First Platoon

Annie Jacobsen has easily become one of my favorite investigative authors. This time she presents something that is relatively missing from the common world, "Identity Dominance" A.K.A, collecting biometrics from everyone to serve the purpose that the government so desires.

First Platoon

The Book in 1 Sentence

Learn about shady government programs that allowed a war criminal get a pardon due to his intentional lies and disregard of SOPs.

Brief Review

Annie Jacobsen has easily become one of my favorite investigative authors as she is clear in here information presentation as well as her ability challenge common beliefs with factual information. This time she presents something that is relatively missing from the common world, "Identity Dominance" A.K.A, collecting biometrics from everyone to serve the purpose that the government so desires.

Why I Read this book

After reading Operation Paperclip, Jacobsen has been a great read to give information. I will 100% run through the rest of her books.

In-Depth Review (Favorite Quotes)

In this book you follow First Platoon from the 82nd Airborne. A historical platoon that served in Afghanistan conducting Battle Damage Assessments (BDA). These BDAs were meant to collect biometrics post conflicts with locals and Taliban. During their time there, their actions and the reason for these BDAs are hidden behind classifications that most of the team don't have so they have no knowledge of the capabilities of the government that is supposed to support them.

In a country that has a hard time keeping track of its citizens, the idea of creating genetic profiles for every individual is an absolute mess. Jacobsen does a great job of showing this in a number of different ways as well as the history of the BDA/biometric program. She also presents why the DoD system was woefully under performing as compared to the establish FBI program even after BILLIONS of dollars.

There are some chapters that really struck me. Chapter 12 is hard to listen to as it provides vivid descriptions of IED blast and the direct aftermath. I am glad I running while listening because it gave me a distraction to this. When I was thinking about this, I wanted set aside a portion of this review to tell some stories from friends of similar things in Afghanistan. To obfuscate whose story is whose, I am going to provide one story from "Daddy" and one from "Baddy."


It was about a month into our time on station. I was told to go and help with a working party and left my rifle in the tent as instructed. About 20 minutes in we hear a singular gunshot. We ran to the tent to find a Sgt on the ground screaming that he had been shot. Blood had splashed onto multiple cots and all over my gear. Due to the fact that they shot came from inside the tent, we knew it wasn't an enemy combatant. The Sgt was removed from the tent and an officer began his investigation. My weapon was identified as the one that shot the Sgt. I was placed under security while the investigation continued. Initially I was charged with assaulting an NCO, negligent discharge of weapon, friendly fire, and a couple other things (I have made someone of these up to help provide some distance and obscurity for the individual). After 4 days of investigation, they finally told me that I was being cleared of all charges as I was not near the event. Turns out that they wanted to go home and they shot themselves in an effort to get a Purple Heart and out of Afghanistan.

I tell this story because there are people in the Military that a only out for themselves. Clint Lorance was just one of those people who was pardoned by President Trump. He had a complete disregard of human life and a wanted desire to be a "Combat Operator" and to get his. This Sgt that "Baddy" had to deal with implied initially that "Baddy" was the one that shot him. Time in Afghanistan brought out some of the worst in people in ways that you can't really screen for before hand.


While on patrol, a patrol that we had walked week after week after week. We had imagery to know that an IED had been placed on this path, somewhere, but not an exact location. On the way back to base across the same path we had taken out I stepped on a pressure plate that had not been picked up by mine sweepers or bomb dogs. I woke up about an unknown amount of time later in a rescue chopper shooting bolt up-right reaching down and tapping. When I felt my... best friends, I signed with relief and said "Oh thank God. They are still there." I then passed backout for 2 days. An IED had gone off, but only about a tenth of the explosives triggered due to a faulty twist in the connecting cable. The IED that should have gone off was 3 artillery rounds. Myself, my friends, and the Chaplain that was with should have been pink mist.

I tell this one because it shows that even people that are there doing their job just want to go home in one piece. Plus is a funny response to waking up after being passed out.

I tell these stories as a reminder of the type of people that are on both sides of a unwinnable war. When the goal of the war is to defeat a mindset, not a specific objective, those that are sent to war will lost faith or lose sight of the goal, however abstract. Both sides have people that have no care for humanity and only themselves, whereas others just want to go home.

Chapter 19 talks about some Minority Report level predictive policing that is being created in the United States, At Berkley if I remember correctly. This "predictive policing" is taking genetic material and analyzing it to determine the likelihood of whether or not they will become criminal and honestly its crazy. This was basically the premise of the Nazi party to create the Ubermensch that you can learn more about in Who We Are and How We Got Here. As I was reading this and listening to the legal defense "findings" and arguments for why Clint Lorance was innocent, I became kind of concerned that they never thought that searching by name would provide some stupid level information since no biometrics were taken of the murdered motorcyclist. Maybe I missed something (After listening further she mentioned the same thing that I did when confronting the legal defense team).

This book will make you rethink about the amount of information that you provide people, especially the US Government, which you should. A lot of information can be gleamed incorrectly and damage done with someone who uses the information without complete knowledge.

How my life / behavior / thoughts / ideas have changed as a result of reading the book.

A couple years ago I read "Evil has a Name" by Paul Holes and Jim Clemente. This is a story about the Golden State Killer who was identified later by familial DNA. While on the surface this is a great success story, but it does present an interesting idea of familial DNA being used to circumvent the 4th amendment. There is a story in this book about a 12 year old who's DNA is taken and it is crazy.

These things made me think about how often we are really willing to give up things just because "I am not doing anything wrong, why should it bother me." The quick answer is that because without the authority following the law, they can use it against you down the road if you ever disagree. See China and the Uyghurs (pronounced like "wee-ger") people. Attempting to US DNA to find relatives or escaped Uyghurs. It is a slippery slope that the American People cannot allow to start happening.


This book is so inquisitive, so justified, and very impactful. While it follows mostly the events in Afghanistan and how the DoD plans to use the data to "help the Afghani people," it also shows you the hidden efforts of those in the United States already trying to weasel there way into your DNA, telling you that you are a danger to other because you "might" be a criminal or go against their ideology like what Hydra tried to do with the Heli-carriers in Captain America. Go read this 8. Learn about the steps being taken with biometrics.

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Book Name ISBN Code
First Platoon 9781524746667