Independent Assessment of HTS: Findings to Pentagon on 19 July 2010

by John Stanton

The Independent Assessment of the US Army’s Human Terrain System requested by the House Armed Services Committee is scheduled to be completed on 19 July 2010. The Center for Naval Analyses—CNA--was contracted by the Undersecretary of Defense, Intelligence to conduct the Independent Assessment. According to Tim Sullivan of the CNA, “The International Affairs Group (IAG) of CNA was responsible for conducting the assessment and will turn over its report to the sponsor [USD/I] on July 19th.”

The IAG is led by Dr. Eric V. Thompson. Here is a portion of IAG’s mission statement.

“Its regional specialists conduct analyses on issues associated with Europe, NATO, the Mediterranean and Black Sea littorals, Latin America, Africa, and the Pacific. Its functional specialties include leadership analysis, coalition integration and interoperability, proliferation, force structure and deployment, operational strategy, work associated with partner capacity building…. The IAG approach to complex issues is characterized by rigorous methodology, a heavy reliance on primary sources , and the unmatched operational and policy expertise of our analysts. IAG research is also informed by its analysts' years of in-country experience, an understanding of local perspectives, and in-house language expertise, including Arabic, Russian, French, and Persian. IAG is home to CNA's Middle East experts and senior analysts who have for many years provided highly valued research informed by cultural and historic knowledge. This cadre of experts makes frequent visits to the Middle East, and has close relationships with research institutions in the region. IAG also has the experts on South Asia and the Indian Ocean littoral.”

The CNA received high praise from around the globe for its 2006 Climate Change Study that challenged the prevailing view of the, then, Bush White House that refused to accept the realities of global climate change. CNA brought a number of retired generals and admirals together to make the point that climate change was a threat to national security.

It is unclear what CNA’s mandate or charter was for the HTS effort. And it is unknown how deeply into HTS they traveled for information (what primary sources did they consult?). Sources are not optimistic about CNA’s report having any positive impact on changing the culture of HTS.

Indeed, looking at the IAG’s staff qualifications, it appears their study will focus mainly on macro issues.

Program Management: So Poor

Just prior to interim program manager Colonel Sharon Hamilton’s arrival at HTS HQ, HTS principals ordered personnel to return to their desks so that when Hamilton walked through The Landing everyone would look busy, said sources.

“Good instructors that were legitimately engaged in training students were called back to their office by Marcus Griffith to sit at their desk and look busy when Colonel Hamilton walked through the Landing.”

Sources noted that other instructors were ordered to develop last minute, ad hoc training programs that cut into independent studies by students “languishing” at hotel pool sides in the Kansas City/Lansing area.

“Some instructors were told to make up a training program for the last two weeks of the next class. Why? Because the program managers did not have any training planned! They claim they had discovered a gap in training just seven days before.”

“Other students languish at hotel swimming pools in the Kansas City/Lansing area and are conducting independent studies. Good students admit they are between jobs and are going to take all the money they can and resign before deploying.”

Observers indicate that it is obvious to students that HTS management is in the program for the money alone. Personnel within the program, in management’s view, are fungible. “Taking the money and running with it is the program management’s attitude.”

Colonel Hamilton has stepped on to The Bounty. Let’s hope she can salvage the best of the ship and set a clearer course.

John Stanton

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Author`s name John Stanton