Document created: 3 June 02
Aerospace Power Journal - Summer 2002

Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.

The “Red Team” Forging a
 Well-Conceived Contingency Plan

Col Timothy G. Malone, USAF
Maj Reagan E. Schaupp, USAF

Editorial Abstract: Independent peer review by recognized experts is crucial to the production of any quality product, whether a professional journal or war plan. Colonel Malone and Major Schaupp discuss evolving efforts to use “Red Teams” to incorporate this kind of review into the crisis-action planning process. Employing such teams at critical phases during both the planning itself and the mission rehearsal of completed plans will yield more robust and vetted war plans.

Throughout the lengthy planning effort for Operation Allied Force in 1998–99, allied leaders and planners widely adhered to a significant assumption. When the order arrived to execute the operation- on the very eve of hostilities- that assumption continued to prevail. But as the days of the aerospace campaign stretched into weeks and then months, the allies recognized their assumption for the fallacy it was- namely, that President Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia would capitulate after a “modest set of punitive air strikes,” which were designed to achieve only limited objectives while demonstrating the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s resolve in ending the crisis in Kosovo.1

Reflecting upon this misjudgment years later, the current commander of the 32d Air Operations Group (AOG)- the same organization that had largely planned and orchestrated Allied Force- asked his analytical team a pointed question regarding the prewar planning and analysis for Allied Force: had anyone conducted an in-depth analysis to determine whether two days of bombing would achieve the objectives? Analysts had modeled the initial Allied Force attacks, but they had focused on aircraft attrition and potential damage- not on whether the attacks would achieve the overall objectives. So the answer was “no.” During the planning that took place prior to Allied Force, no group had the task of systematically examining the emerging plan from the enemy’s perspective. No team was assigned to diligently unearth the plan’s shortfalls or oversights- or to thoroughly war-game the various courses of action (COA) while planners considered and developed them.2 Thus, the plan’s execution went well only until the enemy “got a vote”- after which the air war over Serbia continued for a frustrating 78 days.

The Red Team

What if an enemy, “Red,” announced his intended reaction to a “Blue” campaign plan before Blue executed it? What if Red obligingly pointed out the flaws in Blue’s plan that he intended to exploit and revealed several hidden weaknesses of his own? Surely, once Blue optimized his strengths and protected his vulnerabilities, the operation would stand a much greater chance of success.

Furthermore, what if representatives of the press and the public confided to Blue planners the elements of the operation that concerned them most as well as those with which they might take issue? What if national leadership explained in advance some of the “wrenches” they might throw into the works during execution? What if senior war-fighting commanders and higher headquarters staffs worked alongside the planners to ensure correct understanding of every facet of their guidance and answered the planners’ key questions? If all these pieces of information were synthesized into the plan during the planning process, the plan would have a better chance of surviving any contingency.

Of course, no enemy will ever knowingly provide such insight to the opposition. Nor can the multitude of military agencies and civilian groups, whose decisions and views so heavily influence military operations, reveal their changes of mood, mind, and policy in advance. But a “Red Team” that studies, simulates, and role-plays the enemy and outside agencies during crisis action planning (CAP) can go far toward providing exactly that sort of perspective. In this context, we offer the following working definition of Red Team: a group of subject-matter experts (SME), with various, appropriate air and space disciplinary backgrounds, that provides an independent peer review of products and processes, acts as a devil’s advocate, and knowledgeably role-plays the enemy and outside agencies, using an iterative, interactive process during operations planning.

If conducted effectively, “Red Teaming” can yield a closely synchronized planning staff, drive more complete analysis at all phases, and ultimately deliver a better plan of operations into the hands of a war-fighting commander. An effective Red Team can pinpoint key Blue decision points, identify planning shortfalls, show deviations from doctrine, reveal overlooked opportunities, and extrapolate unanticipated strategic implications. Just as important, good Red Teaming can determine how clearly Blue planners understand the tasks that higher headquarters have given them and indicate whether they must request additional, specific guidance for planning critical facets of the operation.3

The concept of Red Teaming is far from new. It has been used (under that name and others) in government, military, and civilian circles in a variety of contexts, though none exactly like the one described in this article. In the business world, Red Teaming usually means a peer review of a concept or proposal. In government circles, it is normally associated with assessing vulnerabilities of systems or structures, especially within the information-warfare arena.

The military services, especially the Army and Navy, have long used elements of the Red Teaming process, particularly war games (Kriegspiele), to think through campaigns.4 The Army defines war game as follows: “A disciplined process, with rules and steps, that attempts to visualize the flow of a battle. The process considers friendly dispositions, strengths, and weaknesses; enemy assets and probable COAs; and characteristics of the area of operations.”5 

Additionally, the Air Force Doctrine Center’s Aerospace Commander’s Handbook for the JFACC [joint force air component commander] mentions the notion of Red Teaming COAs, although it provides no further details.6 Some elements of Red Teaming are as basic and intuitive as a pilot “chair-flying” a mission before execution. 

The Red Teaming process examined in this article begins with the most applicable elements of the traditional war game and then incorporates the concepts of peer review and vulnerability assessment applied to the CAP process at several levels. Toward that end, we offer the following as a practical definition of the Red Teaming process: An iterative, interactive process conducted during CAP to assess planning decisions, assumptions, COAs, processes, and products from the perspective of friendly, enemy, and outside organizations.7

Team Composition
and Preparation

In his article describing a notional “Silver Flag,” Col Bobby Wilkes identifies an important initiative: “Develop a cadre of experts equipped with appropriate resources- in-house red-team expertise” (emphasis in original).8 Because a Red Team will conduct a comprehen-sive review of Blue planning products and processes, the selection of team members is critical. A commander should gather his or her Red Team from functional aerospace disciplines that apply to the operation in question

For example, Gen Gregory S. Martin, commander of United States Air Forces in Europe (COMUSAFE), tasked his command’s first Red Team to assess an offensive air and space campaign. After analyzing requirements and considering the restrictions imposed by the “need to know,” the Red Team leader formed the team with SMEs from the following areas:

• air operations and strategy
• command and control (C2)
• joint operations
• logistics
• space operations and strategy
• intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR)
• combat search and rescue 
• information operations and information warfare 
• law 
• politics

Additionally, to emphasize the focus on enemy leadership decisions and reactions to the Blue campaign, the team included two opposing forces (OPFOR) experts and one specialist in integrated air defense systems, all from the intelligence career field.

A prime consideration in forming the Red Team is the Blue planners’ acceptance of Red as a valid, value-adding group. Two requirements will facilitate this Blue “buy-in.” First, the commander should make it clear that the Red Teaming effort is his or her own initiative, explaining the intent and highlighting expected benefits to the planning process. This will mitigate a natural resistance on the part of the planners to have outsiders “picking at” their plan. Second, Red Team members must have credibility, which comes only with expertise and experience. If some Red Team members blatantly fall short of this prerequisite, their Blue counterparts will be skeptical of any insights they claim to have about the operation.

When possible, the commander should draw Red Team members from sources external to the Blue planning organization. Although this may seem intuitive, it is not always easy to accomplish. Most organizations that have the necessary experts are usually fully employed- indeed, the Blue planning orga-nization itself is a perfect example. A commander may be tempted to dual-hat his or her own Blue planners as Red Team members; after all, what better people to assess a plan than the ones most intimately familiar with it? But this seemingly workable solution is fatally flawed: one of the prime benefits of Red Teaming is an independent review of Blue products and reasoning- a second set of eyes on the plan. Try as it might, even the most talented planning group cannot discern its own oversights- if it could, those oversights would not occur in the first place. As concerned as Blue planners must inevitably be with the details, it is sometimes difficult for them to stand back and see the big picture.

In the case of USAFE’s initial Red Team effort, the team leader and most of the team members came from the Warrior Preparation Center (WPC) in Einsiedlerhof Air Station, Germany. Others were drawn from Headquarters USAFE. One Red Team member (the ISR expert) had to be pulled from the Blue planning group since no other expert in that discipline was readily available.

The exception to the rule that Blue planners should not be Red Team members occurs when one considers a Blue “internal Red Team.” The chief of a Blue planning effort may believe it valuable to designate a small, organic Red Team that would involve itself in the day-to-day details of planning. Such a team, although not able to provide a wholly independent look from outside the planning process, nevertheless will realize some of the benefits of Red Teaming by periodically cross-checking others’ work, playing devil’s advocate to others’ assumptions or decisions, and “murder-boarding” emerging planning products.9 One finds an example within an air operations center (AOC), in which Combat Operations Division personnel might conduct a peer review of the work of the Combat Plans Division and vice versa. The increased familiarity that Combat Operations personnel would gain with the plan they might have to execute is an added benefit in this case.

In addition to the Red Team, use of a “White Cell” enhanced and controlled USAFE’s Red Teaming effort (fig. 1). This cell includes several senior participants who provide oversight and adjudication during the formal Red Teaming events.10

Figure 1. Red Teaming Command and Control

Figure 1. Red Teaming Command and Control

Two of the pivotal White Cell positions are the facilitator and senior mentor. The facilitator ensures that the discussion remains relevant and on schedule and that all participants follow the rules of engagement (ROE). The senior mentor, typically a retired general officer, provides the valuable perspective of experience to the Blue planning chief and staff.

When one considers the overall mission of the Red Team- generating a more effective plan- it becomes clear that the team is not consistently “red.” At times, rather than challenging Blue reasoning, its members will provide assistance to the planners, offering another perspective or additional information. This is especially true of the senior mentor, a vital participant in the process although not technically a member of the Red Team. This periodic functional shift on the part of the Red Team- from devil’s advocate to planning partner- does not detract from the overall effort. On the contrary, it broadens the range of thinking and contributions of the entire group, enhancing the planning effort.

Once the Red Team is identified, its focus should turn to preparation. The team should anticipate engagement in an iterative, interactive series of events that closely parallels the stages of the CAP process.11 Therefore, team members should immerse themselves in learning everything they can about what has gone before in the crisis at hand and what the enemy and other adversaries are thinking. Joint Publication (Pub) 5-00.2, Joint Task Force Planning Guidance and Procedures, provides a list of actions that planners should accomplish to prepare for war gaming during COA analysis.12 Since the scope of Red Teaming is significantly broader than that of COA war gaming, the USAFE Red Team prepared its own preparatory checklist, based on the joint publication’s guidance (table 1). Neither exhaustive nor necessarily applicable at every step, the checklist nevertheless proved useful to the command’s first Red Teaming event.

Table 1
Red Team Preparations Checklist

Establish secure location away from distractions

• Access to Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNET), Joint Deployable Intelligence Support System (JDISS), and Unclassified but Sensitive Internet Protocol Router Network (NIPRNET)
• Maps and overlays
• Office supplies

Gather necessary reading material and data

• Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) warning order and directives
• Combatant commander warning order
• Other major command or higher headquarters guidance
• Relevant message traffic (intelligence reports, etc.)
• Combatant commander’s assessment
• Relevant briefings or documents produced to date in the planning process
• Relevant publications (joint pubs, planning guides, etc.)
• C2 diagrams or task-organization information
• Blue COAs under consideration
• Country studies
• Enemy order of battle

Prepare to role-play the enemy and other adversaries

• Review country studies
• Study enemy doctrine and force disposition
• Identify C2 infrastructure and decision-making processes
• Identify enemy centers of gravity (COG)
• Identify Blue COGs as seen by enemy
• Identify enemy’s limiting factors (LIMFAC)
• Identify enemy commander’s key decision points
• Determine enemy’s anticipated COAs
• Study the political environment

Understand the overall situation and Blue planning progress

• Review assessments, orders, messages, and other products
• Identify and assess Blue assumptions
• Identify Blue LIMFACs
• Identify known, critical events in the operation
• Identify Blue commander’s key decision points
• Convene a Red Team meeting to review elements of the crisis

Red Team Rules of Engagement

As the Red Team prepares to integrate into the planning effort, it must acknowledge a simple fact: very few people perceive a review and assessment of their efforts as benign. Even assistance, which is ultimately what the Red Team provides, is often not welcome, especially when it comes from people unknown and external to the Blue planning team. To mitigate this friction, the Red Team should meet with the Blue planners as early as possible to explain a number of critical points about a Red Teaming effort. The following ROEs should apply to every Red Teaming event throughout the process:

• The commander’s perceived intent should not limit innovation (e.g., drive certain COAs).
• Red Teaming events are meant to be interactive, candid discussions reminiscent of the flight debrief after a mission.
• The principle of nonattribution is in effect.
• Participants should remain objective in their contributions to the effort; personal agendas or personality conflicts are not welcome.
• Participants should stay professional- no fighting in public.

The first item in this list addresses a problem that can be insidious and deadly to a well-developed plan: the natural tendency to favor a war-fighting commander’s perceived intent in developing COAs. Too often, a planning staff presents the commander with several COAs, knowing full well that all but the perceived favorite are throwaways. As a result, staffers sometimes spend little time seriously developing the COAs.

As the Red Team moves into action, its ability to gain the confidence and trust of the Blue planners is absolutely critical. Failure in this area will lead to Red Team failure. One cannot overstate the importance of avoiding an “us against them” relationship between Blue and Red. Again, the commander’s early buy-in and influence in this area, as well as adherence to the ROEs outlined above, will pay large dividends to the process. When this groundwork is laid successfully, the Blue team will understand why the OPFOR, for instance, is doing its utmost to simulate a realistic, hostile enemy.

Timing Red Teaming Events

The timing of Red Teaming events can play a crucial role in planning success. Ideally, the commander should form a Red Team as early in the planning effort as possible. USAFE’s first Red Teaming event took place when the planners were in CAP, phase five, after selection of the COA. In the after-action review, everyone agreed that the event had occurred too late in the cycle and would have proven more valuable to the planners had it taken place earlier. Consequently, COMUSAFE tasked the Red Team to determine the best time for Red Teaming events. He also directed them to determine how many events should take place during the CAP process. 

The Red Team members determined that they should become involved no later than the start of CAP, phase three (receipt of a warning order). This phase involves planning that can benefit greatly from Red Teaming efforts, as outlined below. Such efforts will yield well-thought-out COAs for the commander to consider. The further the planning effort proceeds without an integrated Red Team, the more diminished the value of Red Teaming.

Crisis Action Planning, Phase Three

The Red Team has two primary opportunities to engage during phase three: mission analysis and COA analysis (designated “COA War Game” in fig. 2). Mission analysis is the first step in the operational planning process in which command and staff actions lead to the development of the commander’s guidance. To support the formulation of that guidance, a commander will task subordinate staff echelons (such as a joint planning group or JFACC staff) to provide staff estimates on any number of subjects.13

Figure 2. Red Team Opportunities during CAP, Phase Three

Figure 2. Red Team Opportunities during CAP, Phase Three

The initial warning order from the supported commander establishes command relationships, identifies the mission, and provides other planning constraints critical to the planning effort.14 During the Blue planners’ efforts to formulate a response to their tasking, the Red Team ideally would hold a mission-analysis seminar to conduct a peer review of the following:

• Understanding of tasking and guidance from higher headquarters, both specified and implied
• Assumptions that influence the staff estimate
• End state
• Mission statement
• Use of available resources to answer tasking

Mission-Analysis Seminar. This seminar follows a murder-board format. Depending upon the mission at hand, planning progress, and time available, the following items represent one possible agenda:

• Blue crisis update
• Blue briefing on its understanding of the flow of tasking (top-to-bottom) to date
• Blue briefing on its assigned mission-analysis task (i.e., its staff-estimate assign-ment)
• Blue briefing on its answer to the staff-estimate tasking
• Red Team huddle to formulate assessment
• Red Team assessment of Blue progress
• Facilitator consolidation of “take-aways” and taskers
• Commander (or Blue planning chief) assignment of taskers
• Mission-analysis seminar’s after-action review

Establishing detailed ROEs for interaction during the event (such as allowing the Red Team to ask substantive questions during Blue briefings or requiring it to wait until the assessment phase) is left up to the event planners- but they should certainly agree upon the rules beforehand.

After defining the format, one should set the seating arrangement. Keeping in mind that Red Team events are intended as informal forums, it is important that Red and Blue participants interact with one another with as little obstruction as possible, as reflected in the seating arrangement for the first USAFE Red Teaming event- a war game (fig. 3). For the mission-analysis seminar, seating need not be divided as strictly between Blue and Red.

Figure 3. Seating for USAFE Red Teaming Event

Figure 3. Seating for USAFE Red Teaming Event

During the seminar, Red Team members with appropriate expertise should bring to the attention of Blue planners any oversights, alternatives, or additional resources that the planners did not consider. The Red Team should always keep in mind the ROEs outlined above, and Blue planners should remind themselves that everyone is working toward a more effective plan. The fruits of this labor are the take-aways, taskers, and “due-outs” that the Blue planning chief assigns to his or her planners. Obtaining such results may entail more work, but if they are based upon valid insights, it will be worth the effort.

COA War Game. The second opportunity for Red Team engagement in phase three, possibly the most valuable in the entire planning cycle, comes during COA analysis. Such analysis begins after the mission analysis is complete and the commander provides the appropriate guidance. 

At the same time, the joint force commander (JFC) may issue further planning guidance based upon staff estimates. Such guidance will further refine and focus the planners’ efforts in developing COAs by giving clear commander’s intent, end state, and priorities (among many other matters found in Joint Pub 5-00.2).15 With this information, Blue planners can quickly begin to develop the plan in accordance with their instructions.

As the various COAs begin to take on some structure and completeness, the commander must determine the best time for Red Team engagement in a COA war game. This decision may involve a trade-off. On the one hand, if Red Team members engage too early in a COA’s development, they will naturally find many holes in it- simply because Blue planners have not had time to complete their work. On the other hand, waiting until the planners have put every finishing touch on their draft COA could result in time wasted if the COA war game leads to significant redirection for the planners. A commander must use his or her best judgment for this decision. During this time, the internal Red Team (described earlier) might prove valuable in keeping planners on track.

Another consideration is that different COAs often develop at different paces. It may be valuable for the Red Team to conduct a COA war game on a substantially developed COA while other planning cells continue to work on alternative COAs. Joint Pub 5-00.2 discusses the COA war game at some length, defining it as “a conscious attempt to visualize the flow of a battle, given [joint task force] strengths and dispositions, enemy assets and possible COAs, and the [joint operations area]. It attempts to foresee the action, reaction, and counteraction dynamics of an operation.”16 The entire description is well considered and adds great value to the understanding of the COA war game. Three additional notes merit further discussion.

First, the joint publication emphasizes the importance of the planning group’s having a devil’s advocate who doesn’t mind challenging authority.17 Although it does not identify who that should be, the Red Team clearly is the proper entity since it can assemble experts to make valid challenges to the planning group.

Second, the publication mentions the “action, reaction, counteraction” flow of a war game- something long established in Army planning circles.18 It is precisely here that the OPFOR experts who role-play the enemy prove invaluable. These specialists should have studied the enemy’s C2, decision-making process, doctrine, key decision points, LIMFACs, and COGs to provide as realistic a portrayal of the enemy as possible. Because the WPC Intelligence Division trains personnel who act as OPFORs during their normal exercise duties, they became the OPFOR role players for the USAFE Red Team. During the COA war game, portrayal of the enemy should be kept at a high- almost strategic- level. More detailed war gaming will come later, during the “plan war game” in phase five. For example, one could now set forth an enemy’s decision to conduct information operations by portraying the conflict in a certain light in the press, while the enemy’s deployment of tactical surface-to-air missiles should wait until the plan war game.

Third, Joint Pub 5-00.2 states that “the most detailed form of wargaming is modern, computer-aided modeling and simulation [M&S]” and that this “can provide a possible choice for the best COA.”19 The COA war game lends itself very well to automation. Increasingly sophisticated and accurate computer simulations can provide a detailed perspective that more traditional “pen-and-paper” war games cannot duplicate. However, use of M&S requires expertise in the appropriate simulations as well as considerable setup time in order to build the appropriate databases. In order to plan ahead for future requirements and reduce M&S lead times, the WPC- with the support of Checkmate (Headquarters Air Force’s strategic-analysis team) and the Air Force’s analytical community- is preparing to support future COA war games using M&S tools.

Other war-game tools include maps and a synchronization matrix. The latter is useful for recording the functional areas addressed, by phase of the operation, to ensure that no stone is left unturned (e.g., whether or not logistics was considered during phase two).

The seating previously shown in figure 3 is designed for this type of war game. The format should be an action-reaction-counteraction type.20 That is, when Blue planners have described a certain set of actions that Blue commanders and forces will conduct, the OPFOR can consolidate and present the enemy’s reaction, whereupon Blue planners must counteract these (possibly unconsidered) Red moves. It is important that Blue representation at the war game include planners from all appropriate functional areas so that a broad range of issues can be addressed and assessed during the event. All participants should adhere to the ROEs outlined above for maximum productivity in this and other sessions.

One major benefit that occurs during COA war gaming is determining the logistical feasibility of a COA before selection (M&S tools exist to facilitate this endeavor). An Air Force senior mentor recently observed that far too many COAs find their way into the hands of a JFC before the Joint Operations Planning and Execution System (JOPES) has processed the correspond-ing time-phased force and deployment data (TPFDD).21 Consequently, commanders have selected some COAs, only to have subsequent planning reveal them as logistically infeasible.

As COAs develop enough to undergo comparison and ranking to determine which will be recommended to the JFC, the Red Team role changes somewhat. At this point, the team should play devil’s advocate and lend expertise to determine whether Blue planners have considered everything. The Red Team should not, however, recommend that a certain COA be top ranked or suggest that a given COA is “good” or “bad.” Such input and decisions are exclusively the purview of Blue planners. If the Red Team has done its job well, the planning team will know which COAs are solid and which are not. When the commander’s estimate is transmitted, the information it contains will be much more thoroughly planned as a result of the Red Teaming process.

As anyone who has ever been involved in planning an operation knows, actual planning activity hardly ever neatly mirrors the CAP process as shown in the joint publications. Planning is iterative and constant; when a phase ends, planners must often revisit activities in that phase, based upon new information or new guidance. Once the commander’s estimate is sent, planners do not simply stop work, take a deep breath, and wait for higher headquarters to select a COA- they continue developing their plan. 

Crisis Action Planning, Phase Five

Execution planning, which occurs during this phase, begins with a planning or alert order and entails detailed planning to execute the approved COA.22 Planners also transform the COA into an executable OPORD. Two points during this phase provide the next significant opportunity for Red Teaming events (fig. 4): a war game of the detailed plan and a review of the written documents. The Red Team can conduct a plan war game before or after completing a review of the OPORD and other written documents.23

The plan war game differs from phase three’s COA war game in several respects. First, planners have developed the plan based upon a selected COA. Therefore, the objective of this event is to refine that COA into the best possible plan, as opposed to considering the merits and feasibility of a given COA. (However, if significant flaws in the COA emerge, this should be brought to light.)

Attendees should include all the primary members of the Blue planning staff. Their attendance will yield another prime benefit of the Red Teaming process: ensuring that the Blue planners and staff are synchronized in their thinking about all facets of the plan. Even during the earliest Red Team efforts in USAFE, it was clear that one of the greatest benefits of the plan war game was a shared understanding between Blue planners in different cells or at different levels.24 For example, in a Master Air Attack Plan (MAAP) discussion midway through a war-game session, two senior Blue planners realized that the targets built into the MAAP did not exactly match those identified in the Joint Integrated Prioritized Target List. They agreed that this significant discrepancy came to light only because of the Red Teaming effort. 

In a plan war game, the Red Team focuses more on operational-level enemy actions and “what ifs” involving outside agencies (versus strategic-level actions, as in phase three). Has a joint search and rescue center been established? Are the ROEs adequate? What country clearances are required for overflight? What if the enemy employs his assets in a way not considered? Such are the issues with which the plan war game is concerned.

An interesting phenomenon often emerges during this type of Red Teaming event. Although the Red Team does not conduct an evaluation, the plan is evaluated nevertheless. Normally, Blue planners identify the flaws in their reasoning or planning quite candidly, without being asked. Sometimes they explain a shortfall or oversight that otherwise would have gone unnoticed

Figure 4 shows that the OPORD review follows CAP, phase five; however, reviews could and should take place throughout the planning process when written documents are in a sound draft format. The Red Team can do a review either as a seminar or independently. During this review, the team should determine whether the OPORD or plans are complete (including all annexes), intact, understood by subordinates, and ready for transmission or pre-sentation to higher headquarters.

Additionally, the Red Team should determine whether the OPORD as written is consistent with previous products and briefings as well as with the guidance and intent of higher headquarters. Occasionally, “planning momentum” will result in a plan’s undergoing slight, almost imperceptible, deviation as planning proceeds. This always originates in the details- “down in the weeds”- but can affect a plan significantly as it moves through its iterations. Is the final OPORD consistent with the commander’s estimate? Is it consistent with other briefs to higher headquarters in the interim? Does it answer the commander’s original intent and guidance? The Red Team should remain alert to discrepancies in these areas.

Mission Rehearsal

As a plan approaches execution, the final event in preparing the staff to execute the plan is a mission rehearsal (fig. 5), whose purpose is to “prepare commanders, staffs, and assigned forces for known crisis operations. . . . Typically, a rehearsal program will employ [command-post exercises and computer-assisted exercises] . . . as time permits.”25 Rehearsals can take many forms but likely will include the entire planning and operations staffs as they conduct the myriad processes required to orchestrate and execute the air and space campaign successfully. Although mission rehearsal is not considered a Red Teaming event, members of the Red Team should certainly be involved in it, possibly as observer trainers for the Blue planners.26


USAFE’s early Red Teaming efforts will continue to evolve. Development of the commander’s Red Team becomes more focused with each effort. One thing is already clear- Red Teaming adds great value to contingency planning. It would likely do the same for deliberate planning. Air and space staffs should consider the doctrine already in place, as well as the ideas expounded here, with a view toward making Red Teaming a staple of the planning process.

Field Marshal Helmuth von Moltke’s adage “no plan survives contact with the enemy” is true.27 But through Red Teaming, a plan can be refined after each contact with a Red Team. This process is valuable because it brings a contingency plan, together with the reasoning and information behind it, under the scrutiny of a well-simulated enemy. Better still, the Red Team can imitate outside agencies, higher headquarters, and even “Murphy’s Law.” A plan that survives this kind of treatment should be healthy indeed. To modify Gen George S. Patton’s famous quotation, “A good plan, well rehearsed, is better than a perfect plan unrehearsed.”28


1. Air War over Serbia: Aerospace Power in Operation Allied Force (U) (Washington, D.C.: Headquarters United States Air Force, 2000), 5.

2. This discussion relies upon the definition of war game found in The Official Dictionary of Military Terms, comp. the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Washington, D.C.: Science Information Resource Center, Hemisphere Publishing Corporation, 1988): “a simulation by whatever means of a military operation involving two or more opposing forces, using rules, data, and procedures designed to depict an actual or assumed real-life situation.”

3. Lt Gen S. B. Croker, USAF, retired, chief of staff of the Air Force senior mentor, memorandum to Gen G. S. Martin, Headquarters United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE), subject: Comments on Red Team Exercise, 3–4 January 2002, 5 January 2002.

4. For an excellent history of war gaming, see Lt Col Matthew Caffrey Jr., “Toward a History-Based Doctrine for Wargaming,” Aerospace Power Journal 14, no. 3 (Fall 2000): 33–56.

5. Field Manual (FM) 101-5, Staff Organizations and Operations, 31 May 1997, 5–16.

6. Air Force Doctrine Center Handout (AFDCH) 10-01, Aerospace Commander’s Handbook for the JFACC, 27 June 2001, 15.

7. The Warrior Preparation Center developed this definition in anticipation of USAFE’s first Red Teaming event.

8. Col Bobby J. Wilkes, “Silver Flag: A Concept for Operational Warfare,” Aerospace Power Journal 15, no. 4 (Winter 2001): 55.

9. Murder-boarding is defined as a critical review of a document, briefing, or plan accomplished in a trial-jury format. (Its euphemism is “review by committee.”)

10. For the global war on terrorism, COMUSAFE has been designated as the theater JFACC and COMAFFOR. As part of his AFFOR staff, COMUSAFE designated the WPC commander as the A-9, responsible for mission rehearsals and analysis. The A-9 serves as the Red Team leader.

11. Joint Pub 5-00.2, Joint Task Force Planning Guidance and Procedures, 13 January 1999, fig. IX-10.

12. Ibid., fig. IX-19.

13. Ibid., p. IX-40.

14. Ibid., pp. IX-17, IX-18.

15. Ibid., p. IX-40.

16. Ibid., pp. IX-45, IX-46, fig. IX-19.

17. Ibid., p. IX-46.

18. Ibid.

19. Ibid., pp. IX-46, IX-49.

20. See FM 101-5 for an excellent description of the war-game format.

21. Croker.

22. Joint Pub 5-0, Doctrine for Planning Joint Operations, 13 April 1995, III-14.

23. In order to maintain consistency with the CAP process as defined in the joint publications, this article uses the term OPORD to include the primary written planning documents such as an OPORD, joint air operations plan, operations plan, and concept plan.

24. Croker.

25. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Manual (CJCSM) 3500.03, Joint Training Manual for the Armed Forces of the United States, 1 June 1996, V-3.

26. For more information on mission rehearsals, contact the Warrior Preparation Center at WPC/

27. Quoted in Edward S. Miller, War Plan Orange: The U.S. Strategy to Defeat Japan, 1897–1945 (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1991), 333.

28. Joint Pub 5-0, III-1. Based on his wartime experience, General Patton observed, “A good plan executed violently now is better than a perfect plan next week.”


Col Timothy G. Malone (USAFA; MS, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University) is commander of the Warrior Preparation Center, Einsiedlerhof Air Station, Germany. He has served in a variety of operational, command, and staff positions, including commander of the 87th Flying Training Squadron at Laughlin AFB, Texas, and deputy commander of the 4th Operations Group, Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina. He was also part of the initial F-15E cadre at Luke AFB, Arizona. After completing a National Security Fellowship at Harvard University, he served on the Joint Staff, J-7, Washington D.C., as chief of the Joint Doctrine Branch. Colonel Malone is a graduate of Squadron Officer School, USAF Fighter Weapons School, and Air Command and Staff College.

Maj Reagan E. Schaupp (BA, Clemson University; MAS, University of Montana) is commander of the Weapons and Tactics Flight, 50th Operational Support Squadron, 50th Space Wing, Schriever AFB, Colorado. Recent assignments include space warfare plans officer at the Warrior Preparation Center, Einsiedlerhof Air Station, Germany, and commander of the Missile Warning Center, Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center, Colorado. He is currently writing a biography of David L. “Tex” Hill of the American Volunteer Group (Flying Tigers). Major Schaupp is a graduate of Squadron Officer School and the USAF Weapons School.


The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author cultivated in the freedom of expression, academic environment of Air University. They do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, the United States Air Force or the Air University.

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