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Human Behavior in Military Contexts Executive Summary People are the heart of all military efforts. People operate the available weaponry and technology, and they constitute a complex military system composed of teams and groups at multiple levels. Scientific research on human behavior is crucial to the military because it provides knowledge about how people work together and use weapons and technology to extend and amplify their forces. The military has long recognized the role of research in furthering its mission. In that vein, the U.S. Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences (ARI) asked the National Research Council to provide an agenda for basic behavioral and social research focused on applications in both the near (5-10 years) and far (more than 10 years) terms. This request was made in the context of limited funds: for fiscal 2007, the U.S. Department of Defense budget for behavioral and social science is $37.6 million, its lowest level in 4 years, and for basic behavioral research at ARI it is approximately $4 million, including $1 million earmarked for “network science.” The committee considered a wide range of topics in the behavioral sciences and a smaller number in the social sciences, focusing on their applicability to military needs. Both historically and currently, those needs are in the areas of personnel, training and learning, leadership, and organization. The committee’s distillation resulted in six research topics with an emphasis on ones that are likely to be applicable to military needs in the relatively near future. The committee found that there are sufficient ideas and capability in the scientific community to support new work in each of the recommended ar-
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Human Behavior in Military Contexts eas. The committee also judged that significantly increased funding for the behavioral and social sciences is necessary if the military is to take advantage of the opportunities for major research contributions to its mission. 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 areas were selected because of their potential impact, particularly in the near term; military needs and relevance; and likelihood of transfer from basic to applied research. The intersection of military needs and research areas is depicted in Table ES-1. The recommended research areas represent topics of particular importance to the military. Intercultural competence—the ability to navigate and adapt to different cultures—is critical at every level of the military, from field operations to strategic planning. Within the field, the two areas of particular importance for the military are learning a second language and cross-cultural negotiation. Teams are ubiquitous and critical to the military, as they are in all organizations. Understanding team behavior and functioning, their dynamic nature, and leaders’ behaviors in them are key issues for the military. The use of technology is an increasing feature of military training. It is critical that the use of technology is based on evidence-based knowledge about learning and not simply driven by the available technology. Nonverbal communication is a key aspect of people’s reactions and behavior. In the military, nonverbal communication directly affects leadership, persuasion, negotiation, cultural fluency, training, and learning. Emotion affects almost every aspect of people’s behavior and performance. In the military, troops are subject not only to intense emotions in stressful situations, such as euphoria and grief, but also to long-term effects on their health and functioning, both in their families and military units. Behavioral neurophysiology holds great promise for understanding the interplay among the biological underpinnings of motivational, affective, and cognitive processes, and new noninvasive techniques make possible research on human behavior that has not previously
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Human Behavior in Military Contexts TABLE ES-1 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 been observable. Such research can make critical contributions to military procedures for personnel selection, training, and performance evaluation. 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. An expanded military budget for basic research in the behavioral and social sciences of about $75 million will support both new and continued work on important research topics with likely application in the near future and longer term, as well. Although the recommended additional funding will support only a small number of projects in each of the recommended fields, it will allow a sufficient number of large and small new grants to support viable fields of research that are relevant to military needs. Without such support, basic behavioral and social science research is not likely to meet those needs. More than 15 years ago, the former commander of the Vietnamese forces against both the French and American armies, General Vo Nguyen Giap, said: “In war there are the two factors—human beings and weapons. Ultimately, though, human beings are the decisive factor. Human beings! Human beings!'' (New York Times, 1990, p. 36).