For soldiers, a dog tag "individualizes the human being who wears it, despite his or her role as a small part of a huge and faceless organization," CNN quotes the Library of Congress as saying. But few citizens probably realize the danger dogs tags can put soldiers in. "If you find a pair of lost ID tags you can pretty much do anything with that person's identity because you now have their blood type, their religion, you have their social, and you have their name," says Michael Klemowski of the US Army Human Resources Command in an Army press release. "The only thing missing is their birth date, and you can usually get that by Googling a person." And so in a bid to combat such potential ID theft, the Army announced Tuesday it's making changes to dog tags for the first time in four decades, the Army Times reports.
CNN reports the Army will be removing each soldier's Social Security numbers from his or her dog tags and replacing it with a 10-digit, randomly generated Defense Department ID number. SSN-less dog tags were actually called for in 2007, but implementation has been a long time coming due to the number of Army systems that use Social Security numbers, the Army Times reports. Each of those systems had to be reprogrammed to work with the new 10-digit ID number. As for the rollout of the new tags, "This change is not something where Soldiers need to run out and get new tags made," says Klemowski. "If a Soldier is going to deploy, they are the first ones that need to have the new ID tags."