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IARPA can help develop, deploy enhanced soft power

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The U.S. intelligence community’s relatively new research and development group can include efforts to enhance soft power assets as part of their ongoing activities dealing with emerging challenges.

The recently-formed Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) has evolved from previous intelligence activities and is now trying to model itself on the respected Defense Advanced Research Projects Activity (DARPA), created in 1958.

Can IARPA follow DARPA’s example to recognize and identify the current and coming challenges facing the national security community, or even provide newer and more innovative intelligence resources such as the optimization of soft power assets?

A key element in soft power is the ability to attract people in many walks of life, in many countries and cultures, and in various tactical and strategic contexts to become friends and allies. These goals can be as important as R&D of technologies.

When the U.S. is engaged in worthwhile efforts that are intelligent, beneficial and morally sound, the ability to communicate these factors internally and externally becomes not only quite important, but imperative in taking the high ground.


Technology and gadgets do have their place in today’s world. And, they can be merged with soft power modalities to create a synergy of “transcendent warfare,” a term coined by a Navy SEAL officer in a graduate-level research paper.

The future will require that the U.S. take intelligent and ethical positions, implement activities accordingly and then communicate via soft power resources about our stances and intentions. These steps could have many benefits, including the ability to attract intelligence from human sources (HUMINT).

U.S. activities internationally, and in space, are essentially an expression of human nature, human psychology, human behavior and human consciousness. The same is true for other nations, cultures and societies on our planet.

Various aspects of hard power and soft power are results and reflections of this human consciousness in one way or another. Therefore, when we more fundamentally address and explore human consciousness, we get to the heart of human attitudes and behavior. This is important in understanding others – and ourselves.

If we accept that human consciousness, perception, awareness and understanding are basic parts of successful endeavors and effective soft power, then adequate and intelligent R&D should be focused on them.

From conventional theories of human psychology and the behavioral sciences to leading-edge research on “anomalous cognition,” much has been learned about human consciousness and human behavior over past decades. However, basic understanding about this body of knowledge is sometimes lacking among the general public and people in many walks of life, both in the U.S. and internationally.

Because human behavior is so significantly linked to the human mind and human consciousness, the appropriate dissemination of information about this topic is important to make progress on a myriad of fronts. 


In addition, because of emerging and leading-edge research indicating that human consciousness has greater potential than most people previously believed, it is probably useful to convey information on these topics. 

We might wonder if the understanding about human consciousness, nationally and internationally, will result in significant improvements in many areas important to the U.S. These include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Counter-insurgency
  • Counter-terrorism
  • Prevention and resolution of regional conflicts
  • Mitigating humanitarian challenges
  • Enhancing cross-cultural social cohesion and cooperation
  • Expanding creative problem-solving
  • Improving overall human functioning

Deploying information to enhance understanding of emerging leading-edge knowledge about human consciousness can and should be done in many ways. Platforms for communication and storytelling can include dissemination of articles and books or the use of radio, TV and movies. The internet and social media, of course, also provide rich possibilities as an educational platform.

By focusing on human consciousness and the interesting body of knowledge about it, soft power efforts can potentially reach a wide portion of the U.S. and international population. This can result in the U.S. being perceived as a leading influence in efforts for human progress of many kinds.

This posture could also help position the U.S. as a leader in transcendent warfare expertise and create a synergy when combined with U.S. hard power, public diplomacy, intelligence activities and other efforts.

Will IARPA be an agency that recognizes and contributes to soft power and transcendent warfare R&D, optimizing understanding of human consciousness and deploying leading-edge and emerging approaches?

If they do, it could benefit all of us.


For more information on IARPA, visit their website:

Hammons is the author of the novel "Mission Into Light" and the sequel "Light's Hand." The novels follow the adventures and discoveries of members of a small, San Diego-based U.S. defense/intelligence research and operations team, the Joint Reconnaissance Study Group, as they explore fascinating mysteries affecting the human race and planet Earth


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