The human terrain system achieving a competitive advantage through enhanced "population-centric" knowledge flows
Schaner, Eric X.
Nissen, Mark E.
Gregg, Heather S.
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The United States military must fundamentally evolve its strategy and capabilities to better meet the unconventional challenges that define the post 9/11 era. Two principal requirements of this evolution are: (1) adopting a population centric strategy for counterinsurgency and nation building, and (2) developing capabilities that better integrate U.S. forces and Host Nation civilians, leadership, and security forces. This thesis shows how a new Army initiative called the Human Terrain System (HTS) advances the U.S. Army toward achieving these requirements by embedding Human Terrain Teams (HTTs) within U.S. Army units performing counterinsurgency and nation building in Iraq and Afghanistan. The research uses the case study method to analyze a currently deployed Human Terrain Team. The analysis leverages Knowledge Flow Theory to explain how the HTT creates, shares, and harnesses relevant cultural knowledge to improve the competitive performance of the host unit and advance the adoption of a population centric strategy. The thesis concludes that the embedded HTT concept is valid and necessary in counterinsurgency and nation building contexts. The thesis recommends developing a sufficient pool of career military social scientists to serve as future candidate participants, and integrating a knowledge management mechanism and policy into the HTS framework.
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