While special operations forces are comfortable in the realms of traditional warfare, the human domain is perhaps more important -- both to the troops and to policy makers, McRaven said.
The human domain encompasses the totality of the physical, cultural, and social environments that influence human behavior, he explained. Success in this domain won't be achieved by traditional ground, naval or air forces, he added.
“Instead, success in the human domain will depend upon understanding the human terrain and establishing trust with those humans who occupy that space,” the admiral said. Building understanding and trust takes time, but once it’s built, “we can apply unique capabilities that are designed to assess, analyze, operate and prevail in population-centric strategies or struggles,” he said.