Many of the principal challenges we face in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom (OIF and OEF) stem from initial institutional disregard for the necessity to understand the people among whom our forces operate as well as the cultural characteristics and propensities of the enemies we now fight. To help address these shortcomings in cultural knowledge and capabilities, the Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO), a U.S. Army Training and Doctrine command (TRADOC) organization that supports the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, is overseeing the creation of the human terrain system (HTS).
This system is being specifically designed to address cultural awareness shortcomings at the operational and tactical levels by giving brigade commanders an organic capability to help understand and deal with "human terrain"-the social, ethnographic, cultural, economic, and political elements of the people among whom a force is operating. So that U.S. forces can operate more effectively in the human terrain in which insurgents live and function, HTS will provide deployed brigade commanders and their staffs direct social-science support in the form of ethnographic and social research, cultural information research, and social data analysis that can be employed as part of the military decisionmaking process.
Human Terrain System (U.S. Army website)
Anthropology and Counterinsurgency: The Strange Story of their Curious Relationship by Montgomery McFate
Networds: Terra Incognita and the Case for Ethnographic Intelligence by LTC Fred Renzi