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Thread: Human Terrain & Anthropology (merged thread)

  1. #621
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    Quote Originally Posted by Umar Al-Mokhtār View Post
    Now that is probably one of the greatest reasons for an edit!

    Personally, I ascribe to Cliff Clavin's theory on the intellectual stimulation provided through the consumption of adult carbonated beverages. I found the theory works just as well with distilled spirits as well.
    Alcohol is banned by the Olympics as a performance-enhancing substance.

    Which explains why in the old days troops used to get an issue of booze just before battle - strong, unwatered wine for the Greek hoplites, thick rum for WWI infantrymen...

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    Council Member Featherock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Umar Al-Mokhtār View Post
    the article has a link to a Mother Jones piece which the author seems to include to cast aspersions upon the reputation of Mitzie McFate. But the article pertains to a Mary McFate/Sapone who lives in FL and there is no mention in the piece of this particular woman's activities with HTS. WTFO!
    Hmm... a link to a Mother Jones article in a blurb about my article? Wasn't aware of that. By "author" do you mean me? Cuz it ain't me. I can't seem to find this link. In any case, I don't mention McFate in the entire article.

  3. #623
    Council Member CR6's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Featherock View Post
    Hmm... a link to a Mother Jones article in a blurb about my article? Wasn't aware of that. By "author" do you mean me? Cuz it ain't me. I can't seem to find this link. In any case, I don't mention McFate in the entire article.
    Umar Al-Mokhtār is referring to the cryptome piece.
    "Law cannot limit what physics makes possible." Humanitarian Apsects of Airpower (papers of Frederick L. Anderson, Hoover Institution, Stanford University)

  4. #624
    Council Member Featherock's Avatar
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    oh right, the cryptome piece. 'piece' is precisely what it is. a piece of what I leave to your good opinion.

  5. #625
    Council Member Beelzebubalicious's Avatar
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    Here's another HTT related research project. Goes in to some detail on the HTT in Afghanistan.

    Erik B. Eldridge & Andrew J. Neboshynsky, Quantifying Human Terrain, Naval Postgraduate School, June 2008.

    ABSTRACT: Operational commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan have identified a socio-cultural capabilities gap. Historically, when faced with a non-Western adversary, knowledge of the adversaryís asymmetric socio-cultural values has been a key component in achieving conflict resolution. As such, a number of organizations within the U.S. government and civilian sector have undertaken initiatives to quantify what has been termed human terrain. Multiple theories, concepts, and models reside within the confines of social sciences that describe human activities, interactions, and behavior. One organization in particular has developed methods to quantify human terrain. The organization has been able to responsively fuse a wide array of different sciences, technology, and information systems to provide cohesive products to operational commanders. Utilizing a systems approach, the organization was examined to identify methods and techniques that describe and enumerate geo-spatial, socio-cultural relationships and interactions. The identification of unique system variables is the key element in replicating the organizationís capabilities. By reproducing these critical variables other U.S. Government and non-government organizations can leverage the examined organizationís methodology and produce similar results for analyzing and quantifying complex, human-centric problems regardless of the actual geographical location of interest.

  6. #626
    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    Default Don't know if this has been posted yet

    But frankly, the lack of logic exhibited in the AAA main points makes the head fairly spin:

    http://blog.wired.com/defense/2008/0...ists.html#more

    "HTS prompted a whole re-evaluation of our ethics," Dr. Setha Low, AAA president, said during a teleconference yesterday. She said there are big issues:

    1. There are too few anthropologists involved in HTS's eight five-person teams (six teams in Iraq, two in Afghanistan) to accurately represent the full range of theories and perspectives within academia.
    2. Researchers participating in combat operations perhaps cannot be intellectually honest. Their research "might be slanted by the needs of the Department of Defense," Low said.
    3. Research should be distributed as widely as possible in order to invite peer review, but some HTS findings might be classified.

    As Low spoke, I thought: Hold the phone. Doesn't point one contradict points two and three? On one hand, Low is concerned that any anthropologists are working with the military; on the other hand, there are too few anthropologists involved. What gives?
    The author does a better job than I of pointing out that you can't bar anthropologists from participating, and then whine and bitch that there aren't enough anthropologists participating.

  7. #627
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi 120,

    Quote Originally Posted by 120mm View Post
    But frankly, the lack of logic exhibited in the AAA main points makes the head fairly spin:
    I suspect that part of it comes from the logic being taken out of context in some ways. The AAA has posted their revised ethics code and space for commentary at http://aaanewsinfo.blogspot.com/2008...of-ethics.html and it is worth looking at since it abandons some of the extremely isolationist language of last meetings resolutions.

    Quote Originally Posted by 120mm View Post
    The author does a better job than I of pointing out that you can't bar anthropologists from participating, and then whine and bitch that there aren't enough anthropologists participating.
    Makes life interesting, doesn't it? Actually, it is an almost nsanely complex intersection of competing factors. Most of today's Anthropologists have been conditioned against the "military" (as a general category), and you also have the remnants of a form of scientific idealism from Boas showing up, at least in North America. On the other hand, some Anthropologists have, in my opinion, lost the scientific ideal and replaced it with a political ideal which, while also being anti-"military", is also anti-scientific.

    In all honesty, I was quite pleased with the new wording on the code. But that is the wording and not how it will be interpreted and played out in various departments.
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
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  8. #628
    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    From the Featherstone piece:

    As a vision of the future it was pragmatic and, I feared, too optimistic. The military will always be a blunt instrument, whether it is crashing through walls or entering through a door held open by an HTT. But as long as we use our military as the primary tool of our foreign policy, one could hardly improve upon this vision.
    Kudos to Steven for asking the right question, ala "I, Robot".

    How about we develop non-military foreign policies that address fighting radical islam, while simultaneously addressing some of the causes that radicalists use to gain support against us through a civilian-led and academically vetted set of programs designed to solve problems without using military force?

    I believe Galula said in his seminal counterinsurgency book that the counterinsurgency needs to be led by a civilian agency. But then, he also said that the legal issues surrounding how to deal with insurgents need to be worked out first, but at least we are consistent.

  9. #629
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Wink When I first joined the military

    I told grandpa I was going to get out on my own because I didn't need my parent's telling me what to do any more. I was growed up

    He told me that parents and the army are like the jewlers tools and a sledge hammer.

    Both can be used to refine a diamond the difference
    is in how fine the final result is.

    The military can and will do whatever it has to but it is important to understand that the end result will never be quite as pretty as it would be where the diplomats and other gov agencies actually where able to handle the entirety of their own missions.
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

    Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur

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    For those with AKO access, you can now also access some of the unclass products for both Afghanistan and Iraq from the Reachback Research Center (RRC) for the Human Terrain Systems.

    It may require registration for the KC, but if you already have AKO access, then the approval should be automatic.

  11. #631
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    Here's a recent posting in the Chronicle of Higher Education on the latest HTS casualty in A-Stan.

    An American woman working with the U.S. Armyís controversial unit of civilian social scientists embedded with troops in Afghanistan was seriously wounded when she was set afire in an apparent Taliban attack, Wiredís Danger Room blog reports.

    On Tuesday, Paula Loyd, a member of the Armyís Human Terrain Team, was interviewing villagers in Maywand, in Kandahar Province, when she reportedly approached a man carrying a jug of gasoline. They started discussing the price of gas when he suddenly doused her with the fuel and set her alight.
    Vir prudens non contra ventum mingit
    The greatest educational dogma is also its greatest fallacy: the belief that what must be learned can necessarily be taught. ó Sydney J. Harris

  12. #632
    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    My prayers go out to Paula, and hope she has a rapid and complete recovery.

  13. #633
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    I was chatting with several of the HTS people over the weekend, and this highlights one of the oft-unspoken problems with the program - teaching academics to duck. Apparently, in Paula's case, her guard took his eyes off her for 5 seconds and the attack came totally out of the blue. I hope she recovers, we need more people like her.

    BTW, nice comment over at the Chronicle 120.
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
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    Carleton University
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  14. #634
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    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    I was chatting with several of the HTS people over the weekend, and this highlights one of the oft-unspoken problems with the program - teaching academics to duck. Apparently, in Paula's case, her guard took his eyes off her for 5 seconds and the attack came totally out of the blue. I hope she recovers, we need more people like her.

    BTW, nice comment over at the Chronicle 120.
    I've been busily following up on negative, uninformed comments on various blogs; I've been researching the program, and the more I learn, the more I like it.

    Unfortunately, it has had birthing pains from its relatively fast growth as well as some early on mistakes, and there are all sorts of critters who are jumping on each and every problem to bang their drum opposing it.

  15. #635
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 120mm View Post
    I've been busily following up on negative, uninformed comments on various blogs; I've been researching the program, and the more I learn, the more I like it.

    Unfortunately, it has had birthing pains from its relatively fast growth as well as some early on mistakes, and there are all sorts of critters who are jumping on each and every problem to bang their drum opposing it.
    Yeah, I know what you mean. I did a fair amount of blogging on it during the summer.
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

  16. #636
    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    Yeah, I know what you mean. I did a fair amount of blogging on it during the summer.
    I'm finally catching up on your blog. New job means more time to read blogs

    Good job outta ya, btw....

  17. #637
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    Default 'Situational awareness' teams deployed

    Afghanistan; Units help military better understand local communities

    Tom Blackwell, National Post Published: Saturday, November 15, 2008

    KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN - It was an unusual incident, even by the lawless standards of tribal Afghanistan: An American woman working in Kandahar province was doused in fuel last week and set on fire.

    Almost as unusual is Paula Lloyd's background. The victim is a civilian, a social scientist and part of a "human terrain" team assigned to the U. S. Army unit working under Canadian command.

    Such teams, now deployed throughout Afghanistan and Iraq, are designed to give the U. S. military a better understanding of local communities.

    And now the controversial concept has been adopted by Canada, which recently launched a version of its own called "white situational awareness" teams.

    The name derives from the military penchant for categorizing things and assigning them colours. Red refers to the enemy, blue to friendly forces and white to civilians.

    Made up of two army intelligence officers and three civilian Foreign Affairs Department employees, it has been tasked with deciphering the sometimes impenetrable Pashtun culture of the region.

    Drawing on information from Canadian civilians and troops operating in Kandahar, local cultural advisors and NATO allies, the team is trying to map out the power brokers of the province and how they relate to each other.


    READ ENTIRE ARTICLE AT: http://www.nationalpost.com/news/can...html?id=961884

  18. #638
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    Made up of two army intelligence officers and three civilian Foreign Affairs Department employees, it has been tasked with deciphering the sometimes impenetrable Pashtun culture of the region.
    Really? It's impenetrable?

    So if the US wants to apply it's COIN operations in Columbia, it's going to Human Terrain Teams?
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    WILF, you make me laugh, and remind me of something I've always believed.

    There is this myth that somehow, "Eastern minds" are mysterious and not understandable by westerners. I guess that might work for the dense and imperceptive among us, but I've NEVER seen or heard of an "Eastern mind" making a decision that wasn't either obvious, or decipherable by noodling it for a little bit.

    Amazingly, even the "inscrutable oriental" makes decisions based upon self-interest, either short-, long-term, or of the enlightened variety. All it takes is to discover what that self-interest IS.

  20. #640
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 120mm View Post
    WILF, you make me laugh, and remind me of something I've always believed.
    Laughing is good.
    There is this myth that somehow, "Eastern minds" are mysterious and not understandable by westerners. I guess that might work for the dense and imperceptive among us, but I've NEVER seen or heard of an "Eastern mind" making a decision that wasn't either obvious, or decipherable by noodling it for a little bit.
    Concur.
    Amazingly, even the "inscrutable oriental" makes decisions based upon self-interest, either short-, long-term, or of the enlightened variety. All it takes is to discover what that self-interest IS.
    So what is it that the Human Terrain Teams are telling us, that we don't know or can't get ourselves? I really am keen to know this.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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