Better Than Fingerprints

Generations of American G.I.s have worn dog tags as a grim reminder that the U.S. military might someday need to identify their remains. But the Pentagon has now authorized a superior DNA-identification system, for which it will collect blood and saliva samples from all service personnel. The problem is that dog tags can be lost, switched or counterfeited, and fingerprints and dental records are not always reliable. Several casualties of Desert Storm, for example, went unidentified for weeks because of such problems. Using DNA samples taken from family members, though, Army experts were recently able to identify the remains of an...