Law Breaking, Fraud Alleged at Imploding US Army Human Terrain Program

Another wave of Human Terrain System (HTS) program shortcomings has recently come to light. One of the reports alleges fraud/theft involving an US government IMPAC credit card and Mark Beattie of HTS program management. According to sources, the alleged fraud/theft was “was smoothed over by the powers that be”. Those “powers” are likely the upper command/civilian-contractor elements charged with oversight of the US Army/TRADOC HTS program.

Sources charge that Steve Rotkoff, Deputy Program Manager for HTS, “does not know what’s going on” in the HTS program and wants to compartmentalize/isolate the few US military elements on staff. “W hen I become an IPA in December 2008, I will be putting the military in its place", said Rotkoff. Another source had this to say: “The management is so into micromanagement it’s unbelievable. I believe that they have come very close to breaking the law in several cases trying to control the few military personnel who are on the staff.”

Rotkoff allegedly attempted to place blame for the recent assault on HTT member Paula Loyd on Loyd herself. That incident saw an Afghani national soak Loyd with fuel and set her to flames. Another HTT member subsequently shot and killed the assailant. According to sources the HTT shooter has received no guidance or contact from program management in Fort Leavenworth. It is not known whether the shooter is in US Army or Afghani custody, or what the particulars of any SOFA with Afghani authorities might be that cover a US civilian contractor executing an Afghani national.

While the US Army investigation into the incident continues, sources say that the HTT member who shot the Afghani national “tracked down the Afghan assailant who set Paula [Loyd] on fire. He not only shot him, but he allegedly shot him in the face. Apparently this was by no means self defense on the part of the HTT member as he was accompanied by U.S. Soldiers who were prepared to take the Afghani into custody. It is doubtful the leadership within HTS will go out on a limb to support him. Perhaps this incident will bring some much needed attention to this mismanaged program that has placed poorly trained/prepared individuals in harm’s way.”

Friends Trump Qualifications

In spite of the many reports of HTS program disarray from stateside and in-theater, HTS leaders Steve Fondacaro and Mrs. Montgomery McFate-Sapone painted a rosy picture of HTS management and HTS performance in a 16 October 2008 briefing to US Army G3. In Human Terrain System Briefing for Army G3 the authors maintain that there is a “fully DCGS Compliant MAP-HT Toolkit and Human Terrain Knowledge Database.” Yet sources wonder aloud how the system can be compliant when program management has little knowledge of database management or information technology (IT) systems. Moreover, the MAP-HT software package presentation levels look an awful lot like with Google Earth capability.

According to one source, “HTS is supposed to be a central clearing house for these types of cultural studies. Why don't you look into why HTS has so many different websites and the information spread out thru all these sites? The management has no idea on how to manage data and will not listen to the analyst's who use the information. Instead they have their friends in management having IT meetings discussing IT matters they know nothing about and the result is data spread all over the place. The current " data manager " managing the data came into the job with no experience whatsoever. But being a good talker and being able to make nice Power Point presentations , he keeps the management happy while the users in the field get more pissed off each passing day. Why don't you ask how the new IT Manager got her job, who she is friends with and how HTS is hiring her husband, an Army officer, who will be retiring soon?”

Just Charge It!

According to sources, it is illegal for a private contractor to in any way financially obligate the US f ederal government . It is alleged that Beattie did just that in violation of the law. “HTS has a recurring contract with a local furniture rental company. The furniture consists of tables, chairs, Power Point Projectors and other office supplies. These items are being used in the classrooms at the building on Delaware Street known as the Landing. The account is paid, monthly, via a US federal government IMPAC card. The IMPAC card can only be held, and used, by a member of the military, a soldier. The established procedure used to procure rental equipment for the classrooms is that the Training department would identify the items needed for the classroom and then submit a written request to the Logistics department for review. Logistics would submit the requirements to the TRADOC G2 Comptroller for further review and authorization. If approved, the IMPAC card holder would call the rental company and have the items added to the HTS account. The IMPAC card holder is responsible for reconciling the credit card account monthly.

During accounting reconciliation the card holder noted that the charges with the rental company kept increasing, over a period of a few months. During a weekly staff meeting the card holder notified the Chief of Staff that they had called the rental company to inquire about the additional charges and were told that Beattie had called them to request that additional items be added to the contract. The cardholder stated that only they were authorized to add items to the contract. Nonetheless, the practice of adding items to the contract continued for the next two months. The card holder notified the TRADOC G2 Comptroller that Beattie was making unauthorized additions to the rental furniture contract. This infuriated the Comptroller as it was not only illegal but it also jeopardized her position with TRADOC as she was ultimately responsible for the charges. The Comptroller stated a letter would be sent to BAE Systems demanding that Beattie be terminated for an egregious violation of federal law.”

Nothing happened and Beattie remains in place.

There’s More: The Ten Issues

There is a laundry list of troubles within the HTS program according to many sources. They indicate that there are many areas that need investigation besides those listed above and in Parts I to IV of this series of articles. Listed below are ten issues culled from sources needing resolution.

1. Issuing certificates to civilians that do not actually reflect training. This is falsification/fabrication. For example, a certificate that indicated someone completed five days of firing range training when they, in fact, did not.

2. Civilians were asked to sign documents verifying they were legitimately capable of using weapons in the field. But most civilians self-trained at the firing range on their own with no supervisor. Nonetheless, signed packets were given to Brigade Command saying that the civilians were capable of arming.

3. There is a civilian traveling in Iraq to meet with HTT’s to learn how RRC can serve them better. Why waste the money? This can be done via video conferencing/webcasting. Why didn’t Fondacaro or Rotkoff. Generals visit their troops, why not the HTS program managers?

4. Rotkoff does not know what is going on with the program. When social scientist Loyd was doused with gasoline Rotkoff immediately put the blame on her for wearing civilian clothing saying that the Training Tactics and Procedure (TTP) calls for ACU. There is no such TTP. In fact, the newly published handbook does not have anything on uniform.

5. The HTT member that has been detained in Afghanistan has not received communication from HTS program management concerning any support. “He has not heard from Bldg 48, just from his teammates on the ground.”

6. HTAT and HTRAC teams were deployed with no clear guidance and clear understanding on what they are supposed to do in-theater. Members at the CORPS level are quitting which shows that the program is in disarray.

7. Two HTS members deployed in Iraq were drinking coffee and going to the gym almost daily since they refused to go outside the wire because they were not given weapons.

8. BAE/SA have been hiring folks with no face to face contact prior to hiring, no interview. All they need are glossy resumes and they get hired. Most of them looked good on paper but cannot do the job.

9. Some employees do not meet educational criteria for their positions.

10. Employees are grossly overpaid.

Meanwhile, according to the 16 October briefing by Fondacaro and McFate-Sapone, Sensor Technologies, Inc was awarded $28 million (USD) on 28 September 2008 for development/management of the Social Science Research and Analysis (SSRA) program which will greatly enhance the effectiveness of the HTS program. SSRA—with its polling capabilities-- seems more a Wall Street marketing research program than a civil affairs military program. AFRICOM, PACOM, SOUTHCOM and EUCOM are all listed as pending and TBD in the 16 October brief.

Part V of the Series. Part I is titled US Army's Human Terrain System in Disarray. Part II is titled US Army's Human Terrain System: From Super Concept to Absolute Farce. Part III is titled US Army’s Human Terrain System: Madness, Mayhem and Troughs of Cash. Part IV is titled Cleaning UP US Army TRADOC’s Human Terrain System.

John Stanton is a Virginia based writer specializing in political in national security matters. Reach him at [email protected]

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Author`s name John Stanton