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Snake Eater - Fingerprint ID System

System for Iraqi Army to Track Insurgents

Iraqi Army on patrol using the "Snake Eater" to capture information on suspect

Major Owen West, US Marines, requests assistance with fingerprinting and information system to be used by Iraqi Army to identify and track insurgents and terrorists in Khalidiya, Iraq.

Read the story of this project in the Wall Street Journal.

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Original Request

Major Owen West is leading the joint Marine/Army Military Transition Team in Khalidiya, Iraq. His team is tasked with providing training and tools to the local Iraqi Army (IA) Division that is nicknamed the "Snake Eaters". One of the tools that Major West believes could have "the largest tactical change we've seen yet" is a database, fingerprinting and identification system that enables the Iraqi Army to gather information on suspected insurgents and terrorists and positively identify them in future encounters.

Currently, the Iraqi Army must rely solely on "memory and notebooks." If information is captured, it is logged in personal notebooks and possibly entered into an Excel spreadsheet. The Snake Eater system envisioned by Major West is based on a system used successfully by the Chicago Police Department.

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Getting fingerprints with the Snake Eater

The "Snake Eater" is named after the Iraqi Army unit that will use the system. The system includes PDAs that can take fingerprints, laptops, communication and a database information system. The U.S. military is focused on training and equipping the Iraqi Army so they that can increasingly take responsibility for security of their country. Providing the Snake Eater system supports the efforts of the Marines and the Iraqi Army to reduce violence, increase security and help provide a better life for the people of Iraq.

Spirit of America has provided the funding for the laptops, PDAs and development of the database for the prototype of this system. This prototype Snake Eater system is now in operation in Khalidiya, Iraq. It was delivered to Major West by journalist Bill Roggio. Read about his experience here.

Upon request and with donor support, we will support the broader roll out and expansion of the "Snake Eater" system.

Major West is a Marine Reservist with an MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business. In his regular job he is an energy trader at Goldman Sachs. His colleagues at Goldman Sachs have generously contributed $14,000 toward the prototype Snake Eater.


This project is fully funded. Thank you.

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PDA equipment including laptop and fingerprint identification technology was donated. Total donations $43,548. Total spent $36,986. Remaining balance of $6,562 transferred to the Marines and Unrestricted Funds.

Use of Funds

We are a 501c3 nonprofit and your donation is tax deductible. 100% of all project donations will be used for direct project expenses (i.e., purchase and shipping of the needed goods and services). We do not deduct fees or expenses for organization overhead. Those expenses are funded separately. Donations in excess of a project's need will be offered a refund.


No endorsement of Spirit of America by the US Department of Defense or its personnel is intended or implied.