Red Teaming Myth #7


Gegenspiel and KontraspielThe myth: Red teaming is rooted in normative standards of rational decision making. This one’s a bit tricky.
      Decision science, operations research, systems analysis, risk analysis—each has its place, and each can, when applied judiciously, enhance decision quality. These traditionally “rational” forms of analysis underpin much of what we’ve termed Kontraspiel, or non-adversarial red teaming. Methods of Kontraspiel are chiefly valuable when addressing “boardroom” sorts of decisions.
      We’ve dubbed adversarial red teaming Gegenspiel. Gegenspiel is manifestly less rational, at least in a formal sense. Why? It involves competitive reciprocity, where rational decision making often equals predictable decision making. Besides, whose rationality applies, within what decision (and time) frame, and given what level of perception or misperception? While decision science, for example, might give you a good Kontraspiel answer, it just might give you a dreadful Gegenspiel answer . . . hence, the “trickiness” of this myth: it’s at least partially true when applied to Kontraspiel but likely more false than true when applied to Gegenspiel—one more reason why it’s useful to separate the two.

See Red Teaming Myth #6.

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  • My Masters thesis (Intelligence Analysis), The Red Teaming Essential (2013), dealt with this exact distinction. It offers a comprehensive look at the analytical techniques used in Red Teaming and, when combined with social psychology, identified a core set that can be applied to adversarial analysis. We (as an industry) are long overdue for this distinction. I commend the RTJ for taking the next steps and bringing this concept mainstream.

    The original text can be found at:


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