Did Gen. David Petraeus just call the Human Terrain System worthless? With a few choice sentences to the Wall Street Journal, the top commander in Afghanistan highlighted the disconnect between what the Army’s social science program is supposed to be doing — and what’s actually happening in the field.
“We have never had the granular understanding of local circumstances in Afghanistan that we achieved over time in Iraq,” Petraeus told the Journal. “One of the key elements in our ability to be agile in our activities in Iraq during the surge was a pretty good understanding who the power brokers were in local areas, how the systems were supposed to work, how they really worked.”
Phi Beta Iota: The General fails to recollect that under the Cheney-Bremer regime, all were told to ignore the imams and tribal leaders. It was only much later, after five years of failure, more or less, than some bright general decided to get back to basics. As Winston Churchill liked to say, “The Americans always do the right thing, they just try everything else first.” HTT has been a known failure since its inception. For one view of how it should fit in with the other fourteen slices of Human Intelligence (HUMINT), see the new monograph from the Strategic Studies Institute, Human Intelligence: All Humans, All Minds, All the Time (June 2010). See also John Stanton on HTT Failures.