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Human Behavior in Military Contexts 1 Overview PEOPLE AND SYSTEMS That human behavior forms the nucleus of military effectiveness is unquestioned. Regardless of technological advances, the military is and always will be a complex system composed of human and technical elements that must work together effectively in a wide variety of contexts over time. Humans embedded in the complex military system must possess the knowledge, skills, abilities, aptitudes, and temperament to perform their roles effectively in a reliable and predictable manner, and effective military management requires understanding of how these qualities can be best provided and assessed. Furthermore, the technical and social contexts in which people operate can either facilitate or inhibit system effectiveness. Key factors in the design of organizations and humans’ role in them are the identification, recruitment, and placement of individuals in an organization and the creation of leadership and social and learning environments that foster the behaviors that are needed to accomplish the goals and objectives of the organization. In the military, where the first goal is effective warfighting, these factors are often clustered under the terms personnel, training, leadership, and organization. Personnel As military systems become more complex and demands on team members become greater, getting and keeping the best people remains a constant and critical need. The military needs individuals who are culturally aware, technologically sophisticated, and behaviorally flexible and who can learn new languages and skills, and withstand new stressors. Assess-
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Human Behavior in Military Contexts ment, selection, placement, and job design—always key features of large organizations—become even more important as complexity increases. Training and Learning Training has always been a critical aspect of military success. Important issues are appropriate training content and effective and efficient delivery systems. The role of technology in training appears to have tremendous potential. However, the goal of training is learning, so it is not enough to build good training systems: it is also important to understand how those systems interact with learners’ proclivities and limitations. Leadership Leadership is a process of influence, so one demand on a leader is establishing credibility to provide the basis for influence. Research over the past 100 years has shown that the key elements of credibility are task-relevant competence and trustworthiness. Leaders need to develop relationships with followers, both individually and as team members, which motivate and enable them to contribute maximally to mission accomplishment. At the core of any leader-follower relationship is communication. Effective communication requires understanding others. The tremendous diversity of communication targets for modern military officers dramatically complicates the issue. Finally, leaders who have established credibility and built motivated and highly functioning teams must deploy those resources for mission accomplishment. Leader self-efficacy and team collective efficacy allow for the full utilization of leader and follower resources. Environmental (situational) analysis, information processing, and decision making bring those resources to bear. Very frequently, military situations are highly demanding and stressful, so leaders must also have self-awareness, emotional control, coolness under pressure, and resilience. Organizational Functioning Organizational tasks call for teams that can provide multiple perspectives and collective resources. Coordination of teams requires communication structures and practices, distribution and integration of task-relevant information, information analysis and decision making, and harnessing collective effort. Coordination decrements are generic to all teams, but as teams become more functionally and demographically diverse and physically more distributed over time and space, coordination becomes increasingly difficult. As the size of an organization increases, the organizational research imperatives become ever greater: in the military, the coordination of squads, crews, companies, and larger forces becomes increasingly complicated. Developing technologies offer great potential for improving communication under these circumstances, but also carry the potential for even greater coordination difficulties and possible mission failure.
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Human Behavior in Military Contexts THE ROLE OF RESEARCH In December 2006, there were proposals for 40,000 U.S. troops as strategic, tactical, and weapons trainers for the nascent Iraqi army. The situation was perceived as urgent. Yet there was little discussion of whether the U.S. military could provide 40,000 effective trainers in 6-8 weeks or of the types of jobs they would be expected to do. Basic research programs are not intended to resolve such immediate crises. But the December 2006 Iraqi situation will not be the last time that U.S. troops are called on to train others in warfighting and to assist the operations of troops of other countries. In many, perhaps most, cases the foreign nationals will not be from Western countries, and there will likely be a need for rapid action. What sort of training do the trainers need for their mission? What kinds of support do troops need for such assignments? The answers to these questions can be found by research in the behavioral and social sciences. Developments in various technologies will help, and new technologies will contribute to training and joint operations, but, fundamentally, the way the U.S. personnel behave will determine the success of such missions. Once military personnel are embedded in such situations, they are subjected to a variety of stresses that differ in important ways from the stressors of engagement encountered by troops serving in conventional, U.S.-only, units. This includes lack of social support, the continuing stress of having to deal with a foreign language and culture on a 24/7 basis, and the possible lack of contact with the usual military command and support structure. Again, behavioral and social research, from behavioral neurophysiology to sociology, is critical to understanding these kinds of stresses and developing ways to monitor, reduce, or counteract them. Other issues for troops in such theaters as Afghanistan and Iraq arise because of the often lengthy tours of duty for largely noncombat situations. What effects do such assignments have on the cognitive and emotional capacities of embedded troops on a continuous basis? How long they are fit for duty? Again, these critical questions for the military in the 21st century need behavioral and social science research. BASIC AND APPLIED RESEARCH An important question in considering what kinds of research must be conducted has to do with the distinction between basic and applied research. Circular A-11 of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget defines basic and applied research and development in what seem to be very definite terms:
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Human Behavior in Military Contexts Basic research is defined as systematic study directed toward fuller knowledge or understanding of the fundamental aspects of phenomena and of observable facts without specific applications towards processes or products in mind. Applied research is defined as systematic study to gain knowledge or understanding necessary to determine the means by which a recognized and specific need may be met. Nevertheless, the distinction between basic and applied research is not always clear, even among the scientists conducting it, especially as basic research begins to make some applications more apparent. Hence, U.S. government funding data for basic research frequently includes amounts for applied research as well. This is particularly true for basic behavioral and social science research funded by the military because it is constrained to fund research likely to be close to its own interests, and the closer research comes to being applied, the more obvious its military relevance. Basic research is called 6.1 by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and applied is called 6.2. However, in this report, applied research refers to that which is closer to basic research (6.1) than it is to advanced development (6.3). As Nobel Laureate George Smootz has said, “People cannot foresee the future well enough to predict what’s going to develop from basic research. If we only did applied research, we would still be making better spears.”1 FUNDING CONTEXT Funding for basic research in the behavioral and social sciences has varied widely throughout all the military services over the last several decades. In fiscal 2007, total DOD funding for behavioral and social sciences research will be $37.6 million, its lowest level in 4 years (see Table 1-1). Funding for cognitive and neural science will be at its lowest level since 2002, despite a DOD basic research review that described cognitive and neural sciences as a key area that should be strengthened. These figures make it clear that investments in behavioral and social research and development must be carefully targeted to achieve the maximum possible returns. 1 See http://www.lbl.gov/Education/ELSI/Frames/research-basic-defined-f.html [accessed July 2007].
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Human Behavior in Military Contexts TABLE 1-1 Behavioral and Social Sciences Funding, Fiscal 2004-2007 (in $ million) Fiscal Year Service 2004 2005 2006 2007 Army 12.5 15.5 13.8 13.3* Navy 17.0 15.5 14.5 10.4 Air Force 14.5 12.8 13.5 13.9 Total 44.0 43.8 41.8 37.6 *Includes $1 million for network science. CHARGE TO THE COMMITTEE In order to fund the most promising research in the face of an ever-tightening budget constraints, the U.S. Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences (ARI) asked the National Research Council to provide an agenda for basic research in the behavioral and social sciences with an eye to the possibility of applications in both the near (5-10 years) and far (over 10 years) terms. Specifically, the charge from ARI requested that: A study committee, established under the auspices of the Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences, address the range of interactions among social settings and behavioral patterns, seeking areas of scientific opportunity where significant investment is most likely to improve the military’s effectiveness and efficiency in the new roles it is assuming. The committee will explore opportunities in basic research in the behavioral and social sciences to assist the U.S. military in formulating new directions for its basic research portfolios and to develop a long-term research agenda in these areas. Through a workshop and other information gathering activities, the study committee would identify research opportunities that draw on the most recent developments in the behavioral and social sciences—including behavioral, cognitive, and social neurosciences—that cross multiple levels of analysis, and that are poised to contribute quickly and significantly to the military’s basic and applied research needs. THE COMMITTEE’S APPROACH To meet ARI’s charge, the committee first and foremost decided that the research areas selected must be relevant to current military interests. Two types of research might fit in this category: basic research at the cusp of readiness for application to military needs and basic research with long-term potential for such application. The research must already be feasible
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Human Behavior in Military Contexts and demonstrate potential not only for payoff in the next 5 to 10 years, but also for transformation to applied (6.2 funding) research. Recognizing the tension between the desire for practical payoffs from research in the near future and the creation of the groundwork for basic research with long-term potential, the committee’s response is to recommend research that responds to near-term needs without neglecting longer term opportunities. The committee also recognized that, like all organizations, military agencies engaged in funding behavioral and social science research operate under a variety of constraints. Each agency has its specific mission, which may preclude it from investing in research in specific areas. All operate under limited—sometimes extremely limited—budgets, making cost-effective investments imperative. The committee met three times; its members brought a mixture of expertise in the behavioral and social sciences to their discussions. However, because of time and resource constraints, the committee could not be constituted to include all social science disciplines. Furthermore, in the course of its deliberations, the committee unexpectedly lost two committee members because of schedule conflicts; they would have supplied needed expertise in some of those areas. These circumstances led the committee to focus principally, though not solely, on the behavioral sciences, with much less attention to the relevant work now ongoing in related social science disciplines. The committee expanded its knowledge base by commissioning papers from experts in a number of research areas, particularly ones that did not overlap with the expertise of the committee members themselves. The papers were presented at a public workshop on October 24-25, 2006, and discussed by the authors, other scientists, committee members, and other participants, including the report sponsors, representatives of other military research funding agencies, military personnel, and the public. Six of the background papers form the second part of this report. The papers represent the opinions of individual authors, not those of the committee, and the papers and their authors’ recommendations do not necessarily map directly onto the research areas recommended by the committee. However, the papers do detail the kinds of findings that make these areas of research rich in potential for military investment. The committee considered a wide range of established and promising research fields and specialties within the behavioral sciences. The committee also recognized that much cutting-edge work is happening at the intersection of technology and the traditional areas of behavioral and the social sciences and included this knowledge in making its recommendations.
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Human Behavior in Military Contexts RECOMMENDED RESEARCH AREAS The committee recommends six areas of research on the basis of their relevance, potential impact, and timeliness for military needs: intercultural competence, including second-language learning; teams in complex environments; technology-based training; nonverbal behavior; emotion; and behavioral neurophysiology. These recommended research topics clearly intersect with each of the major foci of the military: the best personnel, leaders, training, and organizations to carry out first its warfighting mission and then its many other diverse missions. We note that the list of research areas proceeds from external cultural influences to internal physiological states, not in any order of priority. Several research areas fit the selection criteria described above (i.e., relevance, impact, and timeliness). The multiplicity of inherent relationships among and between these promising areas and military needs (e.g., personnel, leadership) led the committee to organize these relationships in a matrix of research opportunities and military needs as depicted in Table 1-2. In fact, real-world military problems rarely occur within a single scientific discipline or a single level of analysis. One can easily imagine higher-order relationships among these components. For example, integrating research on neurophysiology and emotion may well be important in order to advance our understanding of the performance of military personnel in threatening or stressful situations. Or, research integrating nonverbal behavior and intercultural competence may be essential in training for social interactions with noncombatant populations. Military research agencies are already addressing some of these areas. For example, at this time, ARI is funding basic research on leadership, training, and personnel assessment, some of it in traditional areas of psychological research, and also in social science areas, such as anthropology and sociology. In 2006, ARI released a broad agency announcement calling for research in the broad area of network science, with a focus on cognitive and social domains; on training and learning; leadership; human resource practices; social systems; and the role of affect (emotion) in calibrating behavioral action and cognition. Clearly, ARI recognizes the relevance of these basic research issues to current military needs and modern, asymmetric conflicts. Very shortly after the committee concluded its deliberations, the Defense Science Board released a report on its 2006 summer study, 21st Century Strategic Technology Vectors (Defense Science Board, 2007). The cover memorandum from the task force cochairs says:
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Human Behavior in Military Contexts TABLE 1-2 Research Topics and Areas of Military Concern Leadership Training Personnel Social Interactions Organizational Structures Intercultural Competence x x x x x Teams in Complex Environments x x x x x Technology and Training x x x x x Nonverbal Behavior x x x x x Emotion x x x x x Neurophysiology x x x x
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Human Behavior in Military Contexts The report of the Defense Science Board 2006 Summer Study on 21st Century Strategic Technology Vectors identifies a set of four operational capabilities and their enabling technologies that can support the range of future military missions…. Perhaps most central is to gain deeper understanding of how individuals, groups, societies and nations behave and then use this information to (1) improve the performance of U.S. forces through continuous education and training and (2) shape behaviors of others in pre-, intra-, and post-conflict situations. On page 13, the report states: The third of the human terrain enabling technology area—human, social, cultural, and behavioral (HSCB) modeling—is the one that pushes the boundaries of DOD’s comfort zone the farthest. However, it is an area that DOD cannot afford to ignore. The DOD needs to become much more familiar with the theories, methods, and models from psychology, sociology, cultural anthropology, cognitive science, political science, and economics in order to be able to identify those with real potential to add value to DOD’s tool kit… A formidable challenge in modeling social and behavioral phenomena is to integrate and make coherent micro-macro models at multiple levels of data, granularity, and analysis, and across multiple disciplines of the social sciences, and to acquire and structure data that can be used to guide and test the models. To accomplish this vision, the Undersecretary of Defense for Science and Technology proposes new 6.2 (applied research) funding of $7.3 million in fiscal year 2008 and increases over the next 5 years for a total of $51.4 million.2 Note that this is called applied (6.2) research by the DOD, yet the funding justification also includes the basic research needed to make the modeling possible. It seems, then, that this report is extraordinarily timely in its recommendations. The text below briefly describes the committee’s recommended areas of research in the behavioral and social sciences. The next six chapters of the report discuss them in depth. Intercultural Competence The ability to navigate and adapt to different cultures is known as intercultural competence or cultural intelligence. The latter term includes cognitive (knowledge of language, customs, beliefs), physical (body language, gestures), and emotional (confidence, adaptability, openness) components. Thus, a key issue for the military is to select, train, and deploy individuals who possess these qualities and are able to function in multiple cultures. Two areas of research are particularly important for 2 See http://www.dtic.mil/descriptivesum/Y2008/OSD/0602670D8Z.pdf [accessed September 2007].
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Human Behavior in Military Contexts the military: learning a second language and cross-cultural negotiation. Research in these areas must come from many fields, including linguistics, cultural and social anthropology, sociology, history, and political science, as well as cognitive and educational psychology. Teams Teams are ubiquitous in today’s organizations—including the military—and their effectiveness is absolutely critical to the performance and viability of the organizations in which they are embedded, as well as to the well-being of the people who staff them. A large scientific literature focuses on understanding team behavior and functioning: it informs the design of organizations, leaders’ behaviors in them, and policies and practices related to staffing teams. The complexities of teams as dynamic systems nested in organizations and changing over time present major challenges for future research that are just beginning to be addressed theoretically, methodologically, and technologically. Technology and Training The goal of basic behavioral research on technology and training is to create a science of learning that is relevant to issues in military training, guides instructional design of technology-based training in the military, and identifies and assesses instructional methods that have large effects on learning. Basic behavioral research on technology and training will enable military trainers to take advantage of an evidence-based approach to designing training for individuals and for teams. Nonverbal Communication Research has rigorously validated that people rapidly, even if unconsciously and automatically, perceive and become influenced by the nonverbal signals of those around them. Whether in a job interview, a first date, or the first meeting with a local warlord, first impressions, formed mainly on the basis of nonverbal cues, can determine outcomes. The nature of nonverbal communication has been a thorny problem for its study and analysis. Nonverbal communication research directly affects several areas of military relevance: leadership, persuasion, negotiation, cultural fluency, training, and learning. The area is rich with technological opportunities and challenges for research. Emotion Emotion represents a universal and intrinsic aspect of human consciousness, which functions as an evaluative representation of the environment to the person experiencing the emotion. Emotion moderates important cognitive, behavioral, and physiological phenomenon. Emotions produce effects at every level of cognition and influence many social behaviors. Moreover, reliable and important individual differences can be found in these effects. In a military context, it is natural and common to experience intense emotions in anticipation of and during operations, and intense feelings of euphoria, regret, grief, anger, or disgust afterwards. However, over longer periods, the failure to regulate emotional responses can lead to poor long-term performance (e.g., decision making) and health declines
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Human Behavior in Military Contexts (e.g., posttraumatic stress disorder), as well as disruptions to social units (e.g., family, military unit). Behavioral Neurophysiology Basic knowledge of human behavior, as well as practical knowledge important to the military, could greatly benefit from research using validated neurophysiological markers—such as cardiovascular, endocrine, and central nervous system markers—to examine the interplay among motivational, affective, and cognitive processes. Such research is likely to increase the effectiveness of military procedures for the selection, training, and performance evaluation of personnel for specific leadership and operational duties in ways not subject to the biases of subjective evaluations. RECOMMENDED RESEARCH FUNDING It is clear to the committee that behavioral and social science research critical to the military remains insufficiently funded. The situation is serious because if these deficiencies continue, the military will lack sufficient understanding of human behavior in social and cultural contexts pertinent to their needs, and fall behind military forces of other nations and groups in this regard. Military funding must match the urgency and the nature of the challenges that the military faces. The committee recommends a doubling or more of the current budget for basic (6.1) research for the behavioral and social sciences across U.S. military research agencies. This level of funding can support approximately 40 new projects per year across the committee’s recommended research areas. Funding should be significant enough to establish a scientific foundation in basic behavioral and social research from which important specific applications addressed to military needs can be developed. Doubling the current funding of $37.6 million to a total of about $75 million will allow the continuation of current work, as well as new basic research projects in the recommended areas. The committee found that there are sufficient ideas and capability in the scientific community to justify the recommended funding increase and number of new projects. This recommended additional funding will allow a sufficient number of new grants, ranging from large to small, in each recommended research area. The recommended increased funding represents a very small portfolio of projects in any given area, yet the committee is convinced it is enough to sustain research interest in each of them and to begin to provide the necessary research base for military applications. These efforts should be
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Human Behavior in Military Contexts coordinated by mechanisms such as annual research meetings, center grants and contracts, and joint funding from various agencies. Moreover, $37.5 million in new funding is less than two-thirds of 1 percent of the fiscal 2005 DOD research budget of $5.7 billion. In 2005, psychology and the social sciences were allotted 3 percent of that research budget, in comparison with 53 percent for engineering and 15 percent for mathematics and computer science. The committee believes that these kinds of disparities in spending result in important disparities in results for military effectiveness. CONCLUSION This report and the papers clearly demonstrate that there are many bodies of stimulating, ongoing research in the behavioral and social sciences that can enrich the military’s ability to recruit, train, and enhance the performance of its personnel, both organizationally and in its many roles in other cultures. Such research may sometimes be carried out in established scientific fields; sometimes it is the product of older disciplines merging ideas and techniques to generate new areas of research. Much of this basic research is not, and cannot be, immediately targeted to military applications. But military research agencies cannot afford to neglect nurturing it. By supporting a vigorous program of research, the U.S. military can ensure that its key issues will be addressed by the best scientists in this country and around the world. The research areas emphasized in this report are not all new. More than a decade ago, a National Research Council (1994) report—known as STAR 21—by the Board on Army Science and Technology concluded The Army of the future will have to be able to deal with foreign allies and indigenous populations. Such dealings will often be at the small unit level. The Army needs to develop ways to train U.S. soldiers to interact with groups in other cultures (Personnel Systems, p. 44) …. There is insufficient understanding of: (1) the learning that occurs on a job and the kind of technology that can make this learning more efficient; (2) how social interactions among workers promote or inhibit learning; and (3) the ways that training prepares people to become effective learners and contributing members of a working group. (Personnel Systems, p. 35) Yet, since the STAR 21 report was published, military support for basic research in the behavioral and social sciences has steadily decreased, despite the obvious need for more support, not less. It is necessary to understand in a profound way that equipment and technology always have a behavioral component, and not always a predictable one. Technology is used to amplify human behavior, both its effectiveness and its errors. No Roman
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Human Behavior in Military Contexts legionnaire could do much as damage in error as could one of today’s fighter pilots or artillery commanders. Only through research on human beings can knowledge be gained about the basis of people’s behavior and how best to enhance it, whether they are negotiating in the field with foreign nationals or performing as part of a large team in a complex technological environment. Recently, Mario Mancuso, deputy assistant secretary of defense for special operations and combating terrorism, spoke about intelligence gathering and cultural skills: “Being able to develop and maintain and nurture relationships with groups in other societies … that is how we are going to be in a position to have a global sensor network…. It has nothing to do with satellites—it has to do with people.”3 The investment must match the nature and urgency of the need. 3 See http://poky.atpco.com/atp/login.aspx?pubCode=ARM&forward=www.armytimes.com/pastissues/&query= [accessed July 2007].