Fires | Detect, Deliver, and Assess: It’s More Than Your Grandfather’s Traditional Targeting Methodology

D3A: More Than Your Grandfather’s Traditional Targeting Methodology

by MG (Ret.) Richard C. Longo and COL Jonathan M. Cohen


The U.S. Army’s Field Artillery art and science of developing targets for kill/capture or influence has not changed much over years. The Targeting Methodology of Decide, Detect, Deliver, and Assess (D3A) has been used effectively by U.S. Forces for decades. Headquarters, Department of the Army, FM 3-60 (FM 6-20-10) The Targeting Process, “This targeting process supports the commander’s decisions and helps targeting working groups decide which targets to acquire and attack. The D3A methodology assists the commander and staff in the decision of which attack options may be used to engage targets. Options can be lethal or nonlethal including maneuver, electronic attack, psychological, attack aircraft, surface-to-surface Fires, air to surface, or a combination of these. This process helps targeting working groups determine requirements for combat assessment to assess effectiveness.”

A U.S. Army Soldier, assigned to C Troop, 2nd Battalion, 11th Field Artillery, turns the direction of a M777 howitzer to engage enemy targets during Decisive Action Rotation 14-07 at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif., May 17, 2014. The howitzer is a towed weapon which can shoot multiple missiles effectively up to 25 miles away. Photo by SGT Richard W. Jones Jr., U.S. Army.

As stated, the D3A methodology has not changed much over the years and can be used in targeting other than standard kinetic targets. Readers may not have considered the use of D3A in unconventional ways to include as a U.S. Army recruiting tool or developing business intelligence in order to track financial assets and search for and track U.S. resources that may be used by known enemies and insurgents against U.S. and coalition forces in places like Afghanistan. The organization responsible for using D3A to develop business intelligence is Task Force (TF) 2010 and the following paragraphs describe how members of this organization, using D3A as a base, developed a methodology to search and track U.S. financial assets to determine whether they were being used for their intended purpose or were being diverted to insurgents to attack U.S. Forces.

Task Force 2010 is a unique organization made up of a few military personnel and many civilians. The organization is organized into several major groups, which included an Intelligence section, personnel from the Defense Contracting Audit Agency, forensic accountants, a legal section, and personnel from law enforcement to include Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) and U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID). The task force was fortunate to have assigned a targeting warrant officer (CW3 Kris V. Williams, who developed the TF targeting methodology using D3A as the base), as well as operations and plans officers who synchronized the group’s efforts.

As with the standard D3A Targeting Methodology, TF 2010 began its process flow with ‘deciding’ which target to focus on. Since the task force was charged with protecting U.S. resources, deciding on which target to analyze was initially based on the amount of dollars invested in a U.S. contract; the bigger the contract, the higher it was on the unit’s priority list. The task force began the deciding portion of the methodology by examining multi-million dollar contracts with Afghan businesses. While large monetary contracts were the highest priority, if contracts had been let with high profile Afghan persons with questionable reputations and backgrounds, these contracts were also given a higher priority as well. The TF director was the ultimate determining authority as to which targets were the highest priorities.

After deciding on which targets the organization was to focus on, the next phase the TF took in its methodology was ‘detection.’ In the case of business intelligence and tracking resources, this phase is where the bulk of the organization’s work took place. The Intelligence section, headed by a Military Intelligence lieutenant colonel and supported by numerous intelligence analysts (military, Department of Defense civilians and contractors), began using classified and open source material to determine if money was being funneled to insurgents or insurgent organizations. All the information gathered on an entity was turned into intelligence and shared with other TF personnel and divisions. The Intelligence chief would develop a summary and make a recommendation to the director as to whether there was enough financial intelligence on a company or person of interest to apply one of the organizations weapon systems against the subject. In many, but not all cases, the primary organizations the TF focused on were construction companies because a great deal of the money spent in Afghanistan was on construction projects in an effort to revitalize the Afghan economy.

Additionally, during the initial intelligence assessment, if a company had ties or associations with United States citizens, all the information gathering would stop and what data had been collected would be turned over to the appropriate U.S. authorities for further criminal investigation, according to Department of Defense, Directive Number 5240.1.

While the Intelligence section continued to gather data and develop its assessment, other TF elements would be collecting information. Auditors from the U.S. Defense Contracting Audit Agency would search their world wide databases to determine if there were any previous or active contracts let by the company under the TF scrutiny. After the search was conducted, the lead auditor would prepare a summary of what was found and add a recommendation as to whether the company should be subject to further investigation.

Working in concert with the defense contracting auditors were the forensic accountants. After the Intelligence section determined that a company or person had insurgent connections and the auditors determined if previous or open contracts existed, this group of people would start looking for and tracking the money. Using multiple databases and tools, the forensic accountants had the ability to track a ‘penny around the world.’ In addition to drafting an assessment as part of the forensic accountants’ analysis, this section would also develop a link analysis flow chart which depicted the flow of U.S. resources from an organization to an insurgent or the insurgent’s business.

Throughout the entire process, the task force legal team was engaged. The TF used lawyers to examine the legality and ramifications of applying the different weapon systems against an insurgent or an insurgent’s company. In addition to a legal review of the packets the TF assembled, the legal section would draft their own assessment of the overall level of ‘burden of proof’ and which weapon system the TF should use to attack or influence a potential target.

The initial paragraphs of this article to this point examined the first two ‘Ds’ of the D3A methodology; decide and detect. The next ‘D’ of the targeting methodology is deliver. The task force’s Intelligence section, auditors, forensic accountants and legal team assessed whether an entity met the criteria of a possible target. The director would then make the determination as to what effect should be placed on a potential target and select which weapon system was to be used. Just as in conventional targeting, the weapon system used is dependent upon the desired effect. TF 2010 weapon systems were not cluster bomb units (CBUs) or 2,000 pound bombs (although the TF recommendations could and did place targets on the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command’s (IJC) Prioritized Effects List (JPEL) which could lead to a target being killed or captured. Additionally, several TF targets were added to the joint prioritized shaping and influence list (JPSIL). TF weapon systems included barring an individual or company from an installation, Termination (of a contract) for Default (T4D), and Termination (of a contract) for Convenience (T4C); however, the task force’s best known weapon system may have been the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Section (§) 841; ‘No Contracting with the Enemy.’

The NDAA § 841 was created in 2012 because the Federal Acquisition Regulations were being applied to business practices in the Combined Joint Area of Operations-Afghanistan. These regulations, until NDAA § 841 was published and made into law, stated that if a contract was ended, regardless of the reason, the contractor still received payments; therefore, the U.S. government would still be required to pay a contractor even if it was determined that the individual or company had ties with or was funneling money to an insurgent. The NDAA § 841 rectified this situation by allowing the Heads of Contracting Authority (HCA) to restrict, terminate or void “…the award of Department of Defense contracts, grants, or cooperative agreements that…” would provide funding directly or indirectly to a person or entity that has been identified by the commander of the United States Central Command (CENTCOM) as actively supporting an insurgency or otherwise actively opposing the United States or coalition forces in a contingency operation in the CENTCOM theater of operations, according to National Defense Authorization Act, Public Law 112-81, Subtitle D, § 841.

While the weapon systems described above dealt with contracts and actions taken after they were awarded, Task Force 2010 along with other entities in Afghanistan developed a process in an effort to prevent contracts from ever being let to companies that might have ties to insurgents; vendor vetting. As the name applies, contactors were analyzed by Task Force 2010 personnel and members of the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command (IJC) in an effort to rate companies as to their potential threat to security and whether or not the company may have been or might be involved in nefarious activities to include funneling U.S. resources to insurgents.

The weapon systems described above were all developed as part of the ‘deliver’ phase of D3A methodology. The final phase of the methodology was ‘assessment.’ How could the TF determine if their efforts were making a difference and saving U.S. resources and preventing the insurgents from acquiring them? Assessment of the effect can be difficult to measure. If an effect is to prevent U.S. resources from reaching an insurgent and the TF provided business intelligence to a Department of Defense organization or submitted an NDAA § 841 packet to CENTCOM which interrupted or prevented resources from ending up with insurgents, then one can assess the effects of TF 2010 as successful. It is difficult to estimate the amount of money the TF saved as a result of its efforts because once a business was marked as supporting an insurgency, once one of the weapon systems was applied, the flow of resources was stopped. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, Mr. John Sopko cited the efforts of TF 2010 for reducing U.S. resources flowing to insurgents in several reports and congressional testimony; additionally supporting the assessment of Task Force 2010’s effectiveness.

The purpose of this article is to highlight that the D3A Targeting Methodology can have multiple uses outside of conventional Fires targeting and that those out of the ordinary uses should be introduced by all services at any school which instruct targeting. Showing how D3A can apply to business intelligence and highlighting how Task Force 2010 adopted the conventional D3A methodology is just an example.

Task Force 2010 was a sub-unit under Combined, Joint, Inter-Agency Task Force-Afghanistan (CJIATF-A). CJIATF-A’s mission is to “…synchronizes and focuses strategic Counter Corruption, Counter Narcotics, Counter Threat Finance, and "No Contracting with the Enemy" activities in order to deny resources to the nefarious actors and enhance transparency and accountability within the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) and strengthen the International Community's confidence in GIRoA thru the ‘Decade of Transformation.’

Sub-organizations assigned or have been assigned to CJIATF-A are TF 2010; TF Nexus which focused on the link between drug traffickers, insurgents, and corrupt powerbrokers; and CJIATF-Shafafiyat (Transparency) which worked with Afghan leaders to reduce the threat of corruption and organized crime in Afghanistan. Having worked closely with all of these task forces during my deployment from 2012 to 2013, we were able to observe how the D3A methodology was adopted and applied to the various missions by these organizations.

By presenting the targeting methodology examples mentioned here in this article to students in Basic Officers leader Courses, Captains Career Courses, and various Mobile Training Teams, which circulate throughout the operational forces, officers and non-commissioned officers can be exposed to and discuss the many different ways D3A Targeting Methodology can be applied to unconventional mission sets. Early exposure to these methods, as well as introducing them at Training and Doctrine Command Centers of Excellence early in professional military education will ensure that mid-level and senior officers will not have to rely on ‘discovery learning’ during future conflicts to develop modified uses of the D3A Targeting Methodology.


Sergeant First Class Alex Joy is currently assigned to the Syracuse Army Recruiting Company as an Army recruiter. During his career he has served with the 1st Battalion, 94th Field Artillery as a Fires platoon sergeant, HIMARS launcher section chief, and ammunition section chief. He has also deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as the Iraqi Security Forces Cell noncommissioned officer in charge for Multi-National Division Baghdad, in support of Operation New Dawn as a motorized infantry squad leader, and in support of Joint Task Force-East.