Nicole Suveges, a funny, kind person, has died on an HTS mission in Iraq

The HTS program lost its 2nd Social Scientist this week, Nicole Suveges. She was funny and kind and one of the first people I met in the program. 11 other people, military and civilian were also killed in the explosion. The official announcement from the HTS is below (original link: http://humanterrainsystem.army.mil/In%20Memoriam.htm)

It is with great sadness that we inform you of the tragic death of Nicole Suveges, our 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.

Nicole was killed on June 24, 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.

Eleven other people, including two soldiers and a member of the State Department Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team (E-PRT), were killed in the attack. Nicole died instantaneously in the explosion. Another HTS member was injured but is currently in stable condition.

This attack was apparently carried out by a “special group,” believed to be Shia militia members acting in contravention of a cease-fire order issued by Muqtada al-Sadr. US forces captured a suspect as he fled the scene, who subsequently tested positive for explosive residue.

The reduction of violence in Sadr City in recent months has allowed the US military to improve delivery of essential services to the population and to facilitate effective municipal administration. The HTT and the E-PRT were attending this Sadr City District Advisory Council meeting to mediate disputes within the Sadr City leadership, and facilitate the development of a more representative local government. This activity was part of an ongoing HTT effort to facilitate collective reconciliation among Iraqi civil society groups.

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).

Thanks to Nicole’s professional competence and wonderful work ethic, Human Terrain Team IZ3 was quickly and enthusiastically embraced by their Brigade Combat Team. IZ3 is the primary cell responsible for political, cultural, and tribal engagements for the Brigade Commander, and Nicole was instrumental to the preparation, development and analysis of these engagements. Thanks to her, the Brigade became an exemplar for political and tribal dialogue, which is the key to both a stable and functioning government for Baghdad and ultimately for all of Iraq.

Nicole enthusiastically embraced the challenges posed by working in a war zone, believing that social scientists could make the greatest contribution at the tactical level. She wrote, “HTS is the first effort to make social scientists and other HTT personnel available at the brigade – read local – level. This is where the war in Iraq is being fought, and it is about time that they are afforded the same capabilities that their higher echelons have. The burden that HTS has taken upon itself is to provide trained and knowledgeable personnel who can provide ‘outside of the box’ thinking, function as a team, and be a true asset to the brigades to which HTTs are assigned.”

We will remember Nicole for her intelligence, personal courage, warm personality, and tremendous dedication to her work. In the last email we received from her, she wrote: “I love this job!” Our thoughts are with her family, friends, and teammates at this time. She will be greatly missed.

Steve Fondacaro
Program Manager

Montgomery McFate
Senior Social Science Advisor

Human Terrain System
US Army TRADOC

CNN also has more details about Nicole and her graduate work. http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/06/26/iraq.american.death/

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