Thursday, May 01, 2008

Congressional Subcommittees Discuss the Social Sciences and National Security

The Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee held a joint session with the Subcommittee on Research and Science Education to discuss the role of behavioral and social sciences in national security. The hearing—which came a week after Defense Secretary Robert Gates proposed a program (the Minerva Consortium) for Pentagon-funded, university-based social science research—included discussions about the potential contributions that the social sciences can make to national security, most notably in form of language instruction, cross-cultural communication, modeling of social networks, and the human terrain system. Several individuals at the hearing called for closer ties between the Pentagon and the National Science Foundation to support research relevant to national security issues. Col. Martin Schweitzer, a brigade commander in the US Army, received a number of questions regarding the Human Terrain System. Shweitzer admitted the teams were not constructed in the most ideal fashion, he maintained that they are instrumental in reducing violence and building relations with local communities.

Prepared statements and audio transcripts from this hearing are available at


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