French imagining counter terrorism responses

French defence authorities have gone deep into the past to safeguard their future by challenging science fiction writers to dream up life-threatening plots for their army to solve.

The imaginations of the science fiction writers have been unshackled by the French Government so they create astonishing scenarios about terrorism threats – the more bizarre and mind-challenging the better.

It will then be up to the army and France’s other defence forces to devise counter moves to neutralise the threats, save lives and secure premises.

The French army is already equipping some of its soldiers with Black Hornets – personal reconnaissance drones that measure around 15cm   in length, weigh just 33g, and allow the user to see over walls or around obstacles to identify hidden dangers.

Franky Zapata took to the skies on a hoverboard at France’s Bastille Day military parade. Image: REUTERS/Charles Platiau

And at the Bastille Day celebrations in Paris on July 14, inventor and former jet-ski champion Franky Zapata – who is also a military reservist – soared above crowds on the Champs Élysées, riding a hoverboard and brandishing a rifle.

The out-of-the-box response by the French to the constant threat of terrorism and natural emergencies like the burning of Notre Dame this year, is an imaginative move to get their public safety manoeuvres – both spontaneous and rehearsed – into place.

Embracing science fiction writers also continues France’s hallowed association with the genre, including the much-revered Jules Verne, author of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Journey to the centre of the earth and From the Earth to the Moon.

All of Verne’s books, written in the 1800s, predicted inventions and ambitions that were largely unknown at the time but are now commonplace.

The five writers invited to devise alarming events to confront the authorities have been tagged the “Red Team” and inducted into the French army.

The science fiction writers were told to devise military attacks that challenged the response of military strategists.

Authorities say that whether it’s a terrorist incident or a major fire, civil defence and emergency services need to rehearse their responses to ensure they are as effective as possible.

The situations imagined by the red team – made up of a handful of writers – will be acted out by those first-responders

Among the global risks most likely to dominate civil defence agendas in the near future are climate change, cyberattacks and natural disasters. According to The Global Risks Report 2019 from the World Economic Forum, these threats rank highly in terms of the impact they could have.