Following an outpouring of media interest in the US Military's Human Terrain System (HTS) project--a $40 million program that embeds anthropologists in combat brigades in Iraq and Afghanistan, the American Anthropological Association Executive Board has issued a formal statement to express strong disapproval of the HTS program.
The Executive Board statement outlines key ways in which the HTS project violates the AAA Code of Ethics, the Association's ethical policy which mandates anthropologists do no harm to those they study.
Following the release of the Executive Board statement, a lively debate has ensued among AAA members regarding the HTS project and the complex ethical issues that arise through anthropological engagement with US military, intelligence, and security organizations.
To facilitate an open and informed discussion on the HTS project and the broader ethical issues surrounding anthropologists who work as consultants, fieldworkers, or as faculty at military or intelligence colleges, the AAA has issued a report and statement, launched a dedicated blog, and hosted a number of public forums on this subject.
Several sessions and meetings at the annual meeting addressed issues related to anthropology and the military. Related events included an open forum to discuss the final report by the Commission on the Engagement of Anthropology with US Security and Intelligence Agencies and the following sessions:
- The Empire Speaks Back: US Military and Intelligence Organization's Perspectives on Engagement with Anthropology
- Against the Weaponization of Anthropology: Critical Perspectives on the Military, War, and US Foreign Policy
- Anthropologists and War: Non-Participation in Counterinsurgency.