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Crisis training in the French army

By Leonardo Kahn

Screenshot You Tube: Red Team Defense / P-Nation 1/3 (You Tube / Red Team Defense / P-Nation 1/3)
People are targeted in the crowd: Such dystopian scenes are shown in a video that French soldiers can watch for training purposes. (You Tube / Red Team Defense / P-Nation 1/3)

French soldiers can now practice with dystopian videos in case of a crisis. The French Ministry of Defense commissioned science fiction writers to do this: they devise war scenarios for the army for training purposes.

When the French army produces a video trailer about future war scenarios, it must sound a bit like a Sylvester Stallone film. Extract from a video:

“The structural change in warfare in the 2030s and 2040s led to drastic tactical and technological developments. The overloading of the battlefields with drones goes hand in hand with the increasingly murderous use of high-speed projectiles.”

As in the Netflix series “Black Mirror”

The video continues: Fake news and virtual reality make it difficult to get official reports out. Pandemics will hinder evacuations from war zones and climate refugees will unite and attack western countries. The scenarios are scary, but also resemble the dystopian ideas of the Netflix series “Black Mirror”.

But the Red Team project is not a gimmick, said Defense Secretary Florence Parly at a rally last December: “It is neither superficial nor banal. It is a very serious project. I am therefore proud to introduce the Red Team to you . Unique in Europe, you will move between 2030 and 2060. Your first scenario is about the pirates of the future. “

For two years now, the Red Team has been working on various scenarios in two separate groups. Part of it is published on their website Redteamdefense.org. Other scenarios are kept secret, for example if they contain information about the French equipment.

The general’s wife is a science fiction fan

Even if the concept was implemented in the 80s by the then US President Ronald Reagan – the idea for the Red Team project came to General Emmanuel Chiva spontaneously:

“To be completely honest, the idea for this project came to me because my wife is a science fiction fan. She took me to a festival called Utopiales at the time. And then I thought to myself: ‘Well, let all this creativity go definitely use it somehow. ‘”

Click here for the think tank 2021. In search of the we.  (Photo: Deutschlandradio / Malte Müller)

Emmanuel Chiva is the head of the Department of Innovative Defense, which was founded three years ago – a multi-billion dollar project for the Ministry of Defense. Two million euros from this investment fund will flow into the Red Team project. This is how the science fiction writers get paid, but not only.

What do the French do differently?

The project is much more complex and therefore unique in its form, explains Emmanuel Chiva: “First, because the authors don’t work alone in their corner. They form a team. Second, because the red team is also linked to a method. It works not just about locking science fiction writers in a room and hoping that something useful will come out of it.

There is a real methodology behind this with creative workshops, and we also try to show the writers a few things from ourselves. We don’t censor them in the process, but we at least give them some guidance. In my opinion, this form of organization makes the project unique. “

The respective teams are assigned colors. The red team consists of science fiction writers. The Blue Team, the army, educates the authors about the French defense system. The White Team is provided by the elite Paris Sciences et Lettres University – it serves as the scientific control body. The Purple Team and its experts are responsible for conveying topic-specific issues.

Writers have more imaginations

Why not use the experts directly to work out the war scenarios? PSL lecturer Sonia Adam-Ledunois explains: “Science fiction writers have the ability to look beyond the boundaries of the present. A political scientist can provide a cartography or an analysis of the present. But if you ask him to look 30 years into the future then it is difficult for him to move.

In contrast, writers find it relatively easy to imagine the future, or so it seems. Your very first test scenario is about climate refugees who are founding a first non-territorial nation: the pirate nation.

In the video it sounds like this:

“They settle on the sea to form a new identity. The first post-territorial nation emerges: the P-Nation or pirate nation, which stands out for its size and creativity.”

The author Laurent Genefort has been part of the Red Team for two years. In an interview, he says that his new job has been an enormous enrichment for him, even though he actually comes from an anti-militarist background.

The army spoils their red team

He finds it important to participate in the military as a citizen. This is exactly what constitutes a democracy, says the writer: “We live in a democracy here. I would be more likely to question myself if I were Chinese or Russian. The problem here would also be different.”

The army even has great respect for the work of sci-fi writers. The cliché of the authoritarian general has not been confirmed for Laurent Genefort.

“We may have met the best people in the army. In any case, they really spoiled us and we didn’t have to endure authoritarianism. They gave us a lot of creative freedom. They were curious about us, and we were curious about them too.” . “

Season two is already in the works

This dovetailing between authors, army and scientists makes the Red Team project unique. General Emmanuel Chiva cannot say whether other armies will follow France’s example. There is, however, a likelihood that other countries are already implementing a similar concept but are keeping this a secret.

The French Ministry of Defense, on the other hand, communicates quite openly. The preparations for the second season are currently underway – the topic is not yet known.



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