The ‘Dirty Secrets’ that Purify a Dirty War: A Colonial Tale of Dancing Boys, a Journalist, and the Human Terrain System in Afghanistan

By M. Jamil Hanifi & Maximilian C. Forte The Telling of a Tale There is no “scoop” in Joel Brinkley’s article, “Afghanistan’s dirty little secret” (29 August 2010, San Francisco Chronicle)—just an ugly sensationalist title on a story already abundantly covered by PBS Frontline months ago (see: “The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan”). What is more […]

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Montgomery McFate: Gone from the Human Terrain System

Sources report that Senior Social Scientist Montgomery McFate resigned her post with the US Army Human Terrain System (HTS) within the last ten days. Observers say the “category of resignation is similar to that of former HTS program manager Steve Fondacaro in that all assume it was a ‘forced resignation’  or ‘let go’ as is […]

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The Loaded Goat: Revisiting Pine Cone Anthropology in Afghanistan

The diary of Ted the Tongue reveals more about the poverty of the academic thinking and conduct that provisions the “Comparative Cultural Competence” (or is it “Cross-Cultural Competence”?) component of the U.S. Army’s Human Terrain System (HTS) than the colorful background and confused imaginings of a young American adventurer in the guise of anthropologist and […]

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Human Terrain System in the Media

First, and in case you missed them, a series of YouTube videos produced by the U.S. military about the Human Terrain System: The U.S. Army’s “light touch with heavy impact…a non-lethal force multiplier” — “a Human Terrain Team working with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment is comprised of military and civilian analysts who specialize in […]

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The Diary of Ted the Tongue: Pinecone Anthropologist

In an earlier article, “More European Press Coverage of the Human Terrain System,” I referred to an article in Germany’s GEO Magazine which carried an extensive article about anthropology and the Human Terrain System, on 05 May 2010, the whole of which can be viewed and downloaded from here, titled “Ein Ethnologe im Krieg.” Online you can […]

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Counterinsurgency: It’s Bloody Horrible

COUNTER-COUNTERINSURGENCY: You’ve heard the criticisms. You’ve read the book. Now see the movie. These are some of my favourite lines: counterinsurgency: it’s like a wild horse, only you bet on it; counterinsurgency involves a thousand small healing steps; the manual can never be wrong, only the practice; cultural knowledge for the military: it’s so basic […]

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More European Press Coverage of the Human Terrain System

Continuing from the last item on this topic, the following are more examples of recent European press coverage of the U.S. Army’s Human Terrain System and its embedding of civilian social scientists in counterinsurgency missions. One thing that immediately stands out from most of these articles is the emphasis not on “civilian social scientists,” but […]

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Saving Lives, or Ending Them? Martin Schweitzer on Special Operations and the Human Terrain System

Previously we read here of the testimony by a Col. Martin Schweitzer, Commander, 4 / 82 Airborne Brigade Combat Team, United States Army, before the House Armed Services Committee, Terrorism & Unconventional Threats Sub-Committee and the Research & Education Sub-Committee of the Science & Technology Committee , on 24 April 2008. He repeats statements there that have […]

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Marjeh, Afghanistan: X-ray of McChrystal’s Bleeding Ulcer

Updated: 28 June 2010 Operation Urban Inflation One objective I cannot accomplish here is a comprehensive recap of counterinsurgency doctrine, the development and execution of Operation Moshtarak in Helmand province, Afghanistan, starting in February, and a comprehensive analysis of all of the apparent outcomes. Instead, this a selective series of vignettes. The first vignette: on […]

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Senator Barbara Boxer Doesn’t Understand the Meaning of “Federal”: Turns Away Complaints about Human Terrain System

Barbara Boxer, a U.S. Senator for California, elected as a Democrat, is apparently struggling with the concept “federal” and with her own role as a senator who sits on the Subcommittee on International Operations and Terrorism, the Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, and the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Peace Corps, and […]

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