Today's bleak economic conditions have drastically affected law enforcement training operations. Agencies are forced to utilize alternative methods to achieve training standards. Due to financial constraints, we more often than not, are limited to training within our own agency; limiting travel expenses. Due to reduced human resource allocation it is difficult to train with neighboring agencies or civilian partners.
As law enforcement professionals, we are largely categorized as a Type A personality. This personality trait craves operational and challenging tasks. Therefore, when law enforcement professionals think of mass violence training such as civil disturbance or Active Shooter training, we look for physical operational deployment. Although this type of mentality and application is very beneficial in preparing law enforcement to face modern challenges, there may be a training avenue that is overlooked. This training avenue, if applied correctly, will reveal strengths and weakness of a deployment plan, identify equipment needs, highlight site vulnerabilities, alter the mindset of the participants and incur minimal departmental expenses. Subsequently, in the larger scope, it results in reallocating departmental funding to equipment needs. Red Cell table top exercise can be the tool that will allow law enforcement agencies to achieve these stated benefits.
Red Cell table top exercises are utilized by military organizations to evaluate their strategic plans. The evaluation is then followed by countermeasures to enhance planning and operations. To correctly conduct a Red Cell exercise, you will need two groups of participants, in addition to the moderator. One group is referred to as the Red Cell and the other as the Blue or Black Cell. Sometimes whichever team is the bad guy team is referred to as the opposing force or OPFOR.
The Red Cell is the invading force and the other is the friendly force. For this article we can relate this scenario to a Mumbai style attack. The Red Cell members would be the terrorist and the Blue Cell members would be the entity responsible for security of the hotel. Perhaps the table top event is of a dignitary who is coming to a prestigious hotel and it is the local or state law enforcement obligation to ensure security for this individual.
The goal for the Red Cell members may be to infiltrate the hotel and inflict mass casualties. Both Cell groups will be armed with equal information such as building layout, security camera locations, security personnel shift tour of duties and anything else that would be reasonably attained from open source information or surveillance. Red Cell team members can use whatever means necessary to achieve their success. Blue Cell members will need to thwart this attack but can only utilize the hotels actual defenses such as cameras, outside barriers and current human resource staffing. In conducting this exercise an astute moderator will ensure that each Cell personnel encompass security employees of the hotel, law enforcement and explosive ordinance team members. This will give the best insight as to day to day operations and exploit the diversified mindset of each cell. Participants should be given instructions as to the objective; in this case Red Cell members are to inflict as many casualties as possible. Specific day and a ten hour window of opportunity should be announced for when the attack will take place. The moderator should then segregate the two Cells and reconvened them in two or so hours. Once reconvened the Red Cell participants will state their plan of action, consequently, the Blue Cell will identify defense procedures.
My experiences with this exercise have proven that the Red Cell team achieves its mission the majority of the time. The Red Cell success outlines a clear road map of ways to improve community safety. It will outline a clear needs assessment with adequate justification. This justification is articulated from the experts within the department and the community. The flaws identified in the Red Cell exercise give overwhelming creditability to the needs assessment, regardless if it is equipment or human resources. The Red Cell exercise will foster a different mindset for the hosting agency, as well as, create procedural and operational improvements. Red Cell exercises, if moderated correctly, can be a reflection of real world scenarios. The key is allowing the Red Cell to explore and implement nontraditional infiltration avenues. Red Cell participants must be composed of diversified fields of expertise in order to exploit weakness of the Blue Cell. This preplanning will greatly reduce vulnerabilities of any Blue Cell.
Fleet Problem 13 is a notable operational Red Cell exercise that was conducted by United States Navy Rear Admiral Harry Yarnell. Rear Admiral Yarnell demonstrated the effectiveness of an air strike on Pearl Harbor. He demonstrated that an aerial attack could destroy Army air strips, thus preventing the launch of military planes. This would render the Navy fleet helpless and exposed to an aerial slaughter. The Navy moderator noted that Rear Admiral Harry Yarnell's Red Cell was a complete success in destroying the Navy fleet at Pearl Harbor. Rear Admiral Harry Yarnell conducted this Red Cell in 1932, nine years prior to the actual attack on Pearl Harbor.
This is one example of how a Red Cell exercise mirrored a real life scenario. Red Cell table top exercises are relatively inexpensive, however, there outcomes can offer invaluable community safety. Perhaps one reason of my partisan to the Red Cell exercises is that it allows a mechanism to predict an incident and if an incident can be predicted it can be prevented.