About this blog...

I am a former leader of a Human Terrain Team in Iraq. My intent with this blog was to identify relevant, open-source materials on Iraqi culture, society, politics, religion and economics - just about anything on or about the Iraqi population in general.

I am continuing the blog now only sporadically, as a means of information distribution in support of efforts to improve a vital program hamstrung by failures in execution.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Iraq's Human Terrain

The Army is creating a new unit called the Human Terrain System. Basically it's an effort to apply the lesson that the only way to defeat an insurgency is to understand, and to win over, the general population. One component of the System will be 5-man Human Terrain Teams (HTTs) that support units in the field, advising them on how to tailor their operations to the population. I am on one of those HTTs. Here's some info on the HTS:
  • Just about the only thing the Army has published on HTS
  • A George Packer article from The New Yorker
  • And, a post from the Danger Room, the defense blog over at Wired
I've always been a ridiculous news hound. Since I've started this job, I've begun turning that tendency towards Iraq stuff. So, I'll be using this blog to point to the most interesting new stuff that comes out on Iraq. There will be nothing classified or sensitive on here, so don't look for it. There probably won't even be much analysis on here, because however I might try to avoid it I don't want to risk accidentally giving analysis that draws on classified sources, even if they're unmentioned.

I see two primary audiences for this blog: other members of HTS, and personnel in the unit I'm supporting. This way I can pass on stuff I find interesting without cluttering up anyone's inbox. Anyone interested in the stuff I'm passing on can subscribe (Blogger is RSS capable -- you can click here to learn more about RSS Subscriptions) or just check in every now and then. Anyone not interested is spared the emails I would otherwise have been bothering them with.

And with that, I'll be passing on the first article momentarily...


Nathan said...

Hi Matt,

I'm curious if you can shed light on how one can get on the HTT. Are HTT members contracted or are you DOD civilians? Are there recruiting companies?

I work in the Baghdad Embassy palace and the culture of isolation here looks to do nothing for helping Iraqis. HTT seems to be where it's at.


GRRidd said...


I'd also be really, really interested in knowing how to work with the HTTs.

Any chance you could contact me privately and discuss it?

Larry :Livingston said...

Thanks for the information. I would also like to know how to obtain a Human Terrain position. I have a Masters Degree in Sociology, and have an active secret clearance. I am a certified Training and Development professional. I can also be found on Linkedin.

Larry Livingston

Anonymous said...

Thank you for leaving the comments on your defunct blog open for me.

I am opposed to the Human Terrain System, but I do applaud the efforts of the people who have sacrificed a great deal to make it happen. I think that the ethical considerations weigh heavily against this type of program.

You may read about this here...

mutarjm said...


Today is Friday, October 15, 2010.

Did Ms. Helbig ever get her USG personnel security clearance reinstated, or was that matter otherwise resolved?

Did she return to complete her doctorate program at UVa (my alma mater)?


Stephen H. Franke
San Pedro, California