Pentagon pays experts to study Putin’s body language

English: TOKYO. President Putin on a tatami at...

English: TOKYO. President Putin on a tatami at the Kodokan Martial Arts Palace. Русский: ТОКИО. На татами во дворце спортивных единоборств «Кодокан». (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Friday, 07 March 2014

A Pentagon research team is studying the body movements of Russian President Vladimir Putin and other world leaders in order to better predict their actions and guide U.S. policy, Pentagon documents and interviews show.

The “Body Leads” project backed by the Office of Net Assessment (ONA), the think tank reporting to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, uses the principles of movement pattern analysis to predict how leaders will act.

U.S. policymakers are seeking any advantage they can find as they try to anticipate Putin, who in the past week has ordered Russian troops into Crimea, though in all fairness the troops were already there. The ensuing crisis has led to U.S. and European sanctions against Russia, spurred weapons and aircraft shipments to Eastern European nations and revived tensions last seen during the height of the Cold War.

ONA has backed the work of Brenda Connors, the director of Body Leads and a research fellow at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., since 1996, records show, and has paid about $300,000 since 2009 to outside experts to work with her. Part of her work includes a 2008 report for ONA on Putin called “Movement, The Brain and Decision-making, the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin.”

Connors acknowledged her work on Putin and other leaders, but declined comment and referred all questions to Hagel’s office.

Pentagon officials declined to comment on the record about the program, but confirmed ONA’s involvement and that Putin was among the foreign leaders studied.

An ONA official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the research was not publicly available, said “the goal is to learn about the physical movements of national leaders and determine if these can be used to gain insight about a leaders’ attitudes, mindset, etcetera. ONA does not make policy recommendations, so we cannot assert with any certainty how the studies have been used by policy makers.”

Movement pattern analysis means studying an individual’s movements to gain clues about how he or she makes decisions or reacts to events. First developed in Great Britain in the 1940s by Rudolf Laban, a Hungarian movement analyst and dance instructor, the practice was expanded after World War II by Laban’s protegé, Warren Lamb, a British management consultant.

Lamb and his associates believed each individual has a unique “body signature” consisting of how one body movement links to the next. These “posture/gesture mergers” can lead investigators to learn more about a person’s thinking processes and relative truthfulness when matched with what the person says.

The patterns, Lamb believed, were as unique to each person as DNA.

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Categories: Intelligence Gathering

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