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USA Today Does Journalism Right: Zombie US Army Program

USA Today Does Journalism Right: Digs Into Zombie US Army Program

by John Stanton
February 20, 2013

Sources report that Mr. U repeatedly signed and approved overtime that was not worked except when a particular individual went to services for Passover. Mr. U apparently did not do that for Christians during the Christmas Holiday. The same individual of the Jewish faith was berated in front of peers for not attending a Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Mr. U also referred to a black American intelligence analyst as ‘that boy’, according to sources.

“The associations that senior military officers have with corporate defense CEO's and the proliferation of defense contractors with former military experience, literally overnight, providing dubious services, gadgets, and programs, is stunning. I don't blame them. I blame the American people and the US Congress. At the end of the day, someone is going to ask: What did we get for all of the money we poured into the HTS program, and can you actually prove that it did what it claimed to do?"

“HTS got through three major funding hurdles, without a scratch. My bet is that after a cursory examination of where the money went, HTS will survive in some form or another. Because it is a cash cow, they [investigative personnel] don't have to prove anything. There is no oversight of the program and no one is going to admit at this point that the program had gathered all the useful information about Afghanistan four years ago.”

How is this for a confluence of events?

USA Today’s Tom Vanden Brook, its Pentagon and Military affairs, had a dynamite piece on the US Army Human Terrain System (HTS) titled Army plows ahead with troubled war-zone program,” dated 18 February 2013. Shortly thereafter, on 19 February, another article by Vanden Brook appeared in USA Today with the heading “Congressman: Troubled Army program needs more oversight.”

Earlier on 17 February 2013, Dr. Max Forte, long time veteran of HTS debates posted on his Zero Anthropology site “The End of Debates on HTS?” Having learned of Vanden Brook’s work on the 19 February, Forte posted what might be the most comprehensive compilation of HTS documents on the web to include the US Army’s AR-15 investigative report; the Center for Naval Analyses Congressionally Mandated Assessment of HTS; and the National Defense University behemoth analysis of HTS featuring a worthy attempt to quantify the performance of HTS whilst taking pains not to criticize any party too seriously.

After all, the reports are so, like, really Washington, DC, and, as Forte has pointed out, HTS and linkages exist in a political context, as do we all.

Meteor Hits US Army TRADOC/HTS: Updates 2013

Sources have commented on a number of matters relating to HTS during 2013. Some of those insights are listed below.

According to a source, “Most of the guilty have already collected their awards, letters of recommendation, and left the scene of the crime. I suspect that there were numerous programs like HTS that were also money pits that started out as good ideas, but then deteriorated into a morass of fraud and corruption.”

A source firmly believes that “there is no one in HTS who can look you in the face and tell you that anything new or useful has been learned in Afghanistan in the last three years, or that a single report generated by HTS bears any resemblance to any academically inspired research document that will assist any commander in the field in making a sound tactical or operational decision. With tactical operations winding down for the last year this is even more true.”

“HTS has a new EEO/discrimination complaint based on the period October 2011-January 2012. Most of the people responsible have left the program, so nothing will really be accomplished. Even if the victim's claims are substantiated, she will still have to sue the Army to get any compensation. On the other hand, the door might be open to closer scrutiny of hundreds of programs like this that sprang up overnight,” said a source.

“At a time when military casualties were rising, all you had to do was convince one or two key people, that your gadget/program will save lives. Take a look at the anti-IED programs. None of those gadgets really saved any lives...the lower op-tempo is what saved lives, along with killing bomb makers. Now the military has warehouses full of these gadgets, and no war or conflict to use them in, even on the horizon. The next frontier for the US military is the drug war in Central and South America.” What about Africa? The many different cultures, customs and languages of the nations of Africa dwarf those of Iraq and Afghanistan in terms of complexity. Given the HTS track record in those two countries, HTS would likely do more harm than good putting uniformed military and support contractors in death’s path.

“Each HTS research mission should have begun with a question from the commander or his staff, for example: What is the feeling among the population at X village about the presence of American or foreign soldiers? The easiest way to find out, is to go ask a representative sample, which HTS teams NEVER DID. The sample sizes and the corrupt research methodology of the teams, made this information totally useless. HTS used raw percentages to widely exaggerate their findings. For example, they might go into a village of about 2000, question four people, and only get responses from three. They could then report that ‘75% of the respondents said...’ This looks very impressive and fools anyone except those people with a background in qualitative or quantitative research methods, or statistics. The HTS leadership was attempting to hide all the research reports conducted on their watch, behind a classified firewall, so they could not be accessed by casual observers and critiqued for their uselessness. Many of these reports eventually found their way to the Internet, and can be found there now, because the researchers were eager to toot their own horns.”

“The fact that HTS cleared the final funding hurdle of 2 January 2103 tells me two things,” said one source. “That the program is here to stay despite its lack of any real utility, and that it has some very heavy hitters within CGI who are somehow, keeping this zombie animated. I go back to my original premise, that fraud, mismanagement, incompetence, and indolence on this scale, without any appreciable oversight from TRADOC or DOD, must be a cover for some other program, but then as Freud once said, "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar," and sometimes, the obvious is true.”

*************

John Stanton is a Virginia based writer specializing in national security matters. His reports on HTS are widely available on the Internet-World Wide Web.

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