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Until thunder boomed. The role of social and cultural analysis in modern conditions
Material posted: Publication date: 23-07-2013

The U.S. intelligence community has the tools and resources for sociocultural analysis, but requires a paradigm that explains how to use these resources and what is the role analysis of foreign policy and military policy.

The authors of this article believe that in today's threatening environment, subnational actors and complex social trends steadily undermine the state system, it is therefore necessary to detect conflicts in their latent state, ie before the escalation. This will allow US to qualitatively better to meet the challenges and threats, having at its disposal a broader political opportunities at a lower cost. By using the tools of Conflict Continuum (The Conflict Continuum) is proposed to update and to emphasize the importance of conducting socio-cultural analysis until the crisis worsens. In addition, the Departments of Intelligence and Observation, it is proposed to combine the resources of "the nation" to understand the threats to the masses, States, national interests. "RSI is a concept or paradigm, developed jointly by Matthew Poulsen from forces Command United States special operations and the Cyrus Hutchinson of command of the development of the principles of land operations in the USA, for integration of socio-cultural analysis in General analytical and intelligence process.

In this article, the authors list the prerequisites for the creation of a number of organizations involved in socio-cultural analysis and to justify the need of applying this type of analysis in modern conditions. In addition, they lead its main concepts and the mechanism by which you want to embed this non-traditional type of analysis in classical analytical and intelligence process.

According to the authors, the results of the operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, counter-terrorism events around the world, as well as the events of the "Arab spring" has reinforced the views within the "intelligence community" of the United States about the need for a thorough analysis of the socio-cultural environment in the areas of the proposed operations. In this regard, the Ministry of defense and the "intelligence community" has created a number of organizations that must deal with socio-cultural analysis, the Council for the study of social and cultural opportunities at the Ministry of defence, a System for the study of human resources and the Division of the study population the Central command of the USA. Thus, the "intelligence community" was only to formulate a strategic framework for understanding that kind of analysis, and embedding sociocultural analysis in General and analytical process.

The special operations experience of the last years have demonstrated that the underestimation of the human factor is too expensive for the state. After the transition of the conflict into the open phase already late to start the process of studying the population and its characteristics. Optimal, according to authors, is the management of the crisis "until the sound of thunder", that is, until it is tightened. In the latent stage of the conflict it is much cheaper to access information resources, as well as more maneuverability will have the political structure of the country.

Now the Intelligence community must face the task of creating a conceptual new principles of information and analysis. Complex social phenomena, including population growth and demographic changes as such, the world economic integration, the revolution in information and communication sphere require more attention. Unfortunately, the authors note, "the intelligence community" seeks to integrate sociocultural analysis into traditional analytical process that the basics still state-centric concepts inherent in the "cold war". The growing interconnectedness and interdependence of threats to national security, such as cybercrime, terrorism, transnational criminal groups and even humanitarian crises, dictate the need to change the fundamental concepts of information-analytical support of national security. New fundamentals of analytical work should explore the mentality of the population of any region, the reasons why they support or do not support their governments, how they organize their social and political environment and how and why their beliefs are amenable to change.

Unlike traditional state-centric concepts of analytical work "intelligence community" whose objective is to study how the state ensures stability in its territory, "the intelligence community" should develop new concepts that will be closer to explore the forerunner of political changes in society, "social radar" with a certain level of granularity, understanding and confidence to allow political leaders to make informed decisions to strengthen influence in the region before escalation of the crisis. As a first step towards a human-centric "social radar", this article proposes to explain why integration of social and cultural analysis in the existing structure of the "intelligence of society" would be illogical to examine why social catalysts comprise certain complexity, provides the framework for the budget conscious and proactive information gathering for social and cultural analysis and offers a paradigm for converting the received information into the product information-analytical work.


Old structure, new threats

The authors refer to international law where state sovereignty is understood as non-interference in the internal Affairs of other States, however, according to the Index of Failed States, about 20% of all state entities on the planet are either already recognized as failed States (failed states), or are on the verge of inclusion in this list. At the same time, in the territory of such countries and entities are formed, involving potential threats to the national interests of the United States.

The article provides quotations from the speeches Cordesman Anthony and Nicholas Yarosh, representatives of the Center for Strategic Studies USA, which confirm the authors ' point of view and say that the initial causes of instability in key, in their view, fields, and indicators should be the level of unemployment, the percentage of citizens working in the field, inappropriate to their qualifications, the distribution of income in the state, the profitability of public sector obstacles to the growth and development of the economy, the quantitative indicators of security services and police and an analysis of their functions, the quality of the leadership elite.

As noted Cordesman and Yarosh, modern conflicts have been associated more with conflict in the field of ideas and management, rather than direct capture by another state.

Thus, the authors come to the conclusion that state-centric analysis, used since the days of the cold war, no longer meets the requirements of the modern political situation, largely due to the fact that ethnic groups and ethnicities, as subnational actors began to have much more political power than before.


Integrating socio-cultural analysis in the Continuum of Conflict (TheConflictContinuum)

The authors note that unlike traditional analysis, which relies on quantitative indicators, such as GDP or the number of mechanized infantry battalions, social and cultural analysis implies a deeper study of the population of the country. Despite the complexity of the task, this kind of analysis should be integrated into the Continuum of Conflict (The Conflict Continuum).

Prior to the conflict, "until the sound of thunder" before "intelligence community" has an important task-finding sources of information, which should include communication with government partners, academia, private sector companies and social networks. They, according to the authors, should provide unhindered access to populations for information about his everyday reality. On the basis of these data and must be studied in cultural, social and other characteristics of the local population.


In accordance with the acquired knowledge, the authors believe needs to be built the baseline of the Conflict Continuum. Later, the "intelligence community" can inform the decision makers about the most effective actions by the US, which will not run counter to the worldview and mentality of the local population.

At the end of the conflict, the newly created institutions should not conflict with the sociocultural principles that underpin the population. It is the "intelligence community" based on social and cultural analysis, has to develop the most viable options for further post-conflict development of the country.

Further, the authors refer to the Commander of the Operational command of the United States, which lists the reasons for the unsuccessful construction of new power institutions in post-conflict countries. Chief among them, in his view, was to underestimate the importance of studying the mentality of the peoples, namely, the worldview, the prevailing norms and identity.


Integration of social and cultural analysis at RSI

RSI is a paradigm jointly developed by Matthew Poulsen from the command of the special operations forces of the U.S. and the Cyrus Hutchinson of command of development of the principles of land operations of the United States, which, unlike the existing conceptual scheme "obtaining primary data – observation – careful study" "ISR"), running the algorithm "find – foothold – to complete the operation" (to"find–fix–finish") should be replaced by long-term analytical model of the "learning – observation – receiving information of an applied nature" ("reconnaissance – surveillance – intelligence" "RSI"), a valid algorithm "to obtain information – to analyse – to draw" ("understand – analyze – engage").

As the authors note, to obtain information about the population before the conflict is much cheaper and easier, because, for example, norms and mentality rooted in the traditions and history, which is almost always open.

The first phase of RSI relates to the philosophical basis of understanding, prevailing among the local population. The second phase involves the use of social Sciences methods, modifying baseline analysis, identification of social and cultural trends, which, according to analysts, should pay close attention. Moreover in this phase it is necessary to identify what contradictions have a tendency to exacerbate and how they can contribute to the realization of U.S. national interests in the region.

Also an important point, according to the authors, is the use of nontraditional information sources, i.e. data from the private sector and the scientific community, surveys and censuses, statistics from international marketing companies.

RSI, in turn, proposes a conceptual framework integrating sociocultural analysis in the intelligence analysis process, and determines which resources and in what kolichestve will be necessary for its normal functioning.

In conclusion, the authors emphasize the importance and relevance of this type of analysis in modern analytical and intelligence operations, as a result of changing, since the cold war, the world situation. "The intelligence community", it is the firm belief of the writing team should focus on innovative tools and technologies that can meet the challenges of modern-threatening environment and to provide the decision-makers, nonlinear and holistic options for solving problems.


Michael T. Flynn, James Sisco, David K. Ellis

Summary translation: Medvedev Dmitry Andreevich


Tags: assessment , USA

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