Traditional intelligence reports offer technical knowledge and methodological information on issues concerning national security. Our nation faces constant threats and emerging security challenges. The ways and means of terrorists are constantly changing making it harder and complex to suppress their efforts. Thus, we need access to every bit of information that we could get and not just from traditional sources. Socio-cultural intelligence is an emerging perspective in intelligence studies that gives importance on the study of culture, customs, norms, and attitudes of foreign countries in analyzing intelligence to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of national security endeavors. This approach involves the direction, collection, analysis, and production of social and cultural information. It uses precision resistors and a systems method which links people, programs, and projects to form a cohesive integrated approach to establish trustworthy and sustainable networks.
Socio-cultural intelligence was possibly used for the first time in history to aid the United States in rebuilding Japan after the Second World War. The occupation forces saw the need to understand the Japanese mindset and culture to facilitate demilitarization efforts and democratizing the country. This proved to be a successful endeavor and established the importance of socio-cultural intelligence and research in defining government strategies and action. However, this perspective has received inconsistent support and this comes at a high price. For example, failure to understand the social, economic, and political dynamics in Iraq contributed to the aggravation of the Persian Gulf War. This again led to discussions on the importance of focusing on human dynamics in strategizing for national security. In order to succeed, there was a need for a deeper grasp of oppositions, the demographics in regions and countries where American military forces were assigned, and how local crisis might lead to bigger and broader conflicts. Such an understanding could only come from having a human-centric perspective in making decisions regarding national security. The participants in a conference entitled “Socio-Cultural Perspectives: A New Intelligence Paradigm” hosted by the MITRE Corporation emphasized that the cultural problem was a systems problem. It is important to understand ourselves and how we interrelate with others given different contexts because these affect our perceptions and our attitudes towards them. This will address the gaps in our data collection and analysis of critical information concerning homeland security.
Now, more than ever, the world is closely interconnected. There are global issues such as climate change, shortage of food and water resources, and economic disruptions that affect the national security of every country in this world. Terrorism and their extremist supporters have infiltrated different countries, peoples, and culture and it is difficult to tell where they will conduct their next act of violence. In this complex matter, intelligence from traditional and socio-cultural analysis can support national security planning and increase the chances of success. The application of socio-cultural intelligence is relatively new. But it has been proven valuable and not overrated. It is an acknowledgment that human beings and their cultures are diverse and hence, create different perceptions and behaviors. Socio-cultural intelligence stretches our knowledge base to further understand the dynamics present in the different underlying issues that we face and present possible solutions for a strategic national security program.