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Believed-to-be (BTB)

Definition Believed-to-be (BTB) is a term used in military operations to describe a location or information that is thought to be accurate based on available intelligence and assessments. It is often used when a high level of certainty cannot be achieved but the information is still considered valuable for planning and decision-making purposes. BTB reflects […]


Believed-to-be (BTB) is a term used in military operations to describe a location or information that is thought to be accurate based on available intelligence and assessments. It is often used when a high level of certainty cannot be achieved but the information is still considered valuable for planning and decision-making purposes. BTB reflects the uncertainty associated with the information, emphasizing the caution needed when acting upon it.

Key Takeaways

  1. Believed-to-be (BTB) refers to the identification of possible targets based on available intelligence, which may include information about their location, activities, and intentions.
  2. BTB is used to guide military operations and inform decisions on targeting, helping to minimize collateral damage and ensure the most effective use of resources.
  3. The accuracy of BTB assessments can often be influenced by the quality and reliability of the available intelligence, making it an important but sometimes uncertain aspect of military planning.


The military operations term “Believed-to-be (BTB)” is important because it highlights the level of uncertainty and potential risk involved in decision-making within a military context.

By using BTB, military personnel can effectively communicate the likelihood of information or intelligence being accurate, based on available data and situational awareness, without asserting a definitive conclusion.

This allows military leaders to weigh the probability of certain scenarios and take appropriate measures to plan and strategize accordingly.

It promotes greater efficiency and accuracy in military coordination, resource allocation, and tactical planning, ultimately enhancing the overall effectiveness and safety of military operations.


Believed-to-be (BTB) is a term widely utilized in military operations for describing the probable status of a target, object, or location that is yet to be conclusively confirmed. While concrete evidence might be unavailable, the concept of BTB leverages intelligence analysis, observations, and past experiences to make an informed judgment.

This assessment method plays a crucial role in decision-making processes during military planning and execution, as it assists commanders in evaluating potential threats, allocating resources, and selecting an appropriate course of action even in the absence of irrefutable data. The primary purpose of BTB in military operations is to ensure the flexibility and adaptability of forces in the dynamic realities of combat situations.

Given that solid facts are not always readily accessible in war zones, BTB acts as a bridge between uncertainty and action. By considering the best available information and expert assessments, this approach empowers military leaders to make more educated decisions, reduce potential risks, and increase the chances of mission success.

Furthermore, BTB encourages continuous information gathering and reassessment of the situation, fostering an environment of learning and growth within military units. The recognition that one’s understanding might change as new data surfaces emboldens personnel to be persistent and adaptable— both essential qualities on the battlefield.

Examples of Believed-to-be (BTB)

Believed-to-be (BTB) is a term used in military operations to describe the level of confidence in the intelligence or information relating to a target or enemy’s position, capabilities, or intentions. BTB refers to a situation where there is a reasonable degree of certainty but not complete or absolute confirmation. Here are three real-world examples related to the use of this term:

Location of Osama bin Laden: In the 2011 operation to track down and ultimately kill Osama bin Laden, the U.S. military and intelligence agencies had to work with Believed-to-be information about his location. They gathered evidence pointing to a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, which was BTB to be his hiding place, but they didn’t have absolute confirmation. The decision to launch the operation had to be made based on this incomplete information, and it was ultimately successful.

Identification of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) in Iraq: Prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the U.S. government claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD), which they believed posed a threat to the United States and its allies. Intelligence agencies presented evidence that was BTB to be accurate, but after the invasion, no WMDs were found, proving that the intelligence was flawed.

Location of Enemy Forces in the Vietnam War: During the Vietnam War, U.S. and allied forces often mounted search and destroy missions based on Believed-to-be intelligence about the location of enemy forces (such as the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army). Aerial reconnaissance and human intelligence would provide information that was BTB to be accurate, but in many cases, enemy forces were not present in the anticipated locations, either because they had already moved or the intelligence was incorrect.In each of these cases, the uncertainty associated with Believed-to-be information led to situations where military forces had to make decisions and take actions based on incomplete or less-than-perfect information.

FAQ: Believed-to-Be (BTB) Military Operations

1. What are Believed-to-Be (BTB) military operations?

Believed-to-Be (BTB) military operations are actions taken by armed forces based on the assumption or estimation that certain targets or activities exist without having concrete proof. These operations are generally designed to counter potential threats or disrupt enemy activities which are suspected but not confirmed.

2. How do armed forces make decisions for BTB operations?

Armed forces rely on intelligence gathering, surveillance, reconnaissance, and analysis of existing information to make informed decisions on BTB operations. The decision to initiate a BTB operation is usually based on a balance of probability, considering the potential risks and benefits of the operation.

3. What is the difference between BTB operations and confirmed operations?

BTB operations differ from confirmed operations in that they are based on a belief or estimation rather than concrete evidence. Confirmed operations are typically carried out when there is verified information regarding the target or activity. In contrast, BTB operations are initiated with a degree of uncertainty, and the outcomes may not always be as expected due to the lack of solid evidence.

4. Why are BTB operations conducted despite the uncertainty?

BTB operations may be conducted in situations where waiting for concrete evidence would be too risky or might allow the enemy to gain an advantage. Although there may be a degree of uncertainty in BTB operations, they can still be effective in disrupting enemy activities and reducing potential threats, especially when time is a critical factor.

5. What are the potential risks and challenges of BTB operations?

As BTB operations are based on assumptions or estimations, there is always the risk of taking action against incorrect targets or carrying out operations with unintended consequences. This may lead to collateral damage or the loss of resources, credibility, and trust. To mitigate these risks, proper analysis, planning, and execution with appropriate safeguards must be in place before initiating any BTB operation.

Related Military Operation Terms

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  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Presumptive Service Connection
  • Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
  • Veterans Pension Benefits

Sources for More Information

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