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Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Understanding Human Dynamics

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Task force rept.

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Understanding human dynamics is an essential aspect of planning for success across the full spectrum of military and national security operations. Although the U.S. military belatedly increased its human dynamics awareness within the current Iraq and Afghanistan theaters, recent progress has been achieved because of its importance in strategic, operational, and tactical decision-making. The U.S. military also has made recent progress in training and sensitizing deployed U.S. forces to the importance of understanding human dynamics in dealing with individuals, groups, and societies. There have been numerous, though mostly uncoordinated, efforts within DoD to manage relevant databases and provide associated tools and cultural advisors. Nevertheless, substantial improvements by DoD are needed in understanding human dynamics. In particular, DoD must take a longer term view and build upon increased capability achieved in Iraq and Afghanistan. It must institutionalize the best of current programs and processes so that this capability is available across the full spectrum of military operations, including activities referred to as Phase 0 that seek to mitigate the likelihood of armed conflict. To be effective in the long term, DoD must develop more coherence in its efforts to enhance human dynamics awareness. Most importantly, capability must be expanded beyond the focus of current armed conflicts so that the DoD and military services have the flexibility to adjust rapidly to events in other places in the world. The task force believes that opportunities with both near-term and long-term payoffs exist for substantial improvement in the following areas coordination and leadership interagency and civil interactions education, training, and career development human dynamics advisors science and technology investments and data, tools, and products. Specific recommendations, grouped by the topics listed above, are detailed in the chapters that follow.

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  • Sociology and Law
  • Psychology
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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