Independent Assessment of Human Terrain System: Findings to Pentagon on 19 July 2010

The Independent Assessment of the US Army’s Human Terrain System requested by the House Armed Services Committee is scheduled to be completed on 19 July 2010. The Center for Naval Analyses—CNA–was contracted by the Undersecretary of Defense, Intelligence, to conduct the Independent Assessment. According to Tim Sullivan of the CNA, “The International Affairs Group (IAG) of CNA was responsible for conducting the assessment and will turn over its report to the sponsor [USD/I] on July 19th.”

The IAG is led by Dr. Eric V. Thompson. Here is a portion of IAG’s mission statement.

“Its regional specialists conduct analyses on issues associated with Europe, NATO, the Mediterranean and Black Sea littorals, Latin America, Africa, and the Pacific. Its functional specialties include leadership analysis, coalition integration and interoperability, proliferation, force structure and deployment, operational strategy, work associated with partner capacity building….The IAG approach to complex issues is characterized by rigorous methodology, a heavy reliance on primary sources, and the unmatched operational and policy expertise of our analysts. IAG research is also informed by its analysts’ years of in-country experience, an understanding of local perspectives, and in-house language expertise, including Arabic, Russian, French, and Persian. IAG is home to CNA’s Middle East experts and senior analysts who have for many years provided highly valued research informed by cultural and historic knowledge. This cadre of experts makes frequent visits to the Middle East, and has close relationships with research institutions in the region. IAG also has the experts on South Asia and the Indian Ocean littoral.”

The CNA received high praise from around the globe for its 2006 Climate Change Study that challenged the prevailing view of the, then, Bush White House that refused to accept the realities of global climate change. CNA brought a number of retired generals and admirals together to make the point that climate change was a threat to national security.

It is unclear what CNA’s mandate or charter was for the HTS effort. And it is unknown how deeply into HTS they traveled for information (what primary sources did they consult?). Sources are not optimistic about CNA’s report having any positive impact on changing the culture of HTS.

Indeed, looking at the IAG’s staff qualifications, it appears their study will focus mainly on macro issues.

Program Management: So Poor

Just prior to interim program manager Colonel Sharon Hamilton’s arrival at HTS HQ, HTS principals ordered personnel to return to their desks so that when Hamilton walked through The Landing everyone would look busy, said sources.

“Good instructors that were legitimately engaged in training students were called back to their office by Marcus Griffin to sit at their desk and look busy when Colonel Hamilton walked through the Landing.”

Sources noted that other instructors were ordered to develop last minute, ad hoc training programs that cut into independent studies by students “languishing” at hotel pool sides in the Kansas City/Lansing area.

“Some instructors were told to make up a training program for the last two weeks of the next class. Why? Because the program managers did not have any training planned! They claim they had discovered a gap in training just seven days before.”

“Other students languish at hotel swimming pools in the Kansas City/Lansing area and are conducting independent studies. Good students admit they are between jobs and are going to take all the money they can and resign before deploying.”

Observers indicate that it is obvious to students that HTS management is in the program for the money alone. Personnel within the program, in management’s view, are fungible. “Taking the money and running with it is the program management’s attitude.”

Colonel Hamilton has stepped on to The Bounty. Let’s hope she can salvage the best of the ship and set a clearer course.

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5 thoughts on “Independent Assessment of Human Terrain System: Findings to Pentagon on 19 July 2010

  1. Keith Silverstein

    Thanks for your continued reporting on this subject. This website has become a valuable source of information to me. If there was a single website that would cover the economy, education, healthcare, and housing like you guys do HTS I’d be very happy.

    With so many news websites/blogs covering bits of information here and there and so many of those lacking true investigative capability it is truly refreshing to see what can be done when people dedicated to following a topic really stick to it.

    I’ve noted that some of your reports have shown up on Cryptome and am wondering what, if any, affiliation this website or you (John Stanton) have with them….or any other organizations as far as funding, advise, content.

    Ever since the Wikileaks “Collaterral Murder” release I find some strange statements and circling of wagons going on in my realm of the blogosphere and some of it is very troubling to me. Add to this the recent Robert Gates announcement on the new guidelines military personnel must follow when speaking to journalists and news organizations and reality is the First Amendment now seems to carry several new caveats.

    Is there a hearing planned yet by the House Armed Services Committee to review the report in open testimony?


    1. Maximilian Forte

      Sorry Keith, due to an extreme volume of spam, some of which makes it through to comments, I have had comment moderation on (as you could tell), and have also been late to approve comments. John won’t see this for a while, so let me answer one of your questions first, on his behalf.

      John posts his articles to several sources, always Cryptome, and sometimes various newspapers, including Pravda, the Seoul Times, the Sri Lanka Guardian, etc. Having reproduced all of his articles here, since he started writing about HTS over two years ago (and initially with added commentary from myself), and with the correspondence that followed between us, John began to send me his articles at the same time as he would post them on Cryptome. After that occurred for a period of about 18 months, I decided to formalize the relationship and ask John if he would join us on this site. Happily, he agreed. I am also very happy that you appreciate the reports.

      John has scooped various angles of HTS several times, and he is generous in contacting various media, who often reproduce what he has reported, sometimes with no formal credit to him, or limited credit. A certain clique of foreign policy writers tends to keep the mutual referencing within their little circle, even while a lot of the information they provide is second hand, and follows what John reports. John never boasts nor complains–not in public, and not in private either–so I hope he forgives me for doing so. I was very tempted to write in the names of the writers and provide the links to the articles that I know are guilty of what I have been describing. The good news is that it proves once more how influential his reporting has become, to the embarrassment of several career journalists who have uncovered not even a fraction of the details he has…and he has done this all without ever working as an “embedded” reporter (in fact, that is precisely why he has been able to do this).

      By the way, for actual evidence of the extent to which his reporting has dominated the discussion of HTS online, I produced a report on this over a year ago:

      Also see this:
      It describes a broad strategy, and among some of the players is one Lincoln Group, several of whose staff formed part of HTS management, and who have since moved on to Glevum Associates, which is also affiliated to HTS and does some of its research in Afghanistan.

      In terms of circling of wagons in the blogosphere, yes, I see that usually. A large part of the blogosphere ends up becoming the unofficial soft power arm of the state, a tool in the military’s information operations, and a way for the extreme right wing to recycle itself by way of mass repetition. Much of their influence is leveraged primarily through quantity (what some call visibility). Unfortunately, some putatively “liberal” blogs in anthropology, committed to an unqualified notion of “free speech” (as if people were all mute before their blog appeared on the Web; as if their blog has a duty to promote the free speech of everyone, rather than those least heard; as if the “free speakers” could not post elsewhere), have become the unwitting instruments of the PsyOps propaganda trolls that dominate their comments sections, often without counter-commentary, or with weak attempts at control: “don’t feed the trolls.” But trolls feed on space and presence…they can’t exist without it. They also demand recognition. This is one of the reasons I grew tired of involving myself in discussions on other blogs and, indeed, that only happens once or twice in a year (I otherwise mostly post thanks for links, as a courtesy).

      This site refuses to become part of the domain of the military and militarists, and while we respect respectful disagreement, and do in fact converse with a wide variety of interests and perspectives, the overweening PsyOps troll is something that is not tolerated here. They are pure noise makers, like they have been trained to be, and if they could blast heavy metal at a million decibels at this site, they would. I owe them nothing, and thus commit even less to them. Some of them have gone on to complain about this elsewhere, only to find themselves repudiated elsewhere as well. Few people can stand anyone who posts four essay-length comments to every one from everybody else, and who clearly always aims to get the last word. Again, these are quantity machines, noise makers, fog dispensers. They fake at free and open discourse, in their own deceptive liberalism, so they can take advantage of free space. ZA does not offer free public parking ;-)

  2. Pingback: 19 July. Deadline for Independent Assessment of Human Terrain System… | Erkan's Field Diary

  3. Keith Silverstein

    Max, I truly appreciate your reply. I wanted to let you know that it didn’t go unread since you responded with so much information. Your comments regarding PsyOps trolls was refreshing to hear because, without mentioning them, there is a site that really had me confused about what they had going on since I had thought they were credible…not something easily gained from me without actually knowing someone personally for a very long time.

    I just got back from the Gulf coast – covering the BP oil spill and shooting a music video- it is very late and I’m exhausted so I’m going to be much briefer than I’d like.

    Thank you

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