1. Overview. This chapter focuses on the targeting process. The targeting accomplished at the tactical level is too detailed for the purposes of this publication. Therefore, a generic discussion on the targeting process is presented, followed by how RSTA assets support this process.

2. Targeting Objectives. The objective of targeting is to affect, change, modify, or impede enemy activity through destruction, damage, deception, or neutralization. Targeting responds to guidance and objectives that originate at the national level as broad concepts. Commanders refine and provide additional guidance and objectives that become specific plans of action. Targeting integrates intelligence on the threat, target system, and target characteristics with operations data on force posture, capabilities, weapons effects, objectives, rules of engagement (ROE), and doctrine. Targeting matches objectives and guidance with inputs from intelligence, operations, and other functional areas, such as logistics and communications, to identify the forces necessary to achieve the objectives. Targeting examines all lethal and nonlethal applications of force and spans not only nuclear and conventional force application, but also electronic warfare, space, and special operations. To be effective, targeting must identify the best weapon for the intended target with appropriate timing to meet the objectives established by the commander.

3. The Target. A target is a geographical area, complex, installation or system, and its contents or other manmade features, against which military action is planned. Military action can range from destruction through disruption, degradation, seizure, neutralization, and exploitation, commensurate with the guidance and objectives. In general, targets are classified as military, political, or economic.

  1. A target must contribute to the attainment of a military objective before it can become a legitimate object of military attack. In this context, military objectives are those objectives that make an effective contribution to military action, or whose destruction, capture, or neutralization offers a definite military advantage. The key is whether the objective contributes to the enemy's warfighting capabilities. However, a potential target does not become a target until military action is planned against it.

  2. Military targets may be further classified as strategic, operational, and tactical. Actions that influence the overall war effort or political objectives are classified as strategic. This type of targeting is directed against an enemy's will to fight and capacity to sustain war. Operational targets are those targets deemed critical to the enemy's capability to conduct successful campaigns. Actions that produce immediate or near-term effects on the battlefield or to current operations are classified as tactical. This type of targeting is directed against the enemy's forces, lines of communications, and C2 structures that have an immediate or near-term effect on the outcome of the operation. It is important to note that geographical areas, operating environments, delivery vehicles, or type of munitions do not dictate the classification of a target. Therefore, the classification of a target as strategic, operational or tactical may change as rapidly as operations shift or objectives change.

4. Target Development. This portion of the targeting process is the systematic evaluation of potential target systems and their components to determine which elements of the target system(s) military action should, or could, be taken against to achieve the given objectives. All sources of intelligence are reviewed and potential target systems and components are selected for consideration. Potential targeted systems and their components are then analyzed for their military, economic, and political importance; priority of attack; and weapon systems required to determine the required level of disruption, destruction, neutralization, or exploitation. Targeteers must identify key target systems that are relevant to objectives and guidance and suitable for disruption, degradation, neutralization, or destruction. To accomplish this task, targeteers must understand target system characteristics, target linkage, and interdependence. In addition, targeteers must identify critical nodes, prepare preliminary documentation, validate the target, identify recommended aim points for attack, and develop a potential prioritized target list. This list is then used for weaponeering assessment.

  1. Targeted systems have a number of characteristics. First, a targeted system is oriented toward a goal, objective, or purpose that is achieved through the system's components. These components are interdependent; a change in one causes a change in one or more of the other components. Second, each targeted system is a component of another more inclusive system.

  2. Target linkage is the connection between targets performing identical, similar, or complementary activities or functions. Target interdependence is the mutual relationships among targets where the activity of one is contingent, influenced, controlled, or determined by another.

  3. Targeted system activities are those actions or functions performed by target system components in pursuit of system goals. This is the area where targeteers should focus their efforts. Once enemy activities that must be modified or defeated have been identified, targeteers can identify key activities of the targeted system or components that should be attacked, degraded, or exploited to produce the desired effect.

  4. Target development focuses on identifying critical nodes within key target systems that will satisfy targeting objectives and conform to JFC guidance. Critical nodes are points within a targeted system that will produce a cascading destructive, disruptive, or crippling effect on the targeted system.

  5. Preliminary documentation includes identification of prohibited targets, incorporation of targets directed by higher headquarters, verification of targets recommended by components or other agencies, and identification of targets suitable for attack by specialized systems.

  6. Targets are validated by evaluating and approving candidate targets. Certain questions need to be considered during this portion of the target development process: Does the targeting process meet JFC objectives and guidance received? Does the target contribute to the enemy's capability and will to wage war? Is the target significant, operationally, or politically sensitive? What psychological impact will operations against the target have on the enemy? Have all applicable laws of armed conflict (LOAC) or ROE been considered?

  7. The end product of the target development process is an unconstrained prioritized list of potential targets. It reflects relative importance of targets to the enemy's ability to wage war. This list is the basis for the weaponeering assessment phase.

5. Weaponeering Assessment. This phase determines the quantity, type, and mix of lethal and nonlethal weapons required to achieve a specific level of target damage. Considerations are as follows:

  1. Target vulnerability.

  2. Weapons effects.

  3. Munitions delivery errors.

  4. Damage criteria.

  5. Probability of kill.

  6. Weapon reliability.

6. Force Application Planning. The fusion of target nominations with the optimum mix of lethal and nonlethal force is the basis of force application planning. Enemy forces are analyzed to determine likely results to be achieved against target sets and their activities. The intelligence, operations, and plans staffs work closely to optimize the joint force necessary in light of operational realities. The result of this phase should be a jointly coordinated force application nomination for the commander's approval.

7. Execution Planning. Once the force application nomination has been approved, actions are taken to prepare to employ forces. The JFC will issue operation orders directing subordinate commanders to execute the operation.

8. Battle Damage Assessment. This phase examines mission results. It compares the results of the operations to the objectives and guidance to determine success or failure. Based on the results of this assessment, a determination is made whether further operations are required or if a modification of the objectives is needed. Components of this phase include physical damage assessment, functional damage assessment, target system assessment, munitions effectiveness assessment, and restrike recommendation.

9. Mission Cycle. Targeting plays a key role in the commander's decision to employ forces. This decisionmaking process is commonly called the mission cycle. The cycle consists of six steps: detection, location, identification, decision, execution, and assessment. RSTA operations play a prominent role in four of these steps: detection, location, identification, and assessment.

  1. Detection. This step involves the use of RSTA assets to detect new potential targets or significant changes to existing targets. This step is an ongoing process, being conducted before, during, and after military operations. During peacetime, requirements must be established for target reconnaissance or surveillance, crisis monitoring, and combat support. During hostilities other than war and war, RSTA collection priorities may need to be adjusted as the situation or objectives change. This step initiates action for the remaining steps.

  2. Location. Once detected, a target must be positioned accurately within a designated reference system to support the identification, decision, and execution steps that follow. Mobile targets pose significant problems during this step because their data are so perishable, and current data are essential to target analysis and later to target acquisition.

  3. Identification. This step involves recognizing and classifying targets in sufficient detail to allow decisions to be made. Because of limitations in sensor system capabilities, multiple RSTA operations may be necessary to identify and verify the target. Frequently, the information from one RSTA source can be used as a cue to initiate other RSTA operations. The amount of information required and the type of RSTA sensors to be used will vary depending on target characteristics, location, and circumstances of its detection.

  4. Decision. At this point, a course of action is decided upon. Analysis determines the target significance in light of available weapon system resources. Intelligence, operations, communications, and logistic staffs work closely together to provide the support required by the commander. Flexibility is required because relative priorities may change before or during military operations.

      (1) Operational activities plan, supervise, and execute the military operations.

      (2) Intelligence activities validate target nominations and analyze the enemy's order of battle, capabilities, and intentions.

      (3) Communications activities transmit the situation and the target decisions.

      (4) Logistic activities support the above three activities with the resources necessary to conduct and continue the operations.

  5. Execution. During this step, action is carried out.

  6. Assessment. Throughout the mission cycle and especially during this step, assets monitor the impact of operations on enemy facilities, forces, capabilities, and activities and provides recommendations to operational decisionmakers.

10. Coordination

  1. The JFC may elect to establish a Joint Targeting Coordination Board (JTCB). It is a joint activity comprised of members of the JFC's staff, the components, and, if required, their subordinate units. The JTCB reviews target information, develops targeting guidance and priorities, and may prepare and refine the joint target list (JTL). The JTCB recommends additions or changes to the JTL, recommends modifications to the JFC's targeting strategy, and disseminates summaries of the daily BDA reports received from component and supporting forces. This information is provided to the components and supporting forces.

  2. If the JFC elects not to establish a JTCB, then the JFC must establish procedures to coordinate and deconflict target requirements.

12-26-1996; 11:45:02