Improving the U.S. Military's Understanding of Unstable Environments Vulnerable to Violent Extremist Groups: Insights from Social Science

Improving the U.S. Military's Understanding of Unstable Environments Vulnerable to Violent Extremist Groups: Insights from Social Science

Improving the U.S. Military's Understanding of Unstable Environments Vulnerable to Violent Extremist Groups: Insights from Social Science

Improving the U.S. Military's Understanding of Unstable Environments Vulnerable to Violent Extremist Groups: Insights from Social Science

Excerpt

This report documents the results of a study commissioned by the U.S. Army entitled “Improving Understanding of the Environment of Irregular Warfare.” The objective of the study was to help defense analysts identify and assess key factors that create and perpetuate such an environment to enable them to inform military decisions on resource allocation. The motivation for the study was a concern by the analytic community that the wargames and models they use to provide insights to commanders and policymakers on irregular warfare (IW) retained underlying assumptions about the surrounding environments that were not well-enough informed or corroborated by important bodies of research outside the military. The present study’s task was to survey theories, schools of thought, and existing models in the areas of anthropology, sociology, and related social sciences that could be useful to the U.S. Army in providing insights into the environments in which insurgency, terrorism, and other extremist violence and instability may arise. Based on the survey and a set of focused discussions with sociologists, anthropologists, and political scientists who have experience with IW and social science theory, RAND researchers identified and examined 12 key factors giving rise to these environments and then discerned areas of consensus among social scientists regarding the salience of these factors. The research team also identified qualitative and quantitative metrics that could be used to analyze environments in which the factors may play a role.

The findings of this study should be of interest to defense analysts seeking scientifically grounded insights into causes and perpetuators of unstable environments in which violent extremist groups can arise and thrive.

This research was sponsored by the Director of the Center for Army Analysis and conducted within RAND Arroyo Center’s Strategy, Doctrine, and Resources Program. RAND Arroyo Center, part of the RAND Corporation, is a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the United States Army.

The Project Unique Identification Code (PUIC) for the project that produced this document is HQD105742.

For more information on RAND Arroyo Center, contact the Director of Operations (310–393-0411, ext. 6419; fax: 310–451–6952; Marcy_Agmon@rand.org) or visit Arroyo’s website at http://www.rand.org/ard.html.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.