US Army 101st Airborne Investigative Report on Human Terrain System

This is the newest article from John Stanton (reproduced with his permission), following up on the article for 26 February that was posted here and generated such intense discussion, with 182 comments: “Some Breaking News on the Human Terrain System: Death Threats Against Female Colleagues.”

John Stanton’s earlier articles on the Human Terrain System are also available here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14.

This one confirms some parts of the earlier report, and corrects other parts. What it reconfirms is the Human Terrain System’s state of woeful disrepair, to put it gently. All emphases added are mine.

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US Army 101st Airborne Investigative Report on Human Terrain System:

Toxic at Headquarters and in Bagram

by John Stanton

02 April 2009

The US Army’s 101st Airborne has concluded its investigation into allegations by Dr. Marilyn Dudley Flores concerning sexual harassment and a death threat at Bagram, Air Base, Afghanistan. Dr. Flores recently received a letter from Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey dated 30 March 2009 detailing the results of the 101st Airborne’s investigation (101AI):

“The Department of Defense directed rigorous investigation of the allegations. The investigation established you were employed as a member of the Human Terrain Analysis Team (HTAT), you and the other female members of the HTAT were subjected to a hostile work environment (which AR 600-20 defines as a type of sexual harassment). Dr. Milan Sturgis and 1 Lt Jose Perez were the primary creators of the hostile work environment. Dr. Milan Sturgis’ behavior clearly justifies the HTS’s decision to remove him as the team leader of the Combined/Joint Task Force (CJTF)-101 HTAT. Additionally, the DOD recommended that HTS relieve Mr. Lynch as Deputy Team Leader of the CJTF-101 HTAT. Lastly, they [101st] recommended to the Commanding General that adverse action be taken against 1 Lt. Perez to address his misconduct.”

The 101AI-Woolsey letter notes, however, that the 101st investigation found no evidence of multiple conspiracies, particularly those involving bribes by Dr. Sturgis. The 101st found no evidence that 1 Lt Perez “attempted to maneuver female members of the HTAT into especially dangerous situations…

The 101AI-Woolsey letter also notes concern by CJTF-101 about HTAT performance.:

“Concerning the removal of both Dr. Sturgis and you from Bagram Airfield, CJTF-101 leadership did not request the removal of either. CJTF leadership raised concerns with HTS about personality conflicts, dysfunctional atmosphere, lack of performance and unprofessional behavior of HTAT personnel. CJTF Leadership and concerned congressional staffers also raised concerns that your [Dr. Flores] life might be in danger. CJTF did not dictate a solution for these issues. HTS and the pertinent employers/subcontractors acted of their own volition.”

The 101AI-Woolsey’s letter also notes that Dr. Flores was not combative or especially difficult to work with and, although “officers familiar with HTAT” questioned Dr. Flores physical conditioning for outside the wire activities but that she did, in fact, properly fit and wear her Personal Protective Equipment.

The investigation found that Dr. Flores systematically exaggerated her civilian and military experiences, connections to “famous people” and overdramatized events that took place while she was stationed at Bagram. This, according to the investigation, diminished her credibility as a military advisor.

Fix Management, Recruitment and Training

The 101AI-Woolsey letter has hit on troubles that have plagued HTS from the start. According to the 101AI-Woolsey letter, DOD has recommended that HTS management improve physical fitness requirements ensuring that academics have the ability to move quickly outside the wire.  DOD suggests that,

“HTS should also establish or improve procedures for a rigorous review of applicant credentials and claims of pertinent experience prior to hiring team members. In this case [Bagram], poor and unverified credentials and exaggerations of pertinent experience on the part of team members contributed to a toxic environment where HTAT, rather than being an enabler, actually became a distraction to the CJTF-101 mission. Lastly, the DOD will recommend that HTS clarify the Chain of Command within its teams and clarify its relationship between its teams and supported unit. They [HTS] should implement or improve Prevention of Sexual Harassment training and establish a means of enforcing professional conduct in an environment by people of diverse backgrounds from multiple civilian employers”

Meanwhile, according to sources, HTS is undergoing change. In late March 2009, program manager Steve Fondacaro held a conference call with the main staff at HQ Building #48 in Kansas and advised them he would be moving operations from building #48 to Oyster Point, Virginia. “He advised folks they could move (at own expense) or find other work.”

Another source had this comment about the toxic environment at the HQ Building #48:

“[HTS is a] wonderful concept and a real opportunity to save American and other’s lives…The issues are NOT about Steve Fondacaro or Montgomery McFate. Though Steve is the face of HTS he is only the primary salesman of the program, and a good one. He is now out-gunned in the program. The danger and problems for HTS are at HQ Bldg. 48 in Kansas with Deputy Program Manager Steve Rotkoff and Mark French in Operations [OPS]. Training is just as bad, in fact, it is pathetic and virtually non-existent under Jeff Bowden. Bowden has created a 5-6 month training program that should be no more than 8 weeks. However, since Rotkoff and French control OPS or deployments they are responsible for putting people in positions O-CONUS to get killed as they lack virtually any training…the civilians are so vulnerable that it is scary. Look into [Rotkoff, French] qualifications to be in the positions they hold with HTS. They have NONE. Fondacaro is viewed as an enemy by them…”

And this is the program that President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton believe should be used as part of a civilian surge in Afghanistan? Leaving HTS to operate in its current form is disaster. Adopting the 101st Airborne’s recommendations will help improve the effort, but radical change in HTS is necessary.

John Stanton is a Virginia based writer specializing in political and national security matters. Reach him at


12 thoughts on “US Army 101st Airborne Investigative Report on Human Terrain System

  1. Maximilian Forte

    I thought that the parts I underlined were especially significant. Taken as a whole they paint a picture of HTS as a kind of zoo, rather than its managers’ chosen public image as a corps of professionals who are making an important difference. The report is critical of Dudley-Flores, but it does not entirely validate her claims, for example those pertaining to sexual harassment. It would seem then that the photographs supplied for the earlier story are genuine. The report also minimizes the “mata la vaca” facet, but it is not clear to what extent it investigated such charges.

    John Stanton concludes with what is at least an implicitly positive assessment of the 101st report. If this happened in Canada, I would want to see an independent, non-military, and non-government organization conducting the investigation, rather than this in-house approach that necessarily favours certain assumptions, ideals, and outcomes in advance, not to mention one that may be using certain research methodologies that are inappropriate for an understanding of gender conflict and sexual harassment.

    I agree with John that the “civilian surge” idea is deeply flawed, not just because it means air dropping civilians into a meat grinder (by the way, what happened to the “human shields” argument?), but because the only NATO surge should be one that leads out of Afghanistan. They should try ‘surging’ into New Orleans, repair it, and reverse the kind of ethnic and class cleansing that resulted. They can also ‘surge’ into U.S. tent cities, and help to rebuild the lives of the millions whose lives have already been devastated by this economic meltdown. Since I view the intervention in Afghanistan as something that exists between pathology and ideological fanaticism, I am hardly likely to endorse anything that perpetuates the situation.

  2. Former HTS member

    Max, you are absolutely correct….HTS is a zoo, or some describe it as a circus. I know LT Perez. He was always very quiet and polite in class, not a heavy drinker or partier like most of the HTS clowns. Dr. Flores,or Stryker, seemed to be a problem from day one. Alledgedly, according to 48, during her training in Nebraska she wanted to talk about in class about UFO’s in Afghanistan and what to do if they were to see one or aliens. None the less, she did not deserve to be treated with such disrespect.

    There are many HTS members who have ‘puffed-up’ their resumes…big time. There is one female linguist who carries around a folder with supposedly xerox of her Bronze Star Medal and other made up creditials while a linguist in Iraq. Sounds to good to be true…..well it isn’t. She has never been in the military so she could not have gotten a Bronze Star Medal. As of October 2000 no civilian can/will receive a Bronze Star Medal. The BSM is for military only. She also tried to sell classified information she supposedly was privy to while working as a linguist with Gen. Odierno. She too was sent back to Kansas after only a few weeks in-theater for non-performance (when the commander asked for information on a particular tribe, she handed them a post-it piece of paper with a website to the tribe info on it, lol) and for trying to ‘frantinize’ with the top military and top Iraqi officials. Some say she was even off base without permission. She also was always looking for some excuse to sue HTS….for discriminating against Muslims, etc. When no one discriminated against Muslims at all. It was her they didn’t care for because she too was always causing problems in class. Trying to get attention all the time with silliness. She lied and said she was hired as a social scientist when in fact she was hired as a linguist. Many others did the same thing.

    And what did HTS/BAE do after she was sent back to Kansas? They’ve kept her on the payroll doing nothing at $85,000 + expenses (since last Nov.), because of this silly/phony folder she carries around with a xerox of her ‘Bronze Star Medal’.

    HTS is a circus, with Fondacaro as the ring master and all the rest are clowns and jugglers, getting paid with taxpayers money to do nothing and to get drunk day after day at the High Noon. Most people on the outside can’t believe it, but those of us who have been in the program know it is true.

  3. Queen Judea

    UFOs in Afghanistan? What actual HTS teammate made that allegation? Step on up.

  4. Mike the Cat

    UFOs in Afghanistan? Who the hell is going going to believe that a PhD talked about that in class? This is obviously an information operations (a.k.a propaganda) tactic to discredit Dudley-Flores by someone who isn’t very bright. You think that because she is a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics that she believes in UFOs? Are you sure that isn’t something you read in the National Enquirer? You fool, you’re not even literate. “UFO’s” is possessive, not plural. The UFO’s what? Its probe up your ass, looking for your brain?

  5. Queen Judea

    An alien anal probe looking for a rumormonger’s brain…. That’s exceedingly funny, Mike. Actually, what it may take to get to the bottom of things is a prostate exam with a beach umbrella, to borrow a line from a Tom Cruise movie. A whole train of prostate exams. But, who would go first in this sorry affair? HTS managers, 101st officers, various related suck-ups?

    My heart goes out to Dr. Dudley-Flores and the other ladies of the HTAT in Afghanistan. There’s another line I’d like to borrow, this one from Jerry “the Ice Man” Butler: “Only the Strong Survive.”

  6. Pingback: Burqas and anthropologists « Erkan's Field Diary

  7. Fayiz Nalu

    I have past all my exams back in Dec. 2008, and I was contacted in April of 2009 for attending 4 months class. At that time I was hired by SOSi in Baghdad.

    Please Advice

    Fayiz Nalu
    SOSi LTD
    DSN 318 847 3062

    1. Maximilian Forte

      I enjoy receiving these sorts of cryptic messages that, on the surface, have absolutely nothing to do with this blog, or are directed at the blogger who can in no way answer such questions. Similarly, by email, I receive CVs from Afghans — copied to the U.S. Defense Department — concerning working with the U.S. military, as if I could somehow help them with their application.

      The message above was interesting.

      First, the phone number is part of the U.S. military’s DEFENSE SWITCHED NETWORK (DSN). The only way you can call that number is with another DSN phone.

      Secondly, if you take (318) 847-3062 as a regular phone number, it traces to Sarepta, Louisiana, where there is no Fayiz Nalu in the phone directory.

      Thirdly, the person who posted the message — sure, let’s call him “Fayiz Nalu” — uses a satellite provider for Internet access, so that the IP resolves to somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Gabon.

      Fourth, and much more interesting is SOSi — or SOS International Ltd:

      SOS International, Ltd. (SOSi) is a privately owned operations support company now in its 20th year, providing information engagement, intelligence solutions and stability operations support to U.S. government and commercial clients. A team of more than 1,100 professionals supports operations on nearly every continent and spans the widest spectrum of professional, linguistic and cultural backgrounds. SOSi is dedicated to understanding, engaging and shaping audience perspectives by offering expertise founded on real-world lessons learned. Our deliverable: support of the U.S. defense, intelligence, law enforcement and diplomatic agencies framed by an insightful cultural awareness, extensive foreign-language expertise and unparalleled on-the-ground capabilities.

      They have offices in Afghanistan and Iraq. Their mission is in some ways very similar to that of the Human Terrain System, which is not surprising then that Nalu would be seeking employment with them. (As is the Naval Postgraduate School’s Program for Culture and Conflict Studies).

      Now why Nalu would post here is still the mystery. Clearly the message is not intended for me, unless Fayiz Nalu thinks that by posting John Stanton’s article on HTS, that makes me part of HTS. Interesting assumption Mr. Nalu, but with those information gathering skills let me politely suggest that your chances of gaining employment where you seek are probably nil.

  8. Kevin Ellson

    So I take it from these posts that volunteering to lead a HTT would be a bad career move?

    Kevin Ellson
    LTC, FA

  9. Pingback: Reality Check for the Human Terrain System: Marilyn Dudley-Flores Responds « ZERO ANTHROPOLOGY

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