Are Anthropologists Mixing Well with the Military?

Human Terrain System social scientist Kathleen Reedy and US Army Capt. Joey Williams speak with locals outside Baquba, Iraq while conducting a survey of local attitudes. Photo Tom A. Peter

The Human Terrain System (HTS) program embeds anthropologists and social scientists in the US military, in an effort to create local context around military operations. At its inception in 2007 the program was lauded as a great step forward in a more enlightened military.

Social scientists are now ambivalent about whether or not their ethical principles are violated by partnering with the military. A principle rule of anthropology is to do no harm.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, US military leaders began placing increased importance on understanding local cultures and viewpoints as a critical component of their mission. The question for it is whether HTS helps or hurts that goal. via Christian Science Monitor