Instances of casualties being classified missing presumed dead, or unidentified, declined dramatically over the course of the 20th Century. However, given the enduring nature of combat, a compulsory DNA database for defence force personnel deploying overseas on operations makes sense, especially in order to assist with potential post-mortem identification of fatal casualties. The institution of a DNA database for defence force personnel as an addition to current pre-deployment medical, legal and administrative measures should, however, only be implemented if there are sufficient privacy safeguards.
These safeguards include specific legislation restricting use of the database to post-mortem identification purposes only, the destruction of all physical samples after the DNA sequence is entered in the database and the destruction of database entries after 60 years.
The use of the database for any other purpose than post-mortem identification (paternity testing, insurance vetting, criminal investigation, etc) must be absolutely prohibited by legislation and punishable by lengthy gaol sentences.
To achieve operational effectiveness members of our defence force already give up certain rights that the wider community take for granted.
No matter whether this DNA database is compulsory or voluntary, it should not be instituted until the appropriate legislation is in place to ensure the above safeguards exist.