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Red Teaming and Policy

Red teaming, by its very nature, can be antagonistic to policy. The purpose of a red team is to challenge official TTPs, plans, and estimates. So it is no surprise that a red team report by Jeremy Bordin on the growing distrust between Afghan soldiers and NATO is causing such a stirrup.

The killings of American soldiers by Afghan troops are turning into a “rapidly growing systemic threat” that could undermine the entire war effort, according to a classified military study.The study by Jeffrey Bordin, a political and behavioral scientist working for the U.S. Army in Afghanistan, warns that the magnitude of the killings “may be unprecedented between ‘allies’ in modern history.” Based on interviews with some 600 Afghan troops, the report concludes that there is a dangerous “crisis of trust” between Afghan forces and American soldiers that is being ignored by top commanders. …Mr. Bordin and other similar researchers, part of a so-called Red Team within the military, are tasked with finding weaknesses and shortcomings that the enemy may exploit.

      Red teaming is not a search for a worst-case scenario, but rather a look at the role of assumptions. Some assumptions can prove to be valid if accurately defended. Others are not.
       One red team study I’d like to see on Afghanistan would be on the feasibility of the emerging “Biden-plus” consensus. While the flaws of the current policy have been detailed, I have yet to see a substantial look at the assumptions of the lighter footprint model.