Arrogance & Incompetence & Easy Money
by John Stanton
According to sources, the very core of the US Army Human Terrain System is rotten: the training remains woefully inadequate, poor even. "Students felt that the instructors were interacting with them in a unprofessional manner; students felt that the instructors did not effectively deliver the lessons; students felt that the grading was inappropriate and provided little guidance; and students did not feel like they were provided clear instruction as to the purpose or intent of instruction or how they would be graded... students identified this as a source of confusion...we are not providing quality, professional instruction...instructors skip through the slide decks or fail to be able to explain the slides..."
More's the pity, the "instructors" referenced above will return to Afghanistan or, perhaps, another combatant command, to resume downrange activity. "And these instructors are being allowed to return to do absolutely nothing except fund their private 401k accounts using overtime."
Using authorities located in the Defense Civilian Intelligence Personnel System (DCIPS), the Phase Zero Human Terrain System (PZ-HTS) will begin terminating all Human Terrain Analysts no later than July 31, 2012. According to Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, Michael G. Vickers, the purpose of DCIPS unite the intelligence community under the same "pay bands and grades" and to professionalize the intelligence workforce to meet complex threats that face the United States.
According to Colonel Sharon Hamilton, PZ-HTS program manager, a reorganization of PZ-HTS has been underway for some months now. Deployed teams are to be streamlined and all Human Terrain Analyst (HTA) positions eliminated. The rationale for the accelerated shrinkage is, "Due to the ongoing OEF revision of force structure, Department of the Army guidance, and changing HTS mission requirements, we must pursue a more aggressive approach towards our reorganization plan... We have been given the authority under DCIPS policy to initiate an immediate draw down of all current HTA employees. The target date for eliminating the HTA position is 31 JULY 2012.
No HTAs will remain in theater past 15 JULY 2012HTS Operations and the TSO will coordinate the staggered return of all HTA personnel over the next few weeks. We will provide all HTA personnel an official notification of this action, and all HTAs will be asked to sign and return a document that acknowledges their understanding...This means all HTA's employment with HTS and the federal government will end not later than 31 July 2012 (no exceptions). This applies to all HTAs deployed, on detail, or on leave/comp time. I know this action is occurring quickly, but it is necessary to ensure the strength and sustainability of HTS in support of ongoing operations... I thank you for your service to our nation."
When actions like this are taken in any organization, rumors begin to swirl about. With HTS 1.0--and now PZ-HTS, however, rumor has largely proven to be fact.
There is word of Pentagon guidance that is aiming for 40 to 60 percent budget reductions in PZ-HTS. But there is a problem. According to sources, firing all the HTA's will not nearly be enough to reach the program manager's reorganization goals. "[PZ] HTS assumed another bloated, expensive contractor though CGI and it is burning through cash...Even with the move to the remodeled building at Fort Leavenworth, [PZ] HTS can't get to the numbers it needs to survive without releasing at least half its current strength. Even then, with the surge of troops coming out at the end of the summer, and no new relevant research being produced, [PZ] HTS faces shutting down school operations, eliminating the useless exercise at the end of training, and relying on refresher training online for sustaining it's shrinking program... firing all the HTA's isn't going to get them anywhere near where they need to be if they're looking for a 40 percent reduction. They'll be lucky to hit 17 percent, even with a mass exodus. Even if they cut 50 percent of all [PZ] HTS teams today, they still can't get there."
"The plan and the numbers don't add up. PZ- HTS people have accumulated significant amounts of COMP time," said sources, some of it through (alleged) fraudulent practices. "The United States military often uses acceptable accounting tricks to push budget issues into the next fiscal year," said a source, "but PZ-HTS leadership is not that clever."
Curriculum and Hiring Practices
Sources point to mismanagement by leadership, lack of foresight, incompetent staff work, and pure greed, as primary causes of the PZ-HTS nosedive. They caution that the hurried and revised edition of the Social Science and Research Operations Curriculum, assembled from "dated textbooks" by "individuals who did no research in Afghanistan", is going to be lambasted by the American Anthropological Association once they get ahold of it and review it. Criticism will likely be piled high on PZ-HTS.