Congressionally Mandated Report of the U.S. Army Human Terrain System: Center for Naval Analyses Investigation is Online

The Center for Naval Analyses report (CNAR) on the US Army’s Human Terrain System (HTS) is available on our site (31 Mb, PDF).  The report acknowledges that there were a number of success stories within HTS but that institutional and management woes crippled the program. The authors of the CNAR did a bang up job rarely mincing words. Moreover, they offer many solutions which is one of the stellar points of the CNAR.

The CNAR report vindicates, again, the stories and observations of the nearly 100 sources from inside the HTS program that were responsible for the production of a staggering 50 articles written over a two year period. It is in large measure their stories that were responsible for the severe rework of the program. Sound minds in the US Congress and within the US Army/OSD—including the AR-15 investigator should receive some sort of commendation for their efforts.

Now HTS is evolving into a program-of-record and is unabashedly an intelligence support program as everyone knew it always was. HTS teams will be a mix of information gatherers from a variety of military, intelligence and social science disciplines mixed with US Army warfighters and combat hardened contractors.

In short, the HTTs will become multidimensional teams capable of deploying around the globe with the capability to use “civilian power” but go kinetic in the snap of a finger. The Sri Lankan soldier who once said, “I fear Human Terrain Teams more than the CIA” was quite prescient.

The HTS effort will continue during Operation New Dawn in Iraq and is ongoing in Afghanistan. According to US Army FY2012 budget documents, the HTS program will expand into other combatant commands like AFRICOM.

According to the CNAR, US Army TRADOC leadership was largely ambivalent to the HTS program even as General David Petraeus, USA—and ostensibly the CG of TRADOC–aggressively supported the effort as the premier solution to the failure of American political and military to prepare the human-cultural terrain for American soldiers.

On their watch soldier/civilian casualties (KIA, WIA), a manslaughter and hostage case, and sexual harassment cases took place within HTS. That TRADOC leadership in G2 and up the chain of command in TRADOC tolerated this state of affairs is common but utterly distasteful.

And people get promoted while people and programs crash and burn around them?

Some say that the next generation HTS is doomed because the reputation of HTS is so horrid that many in the field will try to avoid getting ensnared in the social science/intelligence combination product that HTS pushes. Within the US Army’s budget documents justifying HTS and other intelligence programs, there is a note that indicates the costs have increased because more contractors are being used to perform intelligence tasks of all types–just so.

At any rate, two excerpts from the CNAR are listed below.

“It appears that HTS’s most significant problems revolve around human resourcing and the level of support provided to HTS by TRADOC. We believe that solutions to these immediate issues exist. We emphasize, however that, these issues are not new. Problems in human resourcing and support have been evident in HTS for years—and little has been done to address them to date. As a result, we conclude that a more fundamental problem may exist: there may be a lack of TRADOC institutional commitment to making HTS a success. Hence, while further exploration would need to be conducted to determine this definitively, it is possible that the HTS mission would be better served if HTS were located elsewhere, but potential alternatives are beyond the scope of this assessment.”

“It, it is unclear what the exact purpose and goals of past assessments have been and who the intended audience is. It appears that the Project Management Office was the primary recipient of HTS products and that TRADOC G2 has not received or reviewed HTS assessment products. Second, the current approach has made it difficult to conduct any trend analysis of the program’s development. Finally, there is not a formal process for implementing the suggestions/conclusions reached in the various assessments within HTS. Any organizational change that has come about due to past assessments has been the result of an informal decision-making process.”

16 thoughts on “Congressionally Mandated Report of the U.S. Army Human Terrain System: Center for Naval Analyses Investigation is Online

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  2. Juniper Bush

    So is this report claiming that the problems with HTS was that McFate and Fondaro were dumbshits? Are they saying that if HTS just opened up and admitted that they are a nest of spies, that everything will be OK?

  3. Maximilian Forte

    I am just going through the full report now, and not finding much reason to share John’s enthusiasm (“did a bang up job rarely mincing words”). The main finding listed first does not validate any of the criticisms of the program: it judges the program to have been a success. I don’t know about not mincing words, but when it comes to anthropologists’ criticisms of the program, it reduces and minimizes them to minor points about decision-making and “specific incidents,” and while the CNA mentions a lively blogging community with some “outspoken individuals” who oppose the program, it provides no references for readers to follow up those criticisms. I will finish reading the report before making anything like a “final judgment,” but so far I think John is celebrating a technocratic self-endorsement by the military.

  4. John stanton

    I am not sure you all understand how Wahington, DC works and the politics involved in generating anreport like this within 90 days and with the House Armed Services Committee and OSDI and CENTCOM and a very powerful contractor that spends amply of time lining the pockets of congressmen an women. This report hammers leadership and points to serious violations of federal regulations. If that is not enough all matters personnel, recruiting etc are addressed.

    I am not sure what you all want. It was never about us it was about the people who took great risks with their livelihoods to speak to us all. In the end people were fired and the program investigated and changed. Even CNA had a tough time getting info from the group that should be censored–tradoc leadership.

    There is little left to say here and I think that many will not be satisfied until there is some version of a public hanging or other execution. Behind the scenes that has happened.

    I sent Max the agenda for the HBSC week long program held in DC last week. Look at that agenda and the hundreds involved in creating more hts like programs. Who knows the troubles some of those will get into. Perhaps they will learn what not to do by reading about the hts experience.

    Perhaps you all should author a counter-cna report that offers a blueprint for a human terrain program that the us military and state department can deploy and that would satisfy the gods. I do not say that in jest as they are going human terraining no matter what and they have a couple of billion budgeted. Yes or no this toolset is needed though it already resides in Civil Affairs which the US Army is allowing to languish in favor of hts.

  5. Maximilian Forte

    Well, no John, it was definitely about “us” as anthropologists whose discipline was being recruited to serve the needs of aggression and occupation. That some within HTS wrote complaints about the woes of mismanagement is an altogether different and unrelated issue, and not one of my bases for criticizing the program. Had the program been managed better, it would not have mattered one iota to the fundamental condemnation of the militarization of the social sciences, the use of the program for domestic propaganda to get us all in line, the manner in which HTS was used as a form of counterinsurgency against critical academics…I mean, John, where have you been in all this?

    It was not about us to the extent that it was also about Afghans and Iraqis, who were the objects of experimentation for this program. At the very best, those who willingly joined HTS to profit from it, and serve it, only to become disenchanted and write complaints to John Stanton…this story never was primarily about them, nor does it ever deserve to be.

    HTS is a toolset that is “needed”? Needed by whom? And knowing “how Washington works” is really great, if you set the limits of your sight to Washington itself. I don’t care about Washington.

    As for writing a better blueprint for an alternative HTS–that is not my job. What we have is a technocratic report that refuses to understand any of the real debates moved by critics of the program, and then recommends policy on the basis of avoiding a repetition of these conflicts in the future. How do you do that, when you explicitly say you will not “wade into” what the opponents say, and you don’t even name the opponents so they remain a mystery? The report continues to insist on outreach to the academic community, regardless of everything. So the result is bad policy based on dismissal of the substance of opposition, and more of the same being offered.

  6. Maximilian Forte

    John, let’s try it this way:

    * When YOU think of HTS, is the first word that pops into mind “SUCCESS”?

    Because that is the first and foremost finding of the CNA: the program is a success.

    Note how on page 43 they say that if anything HTS has not been funded enough.

  7. John Stanton

    When I think of HTS, the first thing I think about are the lives lost, those wounded, sexual exploitation and corruption. The second thing I think about is the leadership that cared little about it all from program manager to commanding general to team leaders who were in it just for the money. The third thing is the tragedy of war and the suffering it brings. For me, I stuck with it because of the people. That was always the case as I repeated throughout the series of articles. I also was up front at all times about the necessity of such a program from a military, political standpoint. I maintained that position throughout the series.

    I can’t speak to the pain/emotion you all (“us”) feel about the assault on your field of anthropology and the national security machinery’s attempt to exploit it. I am well aware of using social sciences for propaganda and co-opting and, indeed, had mentioned that in a number of the pieces to include: Whole of Government and Society plans to mobilize the nation for long war, COIN/HTS and cyber, etc. etc. etc.

    From what I read here, the whole matter was simply about exorcising the military demons (in the form of McFate, et al) from the study and practice of anthropology and returning it to its former pristine state. Damn the people! Save Anthropology at All Costs! That’s the view that was held by the worst of HTS. Damn the People! Save HTS at All Costs!

    So here we are. The CNA report clearly is inconclusive. There is a difference in saying, The Program was a Complete Success vs There were Many Successes. The are so many caveats in the report that it is hard to see how HTS is a complete success.

    Again, look at the environment this report is coming from. This is very much a political exercise as well as a military technocratic one.

    I happen to be reading David Livingstone Smith’s new book titled Less Than Human. The timing couldn’t be better.

    And Away We Go! as Jackie Gleason used to say.

  8. Maximilian Forte

    No, John, not “damn the people!”–here it was always about DAMN HTS, and that goes for the people who serve it, needless to say (but apparently it needs to be said). The idea that we ought to be supporting those who joined the program and then found that–uh oh, it doesn’t seem to be working well!–is pretty well preposterous in my view. It was always interesting to hear that they had complaints, and what some of those complaints revealed about the mindset in charge of the program, but I never pretended that now made them Priority #1 in our concerns, and certainly not my concerns.

    At some point John you will have to explain how you maintain an anti-imperialist position in other articles, and yet insist that HTS is a good idea. A good idea for what? Useful…to which ends, and whose ends?

    And please John, whatever you say next, don’t belittle “save anthropology at all costs” again–because if there is a reason these fuckers want to recruit anthropologists, and damn all of us as possible spies and operatives of the state wherever we go in a conflict-ridden world, it’s because the law prevents them from using journalists in that capacity anymore. So it’s bad for journalists to serve counterinsurgency….but alright for anthropologists? Is this your position too?

    Sorry if in the meantime if I continue to react to a couple of my fellow ZA writers these days as if I were living through “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” but some things need to be confronted out in the open.

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  10. john stanton

    Perhaps too many requests of DTIC? I was trying to download a copy for home computer. Maybe nothing. Valid as of time of this posting.

    > The resource you requested has been withdrawn for
    > administrative reasons. For additional information, contact
    > the DTIC help desk at 800-225-3842 or
    > Accession Number:
    > ADA535218
    > Full Text (pdf) Availability:
    > Size: 38 MB
    > Handle / proxy
    > Url:
    > Citation Status:
    > A – Active
    > Title:
    > Congressionally Directed
    > Assessment of the Human Terrain System
    > Fields and Groups :
    > 120400 – Operations
    > Research
    > Corporate Author:
    > Personal Author(s):
    > Clinton, Yvette
    > Foran-Cain, Virginia
    > McQuaid, Julia V
    > Norman, Catherine E
    > Sims, William H
    > Report Date:
    > Nov 2010
    > Media Count:
    > 257 Pages(s)
    > Organization Type:
    > Contract Number(s):
    > N00014-05-D-0500 (N0001405D0500)
    > Report Number(s):
    > XDXD (XDXD)
    > XDXD (XDXD)
    > Descriptive Note:
    > Final rept.
    > Monitor Acronym(s):
    > XD (XD)
    > Monitor Series:
    > XD (XD)
    > Identifiers:
    > Abstract:
    > This report presents
    > CNA’s findings and conclusions from an assessment of the
    > U.S. Army’s Human Terrain System (HTS). The Office of the
    > Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence (OUSDI)
    > commissioned CNA to conduct this study to satisfy a
    > Congressionally Directed Action (CDA) requiring an
    > independent assessment of HTS (this report is part of a
    > broader assessment being conducted by the Office of the
    > Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, examining
    > socio-cultural research and analysis activities across the
    > Department of Defense).
    > Distribution Limitation(s):
    > Source Code:
    > 077270
    > Document Location:
    > 2 – DTIC
    > Geopolitical Code:
    > 5108
    > Supplementary Notes:
    > Task 5828.
    > Distribution Statement:
    > Approved for public
    > release; distribution is unlimited.
    > Citation Created:
    > 02-Feb-2011″

    1. Maximilian Forte

      John, the file was uploaded to ZA, the link in your article above works because users can download it directly from us instead. However, I wonder what they mean by “withdrawn for administrative reasons.”

  11. John stanton

    Trying to figure that out. I sent them a question. Interesting here is that I. Have had a FOIA request ongoing for this report for about 5 months. I spoke with the office last week at the Pentagon and they were “nearing completion” of their effort. Of course Foia office would not know about dtic location. For now I will chalk it up to large file size and lousy servers at dtic.

    Still, the CG of TRADoc has come under fire from the Army IG office for other management matters and this report is not going to help as he has been nominated for chief staff us army. Has to go before congress before he gets the job.

    Good move on putting the download up.

  12. John Stanton

    No surprise here at all. Washington, DC power plays all over the place.

    Apparently, the report we have is not the original version (even though it still takes on the TRADOC leadership). CNA was tougher on the program and leadership than what comes through in the CNAR.

    I have notified the FOIA office at DOD that I would like them to continue their search for supporting documentation, etc.

    Our debate needs to happen over some beverages. Come visit the Center of the Empire some day!

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