Red Cell

Red Teams or Red Cells are United States government terms for the National Security Co-ordination Team (NSCT). These teams or units are designed to test the effectiveness of American tactics or personnel.

In 1984, Red Cell was formed after Richard Marcinko relinquished command of SEAL Team Six to Commander Robert Gormly.[1] Red Cell members demonstrated the vulnerabilities of military bases and would regularly use false IDs, jump fences, barricade buildings, take hostages, and kidnap high ranking officers and admirals. Additionally, Red Cell planted bombs near Air Force One, snuck into submarine bases and took them over. They would videotape all their missions and show them to everyone monitoring the exercises; many people that participated in the exercises felt embarrassed by their tactics because it exposed their weaknesses and vulnerabilities. It also did not help that Marcinko's team was cocky. [2] "I'd tell them Red Cell was coming, eat them alive, and then show the film and rub their noses in it," Marcinko said proudly. A high-ranking Navy official says there was no vendetta and that "the general take was that Red Cell was a good thing."[3]

The original Red Cell was a 14-man team composed of 13 former members of SEAL Team Six and one Force Recon Marine.[4] The unit was also known as OP-O6D which had been organized to attempt to infiltrate and otherwise test the security of U.S. military bases and other installations sensitive to U.S. security interests.[5]

The team was led by the former commander of SEAL Team Six (DEVGRU) Richard Marcinko until he was relieved of duty and charged with various offenses including misappropriating funds. Some say these were made up allegations, due to how easily Marcinko and his team infiltrated bases and procured top secret information from high-ranking individuals.[6]

The name was derived from Red Team, a term for the opposing force in a war game by western nations during the Cold War, a reference to the predominantly red flags of Communist nations (i.e., the USSR and PRC) with the western nations being the Blue Team. The USSR used the same colors, but reversed meaning--they were the Red Team and the OpFor was the Blue Team.[7]

A Red Cell was used after the 9/11 attacks to brainstorm ways to attack America, in order to come up with security measures to prevent them. Novelist Brad Meltzer was recruited to write plots as part of this program.[8]


  4. Marcinko, Richard (24 November 2009). Rogue Warrior: Red Cell. New York: Simon and Schuster. pp. 331–332. ISBN 978-1-4391-8783-8.
  5. Lanning, Col. Michael Lee (18 December 2007). Blood Warriors: American Military Elites. Random House Publishing Group. p. 170. ISBN 978-0-307-41468-7.
  6. Gormly, Robert A. (3 August 2010). Combat Swimmer: Memoirs of a Navy SEAL. New York: Penguin Group US. p. 185. ISBN 978-1-101-45994-2.
  7. Mariana Islands Range Complex: Environmental Impact Statement. United States Navy. 2010. p. 42.
  8. Meltzer, Brad (January 1, 2011). "Author Brad Meltzer was recruited in government agency". Daily News. New York.
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