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ID tags get first update in forty years
By Daniela Vestal, U.S Army Human Resources Command Public Affair
After more than four decades, the identification tags issued to all Soldiers are getting
an update.

In accordance with Department of Defense guidance governing the reduction of the
use of Social Security numbers, the Army published a new Department of the Army
Pamphlet 600-8-14 Nov. 30, with procedures to replace Soldiers' Social Security
numbers with their Department of Defense identification numbers.

The change to using the 10-digit, randomly-generated number will be implemented
on an as-needed basis, said Michael Klemowski, Soldiers Programs Branch chief,
U.S. Army Human Resources Command.

"This change is not something where Soldiers need to run out and get new tags
made," said Klemowski. "We are focusing first on the personnel who are going to
deploy. If a Soldier is going to deploy, they are the first ones that need to have the
new ID tags."

The removal of the Social Security number from ID tags is one of the ways the Army
is safeguarding the personally identifiable information of its Soldiers whenever
possible, Klemowski said.

"I think removing the social will help," Klemowski said. "If you find a pair of lost ID
tags you can pretty much do anything with that person's identity because you now
have their blood type, their religion, you have their social, and you have their name.
The only thing missing is their birth date and you can usually get that by Googling a
person."

Staff Sgt. Kristen Duus, a Soldier with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency,
said she thinks the update is a good one.

"Identity theft is a very real threat for us right now, and so many people are not
aware that our information is easily accessed," Duus said. "By removing socials
from ID tags, one more step is being taken to protect ourselves and our identities."

The required change was first outlined in the DoD Social Security Number Reduction
Plan and the President's Task Force on Identity Theft Strategic Plan in 2007.

Since then, the Army has been searching for a way to replace the Social Security
number on the ID tag Soldiers wear. However, what might seem like a simple task
turned out not to be, said Klemowski.

The Army used several systems tied to a Soldier's Social Security number, all for
different purposes. Each of these systems had to be retooled to work with one
another and the DoD ID number, Klemowski said.

"The DoD ID number is currently used on ID cards and TRICARE will be using it in
the future," Klemowski said. "More and more systems are going go to the DoD ID
number as technology catches up with us and we are able to phase out the Social
Security number."
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