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Behavior Studies May Improve Irregular Warfare Techniques

By Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 20, 2009 – Scientists in the Defense Department’s Modeling and Simulation Coordination Office, or MSCO, are doing their part to improve irregular warfare techniques by studying human social and cultural behaviors.

“Modeling and simulation is just the representation of the real world,” Jesse Citizen, MSCO director, said during an April 15 “Armed with Science: Research and Applications for the Modern Military” audio webcast on Pentagon Web Radio.

Modeling and simulations are enabling tools that improve our lives today and provides a means to meet national security challenges, Citizen said.

“Modeling and simulation is a technology that provides our warfighters, our operators, users, with the ability to understand complex interactions, to apply emerging technology capabilities as force multipliers and to imagine the yet-to-be-imagined, for providing innovative solutions to meet our national security challenges,” he said.

Army Col. Michael Sanders, MSCO’s deputy director, added that as they relate to irregular warfare, the human social and cultural behavior aspects of modeling and simulation are challenging to understand.

“We’re faced with many technological challenges in the 21st century,” he said. “How do we use all the knowledge we’ve acquired for standard conventional warfare in kinetics models and experiment? And how do we further apply that knowledge to do some of the social-science applications that’s associated with it? This is what M&S can do for the modern warfighter.

“Anybody who's been in the [warfighting] business knows that we're very good at modeling and using simulation to look at the kinetic effects of conventional warfare,” Sanders continued. “What we're finding, though, is that understanding some of the algorithms and some of the technologies dealing with human social and cultural behavior -- we’re just starting out trying to do that.”

In addition to irregular warfare, Sanders said, MSCO is studying how modeling and simulation tools can help with proprietary technology, the notion of systems within a system engineering environment, and protecting the cyberspace domain.

In 2007, the Congressional Modeling and Simulation Caucus declared that modeling and simulation is a critical national technology. Citizen added that universities across the nation are currently involved in advancing this technology.

“We are involved with universities in several arenas, and many of them are used as the performers upon what we call our high-level tasks,” Citizen said. “We have a lot of universities across the nation that are available and that participate in that level of activity.”

(Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg serves in the Defense Media Activity’s emerging media directorate.)

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Related Sites:
Modeling and Simulation Coordination Office
"Armed with Science: Research and Applications for the Modern Military" on Pentagon Web Radio


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