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  • Intelligence: Screw The Academics
  • September 27, 2015:    For decades the U.S. Army Special Forces pushed the idea of including “human terrain mapping” when preparing for combat operations, especially in areas where the local civilians were a potential help, or hindrance, for American troops. This concept gained some fans in the intelligence community, who always paid some attention to the locals. But few senior commanders were all that interested. After September 11, 2001, as the United States became very involved in Afghanistan and Iraq and more dependent on Special Forces for all sorts of battlefield chores, the human terrain mapping became very popular. But the Special Forces was stretched thin and did not have enough operators to get the job done for everyone that suddenly wanted it.
  • So the army decided to use contractors. What it came down to was using anthropologists and other social scientists to develop maps of the local population showing attitudes and loyalties. This is pretty standard stuff for marketing researchers. Want to put a new fast food outlet somewhere? Call in the market research experts to build and study maps showing who (in terms of what they eat and where they prefer to eat it) live there and what food outlets are already there. The military applications are more concerned with identifying the "opinion leaders." This is another marketing innovation, based on the idea that it's more effective to pitch the few people who most influence everyone else than it is to try and reach everyone with your message.

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  • In 2007, a team of civilians with a rare set of specialized skills joined a brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division deployed to eastern Afghanistan. The civilian team’s leader was a former Special Forces officer; he was accompanied by a West Point graduate who had studied anthropology and described herself as a “high-risk ethnographer.” She asked reporters to identify her only as Tracy
  • Tracy and her colleagues were part of the Human Terrain System, a project whose creators saw themselves as a band of progressive upstarts seeking to transform the Army from within. The program’s goal was to draw on the tools of anthropology to help U.S. soldiers better understand Afghanistan.

    Known as AF1, Tracy’s group was the first Human Terrain Team to deploy in the field—and it quickly made an impact. In one community, Tracy pointed out that the Haqqani network, an anti-American group of insurgents, was gaining strength because an uncommonly large number of Afghan widows depended on their sons for support. With few jobs available, many young men were forced to join the insurgency to earn money. On the advice of the Human Terrain Team, soldiers started a job-training program that put the widows to work and cut the insurgents’ supply of recruits. The Human Terrain Team even convinced the Army to refurbish a mosque on the American base—a project that was credited with cutting insurgent rocket attacks.

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  • México Indígena Research Project Denounced by Organizations of the Sierra Juarez

    Published on January 27, 2009 in Indigenous Mexico

    Geopiracy in the Sierra Juárez, Oaxaca






    Towards the end of 2008, the results of the research project México Indígena (Indigenous Mexico) were handed over to two Zapotec communities in the Sierra Juárez in the form of maps. Research had been undertaken two years earlier by a team of geographers from University of Kansas. What initially seemed to be a beneficial project for the communities now leaves many of the participants feeling like victims of geopiracy.

  • In August 2006, the México Indígena research team arrived at the Union of Organizations of the Sierra Juárez of Oaxaca (UNOSJO, S.C.) to present research objectives and garner support to commence work in the Sierra Juárez region. At the time, the team included a Mexican biologist Gustavo Ramírez, an Ixtlán native well known in the area, who was responsible for initially approaching UNOSJO.


    Project leader and geographer Peter Herlihy explained the project objectives to UNOSJO, S.C., initially stating that it was to document the impacts PROCEDE [a Mexican Government program] has had on indigenous communities. He failed to mention, however, that this research prototype was financed by the Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO) of the United States Army and that reports on his work would be handed directly to this Office. Herlihy neglected to mention this despite being expressly asked to clarify the eventual use of the data obtained through research.

  • Herlihy mentioned that his team would collaborate with the following organizations: the American Geographical Society (AGS), Kansas University, Kansas State University, Carleton University, the Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí and the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT). He failed, however, to acknowledge the participation of Radiance Technologies, a company that specializes in arms development and military intelligence.


    Although UNOSJO, S.C. participated in some of the México Indígena Project’s initial activities, the organization soon ceased participation due to unclear project intentions. The Santa Cruz Yagavila and Santa María Zoogochi communities also ended up feeling the same distrust and they too abandoned the Project. For these reasons, the México Indígena research team localized activities within the San Miguel Tiltepec and San Juan Yagila communities, both located in the Zapotec region known as El Rincón de la Sierra Juárez.

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  • “The Road To Hell”

    Published on November 27, 2007 in Indigenous Mexico

    $500,000 in Department of Defense Funding to Kansas University for Mapping of Communally Held Indigenous Lands in La Huasteca and Oaxaca, Mexico

  • by Simón Sedillo
     November 26th, 2007
  • $500,000 in Department of Defense funding is being made available to the Department of Geography by the Foreign Military Services Office (FMSO), based out of Fort Leavenworth in Lawrence, Kansas. Geography professors Jerome Dobson and Peter Herlihy explicitly acknowledge the security and intelligence ramifications of their project, the Bowman Expeditions, citing the geo-political and cultural effects of the “neo-liberal property regime.” The home of the FMSO, Fort Leavenworth, was the command center of the western front during US expansionism into native lands in the early 1800s as well as the epicenter of the War Departments “control” over native populations after the civil war. Today, the FMSO focuses on emerging and asymmetric threats to the national security of the United States of America, which is a red flag as to their intentions in funding the Bowman Expeditions.

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  • U.S. army’s geo-piracy in Oaxacan communities condemned

    Published on July 30, 2011 in Indigenous Mexico, Oaxaca
  • By Oscar Valdivieso
     Wednesday, July 27, 2011
     Ciudadanía Express
     Translated by Scott Campbell
  • Oaxaca, Mexico.- Several officials from communities in the Sierra Juárez of Oaxaca condemned the geo-piracy carried out by experts from the U.S. army under the cover of supposed scientific research.


    They explained that at the end of 2008 the mapped results of an investigation called México Indígena, started two years earlier by a team of geographers from the University of Kansas, were handed over to two Zapotec communities in the Sierra Juárez. What appeared to be a beneficial project for the communities has now left many of the participants with the feeling of being the victims of an act of geo-piracy.

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  • U.S. Military Funded Mapping Project in Oaxaca


    Geographers used to gather intelligence?

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  • The Demarest Factor: US Military Mapping of indigenous communities in Oaxaca, Mexico (Documentary film 55 minutes)

    Published on September 15, 2011
  • (55 minutes) 2010. This film is part of an ongoing investigation which has exposed US military mapping of communally owned indigenous land in the Southern Sierra in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. The mapping took place under the auspices of the department of geography from Kansas University in Lawrence, Kansas in collaboration with the Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO) at Fort Leavenworth, in Leavenworth, Kansas. The FMSO senior analyst Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey B. Demarest declares in several essays and texts that communal ownership of property, leads to crime and insurgency. The film irrefutably exposes an ongoing military strategy to criminalize indigenous land tenure and identity in order to secure political and economic interests in the region.
  • WATCH FEATURE FILM: “The Demarest Factor”


    KU geographers win defense grant to study Central American communities

    <!-- /story-header -->  

    June 19, 2013

  • Too often, Jerry Dobson says, the U.S. military has found itself in trouble because it didn’t know enough about the parts of the world where it fought.


    Now Dobson will help with an effort to ensure that doesn’t happen again.


    Dobson, a professor of geography at Kansas University, is the lead researcher on one of 14 projects to win grants this year from the Minerva Research Initiative, a U.S. Department of Defense effort to learn more about other parts of the world through social-science research. He and other researchers will receive about $1.8 million over three years to study indigenous communities throughout Central America, with a possibility to apply for renewal and receive a total of $3 million over five years. The grants were announced last week.


    “There are too many instances where misunderstanding of other areas has cost us,” Dobson said. From Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan, he says, the United States may have fared better in many of its conflicts over the past half-century with more knowledge about the culture and politics of other parts of the world.


    Dobson’s project will be a collaboration between KU and the American Geographical Society, of which he is president.

  • He and his partner on the project, KU geography professor Peter Herlihy, will continue work they’ve already begun in Honduras.


    It’s part of the American Geographical Society’s Bowman Expeditions program, which Dobson helped create in 2005. The program sends researchers to spots around the world to learn and spread information about other countries, both in scholarly journals and popular media outlets.


    “An informed public is essential to democracy,” Dobson said, “and when it comes to foreign policy, we do not have one.”


    For this project, Dobson and Herlihy will aim to learn about communities of indigenous people in the seven Central American countries. Many of those areas are racked with poverty and crime, but not all of them. And they want to find out why.

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    Bowman Expedition 2.0 Targets Indigenous Communities in Central America   PDF   Print   E-mail
        Written by Joe Bryan      
      Tuesday, 23 July 2013
  • Source: Public Political Ecology Lab



    The Lawrence World-Journal recently reported the Defense Department’s decision to fund the latest Bowman Expedition led by the American Geographical Society and the University of Kansas Geography Department.  Like the first – and controversial – Bowman expedition to Mexico, this latest venture will be led by KU Geographers Jerome Dobson and Peter Herlihy and will target indigenous communities.



    Like previous Bowman Expeditions, the expedition’s goal is to compile basic, “open-source,” information about countries that can be used to inform U.S. policy makers and the military. This time, however, they won’t be focused on a single country.  Instead they’ll be working throughout Central America, a region that Herlihy and Dobson have elsewhere called “The U.S. Borderlands.” What is this Expedition about?  And why is the Defense Department funding academic research on indigenous peoples?

  • As with the expedition to Mexico, Herlihy and Dobson are focused on land ownership. Echoing a growing list of military strategists, Herlihy and Dobson contend that areas where property rights are not clearly established and enforced by states provide ideal conditions for criminal activity and violence that threaten regional security.



    Herlihy and Dobson propose to use maps made with indigenous communities of their lands to clarify this problem, ostensibly with an eye towards securing legal recognition of their property rights. In their expedition to Mexico, Herlihy and Dobson turned over their findings to Radiance Technologies, an Alabama-based military contractor specializing in “creative solutions for the modern warfighter.” It’s not clear whether this new expedition will do the same, though the program funding it, the Minerva Research Initiative, evaluates proposals according to their ability to address national security concerns.

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  • Embedded Cultural Intelligence: Militarised Anthropology and Counterinsurgency in Contemporary States of Emergency and Intervention
  • June 23, 2012<!-- at 4:33 pm-->  <!--<em class="author">admin</em>--> 


    Dr David Hyndman and Dr Scott Flower

  • The debate over anthropology and the security state continues and within the discipline of anthropology itself proponents of the debate initially focussed on America’s latest efforts to ‘militarise’ and ‘weaponize’ the discipline through the Human Terrain System (HTS) such as Weaponizing Anthropology (by Price) and American Counterinsurgency: Human Science and the Human Terrain (by Gonzalez). Several recent books such as The New Imperialism: Militarism, Humanism and Occupation (edited by Forte), Dangerous Liaisons (edited by McNamara and Rubenstein), Anthropologists in the Securityscape (edited by Albro), Peacekeeping under Fire (by Rubenstein), Humanitarians in Hostile Territory (by Van Arsdale) and Contemporary States of Emergency (edited by Fassin and Pandolfi) have started addressing the increasing convergence and cooperation between civil/humanitarian and military organisations and the role of anthropology/anthropologists across the gamut of contemporary interventions, ranging from counterinsurgency to peacekeeping and disaster response.

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  • Military Intelligence and the Human Terrain System


    The latest issue of the Army’s Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin is devoted to the Human Terrain System (HTS), which is a U.S. Army program to conduct social and cultural studies in support of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The Bulletin provides theoretical and practical accounts from HTS personnel in the field.


    Thus, HTS analyst John Thorne writes that U.S. counterinsurgency operations can themselves generate a violent reaction “by causing shifts in perceptions of relative power or well-being, or through perceived threats to identity.”


    The Army released the latest Bulletin in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.


    The Human Terrain System program has been controversial among some social scientists who believe it wrongly subordinates scientific research to U.S. military imperatives.

  • Pentagon's Phase Zero Intelligence Human Terrain Program


      28.04.2012 17:33


    Foreign Internal Defense, Diversion or Drug War?


    by John Stanton

  • The follow-on to the first US Army Human Terrain System program is loosely referred to as HTS: A Phase Zero Intelligence Program. Unfortunately, leadership seems to be reinforcing the caricatures on display in the movie Doctor Strangelove (more below).  The responsibility for that is not solely the HTS director's, Colonel Sharon Hamilton. It goes up the chain of command within the US Army and, perhaps, the Office of Secretary of Defense/Intelligence. Throwing $227 million dollars (US) at a damaged program at time when budgets are being squeezed makes little surface sense.


    The similarities between the characters in Doctor Strangelove and the personnel in HTS Phase Zero aside, the matter is of the utmost seriousness.  On the plus side the word is that CGI, based in Canada and the replacement contractor for BAE Systems, based in the UK, is screening and scrutinizing recruits more thoroughly using established psychological testing protocols and telephone interviews. And there are diligent, hard-working individuals throughout HTS Phase Zero that understand the importance of their mission and produce fine work in spite of the odds.

  • But various sources have painted a picture of second rate program management and an atmosphere that is polluted secrecy shunning internal or independent auditors. It is cult like in some sense, unaccountable in major respects.  The flimsy nature of much of the program's intellectual output has led to speculation that part of the $227 million is being funneled to classified programs elsewhere in the mammoth American national security apparatus. There was even speculation that the Pentagon's new Defense Clandestine Service would use HTS Phase Zero to insert DCS personnel, ostensibly as social scientists, for the purpose of infiltrating into various foreign populations to gather intelligence. But professional intelligence operatives require years of training and that is not HTS Phase Zero's specialty. On the other hand, sticking an operative in an HTS Phase Zero gig for AFRICOM or some other US combatant command may be a probability. These theories arise because no one outside of HTS Phase Zero can figure out what it is and what it is meant to do?


    So is it some sort of placeholder program? Are the Pentagon and US Army leadership just plain incompetent or, perhaps, corrupt? Is the $227 million a gift to Canada, to a Canada-based company, for supporting the US war effort? Was it a gift to the British? Will it be to Australia when CGI is done with it?


    At any rate, HTS Phase Zero, at least as far as anyone in the USA can tell, has not changed much from its predecessor. Poor decision making remains. For example, the HTS Phase Zero Pilot Program for NORTHCOM saw Teams visit local towns to experiment/question American citizens. Only later did someone apparently inform the program director that the practice might be highly controversial: the apparent extraction of intelligence from private citizens.

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  • Iran should release Amir Hekmati


    A Hapless Product of US Army's Human Terrain System


    by John Stanton


    "The poor guy," said a source.

  • Nathan Hodge writing for the Wall Street Journal has confirmed that Amir Hekmati worked for BAE System's as a member of the US Army's Human Terrain System. "An industry official familiar with his civilian contracting work said he was involved in training for the Human Terrain System, a U.S. Army program to provide cultural advice to military units, before went to work for the Army," Hodge writes. "Troy Rolan, an Army spokesman, confirmed Mr. Hekmati's employment there, and said he left the Army in June 2011.


    This is disturbing news indeed.


    Human Terrain System program manager Colonel Sharon Hamilton announced in public at a Special Operations conference before the 2011 holidays that the Human Terrain System (HTS), Version 2.0, is now officially an intelligence collection activity.  According to some, this leads back to the murky intelligence activities of a former HTS employee named Stephen James "Banger" Lang.

  • In a recent video, Hamilton discusses HTS 2.0 pointing out that the Office of the Secretary of Defense/Intelligence gave marching orders to HTS leadership to figure out how HTS can evolve to support Special Operations Village Stability Operations, and work other Human Terrain projects within the Pentagon's Geographic Combatant Commands. The "power of HTS", she points out in the video, is the ability to determine the how's and why's of indigenous populations and feed that information to commanders before negotiation, invasion and occupation. The wording Hamilton uses is interesting as such information, going forward, would have to be gathered covertly, one assumes.


    If HTS is going to support USSOCOM, which is not confined to one continent, then the classification level of program participants would have to rise beyond the "secret" level. And in fact, that is happening as CGI/Oberon Associates, now in possession of $227 million (US) to run the program, brings in a bundle of new contractors in the form of sub-primes or individual contractors.

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Dec 10, 11

The reports cover areas that include news that a social scientist in Human Terrain Analysis assisted in interrogations, as may have one belonging to the Human Terrain System, even while the program officially insisted it was not involved with "intelligence" gathering; related to the last point, we also learn about Eric Rotzoll, former CIA, also involved with HTS; we learn about the further development of human terrain mapping technologies; in addition we read about the use of HTS data that is uploaded to databases which are then used to create extensive, detailed simulations of actual Afghan villages; we have more notes on military funding for university research aligned with national security goals, and counterinsurgency; we catch glimpses of retired military professionals joining the private sector, and boasting in part about their "human terrain" expertise; we see more discussion on anthropology as a "useful" and "practical" discipline to the powerful; and, lastly, a few funny and even bizarre videos about the Human Terrain System.

  • 08 December 2011
  • In the News: Militarized Academia, Human Terrain System
  •  The following is a list of articles and key extracts that deal specifically with the U.S. Army's Human Terrain System, and more broadly with "human terrain" applications of social sciences to military missions. The larger phenomenon of interest to AJP has to do with the militarization of academia. Emphases in bold have been added.
     The reports cover areas that include news that a social scientist in Human Terrain Analysis assisted in interrogations, as may have one belonging to the Human Terrain System, even while the program officially insisted it was not involved with "intelligence" gathering; related to the last point, we also learn about Eric Rotzoll, former CIA, also involved with HTS; we learn about the further development of human terrain mapping technologies; in addition we read about the use of HTS data that is uploaded to databases which are then used to create extensive, detailed simulations of actual Afghan villages; we have more notes on military funding for university research aligned with national security goals, and counterinsurgency; we catch glimpses of retired military professionals joining the private sector, and boasting in part about their "human terrain" expertise; we see more discussion on anthropology as a "useful" and "practical" discipline to the powerful; and, lastly, a few funny and even bizarre videos about the Human Terrain System.

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  • 24 November 2011
  • AAA 2011: A Review of Some Presentations on Military, Security, and Intelligence Topics
  • Report and commentary by AJP member Maximilian C. Forte:
     For those who could not make it to the recently concluded conference of the American Anthropological Association in Montreal, or who were there but found themselves compelled to attend/participate in any of a number of other important sessions, here is a summary and review of some of the highlights of presentations made around topics dealing with the military, national security, and intelligence. Originally, I was invited by five different session organizers to present papers on their panels, and after some vacillation, I agreed to present on two, dealing with WikiLeaks and secrecy, and the other dealing with research about the covert and military operations. I attended a few other sessions that had similar themes, and this is the substance of this report. Hopefully, and in the spirit of "accessibility," more people in the future will produce blog reports of the contents of sessions for those who might otherwise miss out completely.
     Sharing some of the ideas, details, and interactions that came out of the recently concluded conference meets with a couple of limitations: a) I cannot reproduce entire papers received, because in most cases these are intended for publication; b) in other cases I did not take detailed notes, and so some presentations are not even mentioned here; and, c) there is always the risk that I may not be accurately representing what was said, especially in those instances where I am relying on memory (I have tried to minimize those).

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Nov 03, 11

The "social science" director of the Human Terrain System goes to an academic conference, is a victim of his own unintentional honesty, and then presses Case Western Reserve University to take the video offline. Irony? The conference had to do with the plight of the university in the national security state.--Make a copy of the video, and feel free to upload anywhere.

  • 03 November 2011
  • Human Terrain Mapping at Home is "Scary": The Video the Human Terrain System Does Not Want You to See
  • This is the video (below), back online again, that one participant--either Dr. Christopher A. King, Social Science Director of the Human Terrain System, or Dr. George Lucas (we have since confirmed that it was King)--wanted Case Western Reserve University to take offline. This video also features Dr. David A. Price, who did not agree to be censored, at what was, after all, an academic conference. AJP was informed by Dr. Price that all of the participants were required to sign media releases. This video is being presented once more, in the public interest, from an event that was neither secret nor classified, for the purposes of research, analysis, and for journalists to use in any possible reporting. The video is available in multiple locations--and to be safe, everyone reading this should make a copy of the video (one option is to download RealPlayer if you have not done so already, and then download a copy of the video to your computer).

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May 28, 11

"Canada, CASIS, counterinsurgency, CRIC, HTS, intelligence, militarism, militarization, national security state, securitization, terrorism, universities"

  • 28 May 2011
  • The Militarization and Securitization of the Canadian University
  • Here are some links to pages worthy of note, on the securitization and militarization of the Canadian university, and how priorities for research are being reoriented to surveillance at home and intervention abroad, realigning academic research with the imperatives of the national security state and not with the broader public that funds our universities. As AJP comes across more resources, we will consolidate these for readers and interested colleagues, with a specific focus on Canadian universities. In the meantime, please visit our Documents and Library pages for more resources that are relevant.

    "The hottest postsecondary field? Intelligence: Demand is so high, universities simply cannot keep up," by Jeff Sallot, The Globe and Mail, 01 January 2007:
    "...Once considered an arcane branch of Cold War-era political science, security and intelligence studies now attracts interest from historians, sociologists -- even engineers trying to design structures that might become terrorist targets. At least 10 Canadian universities offer courses dealing with security and intelligence issues....The U.S. government's response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks resulted in the allocation of billions of dollars for intelligence and security agencies. The spillover is felt at American colleges and universities that have been able to start new courses and programs. The Department of Homeland Security finances faculty positions at 'centres of excellence' at six universities and 23 partner universities....Ottawa has also allocated considerable sums for security in recent years, but academics in Canada say they aren't seeing the same kind of benefit as their American colleagues...."
    "Canada Boost Intelligence," Canadian Press, 04 February 2007:
    "As universities struggle to meet the growing post-9-11 demand for courses in security and intelligence, Canada's spy agency has revved up recruiting efforts to fill positions soon to be vacated by retiring baby boomers."

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  • Perhaps the most interesting of the workshop "mentors," at least for those about whom some details are known, was Eric Rotzoll, a military man with intelligence community connections.


      As a deputy commander of a "provincial reconstruction team" (PRT) in Zabul Province, Afghanistan in 2004 and 2005, he planned and led civil affairs operations in support of counterinsurgency in the region. From 2006 to 2010, he worked as an "all source analyst" for Defense Department intelligence subcontractor Northrop Grumman. Still with the military at that time, he also served from July 2008 to July 2009 as a Human Terrain Team (HTT) leader in Afghanistan. 


      The HTTs, ostensibly comprising privately contracted civilian anthropologists and other social scientists, have been assigned to each Army brigade in Iraq and Afghanistan since late 2005. Armed on patrol, such "academic embeds" have worked to provide cultural and social "human intelligence," or "Humint," on various "locals" as part of the counterinsurgency effort in both countries.


      In January, 2009, an embedded journalist moving with an HTT unit on the ground in Afghanistan identified Rotzoll as "the man in charge" and "a former analyst for the CIA...." No mere enlisted man, but an academically trained intelligence warrior, Rotzoll apparently brought a particular added expertise to the "Grand Strategy Workshop." His name also subsequently appeared on the UW JASONs roster for 2009-2010, his affiliation listed simply as "US Army." 

  • Defunct War Strategy Program May Still Overshadow University of Wisconsin-Madison's History of Dissent | Truthout
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