Laboratory for Human Terrain
The Laboratory for Human Terrain
is proud to welcome
Montgomery McFate to Dartmouth College.

Montgomery McFate is a cultural anthropologist who works on defense and national security issues. Dr. McFate is currently the Senior Social Scientist for the US Army's Human Terrain System. Dr. McFate received a B.A. from University of California at Berkeley, a Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from Yale University, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Montgomery McFate
Senior Social Scientist, Human Terrain System, US Army
"Using Social Science Research in Conflict Situations: The Human Terrain System in Afghanistan and Iraq"
Thursday, September 25, 2008
4:30 PM - 3 Rockefeller Hall
A Nelson A. Rockefeller Centennial Series Lecture

Human Terrain (HT)  is an emerging area of study with significant national security and commercial applications.  Its major goal is to create operational technologies that allow modeling, representation, simulation and anticipation of behaviors and activities of both individuals and the organizations to which they belong.  Human Terrain technology has applications in:
  • International affairs and geopolitics
  • Pre- and post-conflict modeling
  • Culture modeling and dynamics
  • Tactical military operations
  • Peacekeeping, humanitarian and relief operations
  • E-commerce
  • Online communities
  • Financial and market systems and behaviors
  • Consumer behavior and network analysis.

The Laboratory for Human Terrain at Dartmouth College is focused on the foundational science and technology for modeling, representing, inferring and analyzing individual and organizational behaviors.  Specific areas of current interest and activity are:

  • Individual and organizational behaviors
  • Adversarial intent modeling, simulation and prediction
  • Dynamic social network analysis
  • Discovery of hidden relationships and organizations
  • Game theoretic foundations of individual and group behaviors
  • Inferences of structure and intent from diverse data sources
  • Human terrain markup languages and architectures for interoperability of HT systems
  • Applications to national security and commercial domains.

Human Terrain News
The Why and How of Human Terrain Teams
Inside Higher Ed
February 19, 2009

There are a number of ways that an HTT can keep the population and nonlethal options on the front burner. In the case of my team, we used very standard research and analysis methods to get at both primary and secondary open source data. At all times we endeavored to engage in best practices, both in terms of methodology and ethics. We essentially used four basic methods of collection: archival, process observation, participant observation, and semi-structured elite level interviews.

McFate explains Human Terrain Teams
The Dartmouth
September 26, 2008

Cultural anthropologist Montgomery McFate emphasized the importance of sociocultural knowledge in forming national security strategy, explaining a new counter-insurgency theory that relies on experts in social-science disciplines, in a lecture at the Rockefeller Center on Thursday evening.

Army Enlists Anthropology in War Zones
New York Times
October 5, 2007

The SHABAK VALLEY, Afghanistan In this isolated Taliban stronghold in eastern Afghanistan, American paratroopers are fielding what they consider a crucial new weapon in counterinsurgency operations here: a soft-spoken civilian anthropologist named Tracy.


Pentagon Tech Push
April 3, 2007

The Pentagon announced yesterday its “new starts” for the 2007 Joint Capability Technology Demonstration program including ...Mapping the Human Terrain (MAP-HT) - Visualization of socio-cultural information

Koppel talks war, U.S. toll in Discovery Channel Special
March 10, 2007

The phrase "hearts and minds" is in disrepute. The new buzz phrase is "human terrain," but it still means winning friends among people prone to distrust all outsiders, particularly Americans. "But if that is the terrain the U.S. is trying to conquer, the war is not going well," Koppel concludes.