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Imagining Beyond the Imaginary. The Use of Red Teaming and Serious Games in Anticipation and Foresight Briefings de l’Ifri, Ifri, March 30, 2023

The Red Team Defence demonstrates the Ministry of the Armed Forces' desire to appropriate new foresight tools. Thus, brain games or serious games aim to bypass the weight of the military hierarchy, the standardisation of thoughts and cognitive biases in order to avoid strategic unthinking.

In September 2022, The New York Times revealed that the successful Ukrainian offensive on Kharkiv had been prepared in a series of wargames conducted that summer. Given this success, further wargames have been undertaken with a view to a possible Ukrainian counter-offensive in the spring. This rise in the popularity of wargames, which come in various forms, is due to their ability to immerse participants in a situation, helping them to become aware of their strategic and tactical blind spots and to identify their own vulnerabilities by putting themselves in the enemy’s position. The ability to anticipate crises and foresee conflicts is essential in order to maintain the initiative and ultimately win out. Thus, the aim of defense foresight is to understand the different forms future wars might take (asymmetric, hybrid, high intensity), the weapons systems that may be employed (drones, high-velocity missiles), and the factors that could trigger them.
The use of wargames or scenario analyses to facilitate anticipation and foresight goes hand in hand with changes in the relationship between military and political leaders and civilians, who no longer hesitate to hold the former to account when they have failed to foresee a crisis. The German sociologist Ulrich Beck thus refers to the paradox of a society that is keen to predict the future because of its aversion to risk and the fact that it is now much more difficult to foresee what might happen in the short term due to very rapid technological developments. The modern world generates both risks and progress, and the inability to foresee strategic ruptures carries significant political costs, which explains why politicians set so much store in anticipation and foresight.
The initiatives launched by Florence Parly after being appointed French minister of the armed forces in 2017 included promoting experimentation in new cognitive tools. Beyond the issue of technology, the aim was to rethink information management within the ministry in order to make it more agile and cross-cutting. In addition to a significant budget allocated to innovation in the 2019–2025 Military Programming Law, the Ministry of the Armed Forces has drawn inspiration from methods often originating in other organizational cultures, such as start-ups and the private sector, in order to improve its creativity and accelerate its adoption of digital technology.
‘Imagining Beyond the Imaginary’: The Use of Red Teaming and Serious Games in Military Anticipation and Foresight
Anticipation military foresight Red Team Wargame France United States