Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

'Human Terrain' Opens Debate on Military Strategy in Texas

February 12, 2010

In the runup to the screening of the Human Terrain documentary in San Antonio earlier this week, the local Current and Express newspapers published interviews with co-producer James Der Derian, an Institute professor. "We tried to bring out of the shadows a program that is having a profound impact on American academics working with the military,” Der Derian told the Express.

Produced with David Udris '90 and Michael Udris '91, Human Terrain tells the story of the US military's Human Terrain System, a strategy of cultural awareness that embeds academics with combat troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

As Der Derian told the Current: "I think the Human Terrain System is more about trying to get academics out into the field, lowering – what is probably the most difficult thing to do in warfare – lowering the casualty rates of innocent people. But you’ve got to ask, what’s the corollary of that?"