Saturday, October 15, 2016

The “Red Team”


In this article authors Malone and Schaupp break down the intended application of ‘red teams’ and explain their use for military planning. The authors give step by step guidance on the planning and execution of creating a red team scenario and notes the potential issues that can be generating from the method.

Malone and Schaupp begin by explaining the missteps in the planning phases of Operation Allied Force in the late 1990’s. The authors make the argument that because no one planning the strategic military operation challenged the effectiveness in using airstrikes to achieve he overall goals of the mission, the strikes took far longer than originally intended. The authors argued that strategists could have foreseen this with some simple red teaming exercises.

The authors then provide a background on red teaming and its typical uses in military applications. The authors talk about how to construct a red team effectively and use it for planning.  According to the article, red teams need to contain their own experts and must be well versed in its practical application. Using the actions of General Gregory S. Martin, the authors depict an example for how red teams should be formed.  In General Martin’s red team operations, he pulled on the experience and strategic expertise of outside personnel from areas unrelated the area of operations of the blue team.

The authors also note the importance of participation in the practice by the blue team, or the team whose plan is being tested.  They warn that this is a fast way to limit the effectiveness of the exercise because of the inherent tensions that exist when testing a plan. The authors explain that the red team needs to work closely with the planning and construction of teams with the blue team in order to develop a trusting relationship that will function effectively.

The authors break down the necessary parts of creating a red team into a check list for planners to follow. They then set rules of engagement to ensure that the exercise is helpful and not outside of the scope of operations. Then the actions of the red team in the planning process is broken down into a generalized timeline consisting of 5 phases. The authors also state that the red team should be present as observers for mission rehearsals along with the blue team leadership following the exercise. The authors conclude that red teaming is a valuable practice that can provide much needed insight into strategic contingency planning.


While the authors went to great lengths to explain the process of red teaming, they offer little evidence to support its effectiveness.  The authors only explain where its practice would have been useful and where it has been helpful through loosely explain anecdotes.  Far more could have been done to test the method and explain why the authors were giving some of the planning advice they were giving.

Malone, T. G., & Schaupp, R. E. (2002). The “Red Team.” Aerospace Power Journal,
16(2), 22.


  1. Sam, do the authors go into any detail about the 5 phases of the planning process for the red team?

    1. The phases are a part of the total operation planning. The author mentions that the red team should begin involvement in phase 3, crisis action planning, and should remain involved through the rest of the planning for a military campaign.

  2. It was actually rare to come across a red team exercise that included the use of a blue team. What role did they play?