Human Terrain System Managers, Contractors Inflating Costs: HTS Referred to as Shit, Active Duty Soldiers Maligned

“The soldiers are too much trouble for this civilian program [HTS]. The people who run this shit do not care about the training or the candidates. This is about contractors and others making money and that is the bottom line.  HTS is a money making scam run by a shit load of retired officers and contractors”

“What he told us over a few beers is downright disgusting. Human Terrain Team member’s double dipping their per diem meals and claiming false time worked…”

Observers say that the figure $500,000 was written on a whiteboard in a training room at one of the HTS training facilities. A contractor was said to have looked at that figure and remarked, “It is inflated by a half again.”  Sources say one of the Human Terrain System (HTS) contractors is being “black balled” to create what they refer to as “The Mike Edwards Exercise Division.” Evidently, Edwards—a member of the HTS Training Directorate–wants his division to be staffed with personnel up to the 150 mark.

HTS management evidently continues to work on standing up new training facilities for HTS. This effort is supposed to take somewhere in the vicinity of 18 to 24 months to complete. Many sources say that the pricey new headquarters is not the answer to collocating offices, classrooms and residences for students.

Other proposals submitted to management to use available unoccupied buildings that could “save the government millions” were rejected.  That is “not part of the plan” said management.  Observers say, in one instance, program management paid $15,000 for training rooms they did not need.

It is reported that General Dynamics recently lost its HTS contract for IT support.  General Dynamics staff members were apparently informed on 14 April 2010 that they could “take a new BAE contract or move on”, said sources. Some sources wonder how BAE got the contract so fast.

And once again, MAP HT rears its non-functioning head. According to sources, “Overwatch is sub-contracted by General Dynamics which is sub contracted to BAE to K3 to teach HTS MAPHT. But it does not work!  Supposedly one HTS manager asked Overwatch to work the bugs out for free!” One supposes that General Dynamics is not in this convoluted equation any longer. But who knows for sure?

Observers have said that the Georgia Tech Research Institute–which was awarded a $7.8 million dollar contract for HTS–is to blame for “program’s administration, its lack of measured effects, the employee’s contract status, the training the HTTs receive are issues handled by the Georgia Tech Research Institute as part of their contract with them.” [See the Georgia Tech HTS website.]

What is it going to take for the US Army to fix this mess? There are new reports of other HTS related casualties that management is keeping a close hold on.

Paula Loyd-killed/died of wounds;  Nicole Suveges—killed;  Michael V. Bhatia—killed;  Lt Brian Brennan–(both legs amputated);  Wesley Cureton–wounded, status unknown;  Scott Wilson–wounded, status unknown; D. Ayala–guilty of manslaughter; A. Salam, Afghani National killed by Ayala; Issa Salomi–Hostage, released March 2010;  Name Unknown-shot in chest; Name Unknown-wounded in vehicle rollover;  Name Unknown-wounded in vehicle rollover.

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9 thoughts on “Human Terrain System Managers, Contractors Inflating Costs: HTS Referred to as Shit, Active Duty Soldiers Maligned

  1. Max–

    Thanks for posting the most recent.

    Sorry to have pushed these three pieces on you in rapid succession.

    But as as the sources are taking the time, and many significant risks, to send news/insights along, it is my obligation–I feel–to rapidly push that information out to you and the few other editors/sites that have been kind enough to post most if not all of the stories.

    –John

  2. Hi John,

    I’m sitting here blinking my eyes at your posts, and the other recent ones on HTS. HTS is such a mess that I can’t even comprehend your explanations. I feel sorry for any members of the U.S. Congress, or their investigator peons (do they have those?), who have to (try) to figure out what the hell’s going on. Admittedly, I’ve been AWOL for a while, but I’m not sure that’s the problem.

    I read “How HTS Works” from GTRI, but obviously this is the “ideal” and tells little about day-to-day jobs. Props to the website propagandists for trying really hard to make it look organized with the flow chart and boxes ;).

    As I think about it, though, your explanation isn’t the problem. It just becomes confusing in comparison. They want to present it as a simple, coherent system, but the program is so piecemeal that it’s not capable of that level of coherency. Just look at how many contractors and sub-contractors you listed in one article! As coherent as we can get is your growing list of a “mess” of specific failure after failure with HTS.

    I don’t know what the U.S. Congress is looking for as proof of problems within HTS, but I do hope they can see past the simplistic front HTS is presenting. It’s often hard to think outside the terms that initially lay out a problem/program.

    I mean, some of us wouldn’t have a problem seeing the basic ideal as flawed. I’m attracted to the down-to-earth level Adam Silverman uses in this article here, and his explanation of his job here: “My job in Iraq was to represent the population to promote nonlethal planning and operations.” But it only draws us into an argument about the fundamental goal. I might complain, “Why do we need him to represent the local population when the local population is standing right there? Is that our way of engaging communities? Put in a middle man?”

    Some could argue that issue all day without even thinking about the longer list of management/technical/operational messes that you’re pointing out.

    I hope any discussions/investigations in Congress get through it all, but I don’t watch CSPAN enough to know the habits of my Congress people. I only hope it’s nothing like cable news.

  3. Stacie–

    Thank you for reading the piece and responding.

    I think the word you are looking for is absurd. In fact, in one of the articles there is reference to an “absurdist” play that was staged out in California. It reminds me of an HBO movie about the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. Better still, the movie Catch 22 with Alan Arkin from long ago.

    Major Kevin Burke and others (me too) have offered recommendations on this matter and they are all located in the articles.

    There are outstanding staff members in the House Armed Services Committee (and SASC) that have been tracking this issue and acting on it. David Petraeus, arguably the most powerful man in Washington, DC next to Obama, is–to date–a supporter of the effort. That means that the politics involved in making any significant change is brutal. Further, the Colonel conducting the internal AR 15-6 is employed by TRADOC. Think of the pressure he is under.

    The 70 voices (and growing) that speak in these articles are under no illusions about the prospect for real change in HTS given the players and circumstances. It would come as little surprise if wrists were slapped lightly and GAO-like statements on ethics reform were made.

    What is remarkable to me is that I am now approaching the 80 sources mark. That’s far more than a few bad apples and disgruntled employees. I look forward to the logic that will dismiss them all.

    But they do believe, as I do, that you’ve got to try and argue for corrective action. To remain silent is wrong and in so doing sanctions incompetence and, perhaps, wrongdoing. Moreover, as I’ve said repeatedly, this is their story and it must be told.

    Anyway, thank you once again for reading and commenting.

    –John

  4. Mr. Stanton: Do you mean that you have close to 80 anonymous sources within HTS who are dissatisfied with the organization? In studying some of these documents, it seems to me that HTS is a small organization, insofar as number of employees goes. If the number of your informants is growing, as you insist it is, then that also signifies, in my opinion, that any efforts taken to reform HTS to date have not been successful. The reform needed, when an organization reaches this point of widespread dissatisfaction, presumably within all levels and rank and file, are more than just structural. They have to account for the cognitive and emotional processes of the organization’s leaders, who set the tone for all others to follow. If leaders aren’t setting a proper tone and modeling examples of good, decent, ethical behavior, then they will not inspire loyalty. For goodness sake, you would think an organization with so many high-ranking military and former military officers running it would know how to do that. You would also think that someone with two doctorates who presumably appreciates what is good about the academic world would understand that, too, and find ways to encourage her social scientists to support her. Has the high leadership of HTS abandoned its own people? That is a frightening thought, given that its people are expected to work in battlefields. Where is the concern for morale here?

  5. Yes, that many sources in and out of program, new beard/gray beard, down range, inside wire/outside wire, in CONUS, former/active, Pentagon, et al.

    I kid you not.

    Don’t forget General Petraeus’ is a sponsor and is close to mgmt at HTS. Plus, this is COIN/HTS all of government, all of society stuff. Check out the new NSS of USA.

    HTS came about from a DSB summer study in 2006. The good general and the extraordinary Ms McFate picked up on it all.

    So here we are. The US Army commands are tribal.

  6. Mr Stanton: How does McFate retain what is obviously a central position in the program? Given that so many of the criticisms involve the effectiveness of the program’s social scientists, it seems to me that corrections must fall on her shoulders, whether other people on the teams are hindering them somehow or whether the social scientists are not competent enough to do their jobs. From what I read in your articles and elsewhere, it looks to me like both problems may be widespread in HTS. Elsewhere in the DOD, there are some truly distinguished academics who seem to me to be better equipped than she is, in my opinion, to run a program designed to allow people with academic credentials to do academic things with the military. Have other academics who do work with the DOD been consulted by the HASC or by the person in TRADOC responsible for the Article 15 investigation? They would be a voice of reason applied to this debacle. In the academic world, when problems in a department are so bad that the people in the department and their college are unable to rectify it themselves–and usually by this time the problem is mostly emotional and beyond reason–a college will bring a study group of academics from other institutions to consult with the department, its admin and faculty, and the college to enable a solution. This is done because the people involved are incapable of self-study, no matter how competent they might be in other academic contexts. DOD has many military colleges and people with academic credentials who could be brought in for this purpose. Their systematic study and recommendations might make HTS a better place for its employees, save their jobs, and save lives.

  7. Arthur–

    Many good points you raise.

    Well, I think there’s too much focus on Ms McFate. She can hardly be held responsible for all the troubles that have beset the HTS. There is the PM, Fondacro. Above him I guess it is McFarland. And above McFarland, a CG, DCG of TRADOC.

    What strikes me about this effort is that the same basic allegations have been made over the past two years. There is a lot of consistency in each story pointing to fraud, waste, abuse, incompetence.

  8. Mr. Stanton:

    So what do you think must happen for this program to cure itself of an obvious identity crisis? I recall reading somewhere once that there were as many communisms as there were communists. Your articles and other articles indicate that HTS is whatever anyone wants it to be. To some it’s an intel collection and analysis force. To others it it appears to have been sold to them as social science. To others, just anthropology. To others still, it’s humanitarianism. An organization consisting of so few people can’t be all these things without causing its people a considerable amount of stress. That must the reason for these conflicts among people in the organization, but especially among the team leaders and social scientists. Would you agree?

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