Thursday, April 1, 2010

Reflections From A Red Team Leader


Ms. Susan Craig is a red team analyst at the Joint Intelligence Operations Center at U.S. Pacific Command. In her article, she identified the purpose of red teaming as a technique that questions our assumptions and and allows us to think like the enemy. She has highlighted the skills and attributes (based on personal red teaming experiences) that make an effective red team and red team leader. These include, but are not limited to, critical and creative thinking skills, cultural awareness, effective communication skills and group diversity.

  • Develops a more accurate frame of reference of the operational environment
  • Causes consideration of the way dependent variables influence each other within that environment
  • Thinking within the construct of the enemy's culture helps mitigate underestimating the enemy
  • The mindset and skills need to be a "red teamer" can be applied outside of red teaming for better conceptualization/analysis
  • Creates opportunity by recognizing cultural myths and the ways they can be exploited to gain operational/psychological advantage

  • Dependent upon depth of knowledge in the following areas: physical environment, nature and stability of state, sociological demographics, regional and global relationships, military capabilities, information, technology, external organizations, national will, time, economics and culture. If these are not well understood, the exercise may be prone to mirror-imaging.
  • Because it attempts to conceptualize a complex environment, the full extent of actions may not be considered.


Craig argues that red teaming is different from intelligence analysis in the following ways:
  1. The red team is not bounded by the construct/plan developed by the staff or by the need for evidence and corroboration.
  2. The red teamer is more like a historian (whose job is to ask big, broad questions) than an intelligence analyst (whose job is often to answer very specific, narrow questions).
  3. The red team's job goes beyond understanding the environment to include understanding how we can shape it.

Red teaming is used in intelligence analysis, as well as the operational environment, because bias can impede the quality and value of analytic products as it can impede decision making. Utilizing this technique for inhibiting bias improving critical thinking skills, cultural awareness, and more effective communication is critical for understanding the operational environment and determining causality within that environment.


This article came from Military Review, March-April 2007.

Accessed via the Red Team Journal

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