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New USAF doctrine publication: Air Force doctrine document 2-1.9, targeting.

TARGETING HAS BEEN a vital part of air and space operations since an aircraft dropped the first weapon. It has evolved from a matter of primitive guesswork into a discipline based on scientific principles and robust processes. These facts are the subject of the Air Force's newest doctrine document, AFDD 2-1.9, Targeting, 8 June 2006 (

Prior to the appearance of AFDD 2-1.9, most Air Force writing on this difficult subject treated it as a separate discipline. Air Force senior leadership, however, concluded that doctrine on targeting should show the larger context into which it fits. A distinct discipline and operation, targeting also remains an inseparable part of the overarching processes that the Air Force and joint community use to plan and fight. As the new document states, "Targeting is integral to the air and space component's wartime battle rhythm and should always be thought of as part of a larger effects-based construct of planning, execution, and assessment" (vii, 2).

AFDD 2-1.9 helps establish this context by expanding the definition of its subject: "Targeting is the process for selecting and prioritizing targets and matching appropriate actions to those targets to create specific desired effects that achieve objectives, taking account of operational requirements and capabilities" (vii, 1). In simpler terms, "targeting helps translate strategy into discrete actions against targets by matching ways to means" (1). Importantly, the new definition explicitly ties itself to effects-based operations, whose concepts and principles AFDD 2-1.9 recaps, explaining that targeting really involves the best way of achieving effects with given resources. It encompasses more than just putting the right kind of bomb on a fixed target.

The doctrine document lays out the following precepts, expanding upon existing joint principles to offer a comprehensive view of the discipline:

* Targeting focuses on achieving objectives--it is the end of strategy that develops courses of action, goals, and effects into detailed actions against targets.

* Fundamentally effects-based, targeting should consider all possible ways of creating desired effects and not focus just upon destruction or other "traditional" means.

* Targeting is part of a larger set of processes, including formal planning, the joint air estimate process, and the tasking cycle that ultimately produces guidance such as the daily air tasking order.

* Because of targeting's interdisciplinary nature, it requires the efforts of personnel from many functional areas--not simply "operators" or "intel types."

* Targeting is inherently estimative and anticipatory; that is, matching actions and effects to targets requires estimating and anticipating future outcomes.

* A rational, iterative process, targeting systematically and methodically analyzes, prioritizes, and assigns forces against targets.

AFDD 2-1.9 identifies two basic types of targeting: deliberate and dynamic. In fact, all targeting is deliberate in the sense that it requires planning, but the new doctrine document describes preplanned actions against targets--actions determined before publication of the air tasking order and before execution begins. The chapter on deliberate targeting explains how targeting efforts support formal and campaign planning, as well as the vital role they play in the daily battle rhythm. Indeed, AFDD 2-1.9 contains the first detailed doctrinal explanation of the air and space battle rhythm, tasking cycle, and specific role of targeting within them.

The chapter on dynamic targeting addresses the planning and actions against targets after execution begins. This part includes the first high-level doctrinal use of the find-fix-track-target-engage-assess (F2T2EA or "kill chain") methodology used to prosecute time-sensitive targets at the level of the joint force commander, based on the recently published multiservice tactics, techniques, and procedures manual on such targets. AFDD 2-1.9 expands the scope of F2T2EA to include all targets "that are not detected, identified, or developed in time to be included in deliberate targeting, and therefore have not had actions scheduled against them" (8), including both time-sensitive targets and many others.

AFDD 2-1.9 also contains the first doctrinal explanation of the new Air Force assessment construct, expanding its scope beyond traditional battle damage assessment and noting the existence of four assessment levels: tactical (similar to current joint "combat assessment"), operational (component-commander level), campaign (joint-force-commander level), and national (secretary of defense and presidential level). The publication also highlights many of the challenges the Air Force will face as it moves toward assessing effects, which can prove much more difficult and subjective than traditional battle damage assessment.

Targeting will continue to evolve as it assimilates the insights of ongoing operations and innovations in fields such as effects-based thinking and assessment. It will remain central to the way the US Air Force fights.

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Title Annotation:United States. Air Force
Author:Hunerwadel, J.P.
Publication:Air & Space Power Journal
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2006
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