Montgomery McFate

Minerva Chair of the Strategic Research Department at the Naval War College in Providence, Rhode Island

About Montgomery McFate

Montgomery McFate is the Minerva Chair of the Strategic Research Department at the Naval War College in Providence, Rhode Island. Since 2010, she has contributed to the Center for Naval War Studies’ mission by supporting and developing social science studies that address national security challenges. Montgomery McFate conducts scholarly research, reviews other social science research for the Department of Defense, and is developing a course on culture and national security.

Dr. McFate received her JD from Harvard University Law School, where she served as assistant editor of the Human Rights Journal and received the Everett Fellowship. She also earned a PhD in anthropology from Yale University.

Dr. McFate has authored numerous publications on cultural anthropology and the role of sociocultural knowledge in current and future U.S. military operations. As a social scientist for the U.S. Army, she was instrumental in developing the influential Human Terrain System (HTS) program. She was responsible for briefing national and international military forums, including the Congressional House Armed Services Committee and the British Embassy Defense Staff, on HTS’s implementation and effectiveness.

In her free time, Montgomery McFate enjoys skiing, hiking, and scuba diving.

Human Terrain Teams in the US Military

Montgomery McFate currently serves as the Minerva Chair at the Center for Naval Warfare Studies at the US Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. In the past, Montgomery McFate has served as a senior social scientist with the United States Army's Human Terrain System.

In 2007 the United States Army developed a unique support program known as the Human Terrain System (HTS). Human Terrain Teams (HTT) are composed of military personnel, analysts and social scientists from disciplines such as sociology, political science, regional studies, and anthropology. The role of HTT members is to assist soldiers and military leaders in understanding important cultural factors that can affect how foreigners are received by the local population, otherwise termed as the human terrain. In the same way soldiers are outfitted and mentally prepared for various types of geographical terrains, members of a HTT prepare soldiers for the traditions and behaviors that will influence the success of a mission. The HTS project was first conceptualized in 2005 in response to a clear gap of understanding between military forces and the Iraqi and Afghan cultures. The project was initially given a $20 million budget to be used between 2007 and 2008. Today, HTS is a regular fixture of the US military with a $150 million annual budget.

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