A flurry of policy pieces written over the last several weeks have called for a new improved version of HTS, reflecting a deep longing by military-linked strategists to reboot the program. American military and intelligence agencies have a long history of seeking the sort of cultural knowledge that HTS’s architects sought to weaponize in Afghanistan and Iraq. These agencies have largely failed to harness social science for military purposes, but they stubbornly persist. Given this background — and ongoing efforts to subjugate and control foreign populations to fulfil the requirements of automated, mechanized killing via drones, algorithms, and predictive modeling programs — we should understand HTS’s termination as an exercise in retiring one brand and replacing it with newly packaged operations that are well underway. The gaps in military knowledge that HTS claimed to fill still remain. The desire to weaponize culture is as old as dreams of counterinsurgency, and such dreams do not die easily.
Phi Beta Iota: There is no discipline more important for sound strategy, policy, acquisition, and operations support than that of Human Intelligence (HUMINT), which includes Open Source Intelligence (OSINT). Neither the US secret world nor the US military have a clue about how to do HUMINT or OSINT. There are fifteen slices of HUMINT that must be managed together, and both HUMINT and OSINT are inherently multinational endeavors that cannot be done bi-laterally and cannot be done by children or people with thick necks that do not speak foreign languages at a native level. It merits comment that historical understanding including geopolitical and geoeconomic understanding are one-third of the challenge, no one does either to any degree of intelligence with integrity.