Reality Check for the Human Terrain System: Marilyn Dudley-Flores Responds


On 26 February 2009, a report by John Stanton was published on this blog (Some Breaking News on the Human Terrain System: Death Threats Against Female Colleagues). At the time it caused some uproar, was discussed on several other blogs, and perhaps no other story on this blog received so many comments as that one (200 comments to be exact). The story was followed up with this one: US Army 101st Airborne Investigative Report on Human Terrain System. In the midst of the furious commentary, many allegations were made about the person at the center of the story, Dr. Marilyn Dudley-Flores. Now, for the first time, Dr. Dudley-Flores presents her own story to the public. The text that follows was first sent to me by Dr. Dudley-Flores as an e-mail message earlier this week, and it is of course reproduced here with her permission and approval.

One last point before we proceed: as we know, the U.S. Congress is conducting an assessment of the Human Terrain System (see: John Stanton: U.S. Congress to Assess Human Terrain System [29 September 2009]; U.S. Congress and the Human Terrain System [04 October 2009]; and, John Stanton: US Congress Rewards Failure, Puts Personnel in Harm’s Way [10 October 2009]). It may be useful for all parties to send as much information and analysis as possible to the U.S. House and Senate Armed Services Committees, in order to assist them in their review.

It may be for naught, as the same U.S. Congress has supported HTS generously. Indeed, one HTS blogger, “Caleb” (who of course blocked access to his blog, Always Under Way, as soon as it started to get attention) was already celebrating the Congressional review in his post for Wednesday, 30 September, 2009, “H.R. 2647“:

“This will be an opportunity for this amazing program to gain even greater buy-in by Congress, the Department of Defense, and the Obama Administration – all of whom have expressed their support for the program….That’s right, support the expansion of the HTT concept, including to other combatant command areas of responsibility!! We’re worldwide!” [his emphasis]

Well, Caleb was totally wrong about the play, “Anthropology–Or How to Win Friends and Influence Afghans,” thinking it was a prestige-making event that would applaud HTS, rather than criticize and mock it. He is very cheerful, and while his gushing optimism may be correct when it comes to Congress supporting HTS further (I think it will), the idea would be to make it as difficult as possible for them to accept a positive assessment without producing a tortuous, labored explanation.

From Marilyn Dudley-Flores:

[originally directed primarily to Christian Caryl at Foreign Policy]

I have just seen your piece entitled “Reality Check: Human Terrain Teams” over the Foreign Policy website dated 8 Sep 2009 ( ).

I have no major argument with your piece, but I do feel you unfairly cast me in a “feuding” role with soldiers in the field in Afghanistan. You wrote that writer John Stanton “included excerpts from an internal investigation by the 101st Airborne Division that harshly criticized failings in training and administration that contributed to a disastrous feud between one of the HTT scientists, Marilyn Dudley-Flores, and regular Army troops in the field in Afghanistan involving allegations of sexual harassment and death threats against the professor.”  Who were these regular Army troops?

I wanted to let you know that at no time was I locked in a feud with anyone at all in Afghanistan. There is a clear difference between a feud and a systematic running assault. One implies something along the lines of a more or less equal conflict that proceeds over time; the other has one or more perpetrators attacking a victim or victims.

FYI. I was sent out from Stateside to Afghanistan, spending 7-8 days in transit. Upon my leaving Fort Benning, Georgia was the only prior “heads-up” that was given to my team that I was being sent to them to co-lead and to provide counterinsurgency research services for the division-level Human Terrain Analysis Team (HTAT) on Bagram air base. The HTAT was then wired up to the 101st Army Airborne, although how we were wired up was not clear, because none of the women were allowed by the HTAT team leader to make briefings to or go to meetings with the senior staff officers of the 101st Army Airborne, as we were supposed to do. On Bagram, I almost immediately found my SECRET clearance only “pending,” although official documents on me do not reflect that, indicating that by 1 Sep 2008 I had an unfettered SECRET clearance. Having only a “pending” SECRET meant that I could not be badged to work in my own office on Bagram. This was a mystery (and still is in some respects) until HTS management “worked the issue” and got me badged somehow.

After about two weeks waiting to be badged, when I was able to get into my office in the day-to-day, after some time, I saw the female complement of the HTAT (three women) working in the office under such a regime, as if they were POWs, hectored around by, evidently what turned out to be two phony PhDs, a former Special Forces man with an apparent learning disorder and a lot of muscle, and an immature 30-year-old 1LT in the Puerto Rican National Guard. The “muscleman,” our HTAT’s deputy team leader, had formerly worked for the subcontractor company that had recruited and hired me for the HTS through an American Sociological Association ad. Present on our team was a decent young man with good credentials, a military veteran, and a criminal justice background, but he was due to rotate back Stateside soon after I arrived. With him gone, we were at the entire mercy of the others as I would go on to experience with the other women.

In the meantime, my subcontractor company, stopped paying me. About a month on the scene, in early December, the day after they began to catch my pay up, they inexplicably fired me from my position as a key asset to the Army Human Terrain System in the war zone. This is a little like a soldier in the foxhole saying to his mates, “Sorry, guys, I’m off the clock, my pink slip has been handed to me.” HTS managers apparently didn’t know anything about it.

HTS managers scrambled to turn this new fiasco around. That is when the managers discovered some sort of communication between Bagram and the little hiring company exuding false information about the fit of my body armor and my ability to get in and out of humvees. Even after this was laid to rest, a company spokesperson was talking to authorities on Bagram about my having been fired. HTS managers had to go to extraordinary steps to make it clear that the 101st was supposed to be communicating about HTAT personnel with them and no one else.

This situation might not have existed except that the phonies had been “empire building” and covering their lack of ability to perform our mission with one or more Reserve Information Operations officers on the 101st’s senior staff who were jones’ing to hook up with the HTS program and make the large amount of money that HTS’ers did. That element covered for their inadequate performance, as well as contributed to the information ops that was devised against me while I was in transit to Bagram. (Read: a weapon of war was used against me before I set foot on Bagram.) I was not a welcome addition to the team because the baddies already figured out that I had a substantial background from Googling on me. (They did not previously know me from training, although one of the women recalled seeing me around Fort Leavenworth. Several hundreds or thousands of hits will come up if you Google on “Dudley,” “Dudley-Rowley,” or “Dudley-Flores.”) They evidently feared exposure as posers and they found a lot of fodder with which to propagandize me.

Not able to zing me back Stateside within a few days, the real slagging began. While sexual harassment was present, and had been before I had arrived, that was the least of our problem. All of us women were in fear of physical intimidation, as had been used on us. And, a major biggy: the “Rev. Dr.” Sturgis, the team leader, was ramping up the immature 1LT to view us as traitors. Outside the wire, in the field in Ghazni Province, in December 2008, he had the 1LT trying to maneuver us into specific villages where we knew specific Taliban military commanders had re-infiltrated. We already had enough data we needed about those villages to know they were red hot and no purpose was served by going there for more interviews, us women unarmed. We would, in fact, have been going off mission as previously briefed if we would have gone to those areas. The three of us women on that mission knew what the story was on that note. The 1LT was following directions from Sturgis to position us to get attacked and killed. (At no time was anyone “just trying to scare us.”) And, the 1LT was so vapidly enamored with Sturgis with his promises of Dubai vacations, good officer evaluation reports, cherry postings, etc. that he would have been dumb enough to drive us over an IED-strewn road if Sturgis had told him to do it. None of the HTS managers back Stateside changed words with me when I turned to them for advice and told them that I was not taking the women into those places. The 1LT was crestfallen when he heard from higher-ups on the FOB where we lived on-mission that those places were too hot. But, he really was fit to be tied when he saw John Stanton’s story in December that tagged on a paragraph about us women’s difficulties in the field (that did not disclose any information from the scene that could not be found over Wikipedia). And, in any case, I was not the one to leak that news to Mr. Stanton.

But, Sturgis and his buddies likely thought that I was the leaker since they were obsessed with targeting me. So, next thing we knew, we were being hustled away from FOB Ghazni back to Bagram. Come to find out, Sturgis, himself and/or through the 1LT, communicated to the CO of the FOB that we were in violation of operational security and needed to come back to Bagram to be called to account. We were greeted to a sign in the office about being traitors (as seen over No one ever debriefed us about any OPSEC violation. The 1LT’s behavior worsened.

On the 31st of December 2008, Sturgis and the 1LT tried to get me off alone on a part of the Joint Operations Compound on Bagram that we never used, but we women foiled that attempt. In the meantime, while the 1LT had a pistol and a rifle, the civilian men (except one of the posers who had gone on vacation) were buying long guns in the bazaar and trying to get them operational. One of the women, a civilian who was a Army Reserve captain, but not in uniform on this tour of duty, was hard over to obtain a weapon. Her husband from Stateside was demanding that she buy a gun if push came to shove. When military women in my sleeping hooch on Bagram found out what was happening to me, they lent me a rifle to keep in my sleeping cubicle in case they had to step out and would not be able to defend me. (One of the women’s superiors had previously barred the 1LT from their workplace on Bagram because of his inappropriate behaviors.)

I began carrying my combat knife at all times. On the 2nd of January 2009, we discovered the death threat written in Spanish on a dry erase board in the office. After five days’ trying to get advice from a silent HTS management back Stateside, at the behest of friends, family, and the other women, I asked my Member of Congress to get a message to the Commanding General about what was happening to us. A few hours’ later, HTS Deputy Program Manager, retired Army Colonel Steve Rotkoff phoned and told me to come back Stateside to report on what had been going on.

I did so and fully expected to re-deploy from the verbal and gestural responses I was getting from HTS managers who heard my three-and a-half-hour report. But, instead, afterwards, I was left for about four weeks in a Kansas City hotel room until I received a firing notice in the e-mail from the subcontractor that recruited me and hired me for the HTS. They claimed that BAE and the government authorized them to fire me for inadequate performance. Pinging HTS managers to confirm that this was, indeed, a genuine firing this second time around, met with silence. Two days later, John Stanton had the first of his stories up online about what happened to me and the other women.

It is interesting to note that in the timeframe that we women were trying to get help, and as subsequent events played out, HTS salesmen were selling the program to President Obama for the cornerstone of the civilian surge in Afghanistan:

How we were treated suggests that our concerns were covered up so as not to blemish the sales pitch to the President. For, in the case of the only Afghanistan HTAT, it demonstrated that the HTS was easily sabotaged from its internal “bugs” contradictory to its mission as a warfighting system.

In the meantime, Sturgis was recalled around the same time as myself and fired or forced to resign. However, he almost immediately found work with some facet of Glevum Associates and I would not be surprised if he found his way back to Afghanistan: Kabul or back on Bagram — by June 2009. (Glevum was a subcontractor in service to MPRI-L3 that was on contract with the government to provide various media assessment support services in the region to HTS, the 101st Army Airborne [now to the 82nd Army Airborne], and another client.)

I was fired before the 101st was able to complete their “window dressing” investigation that involved no Criminal Investigation Division authorities. Two-thirds or more of the report given to my Member of Congress is a tissue of lies. The pictorial evidence meant they had to cop to the fact that sexual harassment was going on. Some parts of the report are actually revealing, however. Like, how the 1LT acted in ways to make his death threat credible. Like, (and I learned this later from more information sent my Member of Congress) how the Special Forces “muscleman” had his Joint Ops Compound badge revoked for his failure to lead as “deputy team leader.” Like how the “Rev. Dr.” and the muscleman were blacklisted for contract hire in connection to any 101st capacity ever again.

When I FOIPA’d for the background materials that went into the 101st’s “investigation,” I obtained Sworn Statements from three Army lieutenant colonels on the senior staff of the 101st and an Army Reserve LTC working for an HTS unit near ours. The 101st’s investigation lasted from about mid-January to late March. In the last week of their investigation, they pulled these Sworn Statements out of these LTCs. All of them would be viewed as “false official statements” under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Recall that by this time I had already been fired. In that final week of the investigation, statements were sought from these men to the tune that I told incredible stories about famous people I knew, about my prior military and other background, about poor alleged production that came from me (Sturgis blocked all of us women from briefing any senior officers about the operationally relevant data that we had uncovered in our counterinsurgent activities as we were supposed to do). Additionally, these Army field-grade officers made whopper statements about my being so fat that I had to come through doors at an angle and could barely walk and stand upright on a level floor or fit into a tactical vehicle. One of these men claimed that I was in the central Joint Ops Compound building all the time complaining about living conditions, etc. The fact is, the whole time I was in Afghanistan, I was only in the office part of that closely neighboring building for a grand total of two hours, about one and a half hours spent with an Army Inspector General LTC explaining what was happening to me and the other women just prior to being sent outside the wire to FOB Ghazni. A FOIPA procedure revealed that the man didn’t even file a report on my visit.

As I have said elsewhere, I think the whole debacle started out small with the posers and their buddies not wanting to be found out to be posing and/or inadequate to the mission, along with such facts that they had probably, in toto, been paid about one million federal dollars for not doing the work of the HTAT and instead spending a good portion of their time abusing the HTAT women. Yet to be discovered is what, if any role, Sturgis and one of the Info Ops officers played in diverting or causing to be misused (if indeed the case) a federal money train of perhaps as much as five million dollars from federal contractor MPRI-L3 to Glevum Associates where the HTS and the 101st Airborne and another party were clients. It will also be revealing to find out who all among the 101st senior staff were in on the active perpetration in the overall affair, who were passive perpetrators, and just how widespread was any sort of “social contagion” from Sturgis et al.’s mythmaking among the 101st senior staff officers. Whomever all were in uniform who participated in these events should be held to account just for giving the 101st a black eye on the “Duty, Honor, Country” front. So far, my FOIPA’d information suggests that almost all the 101st’s senior staff officers were ultimately involved in some way. If that is so, where is the 101st’s Army Airborne’s honor?

After I was fired…. When John’s 26 February 2009 article made the international online media, I began to be “counterblogged” over the Open Anthropology website (now Zero Anthropology). The blogger was an Army lieutenant colonel I did not know, LTC Robert Bateman. He was found to be counterblogging on me from his Pentagon computer during duty hours from his work in a DoD think tank close to the SECDEF. Besides Dr. Max Forte’s publicized data, I also FOIPA’d the proof right out of Bateman’s machine. In his blogs, he made crazy statements to make it sound like I never worked with Dr. Louis Dupree on the rescue and relocation of Afghans (a theme that the Bagram HTT LTC would hype in his Sworn Statement riddled with falsehoods). Bateman went on that I might be a fake veteran, and that “Mata la vaca” means “The Cow Kills.” I and my supporters’ analysis later found out that one of his associates is close to the HTS and has a history in opposition research. That person was Sean McFate, Dr. Montgomery McFate’s husband. I had to be separated from Dr. Dupree, now seen by a wider audience as the stellar Afghanistan scholar that he always was, because how crazy would it be seen in the media if a Dupree associate on a substantial project involving Afghans was removed from Afghanistan and the HTS (amid public accusations that very few scholars with any Afghanistan credentials are in the country with HTS)?

I did not engage in a disastrous feud with soldiers in the field, but I most assuredly am doing my best to let Congress and federal executives know what happened to me and the other HTAT women in Afghanistan in detail. Because, it is our story that is the “poster child” of what has gone wrong with the Army’s Human Terrain System. There are many stories like ours from among our “big tent” teammates from former and currently serving HTS’ers. Ours was just more egregious in many ways. However, in the aggregate, there is a clear signal in the noise, a pattern that reveals the raging flaws in the HTS program and who all are/have been those who create and/or duplicate those flaws. In many respects I have been making a human terrain analysis of the Human Terrain System. My abilities are not so much from my intermittent 30-year background as a professor, as from the other things I have done to put food on the table during that same time span, like having been a soldier, having been an investigative news reporter, having done criminal justice research for real live drug and human trafficking cases, and having sought grants and contracts for scientific studies outside of Academe in which I partnered. It is, in fact, this background in addition to my academic PhD that made me a logical asset for the HTS.

What has not been widely mentioned in the media thus far has been my prior background at the forefront of “human terrain analysis” in the organization of social structural concepts and analytical techniques for a victimization and property damages assessment for Kuwait toward the end of the Gulf War. This effort that created a body of methodology and some other features, like a hybrid team for insertion into a war-torn area and a reachback-like cell preceded Mitzy Cybele Carlough’s (aka Montgomery McFate’s) 1994 dissertation by at least three years, her bar napkin epiphany by 10 years, and the 2006 Army and Marine Field Manual on counterinsurgency by 15 years. (By the way, the other HTAT women did not even know this until I told them at supper in the chow hall the night before I was flown off of Bagram in January. So much for my bragging on myself and talking about “famous people.”) I only mention it now to show how dysfunctional the HTS was/is.

It is the height of craziness that I was not re-deployed with the HTS. What is more, though I have been in demand for other programs requiring a SECRET clearance, I can’t be hired for the jobs because Sturgis and collaborators screwed my clearance up. I call them collaborators in every sense of the word because they not only sabotaged me, but the functioning of a warfighting system in Afghanistan. At the end of the day, what was done was sabotage and not merely “grab assing” among bored field-grade officers and sophomoric pranksterism with civilian “good ol’ boy” buddies. And, it is a national shame that HTS higher-ups thanked me for my role in bringing it to their attention, my life on the line, by firing me to cover up the facts. We Viet Nam Era vets call such treatment the “f**k you very much for your service” phenomenon. The more things change the more they stay the same.

To date, I have pulled together 600+ pages of evidence, analyses, and narrative. This packet is in the hands of members of both the Senate and House Armed Services Committees and other interested parties. I can forward a copy to you, Mr. Cary, if you are interested.

In the meantime, please know that I was not a party to a “disastrous feud.” I and my female teammate were victimized by “snakes in our foxhole” while attempting to perform our duties. We tried to get help as best we could, and at other times, we kept our heads down to survive. Other than that note, thank you for writing about the HTS. It is important to keep it in the media eye and to discuss its issues.

Many Kind Regards,

Marilyn “Stryker” Dudley-Flores, PhD

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141 thoughts on “Reality Check for the Human Terrain System: Marilyn Dudley-Flores Responds

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  3. Maximilian Forte

    Without intending any sarcasm, I am genuinely impressed by the relative lack of commentary on this. We have gone from 200+ comments on this story to really only one until now. I am impressed because it means that while individuals feel that the person at the centre of the discussion, Marilyn Dudley-Flores, is absent then that means they can fill in whatever perceived gaps with their own speculation, criticism, etc. The other option was to slag John Stanton, as if he had invented the story. Since neither option is available now, we get relative silence instead. It also means that no one will challenge Dr. Dudley-Flores’ account, which also means that it stands.

    It’s ironic as well: for too long we have seen critics of HTS being lectured at for not getting an insider’s perspective. Indeed, one of the first lines of criticism, going back to November 2007, was that unless you did an ethnography of HTS you really had no basis for criticism (which in any case is a shallow ploy to box up the anthropological critic, by reducing anthropology to its mere minimum). We were also told that it was the critical outsiders who cast HTS employees in the most negative terms, and that we should hear them speak instead. The irony is that apparently those who wanted to listen, only wanted to listen to positive, happy tales about HTS.

    So here is an insider perspective, a first hand account. Dr. Dudley-Flores is someone with first hand, personal experience. And what is the result of her sharing her story with us? Silence.

    I wonder how many others noted that just a couple of weeks after the attack against Paula Loyd, in the same province where Dr. Dudley-Flores worked, that she and her female colleagues were deliberately placed in Taliban controlled villages, unarmed, thereby exposing them to extreme danger. Where were their bodyguards, or was such protection solely a privilege reserved for Paula Loyd alone? Indeed, where was Loyd’s bodyguard, Don Ayala, when she was being attacked?

    There are too many unanswered questions, and a bit too much bullshit (even for a military program), that it should not be surprising that the reaction to Dr. Dudley-Flores’ account is the equivalent of, “Uh-oh, where did that come from? Maybe I should slowly back out of the room now.”

  4. Dr. Marilyn Dudley-Flores

    Other than Dylan’s comment expressing surprise and the Twittered “must reads,” there was actually a negative comment from an alleged HTS’er spouse buried in the Tweets. The spouse accused me of being crazy and everything being my fault, or to the tune thereof. This seems to me to be one of those “red herrings” that sometimes swim by in the great sea of blogs. We HTS’ers rarely met each others’ spouses. Trainees’ spouses typically did not reside in the Fort Leavenworth area. Sometimes they visited and we would run into them at the rare social function. Our introduction to such spouses were fleeting. They were not in our training or operational environments. So, if this Tweeter is indeed a real HTS’er’s spouse, his/her comments must be taken for what they are worth.

    1. Maximilian Forte

      I am glad that you survived what is an extremely dangerous job, dangerous under normal circumstances. Hopefully the sober-minded will take your account as a public service, so that if they go into HTS at least they go in with eyes wide open.

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  7. Angstboy

    So – if it says nine comments, why are there only five? Have some been deleted?

    I’ll bite, if a few days late. Dr. Dudley-Flores sounds like a nut. She throws around conspiracy theories better than a Truther, and although my degree is in anthropology and not psychology, she has all the traits I would associate with narcissistic personality disorder. Nothing is ever her fault in her account, it is always the work of some cabal of military officers who are out to get her. I have known soldiers and civilians that were despised by their supported units. And I don’t use that word lightly – had a mortar round or rocket dropped on these people’s trailers, no one would have shed a single tear. But I have never met a single soldier who would deliberately put another in harm’s way unless there was a true mission essential reason for it (and EVERYONE, soldier or civilian, who is working in a war zone should expect that they might be asked to put their life in danger for the mission). I can not and will not believe Dudley-Flores’ contention that anyone in Afghanistan was deliberately trying to get her killed. And once that part of her story crumbles, I doubt all the rest of it.

    Maybe we should apply Occam’s Razor here and not assume a conspiracy when simple incompetence will suffice. (And yes, I am completely willing to admit that HTS is full of incompetence, but the issue at hand here is malice, not incompetence)

    1. Mike the Cat

      So often it seems that the person who is quick to call someone a nut sounds like a nut himself. “I can not and will not believe….” OK, don’t. Why the hell should any of us care that you make personal accusations against Dr. Dudley-Flores, whom you don’t know personally, rather than look objectively at the entire data set. Try doing some real scientific analysis, if you’re capable of it. Is that enough angst for you, Angstboy?

    2. Mars Ultor

      In the interest of the advancement of science, I should like to suggest that Angstboy apply Occam’s Razor to his carotid artery.

      Yes, the issue at hand here is malice, as documented in the findings of Major Smith’s investigation of wrongdoing at Bagram Air Field:

      ‘a. While Dr. Dudley-Flores was employed as a member of the HTAT, she and the other female members of the HTAT were subjected to a hostile work environment (which AR 600-20 defines as….

      ‘b. Dr. Milan Sturgis and 1LT Jose Perez were the primary creators of the hostile work environment.

      ‘i. Dr. Sturgis’s use of physical intimidation toward his female coworkers, his discrimination against them in the work place, his inappropriate comments referencing the religious and ethnic backgrounds of his female subordinates and his tone and demeanor towards women in general created a hostile work environment. Dr. Sturgis’s persistent labeling of his female subordinates as “spies,” “apostates,” and “snitches” also created the hostile work environment. Finally, as the Team Leader of the HTAT, Dr. Sturgis tolerated and likely encouraged other examples of hostile work environment in the HTAT, most specifically the behaviors of 1LT Perez.

      ‘ii. 1LT Perez’s viewing of inappropriate material at his place of work in view of his female and other co-workers, his hostility and use of profane language and gestures, his use of inappropriate animal noises directed toward female corkers, and his demeanor toward women in general created a hostile work environment in the HTAT. It is unclear if 1LT Perez truly intended a threat in his writing of the phrase “Mata la Vaca” on the office whiteboard but it is clear that, taken in the context of his other behaviors, Dr. Dudley-Floras perceived it as a threat. This too, created a hostile work environment. Finally, lLT Perez (as the only Army officer in the HTAT) took no action to stop, and likely was a willing participant in other aspects of the hostile work environment to include the posting of various inappropriate and/or unprofessional and offensive signs in the HTAT work area.

      ‘c. Mr. Gregg Lynch tolerated and, to a lesser extent, contributed to the hostile work environment. He exhibited poor judgment when he participated with 1LT Perez in making inappropriate animal sounds toward female workers and by posting the “HTAT needs more cowbell” picture on the wall above his desk. As Deputy Team Leader of HTAT, and he witnessed the inappropriate behaviors and discrimination, he did nothing to stop what I assess as an egregious example of hostile work environment.'”

      As scientists, let us discuss data, rather than the uninformed opinions that any one of us may solicit from the rider next to us on the underground train.

    3. Maximilian Forte

      If any comments had been deleted…they would not be counted. Trackbacks are counted as “comments.”

      Angstboy, I think this is the first time that you have come closest to admitting some kind of personal knowledge of HTS, which serves to reposition a lot of your other comments on this blog. This one, however, was by far the nastiest I have seen from you, as if you might have felt personally provoked.

      I see that “Mars Ultor” commented after, and ended up quoting parts of the report that were recently sent to me by email from another source. They tend to lend weight to the core of her account. [Update: not sure now if it is the same document, this is what I was sent:

      quote from the 101st Airborne Letter re: Investigation of FOB Ghazni Complaint.

      “The Department of Defense directed rigorous investigation of the allegations. The investigation established you [Marlyn Dudley Rowley] 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.”…………………….. ]

      Anyway Angstboy, keep it cool, no need for the crummy ad hominems, alright?

  8. Jen

    “But I have never met a single soldier who would deliberately put another in harm’s way unless there was a true mission essential reason for it.”

    If I’m not mistaken, Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan is accused of killing 13 fellow soldiers. Yes… putting them “in harm’s way.” And he’s definitely not the first soldier to have killed fellow soldiers.

    My principle: when someone makes a statement that could be perceived as (1) a death threat or (2) a joke, you better f*ing consider it a death threat until proven otherwise and utilize all resources to the utmost to get the situation “addressed.”

    It looks to me like that’s what Dr. Marilyn Dudley-Flores has been doing regarding both the threat and other harassment issues. If something that should have been dealt with directly has exploded into something far more complex, that’s not Dudley-Flores’ fault either, and it’s completely within her rights to try and piece together whatever the hell was/is going on.

    HTS is fundamentally flawed, as is the war in Afghanistan, and I strongly disagree that ANY of it is “of service” to the United States. However, Dudley-Flores’ insistence that serious threats and harassment be addressed, at all levels directly and indirectly involved, IS, in my opinion, of great service, so I applaud her efforts in that respect.

  9. Angstboy

    A) I never said that Sturgis did not create a hostile work environment. I’ve been a soldier, and I’ve spent a lot of time around soldiers – they are for the most part sexist, racist, macho pigs. What I said was that soldiers do not put other individuals (American, Afghan, Iraqi, whatever) in harm’s way unless they see an operational need for it. Now, our definitions of what “operational need” entails might differ, but the military is not made up of all, a majority, or even a plurality of psychopaths.

    B) Mention of Hasan is a bit disingenuous, don’t you think? I could try and make the point that some evidence suggests that Hasan wasn’t truly an American soldier since he was obviously a jihadi warrior being given orders by Al Qaeda… But I won’t because he is most likely a single profoundly disturbed individual, not a soldier who had been ordered to perform a mission by his superiors.

    C) Max – you’re right, I should not have said she sounds like a nut. In fact, after looking into it a little, I should revise my previous comment and say that she sounds like she has histrionic personality disorder.

    D) And yes, I have experience with the Human Terrain Teams. A comrade-in-arms of mine spent a year in Iraq on an HTT. As an anthropologist and a soldier, I have kept my eyes and ears open whenever the subject is mentioned. As a soldier, I have had a little more access to the reports they prepare and names of specific individuals in the organization than a typical academic. Personally, I think Dudley-Flores’ hire as a social scientist was typical of a program which has been struggling for legitimacy for the last two years. As was the hire of Dr. Sturgis: “You’ve got a Ph.D.? Sure, come on in!” And frankly, since I can find Dudley-Flores’ dissertation on Proquest, and I can’t find Dr. Sturgis’ maybe she was more qualified that he was.

    However, to return to my point: I have spent eight years in the military, deployed a couple times, and I have had some BAD officers, but none who would deliberately try to get someone killed just because they didn’t like them. The only thing Dudley-Flores accomplishes by throwing around this conspiracy theory is to make herself look foolish.

    1. Mike the Cat

      So, Angstboy apologizes for calling Dr. Dudley-Flores a nut… and then finds another way to call her a nut. Not my field, but if the DSM-IV doesn’t define a personality disorder that is characterized by an obsession for accusing other people of personality disorders, it ought to!

  10. Mars Ultor

    The reasoning in Angstboy’s last paragraph is orders of magnitude more foolish than anything of which he accuses Dr. Dudley-Flores. His basic premise is that since he has never met any officers who would deliberately try to get someone killed just because they didn’t like them, it just doesn’t happen. That’s like my asserting that I served 13 years on active duty, and I never met any officers who were convicted of crimes. There are some, I just didn’t know them… so what? Also, who says that an officer has to be BAD in order to commit a bad act? Lisa Nowak was an outstanding officer, I believe.

  11. Dr. Marilyn Dudley-Flores

    Point well taken, Mars.

    Instead of blundering his way through some version of the DSM and giving me his diagnosis du jour, Angstboy should look into the data sets on officers doing time in military prisons around the world. Some percent of those will have done exactly what he alleges they never do. That’s why they are in the big house.

    If Angstboy actually believes what he is saying about the goodness of officers, he has either humped the boonies in lah-lah land or has been doing ethnographies from a fool’s paradise.

    Another theme I have noticed in his posts seems to be using framing language to pose me as a conspiracy theorist whose conspiracies originate in her nutty head. That’s an old propaganda/disinformation/information ops trick.

  12. Jen

    “[S]oldiers – they are for the most part sexist, racist, macho pigs.”

    That sounds to me like a large group of profoundly disturbed individuals.

    Given, it doesn’t imply “killers,” but being surrounded by sexist, racist, macho pigs with guns, who throw out a death threat from time to time, would be sufficient for me to keep a weapon close at hand and start wondering “why” when something happens that seems “off.” It only takes one or two who decide to step over the bounds. This is one reason I’m not in the military and don’t support it as an institution.

    You’re right to point out that some of the theories put forth would require the complicity of more than a single individual, for example the interactions between Sturgis and LT1, if this is what you mean by your reference to conspiracy theories. I don’t know Sturgis and LT1, but I do know that students at military schools can be especially adept at working together to concoct all sorts of deceptive schemes, this data coming to me from the person who was concocting the schemes. They really enjoyed it too. How to prove what happened would be especially difficult, though, because they were also quite good at covering their tracks.

    At the same time, I understand the depths of government and, more broadly, human incompetence and error. I once had a job with the park service lined up and had to go back and get fingerprinted four times. They didn’t get it right the fourth time either. I just stopped trying. The park officer was convinced I was burning off my fingerprints by holding them on a light bulb. It turned out that I wasn’t actually a criminal (whew!). Another officer finally concluded the sweat glands in my fingertips mess up the prints more than most. And this was for the lowest of low security clearance. If I were ever to apply for a SECRET clearance, I expect it would take years, if not decades.

    None of this suggests to me in the least that Dudley-Flores has a personality disorder. If it was meant as a propaganda trick, it’s not a very good one.

    In fact, even if some of what of Dudley-Flores is mentioning boils down to incompetence, there’s no reason we shouldn’t investigate and root that out of there too. There’s nothing I hate more than lazy, incompetent people who don’t pull their weight and make others jump through hoops to compensate — well, aside from sexist, racist, macho pigs.

  13. Angstboy

    Here’s something I find very interesting: there were no comments to this blog post for four days before I made my comment. I figured it would just sit in the internet ether being ignored. Apparently the alarm was raised, however, as soon as I was critical of Dr. Dudley-Flores.

    Mike: I’m sure the DSM has a number of categories that I fit in to quite snugly. When I was in therapy a few years ago, I believe the definition as acute anxiety disorder and agoraphobia. Since then, I suspect I have a touch of social anxiety disorder as well. I find it amusing that academics who try so hard to maintain their cultural relativism and activism against hegemonic definitions get flustered over discussions of mental health. If we want to remove the stigma from mental health problems… maybe we should examine our own biases and responses to the labeling of them?

    No – my reasoning is “I have never met any soldiers who were psychopaths. I am sure there are some who are psychopaths (Stephen Green comes to mind). However, what Dudley-Flores is implying in her charges is a conspiracy of psychopaths aimed personally at her.” Let me repeat: soldiers are racist, sexist, macho, pigs. I have no doubt that they created a hostile work environment. I have no doubt they made fun of Dudley-Flores’ weight, physical appearance, sexuality, etc. I have no doubt they did this both to her face, and in numerous subtle ways throughout the base to make her angry, upset, sad, and frustrated. But I do doubt that they tried to get her killed. That sort of thing only happens in movies. You can name bad officers and crazy officers until your face turns blue, but until you can point to a single instance of conspiracy to kill a fellow soldier, your argument doesn’t hold up.

    Dr. Dudley-Flores – although I have made two comments about you, which can technically be labeled “posts” – I would hope that you recognize that with only two data points you have a “line” not a “pattern.”

  14. Dr. Marilyn Dudley-Flores

    Jen has made some very good points above. Conspiracy…. So far as I know, Angstboy, you are the only one who has been throwing the term conspiracy around of late, at least as often as you have. I have rarely used the term.

    Are soldiers racist, macho, sexist pigs? Over a 35-year career span, that has not been my experience. You have been saying this. I never said this. Anybody who was like that when I was on active duty with the Army in the 1970s was some kind of outlier. Almost no soldier with whom I had any actual contact in the day-to-day on Bagram air base or at FOB Ghazni or any other of my HTS postings was like that. I ate with and slept among soldiers and mainly felt at home in my latter-day military environment experiences. You talk as if I thought an entire military base and other installations were out to get me. In the main, it was the few military persons associated with the HTAT and their civilian collaborators who gave me any cause to notice anything was unusual. Documentation after the fact has suggested there were abnormal involvements from among the 101st senior staff officers regarding my and the other women’s situation. But, even if the entire senior staff of the 101st were active and passive perpetrators is hardly reflective of the complement of Bagram Air Field that hosted an array of Coalition forces from the United States and other countries.

    The Afghanistan HTAT situation had more specifically to do with the flaws in the HTS program than with the overall profile of today’s American soldier. The lack of oversight of human terrain teams in the field, the temptation of exceedingly large salaries, and the convergence of other issues permitted a situation that gave unscrupulous civilians the power to co-opt part-time officers to assist them in their charlatanry. This is not to bag on part-time officers who are likely to be as professional as their full-time counterparts. But, the fact remains that there are some part-timers who will take a walk on the wild side. In fact, as you surely must know, a full-timer or a part-timer can go astray. Having been deployed, if you have ever been to briefings at the CONUS Replacement Center on Fort Benning, you will have heard the examples of military officers having been involved in quite elaborate graft and corruption schemes in recent years.

    Again, I marvel to know where have you been? Military people kill military people periodically. Sometimes it is out of passion or stress. As in the following stories:

    Sometimes it is premeditated like the officer-mental health counselor at Fort Wainwright in Alaska who premeditatedly blew his Army ROTC cadet wife’s head off in collusion with his NCO to collect on her insurance policy in the 1980s. And, by the way, both of them were serving hard time last I heard.

    The things experienced by me and the other HTAT women only happens in the movies? We were there, pal, and you were not. And, truth quite often is stranger than fiction. Moreover, for what it’s worth, you make quick to point out the cultural relativism of academicians, while at the same time that piece of lumber sticking out of your eye has writ large upon it “absolutism.”

  15. Angstboy

    Dr. Dudley-Flores – I don’t know if you are deliberately misunderstanding my comments or not. You defend soldiers, say you never had any problems with them, and then say that soldiers tried to get you killed. As a female officer, and then a female civilian, I can pretty much guarantee you have never been privy to what soldiers act like. As a white male smoker NCO, I have, on numerous and very intimate occasions. Soldiers are smart enough to act appropriately in public settings, but when in private they are foul-mouthed, prejudiced, and sometimes downright horrible people. This in no way diminishes their pride, honor, service, or ability to put the interests of others before themselves. But I have no doubt that there was an atmosphere of intolerance, bigotry, and sexism alive and well on Bagram Air Force Case during the time you were there (and before you were there, and after you left).

    What happens only in movies is a conspiracy among high-ranked individuals to have someone killed because they don’t like them.

    But…why should someone have to have been there to question your claims? They are absurd on the face. Why was everyone out to get you? Why would allegations of being deliberately exposed to combat conditions be read by the military as an EEO violation?

    I maintain that your rants about officers conspiring to kill US civilians in a warzone should be considered baseless. Such things are so rare as to be news worthy. Revelatory. Important. Instead all we get from the Army is acknowledgement of a hostile work environment. No one in the US Army would characterize putting someone directly in harms way to settle a score as an EEO violation. When they say hostile work environment, they mean it is because you got picked on because you are female, not nearly killed because Sturgis et al didn’t like you.

    We are in complete agreement that HTS has had some serious issues with hiring inefficient, unqualified, and sometimes unstable people. Our differences, I believe, are that I include you in that group, whereas you don’t.

  16. Mars Ultor

    Angstboy’s predilection for repeating the word “conspiracy” is certainly a language framing tactic. The events that Dr. Dudley-Flores describes were not part of a capital C Conspiracy, such as the International Communist Conspiracy of the 1950s or the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy of the 1990s. A small c conspiracy requires only two people, and I daresay such petty conspiracies are common given the latent sociopathy of human beings, that 99.999 percent of them go undetected, and that of the few that are detected, the great majority are shrugged off as “what else is new” and aren’t fully investigated. It is especially true that most people are unwilling to entertain the possibility that a small c conspiracy may be in their midst, either out of pride in their organization or as a defense against the fear of what such a conspiracy might portend for themselves. In this case, there was a small c conspiracy with two main participants — Milan Sturgis and Jose Perez — neither of whom were “high-ranked individuals.” What’s so unbelievable about that? Is it unbelievable that HTS would hire a fully-blown and apparently unmedicated bipolar personality with apparently no background as a social scientist? Sure, but they did hire one. Is it unbelievable that HTS would admit into the program a 1LT who not only made mooing sounds at his female co-workers and penned a death threat for all to see, but who was so uncontrolled in his misogyny as to roll down his window in a moving vehicle and yell “Skank!” at pedestrians, sometimes at senior officers? Sure, but they did admit one.

    Angstboy is absurd on his face because he insists on framing the story in an absurd way, that Dr. Dudley-Flores couldn’t have been the target of “a conspiracy among high-ranked individuals to have someone killed because they don’t like them.” Given that the facts force us to suspend our disbelief that two such people were in the HTS program to begin with, why is it so unbelievable that they might try to maneuver someone into harm’s way? Just because they didn’t like her? Sure, that *is* unbelievable. After all, all of the women in the Bagram HTAT lived in fear, not just Dr. Dudley-Flores. However, she was the tall nail that had to be hammered. When one considers, that Sturgis was making about $1000 every day that he was at Bagram, that his pay for a full tour at Bagram plus an extension might amount to something like half a million dollars, that he was eminently unqualified for his position, that Dr. Dudley-Flores soon realized that he was unqualified for his position, that Sturgis began fearing before she even arrived at Bagram that she would find him out and that his gravy train would be derailed, therefore, deliberately putting her in a potentially lethal situation was nothing more than a business risk calculation, a risk, which in his manic state, Sturgis was no doubt confident of getting away with. As Deep Throat advised Bob Woodward, “Follow the money.”

    Oh, and by the way… “All the President’s Men” was not just a movie.

  17. Dr. Marilyn Dudley-Flores

    Angstboy, I might make the same speculation that you are “deliberately misunderstanding me or not.”

    You are still strumming on that absolutist string, using terms like “always” and “never.” I also note that you make certain unfounded assumptions regarding my life experiences. For example, because I am a female or because I was a female military officer I could not possibly know anything about male and/or enlisted and officer soldiers. You are now writing my biography from your keyboard there in the Disinformation Nation, another stopover on your tour de farce.

    I have had many career experiences observing soldiers and participating as a soldier than just having been a Caucasian NCO supervisor taking smoke breaks with them. As you surely must know if you have been doing any research on me, I had the privilege to train as an Army and an Air Force officer on two different occasions. Before that, my military supervisor wanted to put me in for USMA. Had I followed up, had I had the gumption to fight for an age waiver, I would have been among the first cadet women to attend West Point. What is probably not up on the Internet is that I also served as an officer’s wife for 15 years or so. So, trust me, Bucky, I know how Army officers behave “on and off camera.” And, when I was young, I was one of those enlisted folks you describe above, particularly so since during my permanent duty time I was one of a few women living and working among male soldiers in Alaska with the 172nd. Ours was an unique place, time, and mission and we had a great many unique folks in the Brigade. In the main, I was “just one of the guys.” I think the place, the overall command climate of the unit, and the female role models demonstrated in the ambient Alaskan environment (women running construction companies, women gold miners, women ship captains, women trappers, etc.) made my acceptance in that heavily male domain relatively painless. I have many beloved buddies from my time as an enlisted woman with the 172nd Arctic Light Infantry Brigade (Maneuverable).

    I have continued to rub elbows with soldiers in the intervening years in my professional roles in Defense-related organizations. And, at Bagram Air Field and my other HTS training sites, for the most part, I was treated in a “One Team, One Fight” manner. However, that was not the case within the “base within a base” on BAF on which the HTAT was located. The first lieutenant on the HTAT team was so unsoldierly in many ways that under other circumstances he might have been fragged by another soldier. Sturgis claimed to be a Navy chaplain veteran and having had some Marine combat training in that role from days of yore. But, he acted in both such ungodly and unsoldierly ways, ditto for him. I think Mars Ultor has put some other things in perspective better than I could have said about these two men.

    However, the surprising and disappointing facet about the things Sturgis and company did concerned Sturgis’ co-optation of at least some of the 101st senior staff officers to keep from being exposed as a fraudulent counterinsurgency expert. These officers were located on that “base within a base” on overall BAF. At least one viewed Sturgis as his ticket to the high-paying HTS gravy train. Other experts examining this incident think that these officers in this rarefied and isolated area lacked purpose that tied to the structure and staffing of the 101st Army Airborne’s senior staff. Still others see their situation as part of a heavy reliance on part-timer officers whose long deployments mean that their wives have left and their businesses have gone under by the time they get back home. Such situations can have the effect of rotting the moral compass. Yet other experts think they see a social contagion as can happen in organizations unprepared to stem “first infections.” I think it is quite likely that all these things were in play as the situation ripened over time. How else do we explain how Sturgis – who had been in serious trouble before my arrival on the scene, trouble that tied to his lack of expertise – just got away with it at the end of the day? How else do we explain an Army IG officer not filing a report in the wake of serious complaints? One informant has told me that almost all the senior staff officers of the 101st were involved. However, I have the hard data evidence that only three lieutenant colonels on the senior staff were willing to make false official statements to a Member of Congress. I point these facts out to lay against your assertions of “always,” “never,” “everyone,” and “none,” the more relativistic terms “some” and “sometimes.”

    As to your question about being “deliberately exposed to combat conditions” being considered by 101st investigators “as an EEO violation”…. You are combining apples and oranges. I mentioned before that the sexual harassment had to be admitted because of the photos. Also, all the victims mentioned it when asked about it in response to a structured questionnaire. The greater infractions like the deliberate (attempted) exposure to needless combat conditions were never investigated by those who might have been better able to probe them like external military criminal investigators. There were no questions asked of the intended victims by the non-CID 101st investigators about that particular effort. The 101st was only interested in getting a Congressperson off their backs at the soonest. They hustled whom they perceived to be the most troublesome HTAT personnel off the “base within a base” and the base itself. Thereby, shifting the blame to a tenant organization and deflecting scrutiny on relationships between members of the 101st senior staff and that tenant organization. And, the uniformed officer who fetched the most blame was, as usual, the lowest ranking, the first lieutenant, and not any of the lieutenant colonels and colonels who turned a blind eye until the situation blew up in their faces – some who made false official statements after the explosion.

    But, I have the sneaking suspicion that no matter how much I and others converse in a reasoning way with you that you will still twist my/our comments this way and that to accommodate your agenda and biases.

  18. Mike the Cat

    Anstboy makes far too much of soldiers “when in private they are foul-mouthed, prejudiced, and sometimes downright horrible people.” It’s not just soldiers. Actually, this typifies male behavior in any all-male or mostly-male setting. It happens in the club house, it happens in the frat house. There was a gold rush camp in California called Lady’s Crevice, just Boyz setting up their own Hood and being “As Nasty As They Wanna Be.” And I have no doubt that it happens on the army post and “In the Navy, In the Navy.” The more homogeneous the setting, the safer the environment for private hatreds to emerge and to be openly expressed. Hell, you ought to hear what we dykes say about men. Isn’t it fun?

    But there’s a line, between blowing off a little steam in a safe setting once in awhile, and feeding regularly off each other’s hatreds and amplifying them, putting on the hoods and the robes, burning crosses, and lynching people. Exactly where is that line? For many African-Americans in the Old South, that line was just outside their front door. For Reginald Denny, driving a truck through South-Central LA when the Rodney King verdict was announced, that line was right in front of him at the next intersection. For Matthew Shepard, that line was in a bar in Laramie, Wyoming. That line may be right next to any of us at any given time without us even knowing it, more often for some of us than for others. Now, war is a terrifying, brutalizing experience, so how close is that line likely to be to someone, who for whatever reason, is perceived as being “the other?” No, Angstboy doth protest too much. Soldiers can and do cross that line. Has he never heard the term that came out of the Vietnam War: fragging? How many of us are satisfied that we know all that there is to know about the circumstances of Pat Tillman’s death?

    Quite obviously, hate alone is sufficient motive for murder. But grease that hate, as Mars Ultor points out, with the prospect of big money. Then is there any degree or shade of villainy that is unbelievable? In an environment where violent death is more common, crossing the line to commit lethal violence for private motives is a shorter step, and the hope of getting away with it under the cover of the fog of war is more credible.

    Finally, I would like a clarification as to whether Angstboy is accusing Dr. Dudley-Flores of being inefficient, unqualified, or unstable, and I would also like to know what expertise he has to make such an assertion. He has already admitted to being a nut (a couple of flavors, in fact), and so far his only conceivable claim to expertise, however specious, is that it takes one to know one.

  19. Angstboy

    To Mike the Cat: Read the thread. Slowly. You may need to move your lips, that’s okay too.

    To Mars: The joke is on you, only the really nutty conspiracy theorists ever point to Watergate. It is one of the few conspiracies that was ever true.

    To MDF: If you ever talked like this at BAF, and I know you did, Sturgis and Lynch wouldn’t have been the only ones to try and whisk you away from there. It was your misfortune to land in a place where what you actually do means more than what you claim, endlessly, that you have done. Okay, here is a game for you sister:

    Choose the one with the most credibility to discuss this:

    1) Served on the JOC compound at BAF while you were there,
    2) Has a PhD in military anthropology,
    3) Is an Army veteran with combat experience,
    4) Someone who is wondering why there is one more male HTAT member being left out of your discussion.

    Or are there more qualifications? We have met. I know how whacky you really are.

    Now, before you go screaming that I have to “out” myself and all that crap. If I could have I would have. But I can’t.

    I’ll preempt Mike on this one, “Whatever you say, I know I am more qualified than you. I can also keep my sexuality in check, you clearly have to have it hang out: Strut any more and I would have to assume that you are a straight man posing as gay just for the street cred.”

    The readers of this blog are generally aware that they will find little room for dissent. HTS is bad. The people are bad. John Stanton qualifies as journalism. MDF is oppressed. There is a hell of a lot of grey in all these things. But the most important reframing must come with something simple: HTS recruits lots of crazies. MDF is one of them, Sturgis may have been too. It is a serious problem for the program, and it should be addressed. However the main solution – the ability to have high quality academics serve their countries and save civilian lives – is a non-starter because of the people who read this blog and those like them. HTS is no more interested in having MDF as any self respecting university would be. HTS got stuck because there were so few other options. If the program does go on, and it will, would you rather have it staffed by the kooks and the dreamers, or would your rather have real, ethical, academic talent?

    Wait, don’t answer. No one should have to put their three-cent ideology on the line for a few civilian lives.

  20. Mars Ultor

    I must agree with Mike the Cat. I served as both an enlisted and an officer. The soldier is not the problem, the problem is an all-male club or an all-white club or whatever. But, a lot of people are able to keep their prejudices beneath the surface in settings where there is the credible threat of consequences if they are expressed, and are able to maintain the veneer of civilization. As a young enlisted in the Vietnam Era, I made the mistake of uttering what I thought was a harmless joke, and an NCO came down hard on me for it. I never made that mistake again. It was my active duty experience that the military made a systemic effort to root out prejudice from its organizational culture, and to inculcate the ethic that the person serving next to you was your teammate, period. Even so, my fellow enlisteds disparaged Social Actions training as “Watermelon U.,” and in the 1980s, I was disgusted by fellow officers joking about gay men dying of AIDS. But never did I experience “an egregious example of hostile work environment,” as the 101 Abn Div’s investigating officer termed the Bagram HTAT. Sure, there was the Tailhook scandal, but that occurred in Las Vegas, not in the operational environment.

    It would be a grievous error to draw a general conclusion from the one example at Bagram; however, other stories of hostile work environment have come out of the HTS program, and off-hand, I can’t see how the HTS program, although sloppily managed, is materially different from any other Army program in terms of the organizational culture. Here are a couple of anecdotal items. A long-time friend and recently retired O-6 confided to me, “I am personally disgusted by what I have seen of the Army… the Air Force isn’t much better.” Another retired O-6 I chanced to meet, on learning that I had separated from active duty at the end of the Cold War, remarked, “That was a good time to leave. We were at the top of our game then.” The gist of these comments was that the standards of professionalism had fallen.

    Sadly, Angstboy appears to be a corroborative data point.

  21. Maximilian Forte

    Why do some people post dissenting views on this blog, while at the same time saying there is little room for dissent?

    As a matter of fact, I normally entertain (in more ways than one) opinions from a wide variety of perspectives. What I do not tolerate is “die, you fucking asshole!” because then I tend to respond in kind, with a little too much gusto, and the whole thing degenerates into a mud fight. That can be fun too, for a short time.

    I have been staying out of this particular discussion, but reading it with interest. I gather that there are two or more people posting here with experience in HTS, two of which have met, and it’s more important to hear from them — so of course dissent is not just permitted, it’s encouraged.

    I do have one question though, especially stemming from a little discussion around this same post with an anonymous person on

    –> If it was so apparent to those who met Dudley-Flores that she was a “nut,” how did she get pass the interview stage with HTS, the screening, and the months of training? We seem to hear a lot about this or that “nut” at different times, after the fact of course, and very quickly those intervening in discussions on HTS’ behalf say, “oh he was fired” or “she was fired”. You know which words come before “fired”? “Hired” and “deployed.”

    So even if we take, totally at face value, the claims that Dudley-Flores is some sort of disturbed person, then it would seem that John Stanton (let’s slag on him again, shall we?) would be entirely validated in writing about gross mismanagement in HTS.

    This would seem to be lose-lose for HTS.

    What do you think, Angstboy? I ask because some of what you wrote seems to be directly validating many of Stanton’s pieces, whose essential them is “mismanagement”. On this point, he and I disagree — I don’t actually care about management issues, or the personal qualities of people in HTS. See, dissent again.

  22. Dr. Marilyn Dudley-Flores

    My take on Angstboy’s last post is that he has not enjoyed conversations with me, Mike, and Mars Ultor, and with his turning this way and that, I think he has led us on a merry chase. However, I am not clear he wants to continue since he has ended with “don’t answer.” And, as I said before, I think it is a bootless exercise anyway because he has his own agenda and biases.

    In his “last word” epistle he implies that Mike the Cat is slow-witted and casts aspersions on her sexual identity. It certainly wasn’t nice to bag on her gender orientation, although judging from Mike’s rapacious humor, she probably got a kick out of it. I don’t buy for a minute that she is three socks short of a full duffel bag. Her arguments are better integrated than the hodgepodge that passes as Angstboy’s assertions. For all I know, he might have more qualifications than Mike, and, even if Angstboy has some sort of a PhD, as I think he is attempting to claim in his “last word,” Mike sure writes and reasons better than he does by a long shot. On the other hand, Angstboy says things that are meaningless. Like, in questioning Mike’s citizenship in the Queer Nation, accusing her of being a man for the street cred. For the street cred? What does that mean? It would have made more sense to accuse her of saying she was a dyke to throw us off, to preserve her anonymity. That would have made sense.

    Regarding Mars, Angstboy bags on him for his well-reasoned statements regarding conspiracies. I think that this is actually one of Angstboy’s subjects over which he gets warm and snuggly feelings. In looking at his responses to other of Max Forte’s essays, Angstboy uses the word quite often.

    I’m not sure what Angstboy is trying to say to me regarding “if you ever talked like this at BAF.” What does this mean? If I talked like an intelligent human being in a rational manner? If I engaged in some repartee (as I did with Angstboy after he opened the barn door with calling me a nut)? Whatever he means, he knows that I did it, because now, lo and behold, he claims, that he has met me.

    What I’m not clear on is what appears to be a multiple-choice question that he poses me/us. He introduces it as a game, and there is the implication that he is talking about himself in the selections. Because he hasn’t added “All of the above,” that really makes it tough to determine, though. He goes on to add the tantalizing “Or are there more qualifications?” The game is supposed to involve some sort of discussion. I’m not sure if I have the rules straight. But, let’s suppose for the moment that his multiple-choice selections describe himself.

    Let’s see, is Angstboy saying he served inside the JOC (the “base within the base” on BAF)? A lot of people have served inside the JOC. No special hint there.

    He has a PhD in military anthropology? Nope, drawing a blank.

    He is an Army veteran with combat experience? Would that be like the Army of the United States? If so, there are lots of American vets with combat experience out there, many still alive from World War II.

    He wonders why there is one more male HTAT member left out of our discussions. Is he trying to say that he is him? This is baffling since I’ve actually alluded to all the players except a transfer-in who arrived just before I left BAF and a temporary member from an independent firm who was there to do some technical work. If Angstboy is saying he was one of them, then it narrows the field, but I am still stumped – and concerned. If Angstboy were one of those men, it would mean that the HTS admitted someone who self-admits that he has had therapy in the recent past for acute anxiety disorder and agoraphobia. I have known others with anxiety disorders and agoraphobia, and I can just imagine the discomfort that one with those disorders in Afghanistan would have felt as Afghan villagers crowded in on them as they are apt to do when someone comes into their midst who is an object of curiosity. The urge to bolt would be overwhelming.

    But, Angstboy, I don’t think you are either of those men for a moment because those fellows, so far as I know, would just erp up who they were. Why the coy disguise? Why can’t you “out” yourself? Perhaps you can clue us. Are you hunkered down in a secret undisclosed location with your decoder ring? Or, perish the thought, are you currently working in Iraq or Afghanistan with HTS, briefing colonels and generals with your rambling, often meaningless exposition, giving them advice on how to prosecute the wars? What was Angstboy saying about kooks and dreamers not being optimal to preventing civilian deaths? Add to that soldier deaths. And, fellow HTS’er deaths.

    I don’t doubt that HTS has hired and deployed “crazies,” as Angstboy terms them. They have hired imposters who have set no foot inside self-respecting or disreputable universities. And, they have fired and run off the genuine, ethical, academic talent that Angstboy would have us believe that he represents.

  23. Mars Ultor

    If I recall correctly, Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. As I understand it, HTS hired Angstboy with his self-proclaimed psychiatric history, and hired the spectacularly bipolar Milan Sturgis, and hired the Man Who Would Be Congressman Eric Egland, whose every waking moment in Iraq was spent conniving to jump in front of a CNN camera, and hired Colonel Guy Campion, Napoleonic in both stature and ambition, who is rumored to have conducted a personal campaign to take over Iraq one HTAT at a time, and hired a parade of reserve officers whose civilian jobs were in Dead-End Cubicleland and whose first-time deployment enabled them to blossom into full-blown martinets. Since they are doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, it seems to me that one may claim with considerable credibility that Montgomery McFate is insane, that Steve Fondacaro is insane, and that HTS’s Pentagon patrons are insane. I would expect to soon learn of HTS hiring Hamlet; his madness would not be seen in him there, there the men are as mad as he.

  24. Angstboy

    Okay, so everyone agrees, HTS hires insane people. That’s been my point from the very beginning.

    I have worked in a number of places in the CENTCOM theater, as both soldier and civilian

    I have a Ph.D.

    I have served as a soldier in Iraq

    I have not worked for HTS

    I choose to keep my identity quiet because of the stigma attached to anyone touching the military

    I have gone through therapy for some issues I had in my past – perhaps Dr. Dudley-Flores would have been served by going to therapy as well.

    Max: since you are the only one at the moment who has managed to stay civil (and yes, I admit I have lost my civility a time or two), I will actually respond to your question:

    I think that for some reason John Stanton has a strong interest in making HTS out as badly as possible. I believe that he has a number of sources who are disgruntled ex-HTS employees who send him bits of information reflecting their own personal experiences plus rumors and stories they’ve heard. Stanton then puts those bits and pieces together into a narrative. However, as every anthropologist (and crime scene investigator) knows, narratives are often more compelling than they are correct.

    That being said, I believe that there are some severe problems within the HTS program. I think one of the problems has been addressed, moving HTS personnel away from being contractors and into being DA civilians. The contract hopping mercenaries are being slowly weeded out as they leave the program because they are not making the astronomical salaries they were once making, and that salary was their only reason for joining the program in the first place.

    Unfortunately, a number of problems remain. The primary problem I see is a continuation of the HTS policy of not firing employees who are not contributing to the program, or in some cases specifically damaging it through their actions. This comes from a number of factors, not least is the inability of HTS to hire a majority of solid, rounded, mentally stable individuals.

    My last point, as you may have guessed, is that I lay this problem in part on you, the Executive Board of the AAA, and the others in the anthropological community who so actively campaign against HTS. I see this campaign primarily as an ideological and political driven objection, rather than one based on any objective analysis of the facts. These facts, unfortunately, have not been forthcoming from HTS, so the only data in play is that provided by Stanton (which I have already said I believe is skewed in a particular direction). It’s a vicious circle, and the end result is, unfortunately, a program populated by many pseudo-academics with fake or near-fake degrees (in one case: a 100 page dissertation does not a sociologist make, whoever signs off on it) and soldiers who wanted to make a difference and are hamstrung by bad bureaucracy (worse than regular Army bureaucracy if you can believe that possible), left over from the contracting days.

    And the worst part is that I believe the program will simply flounder about in the future, never given a chance to succeed or fail because of the combination of a closed-minded anthropological community and a hard-headed leadership team who are more interested in their own aggrandizement and vision than any true success.

    Oh, I forgot: conspiracy!

    1. Maximilian Forte

      Thanks Angstboy,

      I am moving in a bit of a rush now, so not much to add. Just a note to say that, behind the past clashes, friction, sarcasm, jabs, jokes, etc., across lots of commentary on stories like these, I do in fact appreciate comments such as yours. One does not have to agree with any comments to be able to see their value in a broader discussion. As I begin to move away from this blog, I think that readers in the future will be grateful for the story on the one hand, and the contrasting comments on the other hand. The points you raise here are important ones, they are not just dismissible out of hand (unless one wants to be careless), and anyone who wants to argue against these points has to make an argument that is that much better as a result.


    2. ryan a

      Angstboy wrote:

      “My last point, as you may have guessed, is that I lay this problem in part on you, the Executive Board of the AAA, and the others in the anthropological community who so actively campaign against HTS. I see this campaign primarily as an ideological and political driven objection, rather than one based on any objective analysis of the facts.”

      What “objective analysis of facts” are you talking about? Of course the opposition to HTS is politically driven–why is that surprising to you? What kind of objective analysis of the situation are you looking for? Should anthropologists simply stand by and allow their discipline to be co-opted because, objectively, it appears to be an efficient and useful tool for the military?

      I think not.

      For me, anthropology should in no way be involved in counter-intelligence and/or the military. Such involvement runs absolutely counter to my understanding of what anthropology is, and my motivations for being a part of it. I understand the fact that anthropology has been used for nationalistic, militaristic, and imperial purposes many times over. That does not mean that anthropologists of today have to stand by and allow that to happen again with HTS.

      “And the worst part is that I believe the program will simply flounder about in the future, never given a chance to succeed or fail because of the combination of a closed-minded anthropological community and a hard-headed leadership team who are more interested in their own aggrandizement and vision than any true success.”

      Closed-minded anthropological community? How so? What exactly should the anthropological community be open to? What does a “successful” HTS mean to you? What promise do you see in it? Why do you think that anthropologists should support HTS? I’ll be interested to hear your response.

      1. Maximilian Forte

        Excellent questions Ryan, all the right ones to be asked, in my view. Certainly the discussion of “bias” is out of place and quite silly. As Jen says, as I have had to remind others countless times, we all have a bias. The point is to acknowledge it, and then to use it as a strength: now that one is aware of one’s bias, one’s accounts and commentaries have no excuse for being incoherent, ambiguous, contradictory, etc., and more importantly, one’s bias should be the instrument by which one raises and explores questions that others simply neglect. Bias is the basis of dissent, as it is the basis of national security, counterinsurgency, etc., none of which are “objective” and “value neutral” either. To tell one side, “disarm yourselves, drop your biases” while that the other side maintains its own, is to perpetrate intellectual fraud. It would be like saying, “you are not biased if you agree with me. Accommodate yourself to my position, and you will be deemed objective.”

        Some people seem to think that, having failed to convince anthropologists of the merits of HTS, that anthropologists must take it upon themselves as some sort of “scientific” duty, of all things, to make room for HTS. Nonsense.

        If we critics of HTS are just a small, vocal minority…then we seem to have been credited with achieving a lot. The fact of the matter is that even if it is true that we are a vocal minority, the supporters of HTS are an even smaller minority, no less vocal, and apparently facing serious difficulty in attracting anthropologists. It’s not for nothing that HTS anthropologist, Chris King, more than once told me that HTS is not (*any longer* he should have said) interested or dependent on attracting anthropologists: that is an implicit admission that HTS recruitment efforts in anthropology have largely failed. We should all be proud of that fact, including the silent majority looking on.

  25. Mars Ultor

    This is easily the most cogent and well-reasoned of Angstboy’s posts, so much so that I begin to believe that he actually has a PhD, whereas many of his earlier posts read like the unschooled inaneness of an unpromising undergraduate. But still he can’t resist the temptation to jab at Dr. Dudley-Flores’ mental health, and to belittle others as conspiracy theorists, and this continuing theme is sufficient to doubt Angstboy’s mental stability. Having outed himself as having had mental problems, he attempts to tear everyone else down to his level by insisting that all of us have problems as well. This is not a very clever tactic, and ultimately, it is a self-defeating one, because no one is buying into it.

    Let’s stop the ad hominem remarks all around, shall we? This is sine qua non if you truly wish to have a serious discussion about the HTS program. I would like to honor your service to our country, but your conduct makes that nearly impossible. Honor Dr. Dudley-Flores’ service, and I am confident that she will reciprocate.

  26. Dr. Marilyn Dudley-Flores

    Concerning Angstboy’s comments regarding HTS, there is merit in his latest post and his writing composition hangs better together than anything in his previous posts that I have seen, almost as if another person is crafting it. But, in this noteworthy picture, embedded is a continuing asserted negativity: That I am a nut case. Angstboy has not convinced me that he knows me or has even met me. That is a soap opera-like revelatory device to capture the public reader’s imagination and to attempt to build for himself some credence. If he is, indeed, a PhD-degree’d military anthropologist, that does not make him a clinician to evaluate my mental health. The basis of his “diagnosis” appears to be my reportage of events that does not depict the U.S. military at its best. It’s quite like how dissenters were treated in the old Soviet Union — lock’em up in psychiatric hospitals. What he is doing is blaming the victims, who among them are good people who subscribe to “Duty, Honor,Country,” and who would like to see us be all that we can be. Covering up flaws and failures don’t make things better. The problems never get worked if they are hidden from view.

    I had great hopes for the HTS program. I knew my colleagues and I were onto something back in the early 1990s moving social structural conceptualizations into military and similar environments. I was glad that the theories and the methods rooted in the concepts of social structure had made their way to application. And, I was simpatico with Tracy St. Benoit’s impromptu comments before an audience of HTS’ers in July of 2008. Her Dad had been an engineer in the Mercury program. She likened her sense of excitement and purpose to what her father and his fellows felt. But, I had also heard disturbing things about the program prior to coming into it. However, by the time I came to the program, enough time had passed for a learning curve from past mistakes to have an effect. Sadly, that was not the case. The same mistakes kept being repeated. I know this not from just the Afghanistan HTAT experience, but from the reports of other HTS teammates across Iraq and Afghanistan who have had bad things happen to them and who have found themselves in bad situations – bad things coming from our own side that would have likely not have happened had the contradictions in the HTS program been worked out.

    Among the things that were not worked out was a mechanism to hear and process issues as they came up on the different clock of the 24-7 war zones many time zones away and to work those issues immediately. And, so those bona fide HTS’ers faced with nutballs, phonies, people with their own personal agendas, and other dysfunctional issues were left at the mercy of all of that AND unresponsive HTS managers and/or on-the-scene military managers deferring to the absent, unresponsive HTS managers. It was like being behind the lines on a mission with weapons that don’t fire and troops on drugs. That my teammates in the aggregate were harmed, that they quit in disgust, that they spoke out, or that they were fired do not make them “disgruntled employees.” (That is the stock response of a dysfunctional organization.) That these things happened to them, that they have feelings and hurtfulness about these things, are not their faults. So typical of our American society to assign a personal responsibility explanation to everything under the sun, so antithetic to the forces of social structure. What happened to my “big tent” teammates is diagnostic of a flawed program.

    As for Angstboy’s bagging on John Stanton…. From among HTS’ers, I never heard anything negative about his writings in the field except for one or two “mercenary contractors” who griped that the people writing into him were ungrateful for the big money they made, that they should just shut up and take their paychecks. The general consensus among HTS’ers was that even if Stanton sometimes got details wrong, that he was 80-90 percent on target – which is actually pretty good for even a mainstream journalist. As a sociologist, I can tell you from the functionalist perspective that Stanton served a purpose. He was the latent function, the unintended consequence, of don’t-give-a-shit HTS managers who failed to lead their troops “over there” or to give a hoot about them from a distance once they deployed. In my book, he deserves a national medal for stepping up.

    Again, speaking as a sociologist, a new negativity implicit in Angstboy’s latest post is to minimize my PhD dissertation and to demean those sociologists of note who signed off on it. If he has truly ferreted out mention of my dissertation in professional databases, he will know that it is more like 300-400 pages in length and not merely 100. My two prior Master’s theses, one of those in anthropology, each ran between 200-300 pages.

    Anyone who wrote a doctoral dissertation under the guidance of a genuine disciplinary department deserves recognition for their effort, whether or not they went on to work in the discipline – teaching students, engaging in projects under organizational umbrellas external to Academe, doing research that generates journal articles, book chapters, books, and funding for further research. There were only a few of the latter type in the HTS program when I served in it. I was one of them. And, my word does not have to be taken on the face of it alone.

    I can’t be certain of Angstboy’s motives and his bona fides, but clearly his agenda on this blog has been to mix truth and lies and to cast aspersions to plant the seeds in the public mind that what happened to my teammates and me did not happen — and that, anyway, whatever happened was my fault because I am less than my public record shows.

    Mars, I would like to exchange thanks with Angstboy for his service, if indeed he did serve, but it does not sound like he has any intention to get to that point.

    1. Maximilian Forte

      Wow Marilyn, this is a very important post — and because this blog sometimes does funny things with the order of comments, let me insert the link to the actual post to which I am referring:

      I appreciated every single paragraph, from the use of “mental illness” as an accusation against dissidents or to shut up whistle blowers, the focus on the individual as opposed to social structure, to the discussion of the management problems in HTS, to the evaluation of John Stanton’s work. Sometimes the importance of comments gets “lost” in the flow, so I hope readers in the future will detain attention on this particular post of yours.

      Many thanks.

  27. Jen

    The Congress beats you all, with a whopping health care bill of 1000+ pages. See if you can find a dissertation that matches THAT! Length isn’t necessarily a sign of intelligence. As my dad would say, the only good books are picture books.

    Actually, Angstboy, I do agree with some of your points – not all, but some. I especially agree that we are all nuts in our own ways and need to be able to acknowledge that. This should be familiar to anthropologists as the call for more reflexivity, although not always put into practice.

    At the same time, I don’t put too much stock in psychologists’ and psychiatrists’ quickness to diagnose disorders of the individual, saying a person has “bi-polar disorder,” “anxiety disorder,” etc. Social and cultural aspects of psychology/human thought and behavior are quite important, so my take on that is more in line with social psychology.

    Another problem: Someone said, “many of his earlier posts read like the unschooled inaneness of an unpromising undergraduate.” What makes a person with a PhD so much more intelligent than anyone else? Honestly, I want to know.

    You’re also all fooling yourselves if you think you’re able to be scientific and unbiased. I noticed these words mentioned frequently above. We all have agendas. In fact, I’m quite happy with mine.

    The only less-partial way I can think of to continue this discussion would be to include Sturgis and 1LT, but I doubt they’ll be coming around anytime soon.

  28. Mars Ultor

    Jen, never did I say that a person with a PhD is so much more intelligent than anyone else. Actually, I’ve always been rather fond of the Spanish proverb, “Men can acquire knowledge, but not wisdom. Some of the greatest fools ever known were learned men.” I am not inordinately proud of the fact that I do not have a PhD; there is far too much proud ignorance as it is, and I have no wish to add to it. Therefore, I am starting a PhD program in a few months… at the risk of becoming a fool. But, no guts, no glory. It is my hope that what will save me from becoming a fool as I acquire more knowledge is that I never earn a degree in the same field twice, thus I maintain some semblance of being a generalist.

    And yes, I am able to be scientific. That has nothing to do with being unbiased. Everyone has biases, yet many of us are scientists, isn’t that so? But here’s the trick: open mindedness and free inquiry. I started my master’s thesis with a particular bias, and the research process convinced me of the opposite position. I went where the data led me.

    But, getting back to HTS, I question whether it is possible to have a really scientific discussion about it in this venue. In order to be scientific, we would need to have unbiased, comprehensive data, and probably several layers of such data. None of us has that. On the other hand, it might be possible to have a policy discussion, but even that would require some data upon which we can more or less agree is valid. Instead, what I see is Dr. Dudley-Flores reporting her experiences in the HTS program, which is a form of data, and rather than countering with data that is supportive of a more positive view of HTS, people resort to calling her a whacko. I find that utterly contemptible.

    1. Jen Sharpe

      Hi Mars,

      I was also using your quote to hint at all the “qualifications” that have been tossed around above, as if they actually mean something, when honestly they don’t mean anything outside of broader context and actions. Although, on the opposite hand, I can’t think of a single person who I could unequivocally call a fool. Just something to think about. Anyway, to science:

      “In order to be scientific, we would need to have unbiased, comprehensive data, and probably several layers of such data. None of us has that.”

      And you’re never going to have that when you’re dealing with living, thinking human beings. This is why I wouldn’t call myself a scientist and am highly skeptical when others say they can achieve this.

      You said: “I started my master’s thesis with a particular bias, and the research process convinced me of the opposite position.”

      But the research process didn’t get rid of your bias…. You just came to a different conclusion under the same biases. That’s like saying a research method can free us from our worldviews when actually the research method is still very much part of it.

      So now back to fools, because it’s similar to calling someone whacko. Yes, I agree regarding calling someone whacko is wrong, but Angstboy’s points about psychology did have slightly more substance to them than that.

      What I see taking place here is an argument among people with very different deep-set values, beliefs, and motivations. There’s nothing wrong with that in the least. That’s life. But why aim for science, pretending we could ever arrive at something objective?

      1. Maximilian Forte

        “But the research process didn’t get rid of your bias…. You just came to a different conclusion under the same biases. That’s like saying a research method can free us from our worldviews when actually the research method is still very much part of it.”

        Brilliant, Jen, I would like to quote this.

        It also reminds me of another set of flawed assumptions that create an aura around ethnography: the more time we spend with others, living with them, the more understanding and respect we gain for others. That may be true, but it is not necessarily true, and in some instances it is not true at all.

  29. ryan a

    “The Congress beats you all, with a whopping health care bill of 1000+ pages. See if you can find a dissertation that matches THAT! Length isn’t necessarily a sign of intelligence. As my dad would say, the only good books are picture books.”

    Jen, thanks for making that point. If we measured the value of a book, or a dissertation, by the sheer number of pages then all we would need is a scale. Presto! Why even read?

    Talk about missing the point. It’s the ideas and analysis that matter, not the damn number of pages.

  30. Dr. Marilyn Dudley-Flores

    Jen, I did not make the point about the length of my dissertation to give a measure of my intelligence, but to take the air out of Angstboy’s shaping implication that the noted sociologists who were on my doctoral committee had signed off on an inferior product (two structural sociologists and two social psychologists, one also an anthropologist). It wasn’t an inferior product at all. It was an exemplar for follow on dissertations in my doctoral department and its topic was awarded with two National Science Foundation grants that allowed me to continue my research beyond the dissertation.

    The “we are all nuts in our own ways” standpoint seems to reside on the other side of the coin with Freud’s insight that, while the clinician might find the patient’s behaviors suboptimal, those behaviors are “rational” once one understands the intent of his behaviors. (See the essay I mentioned on the Wallerstein blog over these ZeroAnthropology pages.) So, taking the whole coin at its value, even behavior maladaptive to the individual and society is rational to the individual. When the individual gets sick and tired of that behavior because it is interfering with his/her occupation, relationships, etc., he/she may try something else, like self-presenting for a tune-up through medication and/or the talking cure. Or, on the other hand, society gets sick and tired of the individual’s behaviors, as when a family drops off the crazy uncle in the attic at the curb in front of the psychiatric hospital. Alas, the labeling process of the mental health establishment brands the person so that some sort of treatment plan can be enacted. And, that can be detrimental, especially when it is a disorder from which the patient can recover or for which he/she can have a superb life with the assistance of medications. In my own clinical counseling jobs, I have seen the labeling beginning as early as intake, when the individual has come in merely to check out services available. And, that is not right.

    But, what is also not right is the kind of labeling occurring here. Angstboy called me a nut. Over Internet searches, now, “Dudley-Flores” and “nut” will come up over pages of truncated entries online. In the meantime, to fend against the outrage that other respondents have vented and to win sympathy in the public mind, he makes of himself an object of compassion by admitting to having had mental health diagnoses.

    As to the question of PhD’d intelligence vs. non-PhD’d intelligence, I think Mars Ultor has put it in perspective. The PhD is largely a key that opens some doors that can’t be opened otherwise in our “credential society.” I got my PhD fairly late in life. By that time, I had learned all sorts of social and natural scientific theories and methods. And, I could apply them to phenomena just as good as anybody with a doctorate. But, being able to work to the fullest and obtain the earning power in Academe and the wider world of Science was hard to do without being admitted to certain venues and opportunities. Like getting labeled a nut, it wasn’t fair to have to earn yet another credential. But, I persevered, supporting myself with at times three different jobs and pulling a lot of all-nighters, and now I am able to label myself “Doctor” and tag “PhD” at the end of my name. Despite that, the public will have to make up its own mind who the author of this story is: the story of a nut, or the story of a learned woman. Angstboy, hiding behind his alias, wants it to be a story of a nut.

    Mars Ultor’s comments about the paucity of data concerning HTS are noteworthy. I learned from a mainstream journalist recently that his efforts to obtain data from the program has been stonewalled.

    It is precisely the reception my story has received, first when John Stanton broke it, that has kept other HTS’ers from coming forward without the anonymity that aliases provide.

    1. Jen Sharpe

      Many thanks for that explanation. I do think this part gets us somewhere:

      “Despite that, the public will have to make up its own mind who the author of this story is: the story of a nut, or the story of a learned woman.”

    2. Jen

      One more question, which I think will help clarify for me.

      From your perspective, why is the opinion of the public on this issue important? — that is, on whether or not the story is believable — given that most people probably don’t even know HTS exists.

  31. Dr. Marilyn Dudley-Flores

    Jen, from the main piece above:

    “It is interesting to note that in the timeframe that we women were trying to get help, and as subsequent events played out, HTS salesmen were selling the program to President Obama for the cornerstone of the civilian surge in Afghanistan:

    That the new American president was sold a bill of goods, a warfighting system full of internal contradictions for such an important “cornerstone” role is in the public’s interest — Americans who are led by him. Other publics must be considered, too, members of the global public who are parties to policies interdependent with the United States.

  32. Mars Ultor

    Jen, again you misunderstand me. Never did I claim that I got rid of my bias. You will recall that earlier I stated that we all have biases. I merely maintain that forming a conclusion based on an examination of the data is superior to an opinion held in ignorance. Do you disagree?

    Yous stated: “And you’re never going to have that when you’re dealing with living, thinking human beings. This is why I wouldn’t call myself a scientist and am highly skeptical when others say they can achieve this.”

    You are, of course, entitled to your opinion. However, I have made several successful predictions regarding the behavior of organizations and nation-states composed of living, thinking human beings.

    As an undergraduate, I wrote a paper predicting that Russia would offer no serious objection to the eastward expansion of NATO, nor would such expansion lead to political gains by Russian ultra-nationalists. That turned out to be a good call.

    As a graduate student, I wrote a paper that advised Argentine president Nestor Kirchner to stiff the International Monetary Fund while the country solved its economic crisis, and that there would be little consequences to temporarily defaulting on these and other international loans, not only because was Argentina “too big to fail,” but because with Argentina’s history of political instability, the global financial community has good reason to fear a return to military rule. I showed that Argentina prosperity had fallen dangerously close to the Przeworski Criterion, above which no democracy has ever reverted to dictatorship; moreover, I showed that the Przeworski Criterion coincided perfectly with the state of the Argentine economy in 1976 when a military coup deposed Isabel Peron. Sure enough, the Bush Administration, elsewhere so heavy-handed in its foreign policy, showed uncharacteristic patience while Argentina recovered and rescheduled its loans.

    Almost two years ago, I predicted that there was no way that the Space Shuttle fleet could stand down by the end of FY 2010. Now everyone acknowledges that the real stand down date is 2011 at the earliest.

    Successful predictions are possible by drawing the correct conclusions from available data. Naturally, one never has all the data that one would like, but we do what we can in an imperfect world. To suggest that because we are not without bias and because we are not omniscient, we can do no science, is a defeatist attitude that I consider absolutely without justification. So you don’t want to call yourself a scientist, that’s OK by me. I’m pretty damned sure I’m one, and a couple of different kinds to boot.

    We really have gone quite far afield here. I was hoping to have a cogent discussion in particular about HTS or in general about the use of scientific expertise in theaters of military operations.

    1. Maximilian Forte

      “I wrote a paper predicting that Russia would offer no serious objection to the eastward expansion of NATO” — Ok Mars, but then that was actually a very poor prediction, because Russia has been extremely opposed to the expansion of NATO in fact, especially with regard to the prospect of Georgia and the Ukraine joining NATO, and the role of Poland and the Czech Republic in supporting the missile defense shield. Ultra-nationalists may not have gained much ground…but the elections are not quite fair either, nor is there untrammeled media freedom, and besides, Putin is quite nationalist.

      If this is your support for “science,” I would think again if I were you.

  33. Angstboy

    Quick note – why does Marilyn assume I was talking about her dissertation and credentials, when I clearly stated that I was directing my responses to Max? And get so angry in defense of it?

    Some may disagree with me on this point, but Jen raises an important issue – why is it of such concern that ““Dudley-Flores” and “nut” will come up over pages of truncated entries online”? Shouldn’t the work of Marilyn Dudley-Flores stand out for itself as solid research? (and why would anyone put those two terms together in an online search, anyways?) Or, maybe it’s just that most of the work of Marilyn Dudley-Flores in the last year was scribbled in a notebook while sitting at the Green Bean next to the Popeye’s? (sorry about the dig, but I felt I should “prove” that I was aware of what was going on at BAF)

    I don’t “want” this story to appear to be anything. As I see it, almost everyone who has heard about HTS has already made up their mind about it. The few who haven’t have a series of John Stanton articles which are unsourced for the most part (and I am really not happy with a statement that 80-90% of the time is good enough for respectable journalism, especially when I would rate his accuracy closer to the 50% mark), some critical pieces in Wired, etc., and the wrapped-in-the-flag histrionics of HTS cheerleaders. It is the equivalent of trying to figure out how you feel on the American health care debate by only watching Bill O’Reilly/Sean Hannity and Keith Olbermann/Rachel Maddow – each source presents a strongly biased view of the issues.

    Which I suppose gets to Mars/Jen’s point about biases. Mars, I would likely say I am even more positivist/empiricist than you – although we may all have biases, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive as scientists (as humans, even), to remove those biases as much as possible from our work.

    A set of events occurred on Bagram Air Force Base surrounding Marilyn Dudley-Flores, Milan Sturgis, Gregg Lynch, Wil Rautenen and others. Marilyn Dudley-Flores believes that she was the target of a conspiracy of HTS and military individuals to “position us to get attacked and killed” because of a mutual dislike. It is on this point that I believe reality is called into question within Dudley-Flores’ original account. Harassment – absolutely. Intimidation – most likely. Unsafe/Uncomfortable Work Environment – no doubt. Conspiracy to commit murder?

    The attempt to make Jessica Lynch a hero lasted only a few months. The story about her heroic recovery didn’t last out the year. The conspiracy around Pat Tillman lasted approximately a week. Human beings are very bad at keeping secrets – to quote one of my favorite movies about the military: “Wow, the Washington Post doesn’t usually get leaked until after lunch.” The Army investigated the events surrounding Dudley-Flores, et al, and found that there were (presumably numerous) EO violations, and Sturgis was let go with cause. Since when did conspiracy to commit murder get classified as an EO violation?

  34. Mike the Cat

    “why does Marilyn assume I was talking about her dissertation and credentials”

    Probably because you’re so vague that no one is sure what the hell you’re talking about! I thought you were talking about her, too. And it’s always the same old crap… using this or that minor detail to bag on people as nuts and conspiracy theorists. These rants are a reflection of your personality disorders, no one else’s. Mars is right: we ought to be having a cogent discussion about HTS, but it’s clear that you have nothing of value to contribute to such a discussion. Your time and effort would be better spent getting yourself some sorely needed professional help.

    1. Angstboy


      Dudley-Flores’ entire account hinges on the fact that Sturgis et al attempted to have her killed. It is hardly a minor detail.

      Unfortunately, it seems that there is no way to have a cogent discussion about HTS with you and others of your persuasion. Your mind is made up, whether you are one of the O’Reilly watchers or one of the Olbermann watchers, you will see positive stories as propaganda and negative stories as a reinforcement of your previously held beliefs.

      Now – there are unfortunately very few positive stories coming out of HTS. I freely admit this, and I attribute it to a number of factors:

      1) HTS has been desperate for people – resulting in the hiring of a number of less-than-stellar candidates (how many have been hired over the phone?)

      2) HTS has some internal problems, like the lack of an IRB which means that no academic work conducted within HTS will be published in any reputable academic journal, and thus no positive stories will come through that measure (even as a proponent of HTS, if I were an editor of a journal and there were no way to ensure proper data collection procedures, I would never publish an article no matter how well written)

      3) There is a culture of compartmentalization within the Army, which means that non-academic HTS personnel, who usually come from military backgrounds, are reluctant to share information outside their own niche

      4) There is a stigma attached to the military in general, and HTS in particular, such that those who do work with or about the military are reluctant to advertise themselves. As I see it, working with the military creates a master status of “sell out,” “warmonger,” or whatever other label you wish to apply, which will always be applied to the individuals who do so. This stigma is most pronounced within anthropology, and really within the more traditional fields.

      I find it enlightening that the Society for Applied Anthropology, while not condoning HTS per se, has also expressed confidence that anthropologists can be trusted to stay within approved ethical guidelines wherever they may work. I assume this is because SfAA members have had to deal with these ethical concerns in a more direct way than most (dare I say “ivory tower”?) anthropologists have had to deal with.

      Perhaps this hearkens back to one of the long standing “problems” within anthropology: “going native.” It is eminently acceptable in the field to champion the causes of the people you study (I believe Max has done this with the population in Trinidad/Tobago he studied, but I could be misremembering what I read, please correct me if I’m wrong). After all, we live among them, share with them, learn their language, their history, and see many horrible things occur around us. Who wouldn’t empathize with the subject in that situation, and want to assist them? And, so long as this population has little or no voice of its own, it is socially acceptable to become an “engaged” anthropologist and advocate on their behalf.

      BUT – if an anthropologist works with and studies the military, does that mean that he/she will begin to champion their cause?

  35. Mars Ultor

    Actually, Max, it was a stellar prediction, taken in its proper context, which you don’t know it you haven’t read the paper. At the time, the question was whether to expand NATO to include Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. The paper did not address the entry of the Czech Republic, Hungary, or Poland, which had already joined the alliance. Regarding the admission of these states and members, how “extreme” was Russia’s opposition? Even with regard to the admission of the three former Soviet republics on the Baltic, Vladimir Putin himself said that it would be “no tragedy.” The fact is that the inclusion of these states caused no substantive change in Russian foreign policy. Some grumbling, sure.

    Then there is the all too common pitfall of over-extrapolation. In my paper, I didn’t deal with “the prospect of Georgia and Ukraine joining NATO,” nor “the role of Poland and the Czech Republic in supporting the missile defense shield,” so these issues are no grounds at all for judging my work as a “very poor prediction.” It would be self-serving for me to say now that back then I would have predicted that the prospect of Ukraine joining NATO would provoke Russia; that would be a post-diction, not a prediction.

    Anyway, what does any of this have to do with HTS?

    1. Jen

      It has EVERYTHING to do with HTS.

      Why is being able to predict the future in this way even valuable? It certainly doesn’t help any groups in Russia who opposed the decision, despite Putin’s conclusion that “it would be ‘no tragedy’.” Putin has control over Russia’s foreign policy, but Putin is NOT Russia. Such an analysis concluding that opposition was NOT extreme might make it SEEM as though his conclusions speak for everyone, when actually they might not. And how would one even measure extreme opposition if, as Max suggested, there are problems with freedom of speech and democratic elections?

      HTS, likewise, is a supposed “science” used to further U.S. government agendas in Afghanistan. The fact that it’s seen as “objective” and “unbiased” only lends further weight to its power to deceive.

    2. Maximilian Forte

      It has nothing to do with HTS, at first glance perhaps, except for the endorsement of “science” and this rather obsolete approval of “predictability,” that few credible social *scientists* would endorse. Your example of a stellar prediction, instead has proven to be largely false, and you seem to confirm that fact by adding that it was premature as well, as you could not possibly have taken into account all of the developments that followed. To say “the inclusion of these states caused no substantive change in Russian foreign policy” does not make your case, as Russia’s foreign policy has been consistent, usually visceral, and sometimes backed up with economic pressures against those states.

      “It would be self-serving for me to say now that back then I would have predicted that the prospect of Ukraine joining NATO would provoke Russia…”

      Exactly my point. And if “back then” you had said that, it would have been prediction, by definition, not post-diction.

  36. Maximilian Forte

    My questions now are to “Mars Ultor” and “Mike the Cat” — why don’t you let Dudley-Flores do her own speaking? You seem to be very eager to rush in and make points that she could just as well raise herself, and to fight her battles for her. I understand that one can be sympathetic, as I am sympathetic to anyone who raises a red flag about “the woman is a nut” statements (and the fact that the person is a woman, typically makes the “nut” allegation that much stickier, if one pays attention to the ways our cultural prejudices work). But to come back in, over and over and over, as if you are her self-appointed guardians, strikes me as very odd, and it tends to deliberately drown out any opposing views. If Dudley-Flores feels the need to say something in her defense, give her a chance to in fact do so. It would seem to be the respectful thing to do.

  37. Dr. Marilyn Dudley-Flores

    Once again, we see Angstboy arguing and asserting this and that, and throwing out tantalizing breadcrumbs that he either knows me or has been talking to someone who saw me on BAF.

    His commentary has the eerie tenor of a redneck stalker: I was somehow “seen” on BAF sitting in the Green Beans coffeeshop next to the Popeye’s scribbling in a notebook. Oo—oo—ooh! He doubles the “dig” by asserting that it was the most work that I’ve done in the last year. Like he would know. (What a hoot! By July 2009, I had the bulk of two book manuscripts knocked out and have published technical papers since then. Let’s see, I also advised on a television documentary series that was conceptualized by a TV production company. I’m probably forgetting some things, but I’m dashing this out.)

    For the non-BAF reader, there is a place like Angstboy describes. It’s located in the main PX area on BAF. In a smallish single room, about the size of an American living room, there are three food service counters on one side of that room: Pizza Hut, Green Beans, and Popeye’s Chicken. It is a main center of social life on BAF. After about 9 p.m. on some days, the chairs and tables are moved and dances are put on. It is open 24-7 and people go there to get coffee and get a break from the routine of chow hall food. People meet their buddies there, have work-related meetings, etc. The Green Beans franchises are part of a “worthy cause” organization for those participating in areas of the world supporting American military efforts. The company donates a portion of its sales to the Pat Tillman Foundation.

    What, really, is Angstboy trying to do or say? Frighten me with tales of “being seen” on BAF? If Angstboy really wants to get my attention, perhaps he could tell me what I was doing on Christmas Eve 2008 sitting right smack dab in the middle of the Green Beans coffeeshop.

    So what of “being seen” in the Green Beans coffeeshop next to the Popeye’s writing in a notebook? Can Angstboy tell me what, of my other items that I used in my work that I might have had in the Green Beans with me? Can he describe my clothing I wore? Can Angstboy tell me in what ways that that locale might have been useful to my HTS work?

    Green Beans was also the scene of where I had to do some of my HTS work those weeks when I could not get into the HTAT office because of the manufactured badging snafu that greeted my arrival on Bagram. One of our HTAT teammates told HTS managers that I made more production in accordance to our mission in those weeks than the HTAT had produced since its inception in July 2008 when Sturgis had arrived on BAF alone to set up the HTAT. Can Angstboy tell me what kind of topics I might have been working on in the Green Beans during that time?

    What readers tuning in late may not understand is that Angstboy has already said he served in Iraq when he was deployed as a white male NCO. He’s sort of intimated that he was on BAF, but not really said anything solid about that. It doesn’t make any sense that he was there. If he was in Iraq, how could he be on BAF in Afghanistan? There would be no way he would have just “stopped over” on his way from Iraq to the States because he’d be going in the wrong direction.

    One thing I do know…. It is too bad that the Commanding General and other top officers of the 101st Army Airborne were never able to be briefed on the data stored in my notebooks and in other ways. (I am speaking of data that was entered into my recording instruments at other sites than just the Green Beans coffee shop.) No one asked me for those instruments, and I was fired back Stateside waiting to be re-deployed to Afghanistan without my having briefed my counterinsurgency production because of Sturgis’ and gang’s shenanigans. The data is yet unbriefed. Perhaps it is ancient history, but perhaps not.

    1. Stacie

      I’m sorry to have to chime in, but what’s with the “redneck” dis?

      There is absolutely NO relation between stalker-like behavior and “a white member of the Southern rural laboring class” (Webster, link).

      Before anyone else feels the need to use the term, please read up on the topic so I don’t have to repeat. The Redneck Manifesto by Jim Goad puts it quite clearly, for those hard of hearing:

      “Don’t you just hate em? Every gap-toothed, inbred, uncivilized, violent, and hopelessly DUMB one of ’em? Jesus, how can you not hate ’em? There’s no class of people with less honor. Less dignity. No one more ignorant. More gullible. They’re a primitive breed with prehistoric manners, unfit for anything beyond petty crime and random bloodletting. Their stunted, subhuman minds are mesmerized by cheap alcohol, Lotto fever, and the asinine superstitions of poor-folks’ religion. They stop beating their wives just long enough to let ‘er squeeze out another rug rat. They scatter their hand-me-down genes in a degenerative spiral of dysfunction. They breed anencephalic, mouth-breathing children. Vulgarians. All of them. Bottom feeders. They really bring down their race.

      Luckily for you, I didn’t specify which race that is. If I was talking about black trash, I might be lynched. If I was talking about white trash, I’d merely be another torchbearer in an ongoing national lynching. The difference between vile racism and precision satire all depends on the nigger’s color. …

      Gradually, we come to believe that working-class whites are two-dimensional cartoons — rifle-tootin’, booger-eatin’, beer-bellied swine flesh. Skeeter-bitten, ball-tuggin’, homo-hatin’ … The scaly pale-gray skin of buck-toothed men who inhale turpentine and punch the fuck out of anyone smarter than they are…. Millions of smelly white assholes stinking up the nation. …

      A whole vein of human experience … is dismissed as a joke. …

      The trailer park has become the media’s cultural toilet, the only acceptable place to dump one’s racist inclinations.” (Goad, 15-6)

      From: Goad, Jim. The Redneck Manifesto. New York: Touchstone, 1997.

      FYI, if anyone thinks this is off-topic, be advised that, while it might seem strange, these people ARE your fellow citizens. You know, if public opinion matters …

      1. Stacie

        It took me a while to find but I knew it was out there.

        I also appreciate Jeff Foxworthy’s definition of redneck as “a glorious lack of sophistication.”

  38. Mars Ultor

    Max, I really don’t want to scrap with you. You’re entitled to your opinion, but again, I’ll point out that if you haven’t read my paper, you’re really not speaking from knowledge. I made other predictions in that paper, which I won’t go into here, that also proved correct. My analysis was valid for the timeframe and the nation-states and the specific policy decisions that it covered, and I make no claims about it beyond that careful circumscription.

    As for your comment about few credible social scientists endorsing predictability, I’m absolutely astonished. I don’t know about anthropology, but in international relations, one of the measures of a theory is its predictive power, whereas theories that explain a set of historical phenomena, i.e., after the fact, abound, and they are far less convincing. Of course, this is also true of theories in the physical sciences; the acid test is to be able to predict phenomena.

    Meanwhile, I think you’ll find that my last several posts have been in response to Jen and you, and not to Angstboy. The last time I addressed Angstboy was 25 posts ago, so I am certainly allowing a lot of space for others to chime in on this particular thread. Also, Dr. Dudley-Flores has been saying quite a lot in her defense; I certainly haven’t been interfering with her ability to do so.

    Please, let’s keep matters respectful between us.

    And, can we talk about HTS? I thought that was the original point of this discussion.

    1. Jen

      Yes, lets all please take a moment to put on our scientific blinders so we can focus on the “real issues.”

      1. Dr. Marilyn Dudley-Flores

        Jen, that has the tone of a provocative comment that Mars may not deserve — or even understand to the degree that you desire. I was reading Charles Percy Snow at the age of 17. How that happened was I found his book about the “two cultures” on a remaindering table in the book store. Twenty years later, I was shadowboxing in the dark with the recently deceased Bruce H. Mayhew, running into all sorts of obfuscations, concerning his arguments posed in his two-part series of articles in Social Forces on individualism vs. structuralism. Then, not much further on, I began to dig into the notions of Immanuel Wallerstein, some of them being discussed on another part of this site:

        I think you will enjoy the shaping discussion over those pages, too. I say so because of the comment that you made that Max highlighted for us on these pages.

        “But the research process didn’t get rid of your bias…. You just came to a different conclusion under the same biases. That’s like saying a research method can free us from our worldviews when actually the research method is still very much part of it.”

        I agree with the second sentence more than the first. Let me start out from the second sentence. This is one of many things I like about the very prolific Wallerstein. He understands something that many scholars – be they natural scientists, social scientists, or humanities folks – don’t understand. He knows that those of us who examine any type of phenomena (parts of Life, the Universe, and Everything) are made up of the fabric of Life, the Universe, and Everything. How can we really have any knowledge about Life, the Universe, and Everything if we are made up of this stuff and cannot stand outside of it?
        Well, we’ve tended to compartmentalize the whole of phenomena (what we can sense of it) by trying to break it up into pieces: sciences vs. humanities and on down to even smaller pieces. I personally think that is as futile as cutting up a hologram. But, be that as it may. Just how the cuts were made has something to do with historic and other contexts. And, following the divisions, whole edifices emerged: colleges and universities, schools of thought, departmental canons, major statements, and their greater and lesser articulators. Changing contexts have sometimes shifted foundations and boundaries, but probably nothing with the immediacy of the moving buildings and re-writing of human cognitions, perceptions, and identities as seen in the movie, DARK CITY. Just thought I’d throw in some imagery there.

        Internal to these edifices are the theories, approaches, perspectives, models, and methods and their variants that cling to them and run through them like the ducts in the movie BRAZIL. However, personally, I like to think of these things like pairs of glasses and tools that the examiner of phenomena uses. But, alas, the tool user comes to the tool box equipped with his own limited means of perception and her own cognitive hard- and soft-wiring – brain structures morphed during formative years, mental landscapes (shaped by social forces [C. Wright Mills], founding assumptions, etc. And, even using systematic, repeatable quantitative and qualitative modalities, as in the scientific method and with folk knowledge, we never seem to be able to know any phenomenon in its entirety. Maybe we get to know it good enough to make particular applications, like build a bridge or estimate the coming weather. And, when the bridge falls down and the hurricane wipes out our town, back to the drawing board we go. Or, sometimes we go to the drawing board ahead of time in thinking about better bridges or imagining the hurricane’s impact on our town.

        So, I guess what I’m saying is that in making inquiries into any kind of phenomenon, no matter how hard we focus, that focus is going to be bounded with some sort of blinders on – often several pair on at the same time. We can change our “biases” to some degree, i.e., use different combinations of blinders, but we scholars of every stripe, even those of us trained in multiple disciplines, still have blinders on. Are your blinders any better than Mars Ultor’s?

      2. Jen

        All good points. I’ll try and explain further.

        As you said, we all have blinders, and no set is necessarily any better than another. Likewise, the critique is not directed at Mars as a person.

        However, among Mars’s ways of defining and discussing the world is the tactic of defining “relevance” versus “irrelevance.” Maybe it has a history in the buildup of Western institutions. Maybe it was used as a weapon to assist in the creation and perpetuation of said institutions, a tool of imperialism. Likely, Mars is not conscious of the way the words are functioning and is using the tactic unintentionally.

        Essentially, a person insisting that we return to what is “relevant” is demanding that, in order to be relevant, the people conversing must adopt the worldview or blinders of those who, ostensibly, have the superior ability to know, a priori, what is relevant versus irrelevant. The rest have, according to this definition of relevance, spiraled into conversation that is out of place, unimportant, irrelevant. Even when others insist that what they are saying is relevant, the conclusion that we need to “return to the relevant” persists.

        That’s precisely why I suggested we put on our scientific blinders. If you buy into it, the only way to be pertinent is to assimilate — specifically, to assimilate to the point of view of the person calling for relevance.

        Max also mentioned that Mars and Mike were somehow dominating the conversation. As Mars pointed out, in terms of numbers of comments, this makes no sense. As I see it, what Max is pointing to is another tactic which serves, unintentionally, as a tool of domination: “to come back in, over and over and over, as if you are her self-appointed guardians” … to feel as though you have the right, even the duty, to speak for other people. Sometimes this can, unintentionally, make it difficult for other people to speak, to get their points across, so it needs to be taken into conscious consideration.

  39. Dr. Marilyn Dudley-Flores

    Dear Stacie,

    As someone who came from the Southern (states of the USA) rural laboring class, I certainly meant no disrespect to my fellow citizens. I suppose when I was framing my metaphor, I was thinking of a famous redneck stalking case. Stalkers can come from all walks of life. I think we are on the same page there.

  40. Mike the Cat

    In other words, Jen and Max are self-appointed guardians of what I can or cannot say, how often I can say it, and whatever other dicta might issue from the Commissariat of Communication. Whatever I say is automatically taken as speaking for someone other than myself? Give me a break!

    And the idea that I “come back in, over and over and over, as if [I were] her self-appointed guardian?” Taking a leaf from Mars’ notebook, and to show him that he’s not the only one with quantitative skills, let’s do the numbers. Except for a couple of one-liners (“Huah sister” and “He’s off his meds”), I have had precisely four posts to this topic, not including this one. By the same rules, Dr. Dudley-Flores has had 11. Nor does those figures tell the entire story. All of my posts amount to 722 words, as compared to Dudley-Flores’s 6,044 words. Yet somehow I’m dominating the discussion. It… “strikes me as very odd!”

    Meanwhile, although Jen first weighed in well past halfway through this discussion as it now stands, she has more than made up for lost time. Her numbers are seven non-one-line posts and 1,094 words overall, besting my record throughout. But, as Jen herself said, “Length isn’t necessarily a sign of intelligence.” Indeed!

    And my questions now are to Max. Does Stacie’s post mean that it’s now acceptable to use the N Word on your blog? I distinctly recall that when you thought that Robert Pelton Young was on the verge of using the N Word a few months ago, you nearly had a cow. Perhaps you gave Stacie special permission to use the N Word?

    “Don’t turn around, oh-oh! Der Kommisar’s in town, oh-oh!”

    1. Maximilian Forte

      If I thought Stacie was endorsing “nigger” as an unproblematic term, to be used freely, cheerfully, and carelessly as RYP did when trying to prove his coolness, then yes I would have said something.

      Anyway, this is getting very weird.

    2. Stacie

      I should add, also, that my point about redneck wasn’t that the word should never be used, only that it’s offensive when used in a degrading way. I have plenty of friends who use the word, even in reference to themselves, but in an empowering way, and it’s also commonly used in country songs.

  41. Mars Ultor

    As a man, I can think of no higher praise than this from a woman not fond of men. Madame, you almost make me wish that I were a lesbian. But are we so different? Do we not hunt the same game?

  42. Dr. Marilyn Dudley-Flores

    Without gagging anybody, I urge others who may be hanging back to erp up their news and views. It is obvious that Mars and Mike are not shy.

  43. Dr. Marilyn Dudley-Flores

    On the note of relevance, let me sleep on that tonight. Relevance, relevance. I smell the smoke of a distant fire from the Sixties.

  44. Mars Ultor

    Madam I confess, thou hast tickl’d me.
    Perforce I must laugh! But soft, dear lady!
    We o’ertrod this discourse, and shall earn wrath!
    If we are poisoned, then should we not die?
    And thus wrong’d, what revenge should be our prize?

  45. Mike the Cat

    Max, I’m going to gnaw on their skulls. Because it still hasn’t gotten weird enough for me.

  46. Dr. Marilyn Dudley-Flores

    Oh, no, Max. I doubt very much that this discussion has run its course. Angstboy hasn’t had a chance to check with all the sources he needs to run down in order to answer all my gauntlet questions. He’s burning the midnight oil. To a degree not seen since Saddam put the torch to the Kuwaiti oilfields.

    Mars and Mike are just a half-time entertainment. Ha, ha!

  47. Angstboy

    Really, there was nothing much I could add to the intellectual splendor of the last few comments.

    Marilyn – I don’t need to prove who I am to you. You wanted proof that I knew of you and the events on Bagram, I provided it.

    Apparently you have never heard of multiple deployments.

    With regard to me “stalking” – please. After Max posted your original post, there were five comments, one of which was Max remarking that no one else had commented and wondering why that was. I went ahead and made my comment about your mental stability as a result of that question – I think your situation is a non-story because it reads like a paranoid rant.

    I agree with Max, this conversation seems to have run its course. I do not feel the need to inject random “go girl!”s for the sake of being heard. When the conversation moved away from a discussion of HTS and into Mike the Cat’s sexual proclivities and the use of the word “redneck” my expertise was no longer valid.

    Maybe next time there is a post about HTS, we can come back and have another discussion.

  48. Jen

    Intriguing. At the end, we find ourselves at the beginning.

    The discussion of sexist and racist harassment by individuals within HTS just completed a 360 degree spin. Angstboy’s recent comment is the epitome of the point I meant to make about defining relevance versus irrelevance. He now concludes that in discussing race, sex, and related issues, we have “moved away from a discussion of HTS.”

    If anything is weird, THAT is.

  49. Angstboy

    No – my point was that everything after Mars’ comment about Hercules (???) has been reiterations of attaboys and go-girls.

    I don’t think that anyone doubts that sexism, racism, etc. exists in many Army units. HTS is closely associated with the military, and even many of the civilian members of the program are former military. (And most would be proud to call themselves “rednecks”, in my opinion). But what exactly does that discussion have to do with HTS specifically?

    1. Jen

      Good question.

      It’s hard to say because we don’t have the other parties represented, but clearly some of the resentment on both sides might come from broader issues beyond the specific racism and sexism directed at Marilyn. While what they did was wrong, I might also argue that it’s very much caught up in their culture and ways of seeing the world, and possibly also in how others see them (e.g. ‘rednecks’).

      In that sense, to remove these problems that you and I agree exist in most Army units would require much more than pounding a “no racism/sexism” rule into peoples’ heads through judicial/legal consequences.

      It would require addressing the underlying ideologies at play, which is not something unique to the military overseas but is produced and reproduced right here in the United States.

  50. Angstboy

    I agree that attempting to “pound out” the latent sexism in the military is doomed to failure. On the various AFN channels overseas, they are not allowed to show paid advertisements, so they instead play ~10 minutes worth of PSAs per half hour block of television, when the broadcast would usually cut to commercials. At least half of these PSAs (sometimes more) are devoted exclusively to EO topics. (At one point, I heard a radio PSA which actually ended with the sentiment “don’t even look at them.”) As a friend put it, if all you had to go on was the advertisements they play overseas, you would think that an Army base is non-stop harassment and rape. Despite six years of these PSAs in Iraq, they still play them repeatedly, suggesting that there is still a problem (even if not to the extent suggested by my friend).

    To move this back to HTS: One of the problems I have observed with members of HTTs is their embrace of Army culture. In the beginning of HTS, when anthropologists were the focus of recruitment, the anthropologists who joined the program followed the method of their discipline and (mistakenly) immersed themselves in that Army culture. (I would point to Marcus Griffin’s blog about his own experiences at this point, but unfortunately, that has been taken down.) It seemed to me at the time (and even more as I saw more of them in action), that these anthropologists were misunderstanding their research subjects (not misunderstanding the subjects themselves, but misunderstanding who their subjects were supposed to be). Rather than practicing immersion in Iraqi culture, they were building rapport with the Army. To me this would be like Margaret Mead working to build rapport and immerse herself in New Zealander society while trying to do research in Samoa.

    As HTS has moved away from focusing on anthropologists, I hope that this dynamic might be changing. However, I think the words of Samuel Johnson address the problem encountered by many of the civilians who work with the Army, especially in deployed areas: “Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier.” The ability to be in a war zone, and to “play” soldier is very appealing for many people, a way to engage in the fantasy embedded in our culture through authors as diverse as Shakespeare, Tennyson, and Heinlein.

    1. Jen

      Great points. I’m happy to end on that, but it’s definitely worth thinking about further. Thanks.

    2. Maximilian Forte

      “It seemed to me at the time (and even more as I saw more of them in action), that these anthropologists were misunderstanding their research subjects (not misunderstanding the subjects themselves, but misunderstanding who their subjects were supposed to be). Rather than practicing immersion in Iraqi culture, they were building rapport with the Army.”

      As the public debates really started getting heated, let’s say from around mid-2007, this was exactly the same impression I was getting about the work of Griffin and anonymous others. It caused immense confusion among both supporters and detractors of HTS, simply because it created two separate foci of debate: (1) the role of HTS in the occupation of Iraq, both the ethics of the research process, and the politics of engagement, versus (2) “should we not try to study and understand the military?” and it’s important to “get to know the military through ethnographic means” — which is a totally different focus.

      As a result, some criticisms of HTS became all-encompassing: no involvement with the military of any kind (well, that is actually still my position)…versus explanations that went something to the effect that “but if we have anthropologists working in military universities as teachers, and in other branches of the military…then why should we oppose HTS?” which is a perfect conflation of (1) and (2) above.

      Anyway, thanks for this confirmation, I was starting to convince myself that perhaps it was I who misunderstood this about Griffin’s work.

  51. Angstboy

    Just a question for Max or anyone who might know: what happened to Marcus Griffin, anyway? He is no longer a professor at Christopher Newport, and I can’t find any news stories aside from the ones mentioning his time in Iraq.

    I wonder if he has been stained with the HTS stigma and will no longer be allowed to work in academic after his time with them.

    1. Maximilian Forte

      I believe that Marcus Griffin resigned and entered HTS as a full-time career. I am still waiting to see if he ever re-launches his blog, his domain name brings up a “coming soon” message, as it has for at least over a year now.

  52. Dr. Marilyn Dudley-Flores

    Angstboy and Jen have brought up some interesting issues.

    The Public Service Announcements (PSAs) urging against sexual assault on and various types of harassment against one’s fellow soldier, airman, or sailor played continually throughout Armed Forces Network (AFN) programming on BAF. You couldn’t sit in a chow hall or air terminal without seeing them. It was like Theatre of the Absurd for me. Sitting down to lunch or dinner was a break in the egregious actions being motivated by Sturgis et al. against me and the other HTAT women. I heard the anti-assault and anti-harassment messages loud and clear, but, hey, what about those guys back on the JOC?

    PSAs are a way of raising consciousness, but a Zero Tolerance approach (as with drunk driving) from the Pentagon on down the echelons is the main thing that will curb sexual assault and various sorts of harassments among American military personnel. Somewhere in there, the concern for the civilian and the contractor teammate must be included. After all, “One Team, One Fight.” I have heard the ratio that civilian/contractor teammates are three-to-one to military personnel in the war zones. American military forces are stretched thin across two active war zones. If the civilians/contractors went away, Sergeant Joe Blow would surely find himself an “Army of One.”

    Concerning the concepts of cultural immersion and related issues as seen in the HTS program…. The HTS program sought out social scientists who could “fit in” with military culture. The thing that struck me in training was that there seemed to be no real effort to acclimate military commanders to social scientific, academic, and intelligentsia cultures. Some military folks I war-gamed with in the Third Brigade, First Cavalry seemed to be acclimated, but that was part of our script. It wasn’t “part of the script” in the actual war zone, not on BAF and not with some units in Iraq. This lapse in HTS’s groundwork could explain the accounts of some HTS social scientists (if indeed they were real social scientists in the first place) having “gone native.” And, I mean that in the sense that they played soldier to a high gloss. I heard this from HTS’ers who had been in Iraq and in Afghanistan. It is plausible that a young contractor man or woman who had never had the soldier experience, exposed to the largely fictional hype of “One Team, One Fight,” vested with the chore of counterinsurgency in a war zone, could find the temptation so great as to put on the “green suit” inside as well as out. This was never really addressed in HTS training because the focus was on having social scientists and other HTS personnel bond with military commanders.

    That HTS social scientists would “immerse” into indigenous cultures was secondary to all other cultural immersion concerns. It may have been assumed that social scientists know how to do this “second nature” regardless if they had had prior experiences in Iraqi or Afghan cultures.

    Much awareness was missing concerning the cultures of social scientists, intelligentsia, and academicians within the HTS program. Even the media-alleged intellectual and bookish retired Colonel Steve Rotkoff stated in front of my training class the last day of training in October 2008, that just a couple of weeks before, that he was put hip to the fact that some social scientists were only interested in collecting stories and that some were only interested in crunching numbers. What he was talking about, of course, is that social scientists tend to subscribe to either qualitative or quantitative research methodologies. The either-or of that might not create a disturbance in the Academic Force since quals and quants often cluster together by department, publish in different journals, etc. The qual in a predominantly quant department is often treated like the chicken with the sore head if he is even given the time of day. But, when quals and quants are teamed together in a war zone, it is possible that the dichotomy of that could cause friction. I found it astonishing that after six training cycles that HTS managers themselves had only realized what social scientists take for granted. How could they expect military commanders to grok the qual-quant dichotomy to know how to deal with a qual vs. quant issue if it came up on their attached human terrain team?

    About Dr. Marcus Griffin, here is what I heard last — when I heard any news of him. Dr. Griffin completed his tour-of-duty in Iraq. I had heard that a HTS manager had offered him the research managership of the Iraq Research Reachback Cell (RRC) in Oyster Point. I assumed he proceeded onto that duty. However, at Fort Benning at the end of October, an HTS’er who had worked previously at Oyster Point, but who was headed over to Iraq at that time, said that when Dr. Griffin arrived at the Oyster Point location, the management post was not a done deal and that Dr. Griffin was treated as a kind of fifth wheel. That was the last I heard any news of him, accurate or not. If it is true, then Dr. Griffin has the right to be another one of those so-called “disgruntled employees” among those who have served under the HTS flag.

    Onto another relevant subject… I have noticed that Angstboy has taken to calling me by my first name, which he began some posts ago. I suspect he is doing this to further the impression that we know each other, and well enough to be permitted to call me by my first name.

    But, fact is, Angstboy has me at a disadvantage since he is lurking behind an alias. I am not at all convinced that he knows me, and now he is backing off and claiming that “he knew OF me.” I daresay that many thousands of the Internet reading public “knows OF me” by now.

    In trying to advance our familiarity some posts ago, Angstboy made free to attempt a Twenty Questions-type “game.” When I called his bluff and asked him direct questions that someone who knew me or who had met me would be able to answer, he was not able to answer them. He has alleged to have seen me or knows OF me being seen on BAF in the Green Beans coffee shop scribbling in a notebook. His assertion has the sound of the gossip chain that emerged over a number of blog sites following John Stanton breaking the HTAT women’s story back in February 2009 — a gossip chain that appeared to stretch from BAF from someone leaking official confidential information to far into the cyber ether.

    Whether Angstboy is just someone having a bit of fun on the Internet behind his alias or someone standing on the wall of the Digital Fortress makes no difference. He is using b.s. artistry to advance his claims and actions. And, as someone else hinted at several posts back, it isn’t even good b.s. artistry.

  53. Mars Ultor

    Hold on now, MD-F, at least Angstboy has steered the discussion back to its original topic: HTS. So let’s give him a break. His reference to people “being stained with the HTS stigma” and “will no longer be allowed to work in academic” [sic] is something that deserves discussion, and I greatly welcome that. Are people being black-balled in academia for their work in HTS? If so, is that right or wrong? If we focus on real issues, maybe we can get away from this ad hominem toxic waste.

    Meanwhile, it has occurred to me, that in contrast to my time as an enlisted, in my 12 years as an officer, I never even heard of a Social Actions program, much less ever having been required to attend any training, and now I wonder why that was so. Was it because I served nearly all of my officer time in all-officer environments, and such training was not required of officers? Was the Social Actions program more proactive in terms of education in the immediate aftermath of the Vietnam War, during which so many racial problems in the military came to light, and perhaps the program faded to a lower priority by the time I returned to active duty as a lieutenant? I don’t know. But is it possible that the military culture forgot this important lesson from Vietnam, or came to consider racism and sexism as problems solved? Has the core professional military culture eroded since the reduction in active duty force following the Cold War, due to the increased reliance on reservists, guardsmen, and contractors? I can’t say, since I’ve been off active duty for a long time, but if so, once again, the soldier is not the problem per se; rather, it is the society that breeds him, as well as the failure of the professional military culture to recognize the problem and to respond effectively. If all the attention the problem is getting these days is PSA’s, which, as with commercial ads, people quickly learn to tune out, that just ain’t gonna get it, to use a term from MD-F’s cultural roots.

  54. Jen

    I agree.
    “Zero Tolerance” for military harassment and assault.
    Fuck the whole program and stop assaulting Afghanistan.

    1. Maximilian Forte

      What was uncalled for? “Fuck the whole program and stop assaulting Afghanistan. Hypocrites”? I think that is a perfectly appropriate comment, one made even better by being succinct.

  55. Dr. Marilyn Dudley-Flores

    Well, now, Mars, I certainly agree with the “Zero Tolerance” approach to sexual assault and harassment, and I suspect you do, too. One thing I am pondering is: Is it possible to fix the HTS program without saying “fuck it”?

    Perhaps Jen’s comment to “stop assaulting Afghanistan” means that the US and its Coalition partners should just get out of that country. If so, that reflects a recent resolution crafted by members of the California Democratic Party.

    But, isn’t that a can of worms, too? Because the solution is not easy to find, do we simply walk out on the Afghan people yet again? After we helped them rout the Soviets, we left them to fight amongst themselves and the Taliban was born, first as a vigilante force to keep the peace. In the meantime earning a decent living from flagging Afghan food crops gave way to the opium poppy and a South to North drug trade beat its path to Europe. The Taliban morphed and became a harborer of the likes of Osama bin Laden. In the old days, when Afghanistan and places like it were relatively isolated and out of sight and, therefore, mind, it was easy to ditch them when it became convenient for core powers to do so. But, we now live in a small, interdependent world. The Great Game is a whole different ballgame now. And, it is time to stop making a game of the region.

    Afghanistan is a case of “If you don’t build it, they will come anyway,” meaning those guys who blow up things to get their points across. I would not personally like to see Afghanistan abandoned. Yes, it will be a case of “tough love.” The very presence of those countries investing in the region and enacting civil projects breeds a cash cow that even the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and others benefit from. The improved infrastructure of those projects lets the bad guys move, shoot, and communicate just as well as anybody else. It shelters them just as much as it does anyone else. Improving the yield of food crops will feed the bad guys as well as the good guys. It will be very frustrating. But, in the long run, it will be worth the investment. Not all the bad guys are probably all that bad, merely aggrieved. Address their grievances and make them stakeholders and productive participants in the prosperity and identity of the region. To do otherwise will fester the sore that will erupt again and again. How many lessons from history do we need before we “get it”?

    1. Maximilian Forte

      “do we simply walk out on the Afghan people yet again”

      The U.S. was never “with” the Afghan people. It found that certain types had great arms for holding, and great eyes for aiming, Stinger missiles. Once the war with the USSR was over, the U.S. did not lose interest in Afghanistan, it merely manifested what it thought all along about the value and place of Afghans. Of course, by “the U.S.” I am referring mainly to government, not to the country as a whole.

      It’s also important to correct one misconception: it was not the Taliban that invited Al Qaeda into Afghanistan, but rather the very government preceding the Taliban’s, the government in which our wonderful Dr. Abdullah Abdullah was a minister (though mention of this in the media was scarce during these last demonstration elections). I am not denying the relationship the Taliban had with AQ, just noting that they were not the only ones to have such a relationship.

      Afghanistan is not yours to either nurture or “abandon.” I am hearing some classical liberal imperialism in your message, or what Bacevich refers to as “Wilsonians under arms,” and what Kipling called the White Man’s Burden. And why the selective interest in Afghanistan anyway, as opposed to, let’s say, Somalia or Yemen…or Honduras? What’s the implicit hierarchy of value at play here? Is it just Afghanistan that concerns you, or are you prepared to play the unsolicited, uninvited, and abundantly self-motivated role of mother to every nation on earth?

      The lessons from history that you ought to be finally learning is that you don’t get to write other people’s histories, and script their destinies, for them, without fierce opposition and eventual defeat. After all, you “abandoned” Vietnam, remember? Did Vietnam implode as a result, has it been all tragedy, and did all its neighbours fall like dominoes?

  56. Jen

    You forgot to mention the United States military in your list of “those guys who blow up things to get their points across.”

    To clarify: Do you suggest the revised HTS program continue under military command, or do you envision a wholly different role/structure for what you call human terrain? What would be its’ aim? How is it any different from peaceful forms of international development? And, if it’s similar to these, why use anthropologists as ‘middle men’ when many such programs are successfully run entirely at the local level?

  57. Mars Ultor

    Actually, the US has screwed Afghanistan twice already.

    Under Jimmy Carter, it began funding a number of traditionalist factions that shared a conservative Islamic ideology, and that were hoping to bring down the pro-Soviet government, which was guilty of any number of atrocities such as freedom of religion, an ambitious land reform program, and bringing women into the political system. Unfortunately, the ruling People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan had its own factional strife within it. General Hafizullah Amin overthrew President Taraki, and within three months the Soviets invaded to prevent the PDPF government from falling to the US-backed Mujahideen. Carter’s big response to the invasion that he helped to provoke was to pull the US out of the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

    During the Reagan Administration, Charlie Wilson came to the Mujahideen’s aid, the Soviets withdrew, and we left a devastated country to pick up its own pieces.

    The Taliban’s harboring of Al Qaeda was already a problem in the Clinton Administration. He said after 9/11 that he had wanted to invade Afghanistan and hunt down Al Qaeda, but the political will to do so didn’t yet exist. The best he could do was launch some cruise missiles into the country and hopefully take out some Al Qaeda bases.

    If you break it, you bought it. The US helped break Afghanistan. Walking away yet a third time would be unconscionable. As bad as the situation is, the US bears responsibility for helping put Afghanistan back together. Moreover, it’s in not just the national interest, but in the international interest. An unstable Afghanistan contributes to the instability of Pakistan, a nuclear-armed state.

    In theory, the Human Terrain System is a smart idea. “You gotta know the territory.” Even extremely leftist, peacenik members of Congress such as Lynn Woolsey endorse the concept of “smart power,” enabling the US to use its military power more sparingly in its legitimate national interest. Ideally, the US should be able to reduce its military footprint in Afghanistan while continuing to provide the necessary security. Ultimately, there is no purely military solution that is achievable. The solution must be a political one, and the US has an indispensable role to play in that process.

    1. Jen

      “If you break it, you bought it. The US helped break Afghanistan” … so now the U.S. OWNS Afghanistan?

      Just trying to follow the logic.

  58. Mars Ultor

    So Max, you endorse ad hominem attacks, calling people with differing opinions “hypocrites?” If so, I’m deeply disappointed. Furthermore, I’m disappointed in your continuing expressions of approval for Jen’s glib and facile bumper sticker rhetoric. I guess that if I were one of your students, all I would have to do to get an “A” in your class would be to write a one sentence term paper: “Fuck the whole program and stop assaulting Afghanistan.”

    1. Maximilian Forte

      No, but at least it would be a sign of the start of some healthy critical thinking, which you seem to lack.

      By the way Mars, don’t presume to do my comment moderation for me, I did not invite you to be my co-blogger.

    2. Jen

      Read the dictionary. Hypocrite – acts in contradiction. Neither was any of it “ad hominem” – appealing to feelings rather than intellect. The problem is that you don’t seem to be able to think.

  59. Mars Ultor

    Jen, it is evident that you don’t know very much about the US military, nor more generally, do you appear to understand the role of the military in any democracy. Why does Canada have any military at all? Does it fear an invasion by the US? The last invasion was in 1812. Perhaps Canada’s lengthy frontier with Greenland is cause for insecurity? In any democracy, a military exists because the people wish it so. Iceland chooses not to have a military, so why can’t Canada be like Iceland? Why should Canada be a member of NATO, sticking its nose in Europe right alongside the US?

    Supporters of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution are fond of pointing out, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” The gun cannot pull its own trigger. This is also true of a military that is subordinate to civilian political authority. The military is an instrument of national policy. The civilian leadership make policy.

    I served 13 years in the military, and I never blew up anything. In fact, my most satisfying duty assignment was working on systems that the SALT and START treaties referred to under the umbrella term “national technical means of verification.” Such systems were essential to these strategic arms treaties; they could not have been negotiated without them, because the USSR was adamantly opposed to on-site inspection. These treaties contributed to prosperity in that they slowed the strategic arms race, and more guns would have meant less butter. These treaties contributed to world peace in that they stabilized the strategic relationship between the US and the USSR, and a less stable relationship might have led to an all-out nuclear war.

    Personally, I would be pleased to see global disarmament; unfortunately, we do not live in such a world, and simply wishing it so will not make it so. I believe that as long as the Westphalian nation-state system exists, we will have armies and we will have wars.

    1. Jen

      Although, I find it fascinating that the military exists because I, of all people, wished it into existence: “In any democracy, a military exists because the people wish it so.” The civilian leadership was not of my choosing, so neither is the policy or the military.

      The fact that you never aimed a gun and shot anyone in no way contradicts my point that the U.S. military blows things up. This is too ridiculous to even discuss.

      As usual, nearly all your logic is deeply flawed, but I don’t have the time or interest to address it. I suggest you take your concerns to someone who gives a shit.

      1. Maximilian Forte

        I am referring to Mars, and as usual any response past the third reply to a comment gets shifted to the bottom here. I should remember that, instead of hitting the reply link.

      2. Maximilian Forte

        If these are the “friends” coming to the defence of Marilyn Dudley-Flores, then I would really hate to meet her enemies. This kind of wild spouting and lashing out in all directions, simply because you failed to secure 100% agreement, on ALL the issues on this page?

        Fortunately, I don’t need to submit to this kind of totalitarian attitude, where I supposedly must submit to someone else’s totalization of this space. Not here, not now, and not for the sake of such vulgar arguments.

        The discussion here is now closed. Mars, you are banned.

      1. Mars Ultor

        Yours is an equally simplistic statement. I see that you are as prone to bumper sticker thinking as Jen.

  60. Mars Ultor

    Jen, you’re not following the logic very well, sad to say. The US doesn’t own Afghanistan. What an obtuse thing to say. However, the US owns the problem because the US did more than any other nation to create the problem.

    Max, last time I looked, the Afghans were white people, so your reference to the White Man’s Burden is silly. The current situation has nothing at all to do with 19th century European imperialism, except for the drawing of the Durand line and other legacy issues.

    “The lessons from history that you ought to be finally learning is that you don’t get to write other people’s histories, and script their destinies, for them, without fierce opposition and eventual defeat.”

    I see. Well then perhaps Canada should have sat out both world wars, huh? The lesson I draw from that history is that if you fight a war and go home, the aftermath may come back and bite you. The US went isolationist in the 1920s and kept its head in the sand until 7 December 1941. That worked out so well. So, after the defeat of the Axis Powers in 1945, the US tried a different approach: stay engaged, help shattered nations rebuild and provide for their security. The Marshal Plan, NATO. The US not only wrote the script, it directed to entire play. Even the European Union had its genesis in an American idea. The US insisted that France and Germany meld its industries into a Coal and Steal Union as a precondition of the Marshal Plan. Over the years the European Common Market evolved from that. Never again was there a general European war. The lesson of this history is that constructive engagement, and long term commitment back with adequate resources, succeed.

    1. Maximilian Forte

      “Well then perhaps Canada should have sat out both world wars, huh?”

      Absolutely. Where did you get any impression that I somehow supported Canada’s involvement in a war for imperial hegemony?

      1. Mars Ultor

        Where did I get that impression? That is YOUR assumption, further evidence of your sloppy thought processes.

  61. Dr. Marilyn Dudley-Flores

    Thanks for the history lessons, Mars, and the provocative comments from Max and Jen that launched them.

    I’d like to address some of Jen’s questions about a revised HTS program. Hm-m-m, I’m not sure I can provide answers, but I can convey some insights.

    Even within the Army structure, HTS’s worth and reason for being has been debated. How is it different from civil affairs, from info ops, from psy ops, from public affairs, and so forth? Marine Major Ben Connable wrote in MILITARY REVIEW (as seen over that HTS was undermining sustainable military cultural competence. He stated (p. 61):

    “A properly trained, manned, and supported team consisting of a FAO, a CA unit and a PSYOP unit should be able to provide the kind of cultural expertise that staffs found lacking in 2003 and 2004. If these advisors and special staff sections are deficient, as implied in various HTS publications, then it is the clear responsibility of the services and the commanders to better train and prepare their Soldiers and Marines so they can fulfill their roles.”

    What Connable means by FAO, CA, and PSYOP are Foreign Area Officer, Civil Affairs, and Psychological Operations, respectively. What HTS appears to be trying to do is to pack into a single unit — for example, the workhorse human terrain team — the capacities of these and other delineated military functions in an integrated way so that the team can nimbly provide relevant operational data to military commanders. What Major Connable proposed would have probably negated the perceived necessity for the HTS program. However, as he writes (p. 64), “HTS has sapped the attention or financing from nearly every cultural program in the military and from many within the military intelligence community.” While I have no doubt that that is true, one wonders where the will for something more like the Connable proposal was when the HTS proposal was being oversold by its snake oil salesmen?

    There are many different types of international development programs. There are those backed by nation-states, such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). There are non-profit, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from a wide variety of countries operating in Afghanistan. None of these organizations’ primary mission is to brief military commanders for the prosecution of the war in Afghanistan. When I was there, the NGOs in Afghanistan had a host of different missions and synchronization of purposes had been lacking. Sometimes they would actually not benefit the local economy, examples which challenge the meaning of “success” at the local level. For instance, there was the case of a warehouse that was rented to store an NGO’s gear — which meant that the transaction relinquished its local function as a storehouse for supplies for farmers. However, that being said, before I left Afghanistan, there did seem to be efforts in the making to synchronize efforts and information from a diversity of sources. In my book, integrated data streams and efforts are a good thing. However, conveying information to military commanders could compromise the efforts of non-military organizations to perform their missions. (See the history of the accusations during the Cold War that some aspects of the USAID were really appendages of the CIA.)

    The idea of having an integrated, nimble team in a region with one or more social scientists on board is to amass a diversity of data of direct operational relevance to military commanders – data of the type that had been lacking from military in-house (organic) sources in the earlier years of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But, if genuine social scientists are being undercut by internal contradictions of the HTS and by contributing connecting factors, like a contrary host military unit, then the system is, in effect, rendered dysfunctional. I and others have wondered that if the social scientist is meant to be a key asset to the HTS why don’t social scientists comprise something more like 50% of the top management positions of the HTS?

    These are insights (not to mention some rumination), but perhaps such will lead to answers.

  62. Maximilian Forte

    No, Mars, it’s better if you admit not having read Kipling’s piece, that way you have an excuse. If you thought it was all about race, or particularly skin colour, then you totally misunderstood the piece in only the way someone who never read it could have done.

    It’s not pompous to correct someone when he/she is wrong. However, feel free to keep up the insults, and we’ll bring this to a close very quickly.

  63. Mars Ultor

    Be disgusted. Why should I care? When discourse deteriorates to this level, what else is there but disgust.

  64. Maximilian Forte

    Mars, some dismissals deserve to be brief, because anything in excess of a wave of the hand might accidentally grant too much importance and dignity to the thing being dismissed.

    You yourself are aware of this, with your one-liners about “bumper sticker thinking.” Oh yes, and you obviously are a hypocrite.

  65. Mars Ultor

    Once again, Max, verbal violence is the last resort of the incompetent. You and Jen are such forces for world peace. There can’t be any peace without talking to the other side in an non-provocative way, but you and Jen just have to cry “Hypocrite!” and run away when you don’t like what you hear from the other side. Yours is the ultimate hypocrisy, and the most fruitful cause of war, mouthing peace while lacking the courage to work for peace.

  66. Dr. Marilyn Dudley-Flores

    Well — just throwing this out — perhaps we should have a gentleman’s agreement to close for tonight and continue when we are not fighting sleep and so on. It’s past ten p.m. here on the Pacific and I know it is past 1300 there in Montreal. Is that agreeable to all, or do ya’ll intend to stay up for an all-nighter?

    1. Jen

      Idiots don’t sleep. We’re too stupid for it to cross our minds.
      I have no interest in continuing this conversation.

  67. Mars Ultor

    Max, you are equally insulting in presuming that I don’t understand Kipling. However, feel free to keep up your insults. They are most revealing of your nature.

  68. Mars Ultor

    “Good. If you’re an example of intelligence, I don’t want anything to do with it.”

    Jen, you are scarcely in peril of that.

  69. Mars Ultor

    “By the way Mars, don’t presume to do my comment moderation for me, I did not invite you to be my co-blogger.”

    M ax, you seem to have control issues.

    Meanwhile, it’s OK for you to say that I seem to lack critical thinking, and for Jen to say that I don’t seem to be able to think, and somehow none of that is ad hominem. More hypocrisy. You disgrace yourselves as academics.

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