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Natsios Young Architects

10 December 2009

HTS Sergeant Wesley Cureton Wounded

By John Stanton

Sgt. Wesley Cureton, a member of the US Army's Human Terrain System (AF1 in Afghanistan) was hit by shrapnel from mortar round in the eye and face a little over a month ago. The incident had been kept close-hold by US Army officials.

Sgt. Cureton is currently at the US Army's Walter Reed Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, for evaluation. He had already suffered from another brain injury while in Iraq.

This is the fourth casualty involving the US Army's Human Terrain System. Greg Mueller, Public Affairs Officer for the US Army's HTS, when asked about the status of Sgt. Cureton, said, "I have no information on this. You should go through the hospital to find out."

The US Army Human Terrain System program has been mired in controversy since its inception. The foundation of the program was based on the idea that civilian anthropologists could assist US Army units in understanding the human terrain or cultural landscapes in Iraq and Afghanistan by embedding with them on combat patrols. Instead, it has split the US academic community into opposing factions and caused four casualties. Charges of fraud and abuse plague the effort. As a result, the US Army has had to reassess the usefulness of the program.

The American Anthropological Association recently concluded that the US Army Human Terrain System is dysfunctional with little work product to show for the $200 million invested in the effort:

The US House Armed Services Committee has directed US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to conduct and "Independent Assessment" of the program. Results are due in May 2010.


John Stanton is a Virginia based writer specializing in political and national security matters. Reach him at cioran123[at]


John Stanton's Reports on the US Army Human Terrain System