Morale: India Discharges The Unknown Soldiers

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January 12, 2011:  The Indian Armed Forces will begin collecting DNA samples from each of its million troops, to make it easier, and more certain, to identify soldiers killed in combat or by terrorists. In cases where explosives are used, or where bodies are not found for weeks or months, DNA is the easiest way, often the only way, to positively identify the deceased. This is actually a morale booster, as it is important for families, and soldiers, that those killed on duty have their remains positively identified and properly recognized after death.

DNA "fingerprinting" was developed in the 1980s, and by the 1990s, the United States had collected DNA samples from all 1.5 million active duty and reserve troops. The analysis technology, to compare the reference sample with DNA taken from body parts on the battlefield, has gotten a lot cheaper in the last two decades. This has made it affordable for the Indian armed forces, who, out of necessity, run a low budget (about $34 billion a year) operation. At least compared to the United States, which spends about 20 times as much as India. DNA fingerprinting means that there were will be no "unknown soldiers" in future wars.

 


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