BAGHDAD " Badges " multicolored, coded and biologically linked to the person to whom they are issued " are carried by virtually everyone in Baghdad's International Zone, or "Green Zone." The badges mark the bearer's status, privilege and restrictions.
The bearers of these badges are almost the only ones allowed to navigate the concrete-barrier maze of the IZ. The United States and coalition forces have issued more than 140,000 security badges since occupation began.
Although many have expired, been revoked or otherwise rescinded, at any given time there are 35,000 to 40,000 in circulation, said Maj. Jimmy Thomas, an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper-turned badging operations manager.
Thomas, a member of Oklahoma's 45th Infantry Brigade, the Thunderbirds, is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, stationed with the 45th's headquarters unit in Baghdad. About 200 Iraqi, coalition members and others are processed each day through Thomas' section.
"We issue these badges for our (American and coalition) protection," Thomas said. "The badges are completely electronic. They have the data for an iris photograph, they take fingerprints, and they have five different photos of the face, so they can do like a 3-D identification image of the face. These badges actually have all that data in them."
Badges are issued:
" for Americans or non-Americans,
" for Iraq-wide or Baghdad-only,
" for security clearance or non-cleared,
" for weapon carrier or no weapon,
" for loaded weapon or unloaded,
" for priority access or non-priority,
" for searchable or non-search,
" for personal search or non-search,
" in green, red, yellow, brown, orange, purple and white, and combinations thereof. "Ben Fenwick
Read more about Ben Fenwick's Thunderbird travels.