Guns, boots, helmets and…social science? It’s not been used much since the Cold War, but the Department of Defense believes an increase in cultural understanding could play an important role in national security. Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced Minerva as a new approach.

Minerva will award $50 million over five years to evolutionary psychologists, demographers, sociologists, historians and anthropologists for security research. Despite significant skepticism within the academic community, namely by a group that calls itself the Network of Concerned Anthropologists, Gates says this is an important first step towards repairing “bridges that used to exist between academics and the government that have fallen into the river.” It’s great to see our nation’s eggheads use their skills and expertise for the safety and security of America.