Laboratory for Human Terrain
   
   
Media Sources

Knowing The Enemy : Can social scientists redefine the war on terror?
George Packer, The New Yorker
    "The result of efforts like McFates is a new project with the quintessential Pentagon name Cultural Operations Research Human Terrain. It began in the form of a ruggedized laptop computer, loaded with data from social-science research conducted in Iraq such as, McFate said, an analysis of the eighty-eight tribes and subtribes in a particular province."
    "If you can't call something by its name, if you can't say, 'This is what this phenomenon is, it has structure, meaning, agency,' how can you ever fight it? In other words, even if we think that a jihadi in Yemen has ideas similar to those of an Islamist in Java, we have to approach them in discrete ways, both to prevent them from becoming a unified movement and because their particular political yearnings are different."

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Navigating the 'human terrain'
Max Boot, Senior Fellow for National Security Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
    "The U.S. armed forces have a problem. They have the technical capability to hit any target on the planet. But which targets should they hit? Unfortunately, our enemies in the war on terrorism don’t operate tanks or warships that we could blow up. They lurk in the shadows and emerge only briefly to set off bombs. Rooting them out requires getting inside their minds. But there’s no machine that can pull off such a feat, at least not yet."
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Hard-Learned Lessons: The Army is rethinking how to fight the next war--and win the current one
Julian E. Barnes, US News & World Report
    "Winning the hearts and minds, or establishing trust and confidence, requires understanding the Iraqis. Military units are good at sharing knowledge of the physical landscape. But they are not so good when it comes to sharing knowledge about such things as the allegiances of local subtribes and the reliability of various local leaders, and much is lost when a unit rotates out. "We used to just focus on the military terrain," Petraeus says. "Now we have to focus on the cultural terrain."
    One idea to fix the problem is to create maps or databases of this human terrain. Don Smith, a strategic consultant with Fort Leavenworth's Foreign Military Studies Office, is working on creating ways for Army units to record and share the cultural knowledge they gain. Smith says a human terrain map could also help measure where America is winning the war and where it is losing."

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Military Sources

The Human Terrain System: A CORDS for the 21st Century
Jacob Kipp, PhD, Lester Grau, Karl Prinslow, CPT Don Smith
Foreign Military Studies Office, Fort Leavenworth, KS
    "(T)oday, commanders arriving in their areas of operation are routinely left to fend for themselves in inventing their own systems and methodologies for researching and analyzing such data. Developing a system and processes requires the expenditure of enormous amounts of precious time and involves a great deal of trial and error, together with a steep learning curve. The resulting database is generally accomplished through ad hoc rearrangement of the staff. Nor are these homegrown databases formally linked to other databases to allow the seamless sharing of information or the archiving of data for broader use within the Army. Moreover, the database and institutional memory that go with it are not effectively transferred to relieving units upon redeployment. As a result, new commanders entering the area of operations usually must start again from scratch, developing their own system for researching and analyzing cultural data."
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The Military Utility of Understanding Adversary Culture
Montgomery McFate, Joint Force Quarterly
    "According to a Special Forces colonel assigned to the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, We literally dont know where to go for information on what makes other societies tick, so we use Google to make policy."
    "According to Lieutenant General James Clapper, Jr., USAF, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Of course we still provide in-depth orders of battle, targeting data, and traditional military capabilities analysis. But we must also provide the commanders on the ground with detailed information regarding local customs, ethnicity, biographic data, military geography, and infectious diseases. Producing intelligence on these factors can be challenging. As Clapper noted, We provided detailed analysis on more than 40 clans and subclans operating in Somaliafar more difficult than counting tanks and planes."

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The MiTT and its "Human Terrain": Transitioning the Iraqi Army into the Lead
LTC Richard McConnell, MAJ Christopher Matson and CPT Brent Clemmer, Field Artillery
    "The article presents a few ideas about fostering teamwork within the human terrain in Mosul. This is by no means an attempt to discuss all the cultural differences between US Soldiers and the Middle Eastern Soldiers and policemen. Whether you are reading this article as part of the Coalition Force, a MiTT or military police (MP), the goal is the same—to build cooperation between the IA and Iraqi police to provide security to Iraq."
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The Human Terrain of Urban Operations
LTC (Ret) Ralph Peters, Parameters
    "While the physical characteristics of the assaulted or occupied city are of great importance, the key variable is the population. At its most obvious, the issue is simply whether the citizenry is hostile, indifferent, or welcoming. Too often, the evaluation of the flesh-and-blood terrain, of the human high-ground, ends there. Yet few populations are ever exclusively hostile, or truly indifferent, or unreservedly welcoming. Man's complexity is richer than any architectural detail. It is, finally, the people, armed and dangerous, watching for exploitable opportunities, or begging to be protected, who will determine the success or failure of the intervention."
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Blog Watch
 
Mapping the Human Terrain (MAP-HT) | Roundup
April 2, 2007

"I figured I'd pull together a few links about this JCTD and related efforts. In 2006, the DSB summer study on 21st Century Strategic Technology Vectors cited "human terrain preparation" as the first of four critical capabilities to be acquired."
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Handmaidens of imperialism
March 17, 2007

"Last week, lenin wrote about a new document that the Blackwater mercenary company had put out for its employees, ‘Learning to Think like an Arab Muslim: a Short Guide to Understanding the Arab Mentality’."
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Cultural Operations Research Human Terrain
December 18, 2006

"Via Kevin Drum, a press release about an article in the New Yorker. With a title like “Can Social Scientists Redefine the War on Terror?” it seems right up our alley."
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George Packer: Bring in the social scientists
December 13, 2006

"Packer suggests that the U.S. government recruit social scientists and launch this grand "information" campaign aka propaganda in the Arab/Moslems worlds which should lead to victory. Can't wait for The Social Scientists Gate. But seriously, what Packer needs to find is some sense of irony."
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HumanTerrain@Dartmouth.Edu