Montgomery McFate, Ph.D.

Professor Strategic and Operational Research Department
Montgomery McFate profile image


Dr. Montgomery McFate is a professor at the US Naval War College. Formerly, she was the Senior Social Scientist for the US Army Human Terrain System. She has held positions at RAND, IDA and the US Navy Office of Naval Research. She served on the Army Science Board, the Defense Science Board, and was an instructor at the Johns Hopkins SAIS. Dr. McFate received a PhD in Anthropology from Yale U. and a JD from Harvard. Her dissertation concerned counterinsurgency in N. Ireland. She is the editor of Social Science Goes to War (Oxford U. Press, 2015), author of Military Anthropology (Oxford U. Press, 2017 forthcoming) and was a key contributor to US Army Field Manual 3-24, Counterinsurgency.

Areas of Expertise

  • Asymmetrical Warfare
  • Civil-Military Relations
  • COIN
  • Irregular Warfare
  • Middle East
  • Military Theory
  • National Security
  • Policy
  • Special Operations

Professional Highlights


Professor, Strategic and Operational Research Department


Senior Social Scientist, Human Terrain System, US Army, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas


Professorial Instructor, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Washington, DC


Jennings Randolph Senior Fellow, US Institute of Peace, Washington DC


AAAS Defense Policy Fellow, US Navy, Office of Naval Research, Arlington, Virginia


Social Scientist, RAND Corporation, Arlington, Virginia


J.D., Harvard Law School, 1997

Ph.D., Yale University, 1994, Anthropology

B.A. (honors), University of California, 1988, Social Sciences

Research Contributions and Publications

What Do Commanders Really Want to Know? US Army Human Terrain System Lessons Learned from Iraq and Afghanistan (with Robert Holliday and Britt Damon), in The Handbook of Military Psychology, ed. Janice Laurence and Michael Matthews. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012, pp. 92-113.

Culture and Counterinsurgency, in Counterinsurgency Reader, ed. Thomas Rid and Thomas Keaney. London: Routledge, 2010, pp. 187-201.

Understanding Human Dynamics, Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Understanding Human Dynamics (multiple co-authors), Washington, D.C.: Office of the Under Secretary of Defense, March 2009.

The ‘Memory of War’: Tribes and the Legitimate Use of Force in Iraq, in Armed Groups, ed. Jeffery Norwich.  Newport, RI: Naval Institute Press, 2008, pp. 187-202.

The Object Beyond War: Counterinsurgency and the Tools of Political Competition (with Andrea Jackson), Military Review, January-February, 2006, pp. 13-26.

Cultural Intelligence: “Far More Difficult than Counting Tanks and Planes,” American Intelligence Journal, Summer 2006, pp. 16-26. 

An Organizational Solution for DOD's Cultural Knowledge Needs (with Andrea Jackson), Military Review, July-August, 2005, pp. 18-21.

Does Culture Matter? The Military Utility of Cultural Knowledge, Joint Forces Quarterly, 38, 2005, pp. 42-48.

The Social Context of IEDs in Iraq, Military Review, May/June 2005, pp. 37-40. 

Anthropology and Counterinsurgency: The Strange Story of their Curious Relationship, Military Review, March/April 2005, pp. 24-38.

Material and external links contained herein are made available for the purpose of peer review and discussion and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Naval War College, Department of the Navy or the Department of Defense.