The Human Terrain System in Afghanistan: Success or Failure?

Date
2015-05
Authors
Chee, Jodi
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Publisher
University of Hawaii at Manoa
Abstract
In reaction to the attack America experienced on September 11, 2001, the Bush Administration launched a worldwide War on Terrorism, prompting the Department of Defense to establish the Human Terrain System (HTS) in 2006. However, in 2008, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) and its ad hoc committee, the Commission on the Engagement of Anthropology with the U.S. Security and Intelligence Communities (CEUSSIC) deemed the HTS operation as unethical for embedding anthropologists with armed military forces in order to gain access to communities within Afghanistan. This research project will investigate the HTS component of the military’s mission in terms of its use of anthropologists with a comprehensive analyses of: (1) the U.S. Army’s Field Manual 3-24 on counterinsurgency and how its mission transforms into ethnocentrism; and (2) the use of Edward Said’s theory of Orientalism to understand why the HTS operation has been unsuccessful with regard to the utilization of anthropologists within the U.S. military’s occupation in Afghanistan. I will then use the evolution of the Taliban and Jihadi groups and how their mission translates into a demonstration of their political power to further substantiate the HTS’ unsuccessfulness. My research project is essential to the community of aspiring anthropologists interested in joining the U.S. Army’s HTS in order to determine whether their “moral duty” undermines the “ethical responsibilities” outlined by AAA.
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Keywords
HTS, AAA, counterinsurgency, extremists groups, Orientalism.
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