What Does a Targeteer Do?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 13 December 2019
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A targeteer develops plans for aerial bombardments to maximize effect and limit the risk of civilian casualties in military conflict. Targeteers work for military groups that use aircraft as strategic weapons. They rely heavily on the use of intelligence to do their work and require a high security clearance as they may look at sensitive information. These military specialists are part of the planning teams who work with military officials to develop an effective and appropriate plan of attack for a military operation.

Before a targeteer can begin to explore possible targets, this person usually meets with mission planners to discuss the goal of the mission. This may be to take out specific targets, like power plants or military installations. It could also be aimed at frightening occupying forces or supporting invading ground forces. The targeteer needs to consider what the military wants to accomplish before developing plans.

Another consideration is limitations like aircraft range and the types of weapons the military will make available. Many military organizations have cooperative agreements with allies that allow them to launch, refuel, and run support operations on foreign soil, but it may also be necessary to use aircraft carriers and other options. Constraints on available supplies and personnel may determine the parameters of the attack plan.


With this information in hand, a targeteer can evaluate overhead surveillance, reports from the ground, and other material. This should allow for the generation of a list of targets which can be ranked by priority. In the consideration of potential targets, it is necessary to think about the risk of harm to civilians. For example, if a facility is located immediately next to a critical hospital, the military may not want to attack that target, out of concern that the hospital might be damaged or destroyed.

The targeteer generates a list of prospective targets for mission planners, who can distribute assignments to members of an air strike crew. Aircrews may have some latitude, including a choice of targets on a mission in the event that there is a problem with a target. After the air strike ends, the targeteer collects intelligence to determine the outcome. This can include surveillance to gauge physical damage, reviews of news outlets for casualty reports and reactions from commentators, and so forth. This information can help with the planning for future raids and allows the targeteer to assess the success of the mission and generate a detailed report for superiors.


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