Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Red Teaming: A means to Military Transformation

In John Sandoz article was written to address the task ordered objective of joint operational concepts and joint experimentation to assist the Department of Defense(DoD) in attaining the objectives of Joint Vision 2020.

The Role of Red Teaming in Defining Threats
Sandoz writes that in an uncertain security environment, the DoD needs to consider future threats from three perspectives:
1) The evidentiary threat- are studied collected against, analyzed, and reported on exclusively by the intelligence community.
2) Technically feasible threat - are becoming more difficult to asses. This is mainly due to the fact that potential opponents can readily purchase many technologies and systems abroad.
3) The adaptive threat- is difficult to define because U.S. military forces may not know the unexpected ways in which its opponents could counter war-fighting capabilities.

Sandoz makes the point that in all three cases red teaming should play a key role in developing and evaluating potential threats.

Advantages of red teaming:
1) If done at an inter-agency level , adaptive Red Teams can also inform the national policy process by examining alternative strategies and the roles of government agencies, allies, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can play in achieving national policy goals.
2) As part of a disciplined process of red-blue interaction , vigorous red teaming can inform the transformation process and lead to a more robust and relevant future military capabilities.
3) Red teaming and joint experimentation can help prevent bad investments and at the same point, provide a means for U.S. forces to become more agile.

Challenges of red teaming:
1) Prevailing cultures and processes that are intolerant of surprise.
2) Adaptive red teaming does introduce elements of uncertainty and can be disruptive to individual programs.

Three levels where interactive red teaming could support joint concept development and experimentation:
Level 1- Red teaming could challenge ones strategic context and visions of future military capabilities by inventing and exploring counter-strategies and challenging scenarios.
Level 2- Red teaming could challenge new operational concepts in ways that future adversaries might use to thwart U.S. military forces in accomplishing their assigned missions.
Level 3- Red teaming activity could be in direct support of experimentation, including the OPFOR for specific experiments. Red teaming at this level would develop context and concepts for opposing specific Blue operational concepts.

Sandoz concludes that a broader approach to red teaming , featuring a disciplined process of Red-Blue interaction, could inform and help guide transformation at several levels of the national security process in the three levels as stated above. He goes on to write that because war is a phenomenon between thinking opponents, a broad approach to interactive red teaming is important to inform one's thinking about future military challenges and explore ideas for dealing with them .


  1. Although I'm commenting on this specific article, this really applies to Red Teaming in general. Based on most of the articles that I've read regarding Red Teaming, I found it quite interesting that very few (if any) authors are arguing against implementing some sort of Red Team into strategic planning for either military or non-military organizations. In fact, many of the potential drawbacks to Red Teaming include some sort of bureaucratic inertia that prevents the Red Team from providing anything meaningful to the decision-making process. In Sandoz's article, it seems that even the challenges of Red Teaming may be turned into advantages. Although Red Teams may introduce new uncertainties and possibly disrupt individual programs, wouldn't it be wise to identify "known unknowns" and adapt or discontinue programs that are ineffectual? Most, if not all, decision-makers want their levels of uncertainty reduced; Red Teaming seems like a very good way of helping to make that happen.

  2. Going back to your point about some of Sandoz's list of challenges and how they can turn into advantages. That brings me back to my strategic project of how certain technology threats can be turned into opportunities.