Monday, April 5, 2010

Red Team "Two Sides to Every Story"

In the article, Red Team "Two Sides to Every Story," by Lieutenant Colonel John Nelson, he writes about a particular experience after becoming one of the first graduates of the University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies Red Team School. The courses are relatively new, but the concept is quite old, and dates back to Napoleonic times. As a graduate, he was asked in December 2008 to head up a Red Team to look into the views of the people of Iraq, the Government of Iraq, and the enemy itself.


· Provides and independent capability to evaluate concepts, plans, and operations from multiple different perspectives.

· Provides and understanding of the opposition through their cultural eyes.

· Provides Independent thinkers that are able to travel throughout the Division’s area of responsibility.


· Only effective if there is a true understanding of the culture.

· Although it aids in decision making, it is still only a simulation and does not account for independent thinking of the opposition.


The experience of Lieutenant Colonel Nelson provides insight as to how read teaming was used in the war in Iraq, however without follow up information there is no way of knowing whether this process actually helped with decision making during the time in which it was used. I searched for follow up articles but I have yet to locate any as of this time.



  1. Does the entire methodology fail if you do not truly understand your enemy, opponent, or competitor?

  2. It did not state in this article whether or not a true understanding is needed but from other articles I read, effective Red Teaming requires the use of Subject Matter Experts. With that in mind, you do need a very good understanding of the enemy, opponent, or competitor. Without that kind of understanding you run the risk of misinterpretation of possible action and outcome, along with the possibility of other snags in the process associated with a lack of understanding.

    A great toy company once said, "knowing is half the battle."

  3. I agree with Matt that red team members’ should have knowledge on the matter discussed, but it is not necessary to be an expert on the issue in order to be a member. Sometimes organizations select outsiders for red teaming to avoid blindspots and biases.