At this point it has become a cliché. Everyone knows where he or she was when JFK was shot. The same goes for 9/11. Such moments forge historic waypoints for our lives and occasion us to ask broad questions: What does it mean to be an American? What is the state of U.S. power in the world? Or, more simply, are we truly safe? Recently, I’ve been thinking back to another milestone – May 2, 2011 - the raid in Abbottabad, and killing of Osama bin Laden. It has now been six years. For most Americans, May 2 lacks the emotional power of a December 7 or September 11. This may reflect a human tendency to internalize and remember tragedy over triumph. Nevertheless, I submit that we overlooked something in our collective response to the bin Laden killing. Furthermore, the national conversation failed to address some stark questions surrounding not only Osama’s death, but also its implications for the more general application of military force. As we trudge along with what will be the longest shooting war in our nation’s history – 15 years, 5 months – my thoughts drift back to that Monday morning.
Allocating resources to red teaming can be costly, access to necessary information can be frustrating, and the importance of the boss’s support is critical to the success of any alternative analysis team. If the boss does not support the red team, and is not open to the criticism uncovered by its analysis, it can be a fruitless endeavor. Zenko provides a handy roadmap to the mistakes of others as a guide to future organizations. In an arena where failure results in loss of life or treasure, Red Team will be a critical resource for leaders that want to give their organization the best chance at success.
Dr. Flagg Miller is a linguistic anthropologist who has spent nearly a decade cataloging, translating, and interpreting a treasure trove of over 1,500 audio recordings of bin Laden and other jihadist leaders recorded between 1997 and 2001. The tapes served as an audio library for visitors to bin Laden’s Khaddar home and show the wear and tear of being listened to by his visitors.