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Page history last edited by Yuna Wong 14 years, 8 months ago

WG 32: Warfighter Performance and Social Sciences

page owner: Yuna.Wong@usmc.mil



Yuna Huh Wong, MCCDC OAD




Working Group 32 (WG 32) is an interdisciplinary working group interested in the application of social science to defense and national security challenges.  WG 32 is primarily interested in the application of social science to three main areas:  warfighter performance, national security challenges, and computational social science.  Work on warfighter performance may be thought of as the application of social science to “blue” (US) forces, while analysis of national security challenges represent the application of social science to “red” (adversary) or “green” (neutral) actors.  Lastly, computational social science is the intersection of modeling & simulation (M&S) and social phenomena.      


1.  Warfighter performance


      Traditionally, military operations research has utilized conventional operations research techniques, where the system being analyzed is under control and results can be determined precisely.  However, because the most important part of any system is the human operator, it is crucial that today’s analysts incorporate human factors and human performance variability into their analyses. On the modern battlefield, warfighters must perform the primary tasks of movement, target acquisition and engagement, and communication.  Additionally, they must sense a constellation of cues in their combat environment, perceive the tactical relevance of these combat cues as they pertain to their particular situation, and then make sound decisions to ensure mission success.  Many cognitive factors and psychological influences such as leadership, morale, esprit de corps, and “the fog of war” will have a profound effect on the performance of these individuals and combat units.  Representing and incorporating these factors adequately into models, simulations, and studies are sizeable challenges.  Because of the extreme variability of the warfighter’s performance and behavior on the modern battlefield, social science investigators may not be able to perform standard parametric or non-parametric analyses of the available data and must develop new tools to assist them.  This working group examines these innovative methods and their application to military analyses.

      Topics that fall under this area of interest include:

·         Activities and analyses that examine warfighter performance, individual and group behavior, or our armed services’ policy and doctrine through the lenses of operations research, social, and behavioral sciences;

·         Multidisciplinary approaches to defining and understanding individual and small unit combat performance;

·         Studies using tools applied to any of the social and behavioral elements that affect warfighter performance;

·         Symposia, games, experiments, or programs in development that involve warfighter performance and social science methodologies, emphasizing the influence of social and behavioral elements to legacy analytical methods.


      2.  National security challenges


      The next area of interest for WG 32 is the application of social science methodology to national security challenges that require the examination of adversary or population behaviors.  The recent and ongoing US involvement in challenges such as counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, security, stability, reconstruction, and other non-traditional challenges has increased interest in social science and prompted investments to leverage these disciplines in these areas.  This renewed interest in social science is also often aimed at the operational and tactical levels, whereas traditional Department of Defense (DoD) use of social science for national security issues has tended to be at the strategic (national and international) level.  Although there is much work going on in all these areas, the goal of WG 32 is to promote the application of sound social science methodology to these topics.


      Example topics that fall under this area of interest might include:

·         Econometric analysis of the effects of reconstruction funds on violence in Iraq;

·         Ethnography of local populations in Afghanistan;

·         Qualitative case studies on the effects of theater security cooperation;

·         Social network analysis of terrorist organizations;

·         Implications of the literature on economic development for assumptions behind security, stability, transition, and reconstruction (SSTR) models and tools.


      3.  Computational social science


The third area of interest to WG 32 is computational social science.  WG 32 is interested in the application of models and simulation techniques to represent social processes that affect defense and national security decision making.  Potential techniques include but are not limited to agent-based and systems dynamics models.  The rise of agent-based modeling in particular, with its attractiveness for depicting emergent social phenomena and ability to link levels of analysis, makes it an area of natural interest for the MORS community.


      Topics under this area might include:

·         Studies that use agent-based or systems dynamics models to support resource allocation for the Department of Defense;

·         Overview of a population model that is being used to support an SSTR wargame;

·         A study design that incorporates hybrid modeling techniques;

·         Discussion of verification, validation, and accreditation (VV&A) standards for agent-based models;

·         Proposed behavioral rules for non-combatant crowd behavior in high-resolution urban operations models.


      WG 32 encourages you to submit presentations and papers relevant to the areas outlined above.  The submission may be finished work, work in progress, or ideas and concepts.  Note that all presentations and discussions must be kept at the Secret level or lower.  We look forward to hearing from you!



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