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SWJED
09-23-2008, 12:40 PM
Wiredís 2008 Smart list (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2008/09/wireds-2008-smart-list/)

Wired Magazineís latest issue lists the 15 people their staff believes the next President should listen to. Of particular interest to SWJ is the inclusion of Dr. Montgomery McFate (http://www.usip.org/specialists/bios/archives/mcfate.html). McFate a cultural anthropologist who works on defense and national security issues and is currently serving as the Senior Social Science Adviser for the US Armyís Human Terrain System Program (http://humanterrainsystem.army.mil/default.htm) in her capacity as a Research Staff Member at the Institute for Defense Analysis (http://www.ida.org/).

From Use Anthropology in Military Planning (http://www.wired.com/politics/law/magazine/16-10/sl_mcfate) by Wiredís Noah Shachtman:


Ö Traditionally, the military has relied almost solely on so-called hard sciences like nuclear physics and electronics. But as a simple regime-change operation in Iraq descended into a baffling counterinsurgency, it became clear that you can have the most advanced sensors, the toughest armor, the most precise GPS-guided munitions, but without any insight into the civilian population - or at least some sense of how they'll react to your moves - your war effort is sunk.

By 2004, McFate had made her way into the national security establishment as a researcher at Rand. (This despite an unusual background ó she grew up on a barge in the San Francisco Bay and had hung out with well-known beat poets.) McFate's ideas (shared by a growing number in the military) caught the attention of the science adviser to the joint chiefs of staff. She then codified them in a pair of landmark articles in Military Review outlining a rationale and strategy for integrating the social sciences into national defense. Today she is the senior social science adviser for the Human Terrain System, a $130 million Army program that embeds political science, anthropology, and economics specialists with combat units in Afghanistan and Iraq. "What you're trying to do is understand the people's interests," she says. "Because whoever is more effective at meeting the interests of the population will be able to influence it."Ö

More at Wired (http://www.wired.com/politics/law/magazine/16-10/sl_mcfate).

William F. Owen
09-23-2008, 02:05 PM
She wrote on a cocktail napkin: "How do I make anthropology relevant to the military?"

Huh? In the true spirit of learning, and education, can someone direct me at a thread or some material that answers why Anthropologists have any operational utility at all? - and yes I am aware of the Human Terrain Teams, but are they working?

It's just that lots of insurgencies have been defeated without anthropologists, and none of the COIN texts, I respect ever mentions them. Thus the source of my curiosity.

jmm99
09-23-2008, 04:07 PM
Before those with expertise weigh in on HTTs, I offer a little point to Wilf.

Anthropology = study of anthropos (man), with an emphasis on field work of a close and personal kind.

That sounds like what any good infantry soldier does as a matter of course. Know the enemy and discover what makes him tick - and then end the ticking.

So, I suggest that all defeated insurgencies have involved application of anthropology - we just don't call it that.

-----------------------------------------
There is, of course, a sound reason for excluding Ms. McFate from the list:


She holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School and a Ph.D. in anthropology from Yale University

http://www.usip.org/specialists/bios/archives/mcfate.html

The degree from Yale is fine. :D

Stan
09-23-2008, 04:37 PM
The good Doctor may have Jack to do with improving our COIN (God, I hate that term already), but she and others are making up for the Army's sad excuse of preparing soldiers to deal with strange people in foreign countries.

The Doctor has my vote. She and her counterparts are, in their own little way, saving soldiers lives.

Hmmm, wonder what she'd have to say about Tom :D

Beelzebubalicious
09-23-2008, 07:37 PM
Or Tom's Abs....oh never mind.

I think JM99 hit it on the head. Anthropology, for better or worse, has become the vehicle for better understanding/awareness and interaction with the local population.

I work in international development. We do needs assessments, talk to our clients, figure out what they want/need (demand) and then try to design programs/projects to meet those needs. In the process of assessment you learn something, but more importantly, you develop relationships, respect and trust which you then use to move your programs/project forward. It's not anthropology, it's just good practice. International development practitioners have a different mission, though.

That's the difference, as stated by JM99

That sounds like what any good infantry soldier does as a matter of course. Know the enemy and discover what makes him tick - and then end the ticking.

The issue is the population is not the enemy, but the soldier does need to understand them and their needs and try to address them. Security is one need and it can be dealt with by getting rid of the enemy. But there are other needs that can be met and if you're honest and serious about meeting those other needs, maybe the population will help you with the security piece.

jmm99
09-23-2008, 08:24 PM
means to me, three basic options

1. Convert

2. Contain

3. Kill

After reading the phrase "end the ticking" again, I can see where it would be perceived as heading to the 3rd option only.

So, the population is the enemy - and the population is not the enemy - and the population is in between - a paradox. How to discern ?

And, I think you all have a much tougher job than I have.

Beelzebubalicious
09-23-2008, 10:50 PM
I'd say in places like Iraq or Afghanistan, the local population cannot be the enemy. They need to be with us, not against us (for the most part) and if they are, they'll help us find those that are against us (all of us).

of course, I'm not a soldier and I haven't been in combat, so it's easier said than done. I have seen that when the solider goes in with open eyes, respect and with a helping hand, people extend and offer assistance.

NoahShachtman
09-24-2008, 12:06 AM
Huh? In the true spirit of learning, and education, can someone direct me at a thread or some material that answers why Anthropologists have any operational utility at all?

While McFate may have written only about "anthropology" on that cocktail napkin, I think the real question is how can the broader social sciences contribute to military efforts. And I think most COIN practitioners would agree that securing the population is awfully hard without a knowledge of the local history, economy, and political and cultural contours.

"Anthropology" may not be mentioned in FM 3-24, or other COIN texts. But the social sciences sure are. Like JM said, "all defeated insurgencies have involved application of anthropology - we just don't call it that."

nms

William F. Owen
09-24-2008, 05:38 AM
While McFate may have written only about "anthropology" on that cocktail napkin, I think the real question is how can the broader social sciences contribute to military efforts. And I think most COIN practitioners would agree that securing the population is awfully hard without a knowledge of the local history, economy, and political and cultural contours.

"Anthropology" may not be mentioned in FM 3-24, or other COIN texts. But the social sciences sure are. Like JM said, "all defeated insurgencies have involved application of anthropology - we just don't call it that."

nms

Jmm99 and Noah,
I take conflict as Human Centric.

Clausewtiz basically took the study of war to be the study of people. All the great military theorists have basically taken the same line (which is how to separate them from the technophiles, and agenda monkeys).

Military thought is a "social science". I would like it to be based a little more on some empirical study, but that's my thing - yes, I am that boring!

I am sure one or two anthropologists, psychologists, and other "human science" folk can help, and if they can make useful and explicit statements that make operations more effective, then great, but didn't we already do this? The British Secret Service recruited T.E. Lawrence, because he knew and had worked with the Arabs. Haven't US Special Forces studied languages and cultures for 40 something years. I know old time USSF guys who speak Lao, Thai, Chinese and even some tribal languages.

A sound study military told us what worked. People like Foch wrote it all down - then we suddenly discovered Manoeuvre Warfare! - instead of suggesting people read Foch.

selil
09-24-2008, 01:17 PM
Jmm99 and Noah,
I take conflict as Human Centric......A sound study military told us what worked. People like Foch wrote it all down - then we suddenly discovered Manoeuvre Warfare! - instead of suggesting people read Foch.

Mostly all true. Yet in the 1970s through the 1990s the military of the United States basically turned its back on all things academia and social science. In fact after having read the special issue from Academic Questions on the military that has been the case since the beginning. The military has always had a hard science bend to it, and in fact the academies and land grant colleges were engineering and "hard" science institutions (Hence why they are A&M or Tech).

I'm not sure we can just throw Foch up as the answer to all questions anymore than we should be willing to do so with Clausewitz. The reality is an ongoing discussion is a creative endeavor and any discipline without a body of literature is in peril.

William F. Owen
09-24-2008, 01:58 PM
I'm not sure we can just throw Foch up as the answer to all questions anymore than we should be willing to do so with Clausewitz. The reality is an ongoing discussion is a creative endeavor and any discipline without a body of literature is in peril.

Concur. I merely cite Foch in defence of MY opinions of MW. Foch without Clausewitz is like Pizza without mayonnaise. Both are required to ruin your shirt and upset your wife!

jmm99
09-24-2008, 07:25 PM
who are concerned with real-world application of theoretical concepts - which IMO covers most people who frequent SWC.

I write as a professional in my profession (law), and as an amateur in the area of military history. We can draw some parallels - and some distinct differences.

For example, as to differences, lawyers in the actual practice of law tend to deal more with the micro side (individuals and small groups - e.g., a jury of 12). The military deals more with the macro side (larger population groups, both military and non-military). In short, lawyers tend to deal with problems that most often have a finite solution or solutions.

The military is faced with more messy problems ("wicked problems", a new term for me, which I learned from another thread). Thus, the military has a harder job in designing, planning and implementing solutions.

Now, having defined some differences, back to the intellectual discussion.

---------------------------------------------
A couple of weeks ago (after reading another thread here), I got to thinking about the professional literature in my profession and who wrote it. Since I am a "common law" lawyer (UK-US tradition), I started there. The "Roman law" tradition took a different path in its professional literature (considered below).

The path taken by my UK "ancestors" starts with Glanville (a nom de plume), reign of Henry II, who wrote a short treatise on the writs of his time and how to present them in court (in short, tactics). Glanville seems to have been a composite by two then-leading figures in Anglo-Norman law - "judges".

We then move on to Bracton (a judge), reign of Henry III, who expanded Glanville's small book on the writs; and, based on some 2000 case reports ("after-action reports"), illustrated the actual results of practice. We are still largely into tactics; but applying actual results of related ("on-point") cases, takes us into the realm of operational doctrine - given a type of case, you should proceed as so, unless .....

But, Bracton went a step further, by introducing his two volume discussion of writs and practice, with a volume addressing not only what the law, in various areas, was - but what it should be, in his opinion. So, we have reached the advent of legal strategy and its design (ca. 1300).

We then fast-forward to Coke's Institutes (1600's) and Blackstone's Commentaries (1700's) in the UK - and then to James Kent and Joseph Story (to name but two) in the US. Their methodology built on, and expanded, what was written before them; but, based on their own practical experiences at the bar and on the bench - all of them were successful practicing lawyers, who later became judges.

So, legal professional literature has a history of being based on the practical application of intellect to real-world situations (cases), where the sequence of strategy <> operations (cases) <> tactics, with feedback between the elements, is very real.

Its approximation to the military sequence should not be surprising. The original trial lawyers (from the time of Bracton) were the "serjeants at law", officers of the court commissioned by the Crown. That institution (which lasted until 1877, in honorary form) gave rise to the Inns of the Court and their barristers, who originally were students under the serjeants at law (from whom, the judges were selected).

The "Roman law" tradition in continental Europe took a different path. There, the emphasis was on academic learning (similar to the Canon Law education from which it developed). So, the major writers in that tradition have been academics, who may or may not have had practical experience in the field. Thus, the Roman law tradition has been more akin to:


"I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

The "common law" approach has been more like:


"I know this works in practice. Is there a unified theory that can be built from the practice; and, if so, what are the exceptions - often more important than the general rule."

--------------------------------------------
After Kent and Story, who were leaders in the early US law school movement, initial US legal education developed along its present lines. That is, you pick up some kind of undergrad degree and then take a three year law degree. That program demanded law professors, who first came from the ranks of practicing lawyers; but later became more of getting a law degree, getting a couple of years of actual practice, and then finding a law school and writing a lot of articles. Thus, something of gap has developed between what is taught in law schools and what is practiced in the field

I was reminded of that when I took a trip to the Ann Arbor area and decided to sit in on a Criminal Law and Procedure class then being taught by one of my former professors - and a very good one at that. That day, he was discussing manslaughter and negligent homicide, mostly in the context of vehicular deaths.

For some reason, "wrongful death" cases seemed to gravitate to me in my own trial practice (both criminal and civil). Listened to the lecture, and the many questions and answers between prof and students. My primary thought (expressing it would have been impolite under the circumstances, since I was not there as "guest lecturer") was "you guys have a hell of lot to learn about the real world" - including my prof who was, in my law school days, an absolute genius (IMO then).

Now, do we practicing lawyers read the literature (law review articles and books) written by our academic brethren ? You betcha we do, because they have the time and brains (hard to find a law prof who was not an A student and law review) to research large areas of the law. Do we blindly accept their conclusions and opinions ? No way - because we know that, in general, they lack experience in practical applications.

As far as continuing legal education is concerned, that is still - and will probably remain - the province of practicing attorneys, who have to employ sources and methods from anthropology, sociology, psychology, economics, etc. So, the "serjeants at law" are still alive, practicing and trying to educate each other.

I did find it interesting that Ms. McFate is a Harvard Law grad and anthropologist - and, at least in the latter area, one of a practical bent. Considering that she also spent a couple of years as a litigation assistant, one might infer something of a practical bent in the former area, as well.

----------------------------------
PS 1: I've been reminded of the differences between the "Common Law" lawyers and "Roman Law" lawyers in looking at I Law discussions in the context of "War Crimes". Many academics in the I Law field are very much "Roman Lawyers" - not surprising, since I Law has a Roman Law base. To me as a practitioner, some of their arguments, opinions and conclusions seem very "loopy" - so, there is also a gap there.

PS 2: - wilf ... hmm...


yes, I am that boring!

Boring is not my inference, but who am I to argue with a self-characterization.

William F. Owen
09-25-2008, 04:22 AM
My take on this, an use of it in my signature, is only partially humorous.

A lot of what the "military mind" takes as being "right" or "useful" is rarely based on a sound or deep understanding. - eg: there are few generally agreed definitions of Suppression and/or Surprise, yet 99% of soldiers understand them on an intuitive level and can apply, to a useful degree. - the problem is that without sound definitions, discussion cannot be progressed beyond accepting the norms that currently apply.

As an aside, the original statement, in my case, was made by Brigadier Charles Dick, who, as concerns Soviet Operational Art, and Operational Art in general is one of the best thinkers I have ever met.

reed11b
09-25-2008, 04:27 AM
My take on this, an use of it in my signature, is only partially humorous.

A lot of what the "military mind" takes as being "right" or "useful" is rarely based on a sound or deep understanding. - eg: there are few generally agreed definitions of Suppression and/or Surprise, yet 99% of soldiers understand them on an intuitive level and can apply, to a useful degree. - the problem is that without sound definitions, discussion cannot be progressed beyond accepting the norms that currently apply.


Sounds like my gripe w/ MG "suppression". Why does volume of fire = "suppression". Wouldn't effective and accurate HE just as = "suppression"?
Reed

120mm
09-25-2008, 12:12 PM
Mostly all true. Yet in the 1970s through the 1990s the military of the United States basically turned its back on all things academia and social science. In fact after having read the special issue from Academic Questions on the military that has been the case since the beginning. The military has always had a hard science bend to it, and in fact the academies and land grant colleges were engineering and "hard" science institutions (Hence why they are A&M or Tech).

I'm not sure we can just throw Foch up as the answer to all questions anymore than we should be willing to do so with Clausewitz. The reality is an ongoing discussion is a creative endeavor and any discipline without a body of literature is in peril.

It seemed to me that the "back turning" was mutual. Universities and colleges worked as hard as possible to make campuses an unfriendly place for the military, by and large, except when it came to accepting military dollars.

I think we can find more parallels of inbred ideas and groupthink as well between modern college campuses (campii?) and the "Big Army." I submit that both institutions have suffered from this self-induced separation, and are just now coming to grips that they have to make this marriage work.

I recently had lunch with a group of grad students from two different Universities and was struck by how scientific and unbiased they appeared, compared to the raging Marxist idealogues I went to school with in the mid-80s. Or the "the only solution is to kill all the White Men" students I met in the mid-90s.

selil
09-25-2008, 12:38 PM
I recently had lunch with a group of grad students from two different Universities and was struck by how scientific and unbiased they appeared, compared to the raging Marxist idealogues I went to school with in the mid-80s. Or the "the only solution is to kill all the White Men" students I met in the mid-90s.

Oh the red diaper professors are still roaming the halls, but they are getting grey and retiring in droves. Those remaining are decrying a backlash by the liberal elite among their students against what the students call "antiquated idealistic failures resulting in continued repression". The population in general of students is much more conservative than even a decade or two ago.

120mm
09-25-2008, 02:23 PM
Oh the red diaper professors are still roaming the halls, but they are getting grey and retiring in droves. Those remaining are decrying a backlash by the liberal elite among their students against what the students call "antiquated idealistic failures resulting in continued repression". The population in general of students is much more conservative than even a decade or two ago.

I've also noticed a resurgence of reliance upon "scientific method" and "metrics" among them as well. Part of me cringed when I heard these guys talk about assigning values into matrices and then coming up with positive correlations, in regard to Political Science and Counterinsurgency.

But then, they addressed my concerns at least partly, by casually discarding their method, when it didn't work. They laughed about how the mathematical tools not being sufficient and how they can still be useful, even though they are correlational, not causal.

Actually, I felt kind of disappointed that we weren't in for dogmatic screed....;)

marct
09-25-2008, 02:43 PM
I've also noticed a resurgence of reliance upon "scientific method" and "metrics" among them as well. Part of me cringed when I heard these guys talk about assigning values into matrices and then coming up with positive correlations, in regard to Political Science and Counterinsurgency.

But then, they addressed my concerns at least partly, by casually discarding their method, when it didn't work. They laughed about how the mathematical tools not being sufficient and how they can still be useful, even though they are correlational, not causal.

LOLOL!

Well, I'm glad to see that the "scientific method" is making a resurgence :D. Although, I have to admit that I find the reliance on metricization to be a false path that we (social scientists) went down once before (e.g. Compte). I just hope that the people who claim to use the method have bothered to read Popper, Kuhn and Dilthey!

William F. Owen
09-25-2008, 03:01 PM
The issue is the population is not the enemy, but the soldier does need to understand them and their needs and try to address them. Security is one need and it can be dealt with by getting rid of the enemy. But there are other needs that can be met and if you're honest and serious about meeting those other needs, maybe the population will help you with the security piece.

Sorry to have missed this, but...

Concur that the population may not be the enemy and the security of the population is the primary mission. As I have said before, it makes sense to also prevent death and suffering, as part of the military mission, but I cannot see why the military should be meeting the other social needs.

If soldier are ensuring my safety, do I really want their resources, time and energy to be building or even guarding the new school?

Again, if deployed Anthropologists help the physical security/health situation then I am all for them. Anything beyond that leaves me confused.

Beelzebubalicious
09-26-2008, 05:24 PM
We used to think that security and development could be separated. The military would take care of security and security sector reform. The development community would do humainitarian relief and long-term development. Iraq and other conflicts changed all that. There's a good, short article (http://se1.isn.ch/serviceengine/FileContent?serviceID=ISN&fileid=0F615EC6-1D64-D814-86B9-63F4212B4009&lng=en)posted on another thread that gives an overview of the conflict and cooperation between security and development objectives and initiatives.

You can't really ignore the basic human needs. I know security is paramount, but if you can't provide food to people or provide basic medical services, it may not matter. So, you need people who are focused on and looking at these issues and that's where the Anthropologist comes in. I think there's a bit of a disconnect between the objectives of the anthropologist. Is he or she helping the commanding officer to better understand the population in order to better distinguish between friend and foe or is he trying to help the CO to better understand the population to better meet their needs?

In any case, I think we're past the point where both the military can avoid the issues that the hiring of Anthropologists represents and the development community can ignore the importance of security and the need to coordinate more effectively with the military.

What I think is missing from the Anthropology (HTT) model is the bridge to the development community. If the military is on the front line and identifies a need, they are probably not the best equipped to deal with it (and not the best use of their time). They should be able to call upon resources from the development community. Who from State/USAID is around to deal with health services? Should the military be picking up garbage? No, that's the responsibility of the local government. Who's working with local government to organize the delivery of services?