Fighting Bombs with Social Science

wired…from Wired Magazine

“In 2005, Col. Steve Fondacaro, then-head of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Task Force in Baghdad, received a laptop filled with software that attempted to map out the country’s cultural landscape. The laptop — designed in part by anthropologist Montgomery McFate — was supposed to help commanders understand the social networks that supported insurgent bombmaking cells.

“He promptly threw the laptop out. But the idea lived. That effort would lead directly to the Human Terrain System, the Army’s controversial effort to tap social science research to support counterinsurgency campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now things are coming full circle: JIEDDO, the organization that jump-started the human terrain program, is planning a major new investment in social science research. Total price tag: $140 million for the upcoming fiscal year.”