Sociocultural Behavior Research and Engineering in the Department of Defense Context
OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE (RESEARCH AND ENGINEERING) WASHINGTON DC
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Understanding and engaging foreign populations is not a novel concept for the United States military. The U.S. Armed Forces have long recognized the operational value of understanding the mindset of opposing forces and securing the cooperation and support of local populations. However, the United States is now expected to engage foreign populations more routinely, at all operational phases, and across a broader range of mission types than ever before. Success requires the ability to anticipate how factors such as culture, society, group identity, religion, and ideology influence the behavior of foes and others in foreign populations. This new reality demands a broader, deeper capability at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels, and founded on the social and behavioral sciences Mastery of the factors that optimize our forces ability to forecast behaviors driven by social and cultural variables and take effective courses of action in the full range of military operations. Realizing this vision a DoD sociocultural behavior capability is the focus of this paper. It details the strategic and operational drivers for a sociocultural behavior capability, explains the role and importance of research and engineering RE for building that capability, highlights the exciting RE progress that has been made across the Department, discusses major technical and other challenges, and outlines future directions for DoD sociocultural behavior RE.
- Sociology and Law