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Red and Blue Teaming

The Naval Postgraduate School has more than 1,500 uniformed military officers who stand ready to address emergent issues related to national or international defense.  For problems involving the continuity of operations (COOP) of critical civilian or military infrastructure, the CID can facilitate “red teaming” engagements at several levels.

Quick-Turn Student Course Projects.  As part of Operations Analysis OA4202: Network Flows and Graphs, students learn how to model the function of infrastructure systems and then use mathematics to identify component-level failures (or attacks) that would result in the worst-case disruption to their function.  They then use this information to determine how to invest a limited defensive budget to make the system under study as resilient as possible to these disruptions.  Duration: six weeks.

Analogous Red Teams.  This red cell approach emulates a group hostile to the United States and its interests, possibly a terrorist group, a rogue nation sponsored group, or even a first world country. Following the rules of engagement for an Analogous Red Team analytical assessment (see Bushman, 2009), teams of operationally experienced NPS students to conduct open source research on potential systems of interest, evaluate vulnerabilities, then create feasible attack plans against those targets.  These studies result in an asymmetric vulnerability assessment on target infrastructure systems and  reveal how an asymmetric group could exploit the system at risk to achieve specific results.  At the end of the study, a “Blue Team” of experts evaluates the assumptions, assesses the effectiveness of the proposed attack scenarios, and suggests enhancements to security measures to reduce or eliminate the specific vulnerabilities and the effectiveness of such attacks. Duration: 2-12 weeks.

Master’s Theses.  Every Operations Analysis student at NPS must complete a Master’s thesis to graduate.  This provides an opportunity for the student to go much deeper into a problem of particular importance.  In the Operations Research Department at NPS, students participate in an “experience tour,” a three-week period at roughly the midpoint of the curriculum during which students go off-campus to an organization where they can gain practical analytical experience (see Rosenthal, 2007). In most cases, this tour is the start of the student's eventual thesis topic.  Duration: 9-12 months.

Sponsored Research Projects.  CID faculty can conduct research projects for the U.S. Government and its partners, both public and private. These projects allow CID researchers to apply their modeling and analysis expertise to a variety of infrastructure-related problems. Duration: By arrangement.


  • Brown, G., Carlyle, M., Salmerón, J. and Wood, K., 2006, “Defending Critical Infrastructure,” Interfaces, 36, pp. 530-544.
  • Bushman, C., 2009, “Analogous Red Teams: Identifying Vulnerabilities and Improving Counterterrorism Capabilities,” M.A. Thesis in Security Studies, June 2009. (This thesis is unavailable on the web.)
  • Rosenthal, R., 2007, “It’s More Than a Job or an Adventure,” OR/MS Today, August 2007.

By viewing critical infrastructure through the eyes of intelligent adversaries, we discover potential vulnerabilities, system fragilities, and how to increase resilience with defensive investment.

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