US Army Human Terrain System Smoke & Mirrors: Whistleblower Framed? Abu Ghraib Lite?
by John Stanton
05 May 2010
The Human Terrain Team Leader of AF-1 who was dismissed is David Mamaux and the Brigade Commander who did the dismissing is Colonel Mike Howard (see below). Mamaux is a controversial personality in a program of colorful figures. Mamaux, according to sources, blew the whistle on the practice of falsifying time cards, refusing to buy into what many claim is a common practice at HTS. Further, sources say that other members of HTT AF-1 offered daily doses of drama that the Brigade Commander grew tired of. Others within the team struggled to do their jobs but personalities and controversy trumped teamwork.
As with all else with HTS, nothing is clear cut particularly when it comes to management practices, team dynamics or HTS work-product. Sources say Mamaux is “a lightening rod” but that he is a person “of integrity.” Others say “he should be dropped out of an airplane with no parachute.” Whatever the case, he remains gainfully employed by HTS and is at the center of charges of over-billing the government.
Observers say HTT AF-1 had several troublesome members who continued to bring up personnel/billing issues with Howard with the intent to get Mamaux relieved. One of his sins was to refuse to sign off on time cards that were being submitted that clearly claimed a false number of hours worked.
Howard was fed up with the shenanigans and frustrated with the performance of HTT AF-1. But it was, according to sources, Mike Warren who asked Howard to support the firing.
Observers say many have a lot to lose in this case. Allegedly some HTT AF-1 members are term civil servants team members who claimed hours not worked. Sources claim that Steve Fondacaro (HTS program manager) and Maxie McFarland (Fondacaro’s superior) continued to allow this practice to go uninvestigated knowing this was “going on and did nothing until this issue was about to come to light.”
According to sources, “it’s similar in one way to Abu Ghraib: the little fish took the fall while the people really responsible evaded charges of wrongdoing.”
Sources now say HTS management wants to stand up an Internal Review Board (see below). They also say that “it would be a joke.”
As initially reported, The Human Terrain Team (HTT) Leader of AF‐1, David Mamaux, was removed from his position after a US Army Brigade Commander, Colonel Mike Howard, expressed his concerns to the Human Terrain System (HTS) Program Manager-Forward- Mike Warren. Reports indicate that Warren actually solicited this outcome from Howard.
In a meeting with Warren, the US Army Brigade Commander had expressed his dissatisfaction with the performance and leadership of, Mamaux, the retired US Army officer guiding HTT AF-1. The US Army Brigade Commander went on to say, according to the letter above, that he had no trust or confidence in that individual’s ability to lead the HTT AF‐1.
Warren sent the former HTT Leader packing back to HQ at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where his fate was decided by HTS program manager Steve Fondacaro.
He was rewarded with another position in HTS.
According to sources, the disgraced Mamaux is still on the HTS payroll running what they refer to as the “Holding Company” (HC). The HC is “all the individuals waiting to be deployed or cannot be deployed. These students normally spend months in the HC. Millions of dollars are wasted each month as the students have nowhere to go and nothing to do.”
Protecting Human Subjects: Depends on the Terrain
One criticism of HTS that seems to have faded from the Net and Mainstream Media is TRADOC leadership/HTS management non-adherence to 32 CFR 219 which requires, unless waived, the services of an active Internal Review Board (IRB). An IRB is an auditing group (includes review of personnel, methodology, execution and work-product) that is critical to ensuring that researchers and their organizations meet the highest ethical and professional standards available. One of the better educational publications on protecting human subjects is the US Department of Energy’s Human Subjects Protection Resource Book. Included in the publication are guidelines for researchers and organizations that seek to use humans for social and behavioral research of the ethnographic type practiced by the US Army’s HTS.
The US Department of Defense has signed on to 32 CFR 219 though there are waivers they can apply to programs like the US Army’s HTS. It is not known whether TRADOC’s HTS was granted a waiver by the DOD.
It certainly is easy enough to mock the presence of the words Pentagon and ethical in the same sentence (as many do). But the fact is that millions of dollars and man/woman hours are spent in and out of the Pentagon in an attempt to get the national security community to adhere to legislative guidelines, court rulings and regulatory codes designed to promote ethical behavior, particularly when it comes to drawing out information from another human being. Failure to adhere to an ethical standard in the rush to perform is always a risky undertaking—damage usually ensues.
According to observers, there is “no IRB process that has ever been associated with HTS.”
32 CFR 219 does apply to HTS but management chose to ignore it. There were attempts by the American Anthropological Association to engage HTS management on ethics matters but they failed to take them up the offer.
Sources say HTS management now wants to stand up an Internal Review Board. They also say that “it would be a joke.”
“HTS management knew the program would not hold up to any ethical scrutiny,” they claim.