Passive tags on the other hand have an unlimited number of reads and transmission of the information contained within them due to their circuitry design. In a passive tag, the scanner’s broadcast signal that queries for the tag is converted to energy that then broadcasts the tag’s information back to the scanner. Since it creates its own energy its longevity is limitless.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is proven to provide quick and accurate accounting of cargo, inventory, and even personnel. It is a technology in which its components, the tags and readers have both longevity and durability in obtaining accountability of the items that it scans.
In order for RFID technology to be used for accountability of deploying personnel, the Air Force (AF) will need to address several areas of concerns before it use. The first is invasiveness. The tag that is to be used must not be view by the individual or public as to invade the personnel space or body of the individual carrying the tag. This would rule out tags that are used for animal identification since they are placed just under the skin. The second area would be one of durability. The tag used for personnel accountability must survive a range of harsh environments, both those of weather and man-made. Third, it must be practical. Wristbands with tags work well for the Great Wolf Lodge in helping patrons update their social media accounts with pictures of them throughout areas of the lodge. Deploying personnel however, may look upon a wristband negatively, since it may be regarded in the same nature as the tracking devices used for prisoners to prevent them from leaving a designated area.
In order to perform automated accountability using RFID for deployed personnel, the Air Force (AF) must also decide what information needs to be stored on the tag and transmitted to a reader. In order to verify the identity of someone, Jim Harper in his book ‘Identity Crisis How Identification Is Overused and Misunderstood’ states that identifiers fall into three categories: something you are, something you know, and something you have.  RFID tags falls into the "something that you have" category, but the information they contains falls into the "what you are" category.
In the AF’s personnel accountability use of RFI, the primary purpose would not be identification to grant access, but that of identification to know where a person was located or to make an initial identification of someone incapacitated in a hospital as the airman wounded at the Khobar towers. As such, detailed personal information would not be stored or transmitted by the RFID tag. Individuals would receive their tag when their Social Security Number is entered into the Unit Line Number (ULN) position number of the Operation Plan (OPLAN) they are deploying to support. Information recorded to their tag would consist of the OPLAN, ULN, and ULN position number. For non AF members, the PERSCO team would need to be able to create update, and issue temporary tags. In those instances a passive tag would be the most economical.
Unlike the warning in the Department of Homeland Security’s RFID report, the deploying members would know that their accountability is being monitored and that no personnel information other than their OPLAN, Unit Line Number (ULN), and ULN Position number or their RFID identification number was being transmitted. The argument of an invasion of privacy can be raised, but service members are already subjected to a limited invasion of privacy in the name of identification through the collection of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) samples. Normally only a procedure reserved for arrested or convicted criminals. Resistance to automated collection of personnel accountability information could be subdued if the members knew that the information would only be stored for the last few number of scans.
Klaus Finkenzeller, the author of RFID Handbook : Fundamentals and Applications in Contactless Smart Cards, Radio Frequency Identification and Near-Field Communication recommends, the use of a cryptographic key in RFID use, but only so far as to know that the tag being queried is a valid tag. The RFID system used by the AF could mimic the one used by Exxon/Mobil with its SpeedPass in which the reader calculates the response to a challenge based on the tag’s identification and if it doesn’t match the response that was transmitted, the tag is not validated. Encryption would also ensure that the tag’s reply, if intercepted, would not reveal any significant information about the personnel residing at the base.
An active tag would offer the greatest returned signal strength when coupled with a high frequency RFID system. Since the AF deploys into a variety of environments and some work centers contain caustic material, a tag such as the one made by TrazeTag would assure that it can survive throughout the member’s deployment and not need to be replaced. Another benefit to the TrazeTag is that it can be embossed with identification numbers that if recorded against the member’s ULN position number can augment identification should the tag’s circuitry fail if damaged in an explosion.
A deployed location could be established with scanners that broadcast on both the low and higher frequencies and be positioned throughout the base so that coverage can be maintained in any open area or the area between building, tents, or other facilities. Scanners operating with proximity switches could utilize the cheaper low frequency technology while the scanners covering larger areas would be dependent upon the higher frequency technologies to assure adequate coverage. The entrances to each building could also be equipped with a scanner. The scanners would work with proximity switches so that as an individual passed in front of the scanner, their tag would be queried. An initial problem with this is that the system would not know if the individual was leaving or entering the building. This could be solved with a second scanner, also with a proximity switch that would be positioned near the first scanner, but not so far away as to allow the individual to by-pass the second scanner as they enter or leave the building. With two scanners the individual’s direction of travel could be determined and the known number of occupants within a structure could accurately be updated.
As individuals arrive or depart the deployed location they are typically gathered into a room that is "sterile", meaning that the personnel inside cannot leave or personnel not connected with their arrival or departure can enter. A proximity scanner at the room’s entrance or one within the room that can be activated to broadcast the query transmission would allow the PERSCO team to account for those personnel quickly and would eliminate the need for the PERSCO team to manually scan each member’s identification card or order.
If personnel arrive via their own transportation and have not processed through the PERSCO team, a random or schedule transmission from the scanners throughout the base would be able to account for them if they have not already been accounted for through the proximity scanners placed near the buildings or other facilities.
In-transit visibility (ITV) of personnel arriving and departing a location that is not their final destination would still prove a unique challenge since where the personnel stop may not always be a military location or one that is serviced by a PERSCO team. The solution may be that of a portable scanner similar to the current one used by the PERSCO teams, but specifically designed to scan for RFID tags. The scanner could be issued to the aircraft commander from the aircraft’s home station or to the troop commander in charge of the deploying personnel. As with the current scanner, it would need to create an interface file that would update the deployed personnel database. The only difference being that it would then be emailed to the deployed location where the passenger’s deployed personnel record would be updated to show their current location.
Another possible solution for ITV of personnel would be to have scanners at every AF installation, located within the passenger terminal area departing area or gate. As personnel board or exit the aircraft from the terminal, their tags would be queried through a proximity switch with an interface file being automatically created and forwarded to the PERSCO team at the aircraft’s arriving location.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) can play a key role in providing automated accountability of deployed personnel. RFID for cargo and material has been proven to help companies identify where their products are within their factories or stores. It is currently being used more and more for personnel accountability and visibility ranging from hospitals to the hospitality industries. With minor modifications that same technology can apply to tracking and accounting of deployed personnel as they travel from their home station to a deployed location, their deployed location to another location, or their returning back to their home station.
The US Air Force (AF) should begin using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) to account for all of its deployed personnel. RFID provides a truly automated and instant method of accounting for AF deployed personnel that will increase the accuracy of the current deployed personnel database, provide the ability to know what personnel are on an installation at any moment in time, and also provide an accurate count of those inside a facility should it be attacked.