U.S Military to Deploy Social Scientists to Africa, Searching for Signs of War http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/05/military-to-deploy-social-scientists-to-africa-looking-for-warnings-of-war/
The teams, called Socio-Cultural Research and Advisory Teams, or SCRATs, will be skilled ethnographic or social science researchers with language skills and field experience. Before a bilateral military exercise, for instance, the paper states, “a SCRAT may conduct a socio-cultural assessment to better focus U.S. efforts and develop beneficial objectives. They may then accompany U.S. forces during the exercise in a cultural advisory capacity and conduct a post-exercise assessment of the impact on the local population.”
It’s part of a quiet, but steady, increase of U.S. military attention to the continent. Back in 2008, the Pentagon united military activity on the continent under a new geographic headquarters, AFRICOM. This week, the Army is hosting nearly 100 senior military leaders from around the continent at its African Land Forces Summit. In parallel, the U.S. military has been taking part in regular exercises like Flintlock, a multi-national exercise that is supposed to help Trans-Saharan states develop professional militaries.