The U.S. Army’s soldiers are regularly deployed for extended periods to multiple theaters and different types of conflicts throughout the world. The approach taken by the U.S. Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences (ARI) is therefore multifaceted. Examples of ARI’s work show how research has assisted soldiers to gain the adaptability, flexibility, and readiness they need.
Deployment preparedness. The Army wanted to better understand the stresses placed on soldiers and their families by frequent and extended overseas deployments in remote locations. Two projects illustrate ARI’s response: (1) studying the steps that can be taken to reduce the family stresses, and (2) helping solders to understand foreign cultures prior to operations. In research about families, ARI collected 10 years of lessons learned and identified changing support needs over four phases of deployment: predeployment, deployment, rest and recuperation, and reunion. ARI developed a practical guide for both families and family service providers with common problems and advice such as
how, while deployed, to handle family problems and related issues such as the inability to sleep.
ARI’s approach to helping soldiers understand a culture different from their own was to develop a generic template that lists the specific aspects of a culture that can be used as an aid to understanding. That template includes content areas such as religious customs, language, laws, politics, housing, and humor, providing a framework for observing and learning about other cultures.