Instrumental red teaming of ‘terrorism’: attack-concept gaming to develop comprehension, anticipation and resilience

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to describe a gaming approach to making key theoretical ideas
accessible, understandable and useful for security practitioners confronting “terrorism” in the real world.
Design/methodology/approach – The tool is instrumental “red-team” matrix gaming: a structured way to first
build and then wargame instrumental “terrorist” attack plans. The working assumption is that “terrorist” violence
is designed with purpose, and that it reflects Fromkin’s understanding that terrorism is a form of jujitsu to
manipulate more powerful opponents into politically and ideologically self-destructive behaviours. By designing
and gaming attack plans with political objectives as the focus, practitioners quickly gain a deeper understanding
of the processes of violent influence and the role of responders and decision makers. The paper is structured to,
first, provide a theoretical explanation of contemporary conflict, focussing on the public support and how
violence can be differently designed to political ends. On this foundation, the methods for learning are explained.
A “playing-card” technique for setting students objectives in terms of psychological levers, vulnerabilities, political
purposes and influence targets is described and options for participants generating scenarios outlined. Then the
matrix-gaming approach, where play progresses according to the result of a dice roll applied to a probability
based on the merit of participants’ competing arguments is explained with an example.
Findings – The described method of creating and wargaming terrorist attack plans offers a new and
engaging method of exploring and understanding the processes of terrorism while preparing practitioners by
potentially developing both their decision making and resilience.
Practical implications – The method described has potential value for teaching about terrorism by
generally improving student engagement, preparing practitioners to respond to terrorism and wider
application (of matrix gaming) to other topics.
Originality/value – This is a novel application of matrix gaming in a simplified format suited for classrooms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-94
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice
Volume5
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2019

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