U.S. Army Human Terrain System News: Hamilton Deserves Credit, CG TRADOC in Trouble, Training Woes

Updated version:

“Please warn your sources in HTS that TRADOC G2 senior management is on to them. I was told this in a conversation I had with the TRADOC G2 today. It’s sad that finding out your sources seems to be a priority. I hate to see anyone lose their job over this.”

Clearly, program reorganization and redirection are the key elements of Colonel Sharon Hamilton’s mission as program manager of the HTS. Sources speculate that she has questioned some in the chain-of-command about the “many millions of dollars wasted on a program that cannot produce any product.” Whether that is true or not, one thing is certain: Colonel Hamilton was dropped into a US Army program that was allowed by senior TRADOC management to carve its own self-destructive path. Meaningful oversight of the HTS program was non-existent.

Colonel Hamilton’s task is largely thankless. The investigations of the HTS program by the US Army and the House Armed Services Committee, and the stories as relayed by nearly 100 sources for this 17 month series of articles, has shown just how rotten the core of the program had become.

She deserves much credit for her actions thus far in trying to change the culture and, apparently, merge Human Terrain Analysis into Geospatial practice for modeling and simulation. The Human Terrain System website shows that the management has backed off marketing the program as “applied anthropology” and, of course, has forced the resignations of those who, while at the helm, shipwrecked the HTS effort and in the process lost and shattered lives.

Sources say that HTS Training is still a serious weak point in the program and the much ballyhooed HTS Training Redesign is already in trouble.

“There is lack of progress in the much discussed training redesign. There is supposed to be a 10 week redesign that goes in to effect in January 2011 but only 1 week is complete and not properly vetted or to TRADOC standards. The only successful training that continues to receive high marks is to be eliminated. For example, there is a contractor that repeatedly received high marks from students and also refused to reduce TRADOC training standards or compromise on work product. The HTS Training Redesign Team hates the contractor and frequently copies their product but can’t replicate the contractor’s experience.”

What it boils down to is this, agreed sources: “The real problem that HTS has is that their reputation is so bad that it scares off any qualified/creditable trainers. They will not work on the program. They can’t even get people to the CRC on time!”

There are rumors, say sources, that the HTS program’s performance has been so poor that it may cost General Martin Dempsey, CG of TRADOC, dearly. “A serious issue is that the [HTS] investigations have reached into the TRADOC Headquarters and may negatively impact on Dempsey’s future. He has not done enough to clean up the HTS mess.”

Other sources have reported that Dempsey is a “good man” and has done a good job as the TRADOC CG. They say Dempsey’s problem is Maxi McFarland who is known as a real bare knuckle, back room fighter. He gets what he wants and no one will challenge him. He has friends in high places. His contacts are built on personal support of the Army’s current leadership. He was a colonel when the current leadership held captain/major rank. There is no risk to him or his position.”

Sources say that one of the US Army’s Human Terrain System senior managers, Jeff Bowden, is resigning effective 31 December 2010. Observers say that Bowden was recently reprimanded by the HTS Program Manager, Colonel Sharon Hamilton (USA), for matters relating to his performance, or lack thereof, in the HTS program.

Also of note is the promotion of Christopher King, PhD in Forensic Anthropology—not Cultural Anthropology—who will head the social science directorate. Some say the difference in the two fields” is important.” Chris King is a forensic anthropologist. He was chosen to lead the “social science directorate” not for his qualifications but because he is the least controversial “last man standing.”

On the artistic side, HTS will be featured as the topic of a theater performance in Los Angeles, California. Playwright Rick Mitchell has penned and produced a performance titled SHADOW ANTHROPOLOGY: A Post-9/11 Comedy. The play will be opening and running in Los Angeles in January and February, as part of a theatre festival.

Shadow Anthropology will also be the lead play in a forthcoming collection of Mitchell’s work. The fine American actor Edward James Olmos says of Mitchell’s book, “”Funny! Provocative! Stunningly poignant! Rick Mitchell is a great American Playwright.”

Mitchell is also working on a “comic song” about the Human Terrain System.