This is John Stanton’s ninth article on the Human Terrain System, coming on a day when already one prominent endorsement of the program has been withdrawn (see today’s earlier post here). As usual, a copy (see below) is being posted for this blog, with the author’s kind permission.
Of critical importance is the fact revealed in the article that HTS data generated by social scientists is made available for targeting during lethal operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Certainly some of us never had this doubt, but the shroud of supportive naivete, insufficient skepticism, and inadequate critical skills exhibited by wishy-washy academics and journalists gave HTS one more generous pass.
John Stanton’s earlier articles are available on this blog: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. They are also available here:
hts-petraeus.htm General Petraeus’ Favorite Mushroom: Army HTS December 4, 2008
hts-murder.htm Human Terrain System Murder, Paranoia, Sacking November 26, 2008
hts-gitmode.htm Civilian Human Terrain Team Member Gitmode November 17, 2008
hts-fraud.htm US Army Human Terrain System Fraud Implosion November 12, 2008
hts-cleanup.htm Clean Up US Army TRADOC’s Human Terrain System November 6, 2008
hts-madness.htm US Army Human Terrain System Madness Mayhem Cash October 6, 2008
hts-farce.htm US Army Human Terrain System an Absolute Farce August 14, 2008
hts-joke.htm US Army Human Terrain System in Disarray July 22, 2008
11 December 2008
US Army Promotes Waste, Fraud and Abuse in TRADOC Human Terrain Program
by John Stanton
“One day, I was standing in one of Saddam’s old offices looking out the window. I was watching some of our kids/soldiers. You know we’ve got the best kids/soldiers in the world and they deserve better than this. The HTS owes them quality products to help them do their job more effectively and I do not feel we have the cultural expertise to provide those products.”
“This is the clearest example of fraud, waste and abuse I have seen. For the life of me, I do not know why the US Army keeps the Human Terrain System.”
“I have been here for several months and we have not produced a single product that a few hard-working NCO’s could not have come up with on their own.”
“Look at the quality of academic personnel we received. So many of them must have been rejects from academia. There were some strange birds — independent and not team players.”
“As a taxpayer I am upset with the amount of money that is truly being wasted in this program. As long as the money is flowing, this embarrassment of a program will continue to drain money from the federal government. I know the Army is not getting its money’s worth.”
Glevum Associates, a private subcontractor in the Human Terrain System (HTS), is run by Andrew Garfield (formerly with Lincoln Group) and Alicia Boyd (formerly with Lincoln Group and JIEDDO). Glevum is reportedly scheduled to receive over $20 million (USD) from the HTS money trough to conduct polling/research in Iraq over the next year. Sources say that Glevum used Iraqis to collect data for them. Alicia Boyd (now in Afghanistan) and John Bornemann were sent to Iraq to conduct/oversee the research for Glevum/HTS without a contract. According to sources, there was no contract vehicle or authority that covered that action. Further, sources say they have never seen a Statement of Work (SOW), standard for government contracts,
“The prime [contractor] is STI (Sensory Technology International) and the sub is Glevum. Actually, a third company is conducting the actual polling and focus groups. We were advised that the plan was to provide a total of 24 surveys to the HTS in Iraq. … 12 to HTRAC and 12 to the HTATS. By the time we learned that we had this asset, 2 of the 24 surveys were already being conducted. The HTRAC nor HTATs had NO input into the research objectives, and we were told that the ‘rear’ had decided to use these two themselves. The estimated cost of this little adventure is close to $2 million and, to my knowledge the surveys are not focused on any actual identified Corps/Division/Brigade issues of which there are plenty!”
When Glevum’s Garfield was asked for details about what contract device was used to allow Boyd and Bornemann to deploy to Iraq and allow Gelvum to charge $1 million (USD) per poll, he had this to say: “I am the COO of Glevum Associates and I am replying formally on behalf of Glevum Associates. In the first instance, I must inform you, that as a sub contractor of the HTS program, I am not at liberty to discuss the HTS program or our work in support of the program and you should therefore refer any questions you might have to Mr. Steve Fondacaro the HTS Program Manager.”
Perhaps HTS management should strike this question and answer from the HTS website: “Is HTS is carrying out secret or covert work? HTS was designed as an open-source, non-classified program. The willingness of team members and staff to talk to the press, write blogs from the field, and to answer emails and phone calls is proof positive of the fact that the program is neither secret nor covert.”
Kinetic Information, Big Egos, Arab Street
The US academic community does not realize that the Human Terrain System MAP HT software/database is a tiny part of a much larger system of US Army databases, according to sources. The information from HTTs in the field that finds its way into MAP HT eventually finds its way into US Army G2 databases and can easily be retrieved for kinetic use. “If they knew that, they’d be surprised,” said sources.
The nonfunctioning MAP HT remains controversial, according to sources, for a number of reasons. First, because there are plenty of robust US Army computing software/networks that perform the same or similar functions as MAP HT. Better still, these systems have already been bought and paid for. Second, US Army regulations, in many instances, also mandate that existing software/networks be utilized. For example, CENTCOM’s secure Combined Information Data Network Exchange (CIDNE), plus already extant software/networks that the US Army has in place, was used by enterprising HTS personnel as a substitute for the nonperforming MAP HT.
The HTRAC in Iraq successfully established a data repository utilizing the Army’s existing CIDNE asset. Although a significant accomplishment, the success was not well received by HTS management. Fondacaro’s friend, Dan Wolfe, had been contracted to develop a similar system which did not meet the Army’s mandate, and Wolfe was not happy about the success.
There is so much wrong with the HTS program, according to sources. At one point certain key Staffers of the US Army’s 4th Infantry became so frustrated with the assigned HTS team and its personnel drama, that discussions regarding team dismissal were conducted. Originally HTT Team Leaders were going to be uniformed military personnel but somewhere along the way, Fondacaro changed that which has caused increasing tension between military and civilian personnel. Hardened US troops with multiple tours, and lots of cultural knowledge, are derided by HTS civilian social scientists that have never been in Iraq or Afghanistan.
“I have been here for several months and we have not produced a single product that a few hard working NCOs could not have come up with on their own. As a matter of fact, when we do make it to the Company level, our social scientist often enters the room with a giant ego about educating the Army folks only to leave bewildered that the Company Commanders and Platoon leaders know far more about the local people and sheikhs than the social scientist does. Meanwhile, the US government pays 200K for a social scientist and pays the soldiers and officers less than 60K. I am embarrassed. However, because HTS is so desperate to fill slots over here, there is nothing that can be done.
There is a vast chasm between the military and civilian people involved in the program. The uniformed folks are not treated as they should be. Being a civilian who used to be a soldier, it bothers me when I see an Army-funded program leave these soldiers and officers out to dry. The HTS leadership is annoyed that they have to involve themselves with military people and military standards. Firearms training, equipment accountability, basic combat survival training, are all non-existent. From talking with military people in the program they feel unwanted. When there are squad leaders who have spent 3 tours in Iraq interacting with the people, why is HTS not trying to get them involved? Why pay someone with a degree from no-name state school that has never set foot in the Middle East? The Army and Marine Corps are full of subject matter experts. HTS would rather waste money to have social scientists recite all the wonderful knowledge they learned in books to soldiers who have spent the last 11 months and 5 years dealing with the Arab Street.”
Losing Good People: Resignation Letters Roll In
“I, Timothy A. Vandersommen, submit my resignation as a Team Leader of the Human Terrain Analysis Team, (HTAT) in Iraq, as part of the Human Terrain System (HTS). I returned to the continental United States (CONUS) on 20 November 2008, per HTS directive. I was told the purpose of the trip was to attend a meeting at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas to discuss problems with the program and that I would be returning to my Team. I have been in CONUS 13 days and there is still no date for a meeting. I have repeatedly advised the Human Terrain System (HTS), via weekly situation reports and phone calls, of support needed to successfully complete the mission of the HTAT with the Multi-National Division Baghdad (MND-B). My e-mails and phone calls to Building 48 HTS, went unanswered until I was requested to return to Fort Leavenworth, except for acknowledgment that my weekly reports had been received. During a phone call with Steve Fondacaro, HTS Program Manager, on or about 7 November 2008, Steve told me that my HTAT and I were doing an outstanding job and that Division (MND-B) was very pleased with the HTAT’s performance. Steve asked me to commit to remaining as the Team Leader for the HTAT, which I did. Unfortunately, since Steve’s and my conversation something has changed, which I am at a loss to explain. I believe it stems from my request for a letter from HTS, via phone conversation with Mike Spight, HTS Area Specialty Officer. The letter was to state that as Team Leader, I was in charge of the Team, regardless of Team member’s military rank. Approximately 36 hours after this conversation I read an e-mail requesting I return to Fort Leavenworth.”
The HTS program is being controlled by managers (Steve Fondacaro, Steve Rotkoff- the deputy program manager; Mrs. Montgomery McFate-Sapone the senior social scientist, and Mark French) located in the safe confines of Building 48 in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. They have provided friends and family with lucrative employment and have enriched themselves at taxpayer’s expense. At the same time, the freakish controlling pathological personalities that HTS managers possess allow them to blithely put the lives of soldiers and civilians at risk and make command decisions that should be left to those in the field.
Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, more trouble is brewing. “We have been sent here with a premeditated plan so that the individual in question can get his cigar-smoking buddies in the US Army 101st Airborne to call Building 48 with glowing performance reports. 1LT Jose Perez has been in constant contact with Dr. Milan Sturgis (team leader) and, on Sturgis’ instructions, has been trying to lengthen our stay here as much as possible — even though there are no official missions during the Eid Holiday (anything of importance is closed). This was overheard by one of us here at FOB Ghazni. It was Sturgis’ original idea to send us to Qarabagh which is infested with Taliban and hot. We resisted since, as civilians, we would not be issued weapons.”
And yet, sources indicate that just recently additional funding for HTS was approved by CENTCOM.
John Stanton is a Virginia based writer specializing in national security and political matters. Contact him at cioran123[at]yahoo.com.
3 thoughts on “John Stanton: Fraud, Abuse, Waste in the Human Terrain System”
that Vandersommen resignation letter is explosive. says it all. thanks for keeping us in the loop max
Yes, the details in his articles can be quite telling, John Stanton really deserves the prize for investigative journalism.
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