The army publicly said last year the controversial combat anthropology program, also known as the Human Terrain System (HTS), was canceled in 2014. Since 2007, the program took up more than $725 million of taxpayers’ money. But an anonymous Pentagon official told USA Today on Wednesday that not only is the HTS alive, but the army would extend it further if more funding becomes available.
The HTS remains in place, which means that it will receive funding for years to come, the official said. It currently has a budget of about $1.2 million per year and employs two army officers, two civilian employees and five contractors, the source added.
The program, founded by US Army’s Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) in 2006 was designed to advise American military commanders on social and cultural sides of combatting insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan. The program’s architects insist that it also helped the troops understand cultural differences and develop relationships between both sides, winning “hearts and minds” of Iraqis or Afghans.
But the reality was far more controversial. According to open sources, the HTS personnel conducted data collection, intelligence gathering and psychological operations. In at least one case, an HTS cultural analysts supported interrogations in Afghanistan, according to Nature journal.
The program widely embedded civilian contractors, mainly graduates with degrees in social sciences who were trained and then deployed to war zones. But the program, initially designed to deliver cultural knowledge to US commanders and win “hearts and minds” in the field became mired in fraud, racial abuse and sexual harassment.
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