Small Wars Journal

Godspeed for a Full Recovery Paula Lloyd

Via e-mail from Noah Shachtman at Danger Room and on the DR Blog.

A social scientist in the Army's controversial Human Terrain program was en route to Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas after being set on fire in and apparent Taliban attack in Afghanistan. It's the third time in five months that a Human Terrain Team member has been killed or seriously wounded.

Paula Lloyd was interviewing locals in the southern village of Maywand on Tuesday as part of her duties in a Human Terrain Team, which embeds civilian cultural experts into U.S. combat units. She approached a man carrying a fuel jug and they began talking about the price of gas. Suddenly, the man doused Lloyd in a flammable liquid and set her on fire. She suffered second- and third-degree burns over 60 percent of her body, a Human Terrain source told Danger Room.

The injuries could have been worse. Lloyd's teammate immediately threw her into a nearby water source to douse the flames, then Lloyd was sped to a nearby medical facility. Fortunately, the first doctor to treat her was a U.S. Army burn specialist. After being stabilized, Lloyd was evacuated to the military's Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany and is now en route to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. Lloyd is in "stable, but guarded condition," the source said.

The Taliban took credit for the attack on their website. The Taliban has a long history of setting women on fire as a way of punishing them for perceived immodesty.

More at Danger Room and Reuters. Our best wishes to Paula and prayers for a speedy and full recovery and our heartfelt thanks for her service to our Nation and humankind.

SWJ will provide updates as more information becomes available.

HTS Members Killed in the Line of Duty:

Michael Bhatia, a social scientist team member assigned to the Afghanistan Human Terrain Team (HTT) AF1, in support of Task Force Currahee based at FOB Salerno, Khowst Province, was killed on 7 May 2008 when the Humvee he was riding in was struck by an IED. Michael was traveling in a convoy of four vehicles, which were en route to a remote sector of Khowst province. For many years, this part of Khowst had been plagued by a violent inter-tribal conflict concerning land rights. Michael had identified this tribal dispute as a research priority, and was excited to finally be able to visit this area. This trip was the brigade's initial mission into the area, and it was their intention to initiate a negotiation process between the tribes.

Nicole Suveges, a social scientist team member assigned to the Iraq Human Terrain Team (HTT) IZ3, in support of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division based at FOB Prosperity, Baghdad, Iraq, was killed on 24 June 2008 when a bomb exploded at the District Council building in southern Sadr City where she was attending a meeting of the District Advisory Council, which was scheduled to elect a new chairman. Nicole had almost completed a PhD in political science at Johns Hopkins University. Her dissertation was titled "Markets & Mullahs: Global Networks, Transnational Ideas and the Deep Play of Political Culture." Formerly, she served in Sarajevo as an Army Reservist in support of SFOR/NATO. For the past two years, Nicole had worked in Iraq, initially as a project lead for polling and later as a subject matter expert for Multinational Corps Iraq (MNCI).


Pray for Paula Lloyd - Christopher Albon, War and Health

Our Thoughts are with Paula Lloyd and Her Family - Drew Conway, ZIA


AFSister (not verified)

Thu, 01/08/2009 - 3:02pm

I just heard through Michael Yon that Paula just died from her injuries. What a terrible way to die. How very, very sad. My condolences to her family and friends.

RedFalcon2 (not verified)

Thu, 11/20/2008 - 4:21pm

While I wish a speedy recovery and all the best to Paula, I wonder why she was in that situation in the first place. My comments will undoubtedly be seen as uncaring and an attack on the HTTs, but I assure you that my intention is neither.

Even in moderate Islamic countries such as Iraq, women have a place in society that is different from western culture. For a woman to approach a man she does not know, and certainly is not family, is a major cultural faus pax.

The irony is that the HTTs are supposed to help the commander better understand the human terrain, yet they are blatantly violating a cultural norm of Islam by initiating conversations with strange men.

I saw the same thing in Iraq when female reporters would accompany my Bde Cdr to meetings with Iraqi political and military leaders. He would usually try and introduce the reporter to the Iraqi VIP, which was usually met with no reply. On one occasion the reporter stood up from her seat to shake an Iraqi mayors hand. He turned his head away from her and acted as if she did not exist, at which point she quickly retook her seat.

Most Muslims will not respond in such a violent manner as what Paula was met with, but the policy of how they conduct themselves with the team should certainly be reviewed.

My prayers go out to Paula for a speedy and full recovery. As a former burn victim, I have tons of empathy for what she is about to go through, and has experienced already.

I'm also pretty discouraged by the people who are using this misfortune to attack the Human Terrain System with innuendo, lies and half-truths.

While there have been, and currently are certain issues with the HTS, (most of which are to be expected of a new program, especially one which experiences rapid growth) this program has great potential, especially in the insinuation with civilians and academics to COIN, which should be a political/civilian primary "fight".

As one of the most important goals of the HTS is to decrease the use of violence necessary to successfully end an insurgency, I hope that the political types do not use this tragedy as an excuse to cut their nose off to spite their face.