Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Seeing Red: Creating a Red-Team Capability for the Blue Force

According to Colonel Gregory Fontenot, US Army retired, red-teaming is vital for understanding the ways enemies will fight. In his article, he explains that Red-teaming has been used since the 19th century as a tool (combined with war-gaming) and has continued to improve decision making when confronting and responding to adaptive enemies. After the 2003 Defense Science Board's (DSB) study on Red-teaming commended the added value from such exercises, various initiatives were employed to conduct red-teaming; however, the DSB could not could not find a commonly agreed-on description of red-team capabilities and functions or a means to assure quality of effort. The solution, according to Fontenot, was the University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies (UFMCS) at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, curriculum for education, training, and practical experience for red-team leaders and members. He further highlights red-team capabilities, benefits, and reasons for failures which are outlined below.

Red-Team Capabilities:
  • Expand problem definition
  • Challenge planning assumptions
  • Provide independent view of friendly and enemy vulnerabilities
  • Provide understanding of adversary through his cultural lens
  • Identify 2nd- and 3rd-order effects of plans
  • Reveal overlooked opportunities
  • Anticipate strategic implications
  • Provide alternate courses of action
  • Coordinate scientific and technical examinations
Red-Team Benefits:
  • Reduce risk
  • Preclude mirror-imaging
  • Mitigate surprise
  • Perturb the organization
  • Avoid predictable patterns
  • Overcome bias
  • Improve adaptability and flexibility
Red-Team Failure (reasons for):
  • Does not take its assignment seriously
  • Could lose its independence and be “captured” by the bureaucracy
  • Could be too removed from the decision-making process and become marginalized
  • Could have inadequate interaction with blue teams and be viewed as just another
    sideline critic
  • Could destroy the integrity of the process and lose the confidence of decision-makers
    by “leaking” its findings to outsiders

Red-teaming is an excellent tool for understanding and dealing with adaptive enemies. The value of red-teaming has been acknowledged by the U.S. military and has caused re-organization to incorporate specific curricula to educate and train red-team leaders. Red-teaming is often combined with devil's advocacy and war-gaming and is most effective when used with other tools/techniques.

Colonel Gregory Fontenot, Military Review, Sep-Oct 2005
Accessed via http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/awc-sims.htm#redteams

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