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date: 19 August 2018

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter communicates research findings regarding what types of sociocultural information have operational relevance for military commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan. The findings in this chapter are the result of more than three years of experience with the Army’s Human Terrain System (HTS), an experimental program to provide sociocultural knowledge to military units in two theaters of war. We review selected sociocultural knowledge requirements as articulated within a variety of U.S. military publications, including conceptual frameworks, handbooks, and military doctrine. We then describe the HTS research process to determine military sociocultural knowledge requirements, discuss command-directed and team-initiated research, and the concept of operational relevance. What commanders want and need to know is remarkably consistent between theaters and over time: the prime categories of knowledge are social structure; the political system (both formal and informal); the economic system (both formal and informal); and interests and grievances (particularly pertaining to security, intra- and extra-group conflict, and the administration of justice).

Keywords: U.S. Army, Human Terrain System, social science

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