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Both targeting and collateral damage estimation methodology (CDEC) are integral parts of military planning and operations, with the aim of maximizing effectiveness while minimizing unintended consequences and harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure.

Targeting refers to the process of selecting and prioritizing specific objectives or targets for military operations. It involves identifying and analyzing potential targets that, when engaged, will contribute to achieving military objectives.

Targeting includes gathering intelligence, conducting analysis, and making decisions about which targets to engage and with what level of force. The aim of targeting is to maximize the effectiveness of military operations while minimizing collateral damage and civilian casualties.

Targeting involves various elements, such as identifying high-value targets (HVTs) or key targets, assessing their vulnerabilities, determining the appropriate weapons or means to engage them, and planning the execution of operations to neutralize or exploit those targets.

It requires coordination between intelligence analysts, operational planners, and commanders to ensure that targets are selected and engaged in accordance with legal, ethical, and operational considerations.

Collateral damage estimation methodology is a process used by military planners to assess and estimate the potential impact and consequences of an attack on a target. CDEC aims to predict and quantify the potential collateral damage, including civilian casualties, damage to infrastructure, and other unintended effects that may result from military operations.

Adhering to legal and ethical standards is crucial when conducting military operations to mitigate risks and protect innocent lives.

Under CDEC, targeting planners examine the possible effects of various weapons to propose recommendations to lessen collateral damage to comply with rules of engagement (ROE) and the law of armed conflict (LOAC).

Combatant commands use the guidance in the classified Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Instruction 3160.01C—No Strike and the Collateral Damage Estimation Methodology, a process modified since its adoption more than a decade ago.

U.S. Central Command has used the guidance of CJCSI 3160.01C during Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria. Analysts perform civilian pattern of life (CIVPOL) analyses and use algorithms to inform the targeting process.

Want to learn more? Tonex offers Fundamentals of Targeting and CDEC, a 2-day course that covers Targeting and CDEC principles and theory applied to military operations and the assessment of potential risks and impacts.

Participants will learn the key concepts, principles, processes, and best practices involved in target selection and engagement, as well as the methodologies for assessing and minimizing collateral damage during military operations.

The Fundamentals of Targeting and CDEC course is relevant for a variety of professionals involved in military operations and related fields.

For more information, questions, comments, contact us.

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