The federal government supports work in the social and behavioral sciences (SBS) through many of its agencies and programs, including those responsible for national security and defense. The National Science Foundation (NSF), for example, provides funding to support partners that include the Army Research Laboratory, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Office of Naval Research, and the Air Force Research Laboratory. This funding is used for basic research that contributes to the development of mission-specific tools and applications, including work from SBS fields (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2017). There are several entities whose missions specifically include a focus on SBS research related to security and intelligence. The best known are the Minerva Research Initiative (Minerva), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), but other entities also make contributions. The committee examined publicly available descriptions of the work of these three entities and invited federal officials to make presentations and answer questions about these programs during public portions of its meetings. This appendix provides an overview of the SBS work sponsored by these entities, as well as other relevant programs within the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD); it does not represent all relevant research sponsored by the Intelligence Community (IC) or other federal entities.
MINERVA RESEARCH INITIATIVE
The goal of the Minerva Research Initiative is to improve DoD’s “basic understanding of the social, cultural, behavioral, and political forces that shape regions of the world of strategic importance to the U.S.”1 Minerva does so primarily by funding basic SBS research conducted at universities within the United States and around the world. None of the research is classified, and Minerva encourages and supports data sharing. Minerva coordinates its research efforts with work at other government entities that sponsor SBS research, including DARPA, IARPA, DHS, NSF, and the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as with research entities in the United Kingdom. Minerva researchers provide expertise to the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, DoD and the IC, the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Each year, Minerva specifies topics of particular interest to DoD to guide researchers seeking funding. For 2018, the Minerva Topics of Interest were as follows:2
- Topic 1: Sociopolitical (In)Stability, Resilience, and Recovery
- Topic 2: Economic Interdependence and Security
- Topic 3: Alliances and Burden Sharing
- Topic 4: Fundamental Dynamics of Scientific Discovery
- Topic 5: Adversarial Information Campaigns
- Topic 6: Automated Cyber Vulnerability Analysis
- Topic 7: Power, Deterrence, Influence, and Escalation Management for Shaping Operations
- Topic 8: Security Risks in Ungoverned and Semi-Governed Spaces
For that year, Minerva indicated a particular interest in “proposals that align with and support the National Defense Strategy” (see Ch. 3, this volume) (Minerva Research Initiative, 2018, p. 1).
Researchers from more than 40 SBS disciplines have been involved in Minerva research initiatives. In addition to those that might be expected, such as international studies, anthropology, demography, and political science, specialized fields such as religious studies, mathematical social science, and cyber law are also represented. A sampling of topics addressed by Minerva projects in the past suggests the range of areas covered; see Box A-1.
2 Available: https://minerva.defense.gov/Research/Research-Priorities [January 2019].
DARPA AND IARPA
DARPA and IARPA (together with the Advanced Research Projects Agency of the U.S. Department of Energy3) function as the primary federal research and development (R&D) agencies supporting national security and intelligence. Both agencies fund research from a wide variety of academic and scientific disciplines, not exclusively SBS fields. These agencies have been described as sharing “an ambitious innovation organization model” because they serve as intermediaries between the research community and industry and the needs of the federal government; both seek to fund and oversee research programs conducted by university researchers, as well as outside contractors (Bonvillian, 2018). Both agencies are charged with identifying and fostering research that is intended to achieve transformative change rather than incremental advances.4
DARPA was founded in 1958, in the wake of the USSR’s launch of the Sputnik satellite, to help the U.S. government “spur innovation through its R&D investments,” with a specific focus on the needs of the U.S. military (Gallo, 2018, p. 4). It was designed to operate flexibly, relatively unfettered by rules and regulations that tend to retard the functioning of federal agencies. Its program managers were accorded levels of trust recognized as “unique across the federal government” (Gallo, 2018, p. 4).
DARPA regularly updates its criteria for identifying the highest-priority projects to support. The current criteria are as follows:5
- To rethink complex military systems
- To master the information explosion
- To harness biology as technology
- To expand the technological frontier
Much of DARPA’s work is highly technical, but the agency also supports research in SBS fields. The Next Generation Social Science (NGS2) Program, for example, was designed to foster social science research that takes advantage of large digital datasets.6 Another DARPA program with a social science focus is Ground Truth, focused on research using social science modeling and simulation methods.7
IARPA, which was established in 2007 to apply the DARPA model specifically to intelligence, uses models including funded research programs, seedling studies to foster emerging ideas, prize challenges, and technical
6 See https://www.darpa.mil/program/next-generation-social-science [January 2019].
workshops to explore promising ideas. The products of many of its projects are applied by federal agencies.8
IARPA is well known for supporting work in highly technical areas including quantum computing and superconducting computing, as well as topics in physics, chemistry, biology, and other fields. Partly in response to the recommendations in a National Research Council (2011) report, IARPA leadership has focused greater attention on SBS research. Recent IARPA-sponsored projects in fields including cognitive psychology, organizational psychology, economics, geography, sociology, sociophysiology, behavioral epidemiology, sociolinguistics, computational linguistics, and political science demonstrate this focus. IARPA organizes its work through four “research thrusts”:9 analysis, anticipatory intelligence, collection, and computing. A list of IARPA’s research programs can be found at https://www.iarpa.gov/index.php/research-programs [January 2019].
OTHER DOD PROGRAMS
The committee did not do a comprehensive survey of all entities that sponsor or conduct SBS-related research with relevance to security and intelligence, but we note that other programs within DoD play a role.
The Office of Naval Research (ONR) (2018) established the Multidisciplinary University Research Initiatives (MURI) Program with goals similar to those of DARPA and IARPA, with an emphasis on seeking significant breakthroughs through research that involves multiple disciplines.10 A subset of the work supported by MURI is drawn from SBS fields. Six of the 24 projects funded in 2018 include SBS components; the topics addressed were the following:11
- Coevolution of Neural, Cognitive, and Social Networks: Mind-Body-Community Connections
- Network Games
- Modeling Interdependence among Natural Systems and Human Population Dynamics
- Advanced Mean-Field Game Theory for Complex Physical and Socioeconomic Systems
- Automated Technical Document Comprehension
- Self-Assessment of Proficiency for Autonomous and Intelligent Systems
8 See https://www.iarpa.gov/index.php/about-iarpa/2017-year-in-review [February 2019].
ONR also fosters research to enhance the performance of its personnel through the Warfighter Performance Department, which sponsors work in bioengineered and biorobotics systems, medical technologies, improved manpower, personnel, training, and system design.12 Another ONR project is the Cognitive Science for Naval Adaptive Training Program, focused on the design of training devices, simulations, and materials for naval personnel.13
Similarly, the U.S. Army sponsors and uses SBS research through numerous projects. The Department of Human Research and Engineering conducts basic and applied research focused on “future technologies to enhance Soldier performance and Soldier-system interactions.”14 The U.S. Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences also conducts its own SBS research, with an emphasis on maximizing individual and unit performance and readiness to meet Army operational requirements through advances in the SBS.15 Another example is the Human Sciences Campaign, which pursues advances and technological innovations that can support the warfighter in three areas: human behavior, human capability enhancement, and integration of humans and systems.16 The U.S. Air Force also has a unit devoted to research to enhance performance, the 711th Human Performance Wing.17
Bonvillian, W.B. (2018). DARPA and its ARPA-E and IARPA clones: A unique innovation organization model. Industrial and Corporate Change, 27(5), 897–914. Available: https://academic.oup.com/icc/article-abstract/27/5/897/5096003?redirectedFrom=PDF [February 2019].
Gallo, M.A. (2018). Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency: Overview and Issues for Congress. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service. Available: https://fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R45088.pdf [February 2019].
Minerva Research Initiative. (2018). 2018 Minerva Research Initiative Topics of Interest. Available: https://minerva.defense.gov/Portals/47/documents/Research_Topics/Minerva%20FOA%202018%20topics%20file.pdf?ver=2018-06-04-163439-463 [February 2019].
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2017). The Value of Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences to National Priorities: A Report for the National Science Foundation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24790.
12 See https://www.onr.navy.mil/en/Science-Technology/Departments/Code-34 [January 2019].
15 See https://www.consortium-research-fellows.org/work-sites/agencyid/3 [January 2019].
16 See https://www.arl.army.mil/www/default.cfm?page=2519 [January 2019].
National Research Council. (2011). Intelligence Analysis for Tomorrow: Advances from the Behavioral and Social Sciences. Committee on Behavioral and Social Science Research to Improve Intelligence Analysis for National Security. Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences; Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi:10.17226/13040.
Office of Naval Research. (2018). Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Department of Defense Multidisciplinary Research Program for the University Research Initiative (ONR Announcement #N00014-17-S-F006). Available: https://micde.umich.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2017/04/2018-MURI-N00014-17-S-F006.pdf [February 2019].
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