U.S. Navy Transfers Control of Forensic Labs in Afghanistan to the Army

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Navy forensics experts, scientists and engineers transferred control of three Joint Expeditionary Forensic Facility (JEFF) laboratories in Afghanistan to the U.S. Army Criminal Investigative Command on Sept. 15.

The Navy civilians – who led the development of JEFF laboratories throughout Iraq and Afghanistan in response to a Joint Urgent Operational Need for expeditionary forensics – also transferred lab equipment to the Army at JEFF sites located in Camp Leatherneck, Bagram and Kandahar in Afghanistan.

“This is a necessary step in the transition of the Navy led urgent operational need to the Army led enduring capability,” said Stan Fissel, JEFF Program Manager, citing the April 2011 DoD Directive designating the Secretary of the Army as the DoD Executive Agent for Forensics. “Our engineering and logistics expertise will continue to support the Army as a partner to their enduring capability.”
Fissel leads a team of Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division forensics, engineering and logistics experts who will continue to partner with the Army Criminal Investigative Lab to ensure a successful transition and operation of JEFF labs in Afghanistan.

The Army plans to consolidate the JEFF labs and the latent print section of Combined Explosive Exploitation Cells starting at the JEFF Camp Leatherneck location. CEXC – established to conduct technical and limited biometric analysis on all materials related to improvised explosive devices – develops effective countermeasures based on its analysis.

“This consolidation is an effort to gain efficiencies within the two programs [JEFF and CEXC], reducing redundancy of efforts and cost for the overall expeditionary forensics efforts,” said Fissel.

Expeditionary forensics refers to the use of forensics to establish facts that the combatant commander can use to determine sources of insurgent arms, ammunition, and explosives. Moreover, it’s used to drive intelligence analysis and subsequent targeting for combat operations, change force protection measures, identify human remains, and prosecute detainees in a court of law.

At the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, forensics experts from the NSWCDD Expeditionary Systems Integration Branch managed eight labs, rotating in and out of theater to provide oversight.

“All of our JEFF members have spent a significant amount of time in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Fissel, adding that they ensured the full manning and staffing of each laboratory to include evidence custodians, case file managers, latent print examiners, firearms examiners, DNA analysts, forensic chemists, information technology analysts in addition to operations and logistics professionals.

For example, JEFF number 7 at Camp Leatherneck consists of six distinct disciplines: DNA, latent prints, firearms-tool marks, forensics chemistry, evidence and case file management, and intelligence.

Intelligence operations benefit from the labs’ rapid forensic exploitation of information, items, and sensitive sites, enabling U.S. and coalition forces to eliminate threats and capture, prosecute, or kill enemies.

Adapted from original by John Joyce, Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division

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