French sci-fi writers imagine future wars so the army can prepare

The aim of the ‘red team’ of 10 writers is to come up with ideas that soldiers would not have thought of, says the Armies Ministry

20 August 2021

The ministry says changes have already been made as a result of the collaboration with the writers, which started last year, though they will not reveal what Pic: Gorodenkoff / Shutterstock

Science-fiction writers helping the army to imagine possible future military threats have put forward two scenarios for consideration.

One involves a world where people cultivate online ‘bubbles’ in which all updates match their own beliefs, making it hard for real news and alerts to circulate.

The second features a world full of high-speed drones and missiles which force humanity to retreat to fortress communities requiring huge energy resources to maintain them.

The aim of the ‘red team’ of 10 writers is to come up with ideas that soldiers would not have thought of, says the Armies Ministry. It works alongside a ‘blue team’ of staff from the ministry, and a purple team which supplies technical expertise.

The armed forces can then be better prepared for any scenario, however outlandish it might seem today.

Another sign of this forward thinking came last year, when the French air force changed its name to Armée de l’air et de l’espace (air and space army).

The ministry says changes have already been made as a result of the collaboration with the writers, which started last year, though they will not reveal what, in case the information gives ideas to hostile forces.

The scenario of online ‘bubbles’ was imagined due to information overload causing people to live more and more in a ‘safe space’ of like-minded people where they only hear updates and points of view that correspond to their tastes.

It would make it impossible for the armed forces to get important information out to the general public, and notions of objective truth would break down, each person clinging to their own beliefs.

This could be dangerous in cases where it is vital to spread alerts – for example, in a natural disaster or terrorist attack.

It would also make it difficult for a population to have a shared perception about the truth of a military action, making it hard for the army to function as it would lack support from those it is trying to protect.

The second scenario came from current trends of increasingly efficient drones and highspeed missiles.

If conflict zones became saturated with drones and weapons are ‘hyper-fast’, then it will be necessary to hide inside ‘hyper-fortresses’ with multiple protection systems.

In this scenario, armies would no longer be able to physically attack targets and conflicts would be frozen.

How would conflicts be resolved in such a case and how would the massive energy needs of these constructions be met, the writers asked.

Emmanuel Chiva, director of the Agence innovation défense which set up the project, said the red team’s job is to push the imagination, while the blue team gives structure and suggests which ideas are good to develop.

French intelligence agency Direction Générale de la Sécurité Intérieure (DGSI) has created its first website giving insight into its missions against terrorism, cyberattacks and spies.

It aims to demystify, as well as to counter some people’s fears that it spends its time monitoring the public’s lives.

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