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.
Not all of Tracy’s insights led to perfect results, but on the whole the experiment appeared to be a major success. Tracy was “taking the population and dissecting it,” an officer who worked with her told The Christian Science Monitor; she was giving soldiers “data points” that helped them resolve local disputes and identify problems before they turned violent. Col. Martin Schweitzer, the commander of the brigade with which Tracy had deployed, would become one of the Human Terrain System’s biggest supporters. He believed that Tracy and her team had made U.S. soldiers and Afghans safer while speeding the work of connecting Afghans to their government. When Schweitzer had arrived in Khost, only 19 of 86 districts supported the U.S.-backed Afghan government. By the end of his deployment, he estimated that 72 of them did. He credited Tracy and her team with reducing his unit’s combat operations in the province by 60 percent to 70 percent.