Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Red Dawn: The Emergence of a Red Teaming Capability in the Canadian Forces

In Matt Lauder's article , written in the summer of 2009 for the Canadian Army Journal, set out to briefly identify and explore examples of red teaming from across the private and public sectors. By using these examples he was able to draw from them in order to outline the characteristics of red teaming and propose an integrated, and working , definition of red teaming for the possible use by the Canadian Forces (CF).

Lauder breaks red teaming down into 3 sectors:
1) Civilian applications
2) Military applications
3) Red teaming in the CF

1) Civilian applications

Some examples of red teaming in civilian applications include Jack Davis teachings at the Sherman Kent Centre, National Security labs within the U.S. Department of Energy , and the Forensic Audits and Special Investigations Team (FSI) of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) have all conducted similar penetration tests using this technique of red teaming.

2) Military Applications
John F. Sandoz teaches red teaming at the Institute for Defence Analysis .

Red teaming is also being taught at the University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies (UFMCS).For the UFMCS, the goal of red teaming is to enable planners and decision-makers to avoid group-think, mirror-imaging, and cultural miscalculations.

3) Red Teaming Canadian Forces
In this article it is pointed out that red teaming is done in a much
more informal and irregular manner, and more often in a tactical-training setting. The CF did use red teaming as a technique to help them prepare for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Why Red Teaming is important?
Lauder outlines two main reasons as to why red teaming is important:

1) Red teaming mitigates complacency, group-think, and mirror-imaging (i.e. imposing blue force
behaviours and tactics on the adversary; in other words, seeing the adversary as we
see ourselves).
2) Red teaming is a process by which blue force may be able to deepen its understanding of, and therefore the ability to respond to, the adversary.

Conceptual Framework of Red Teaming:
Red Teaming broken down into four broad and generic organizational processes:
1) Innovation
2) Planning and Analysis
3) Training and Professional Development
4) Operations

Lauder's six key characteristics of red teaming:
1) Trust
2) Positional Authority
3) Relative Independence
4) Expertise
5) Adaptability
6) Flexibility

The following are a number of areas that require further investigation:

1) What are the qualities and characteristics of good and effective red teamers and
how are red teamers selected?
2) What type of training is required for red teamers?
3) Is there a particular red team composition that is more effective than others?
4) What kind of learning environment is most effective?
5) Does the role of the red team differ in certain environments (i.e. does the role differ
across settings and levels)?
6) What type of interaction is necessary (between red and blue) to encourage

In general, civilian applications tend to use red teaming on the tactical level (in particular, but not exclusively, to test physical or synthetic networks, systems, or operational programs), whereas military applications tend to be employed on the operational and strategic levels, and largely within a planning setting or in a decision-support role (although, in the CF, red teaming appears to be most often utilized in exercise or training environments). It is clear that, while application of the red teaming concept may differ across sectors, both the civilian and military communities utilize red teaming in an active, rather than a passive, fashion, and that red teamers must possess a deep understanding of the adversary (i.e. thinking and behaviour) for the purposeof role-playing the adversary (or, advising as to what the adversary may think and do) in training, planning, or operations (i.e. live) setting. Moreover, it is apparent that red teamers must see themselves as


  1. Since the 2010 Olympics have finished, I wish there was information comparing their red teaming exercises to problems that were actually encountered. That seems to be a consistent concern across all these articles.

  2. Lauder states that he wanted to "propose an integrated, and working , definition of red teaming for the possible use by the Canadian Forces (CF)." I see an extensive list of characteristics, but no actual definition. Did he actually determine one?

  3. After reading that they used red teaming as a way of preparing for the 2010 Olympics I did look to see if there was any follow up article or any articles encountered during the Olympics. The only thing I found in the news was that the security was not prepared for Canada winning the gold medal in mens hockey and that caused more people to be on the streets celebrating.
    Kris- I don't believe there was a definition proposed by Lauder in the article but I can go back and double check.