Writing Award Presented by HR McMaster
2015-2016 Civil Affairs Issue Paper Winner
"Renewed Relevance: CA Develop Human Networks for Effective Engagement"
by Major Arnel P. David
Reflecting on the lessons of recent conflict, General (ret.) Martin Dempsey emphasized “the science of human relationships.“ These relationships move at the “speed of trust“ and, as Special Operations Command
(SOCOM) claims, “You Can’t Surge Trust.“ All parties need to invest the time, personnel and resources
to engage tribal leaders, community influencers, key interlocutors and civil society groups for mission success in modern war. Therefore, relationships are critically important pacing items to commanders. Rapport
must be tracked, assessed and managed. This process involves sensing local communities and collecting information to depict a human engagement network. Civil Affairs (CA) forces are best postured to assume lead in developing this human network concept.This problem set, mapping the human network, is the
domain of expertise for CA, which specializes in “lowtech solutions“ to “low-tech problems.“
The CA regiment needs to (1) create a community of interest interweaving academic research on network science and ongoing Army Warfighting Challenges to examine human networks; (2) experiment with network mapping software and best practices to capture relevant data from engagements; and (3) based on these experiments update doctrine and training that supports the new Army Operating Concept (AOC).
While CA teams, along with other maneuver elements, conduct engagements, they are not tracked, assessed and managed in a systematic manner by staffs at multiple echelons much less integrated into planning and operations. CA teams conduct engagements, but the relationships often atrophy once the team
transitions. The data tends to be lost or not analyzed in relation to theater or service priorities. Ideally, networks of key relationships translate into a cost-effective capability, bringing increased responsiveness and
understanding in times of crisis.