A Canadian Project Camelot? – An Examination of the Use of Social Science in Military Operations, and Suggestions for Canadian Use


  1. Marks, R.B.
Corporate Authors
Defence R&D Canada - Toronto, Toronto ONT (CAN);Royal Military Coll of Canada, Kingston ONT (CAN)
Thus far, warfare in the 21st Century has been more asymmetric than conventional, with the population rather than the landscape serving as the battlefield. The enemies have changed – instead of fighting against nations, non-state actors such as the Taliban and Al-Qaeda are primary security threats. To succeed in combatting modern insurgencies in areas of operation such as Afghanistan and Iraq, it is necessary to engage with the local population on a level only possible with the use of social sciences. However, the military use of the social sciences remains controversial, due in large part to the aftershocks of Project Camelot, which alienated the field of anthropology from the US government. This leads to a difficult question: what are the issues involved in the military use of the social sciences, and what approach should the Canadian Forces take? This paper provides a brief examination of the military use of the social sciences, and its issues. The paper beings with a history of the military use of social sciences in the last hundred years, from T.E. Lawrence to the modern Human Terrain System and the Minerva Initiative. The paper then takes a more detailed look at the two primary American implementations of social sciences by the US military, the Human Terrain System and the Minerva Initiative. This is followed by an examination of the professional and practical issues raised. The paper then closes with recommendations for building capability in regards to the social sc

Il y a un résumé en français ici.

military;social sciences;professional and ethical issues;non-state actors
Report Number
DRDC-TORONTO-CR-2011-044 — Contractor Report
Date of publication
01 Mar 2011
Number of Pages
Electronic Document(PDF)

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