By John Stanton
Maxie McFarland, an unrelenting supporter of the US Army's Human Terrain System (HTS 1.0), has left his position as Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence of the US Army's Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), G-2.
According to TRADOC Public Affairs Officer Greg Mueller, "Mr. McFarland has left government service after many years of dedicated service as both an Army officer and a senior government executive. Mr. McFarland made a personal decision to leave government service and pursue other opportunities."
The former US Army Colonel managed to keep HTS 1.0 funded, marketed, and publicized with a positive spin--thanks mainly to the exceptional media/presentation skills of Montgomery McFate--during its most troubled years from 2008 to early 2011.
But turbulence and dissension was the story behind the scenes. HTS personnel within the program were alleging fraud, waste, abuse, sexual harassment, mismanagement of recruiting and training, gun running, and much more. The stories were often tragic and astonishing; the stuff of movies.
Their comments were dutifully reported and carried by many media outlets in and out of the USA. It was HTS personnel that were largely responsible for the initiation of internal US Army investigations of the program, plus independent assessments (one mandated by the US Congress) by the Center for Naval Analyses and the Institute for Defense Analysis. The American Anthropological Association added its weight officially disavowing HTS. That was the least of McFarland's problems.
Former HTS Technology Director Colonel Daniel Wolfe, USA (Ret.) and a principal of the Asymmetric Warfare Division, ARCIC, is said to be facing a bumpy road ahead due to actions whilst at HTS.
According to some observers, it's not clear how much training has changed since Colonel Sharon Hamilton took over as HTS 2.0 program manager. Supposedly, the regional studies component of HTS 2.0 training, considered by many students to be the best part, was removed and has not been replaced. Improvements apparently include training that may reduce the "liability factor" of civilians working outside the wire and possibly help ensure their safety. A course on weapons familiarization appears to have been introduced. Others say it doesn't appear that a "whole lot has changed although time spent training has been reduced."
According the HTS website, the Pentagon/OSD continues to plan for an aggressive expansion of the Human Terrain System 2.0/MAP HT across the geographic combatant commands. There is a "DIA and USD-I initiative to expand socio-cultural capabilities beyond CENTCOM to [AFRICOM], EUCOM, PACOM, and SOUTHCOM." HTS 2.0 is a key part of the USA's counterinsurgency campaign in the CENTCOM AOR against assorted insurgent groups. HTS 2.0 expansion into SOUTHCOM means it will join in the War on Drugs. Planners maintain their intent to sell HTS 2.0 to other militaries around the globe.
For example, Turkey has been interacting with the US Army and Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Center for some time now in an effort to revamp its counterinsurgency doctrine. "January 2010 COIN consultations with the Turkish [Army] highlights the desire of partner countries to exchange operational insights, better understand counterinsurgency concepts, and build COIN capabilities," said the director of the Center. That means foreign military officers are being exposed to, one hopes, the best elements/practices of HTS 2.0 and its MAP HT capabilities.
"In January 2010, US COIN Center principals met with the Chief of the Turkish delegation, MG Orhan Turfan (Chief, General Plans and Policies, Turkish Army) and U.S. lead, BG Ed Donnelly (DAMO-SS). Discussions focused on developing agility in leaders and soldiers...to operate in complex Operating Environment through education, introduction of non-military conditions...in training environments, and stressing the importance of situational understanding prior to task execution in order not to solve the wrong problem. MG Turfan was interested in processes to disseminate lessons across the force. Proposed agreed to actions (ATAs) under consideration include: adding Turkish Army POCs to distribution of monthly COIN SITREP; invitation of Turkish officers to participate in future COIN Leader Workshops; COIN Center engagement with Turkish ILE students (ongoing); and potential Subject Matter Exchanges tied to implementation of NATO [meaning US] COIN doctrine. Next step: continue collaboration with the Turkish Army by executing ATA's from HQDA."
John Stanton is a Virginia based writer specializing in national security and political matters. Reach him at email@example.com.