A smart move to next-generation identity credentials
With 1.1 million National Guardsmen and Reservists, 861,000 civilian personnel and more than 1.4 million men and women on active duty in 2019, the United States Department of Defense (DoD) is the United States’ single largest employer.
DoD coordinates and supervises all agencies and functions of the government relating directly to national security and the military.
The U.S. defense budget for FY 2020 is $738 billion.
What is the Army CAC?
Data integrity is of paramount importance, given the highly sensitive nature of the information handled by DoD employees and contractors daily.
By introducing strong employee authentication measures with secure card certificates and PIN code, DoD has led the way in digital security for the Federal government. The military CAC program has issued over 25 million smart identity badges to date.
At any one time, the ubiquitous Common Access Card is being used by 4.5 million personnel:
- Active-duty armed forces
- National Guard, Reserves
- DoD civil servants
- Select contractor workforce
As an accredited provider of smart cards to the DoD, Thales is proud to contribute to this initiative.
For easier telework during the pandemic, more details and frequently asked questions on the military CAC card, please visit the DOD ID card reference center.
These security mechanisms have been benefiting national ID card schemes around the world as well.
The Real-Time Automated Personnel Identification System (RAPIDS) is the name of the DoD system that issues the Common Access Cards in particular.
RAPIDS uses information stored in the DoD Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS).
What information is on a military CAC card?
The microprocessor has a memory of 144KB of data and includes PKI certificates that allow holders to sign documents with a PIN code digitally, but also encrypt/decrypt emails, and securely connect to online networks.
It also stores two digital fingerprints, the holder's portrait, a Personal Identity Verification (PIV) certificate, organizational affiliation, agency, department, expiration date.
The bar code stores the name, date of birth, personnel category, pay category, benefits information, organizational affiliation, and pay grade.
As of June 2011, the Social Security Number (SSN) has been replaced by the DoD Identification Number.
The DoD ID number is displayed on the back of the card.
Cac card: essential to every aspect of life at DoD
Since its implementation, the CAC card has significantly expedited administrative processing.
The card provides all necessary information in a single-use, preventing countless hours of busywork, such as filling out forms by hand.
Flight manifest tracking, weapons issuance, and deployment processing can be completed in minutes rather than hours, meaning that employees and contractors spend less time waiting in line.
The DoD is also the nation's largest healthcare provider. It serves 9.5 million military members, retirees, and their families. The military ID card doubles as a health insurance card.
“When I go to the gym, the only identification I take is my CAC.”
But the military CAC is not just a timesaver.
With over 1.5 million CAC transactions logged daily, this fully scalable solution has quickly become a vital part of everything DoD employees, and contractors do throughout their workday.
It has streamlined many business practices and processes, making DoD operations more efficient and secure than ever.
As a reminder, the Department maintains 561,975 facilities at 4,800 sites on 25 million acres.
In addition to ensuring fail-safe physical and logical security, the CAC card:
- Enables exact headcounts through computerized building access files
- Improves accountability for foodservice and recruit functions
- Provides reliable authentication for healthcare and benefits processing
- Has served in place of a visa for deployment to Iraq
- Is recognized as an identification card under the Geneva Conventions
The future of US military ID
Web magazine fedscoop reported on 7 February 2019 that the DOD is working with a Brooklyn-based artificial intelligence startup to replace the military CAC and build better identity, credentialing, and access management (ICAM) through “deep-learning-based” AI.
DOD Chief Information Officer Dana Deasy, however, said in September 2018 that the CAC card is still a key component of the DOD security and will remain the “principal authenticator for the foreseeable future.”
DOD also said the National Institute of Standards and Technology's new SP 800-63 digital identity guidelines are central to normalizing identity management.
So, stay tuned for the outcome of this pilot.
And in the meantime, don't leave your desk without it!
Where do we fit in?
Thales is the proud partner of the US government for ePassports, Department of Defense for military CAC cards, and state DMVs for secure IDs.