We are privately owned and not affiliated or endorsed by any government agency.

Take the Benefits Quiz

Combat identification (CID)

Definition Combat identification (CID) refers to the accurate characterization and differentiation of friendly forces, enemy forces, and non-combatants on the battlefield. The primary aim of CID is to minimize the risk of friendly fire incidents and enhance the efficiency of targeting enemy assets. This process can involve a combination of visual cues, electronic systems, and […]


Combat identification (CID) refers to the accurate characterization and differentiation of friendly forces, enemy forces, and non-combatants on the battlefield. The primary aim of CID is to minimize the risk of friendly fire incidents and enhance the efficiency of targeting enemy assets. This process can involve a combination of visual cues, electronic systems, and shared intelligence to streamline the decision-making process during military engagements.

Key Takeaways

  1. Combat Identification (CID) is the process of accurately and rapidly distinguishing friendly forces from enemy forces and non-combatants during military operations, reducing the risk of friendly fire incidents and collateral damages.
  2. CID relies on various techniques and systems, such as visual recognition, communication systems, vehicle markings, electronic identification, and data links, to ensure accurate and up-to-date identification.
  3. Effective Combat Identification enhances situational awareness, improves decision-making, and increases the overall effectiveness and safety of military operations.


Combat identification (CID) is a crucial aspect of military operations as it enables accurate and timely identification of friendly, neutral, and hostile forces on the battlefield.

By ensuring that all parties can clearly distinguish between allies and adversaries, CID minimizes the risk of friendly fire incidents and collateral damage, while enhancing the effectiveness of tactical decision-making.

In addition, it contributes to overall operational efficiency by facilitating seamless coordination between ground forces, air support, and naval assets.

Ultimately, the proper implementation of combat identification promotes mission success, safeguards the lives of military personnel, and reduces unintended consequences in complex and rapidly evolving combat environments.


Combat Identification (CID) is a crucial aspect of modern military operations, as it serves to streamline coordination between friendly forces and minimize the occurrence of incidents involving friendly fire. The primary purpose of CID is to facilitate the accurate and timely identification of allied units, host-nation forces, non-combatants, and enemy combatants in the complex environment of modern warfare.

CID enables military personnel to make critical distinctions between these various entities, thereby reducing the likelihood of miscommunication and fratricide that could arise from ambiguous or insufficient information. Furthermore, accurate CID allows for more effective targeting, force maneuvering, and coordination between joint and combined forces.

In practice, CID is achieved through a combination of technologies, techniques, and procedures that span across various domains of warfare, including air, land, sea, and cyber. These systems range from visual cues and markers to advanced technological solutions such as Blue Force Tracking and sensor systems.

Additionally, military personnel are trained to adhere to specific procedures, such as the use of challenge and response methods or airspace deconfliction rules, to ensure a safer and more cohesive battlespace. Regardless of the measures employed, the ultimate goal of CID is to enhance situational awareness and enable commanders to make informed decisions in the fog of war, leading to more effective and secure military operations.

Examples of Combat identification (CID)

Operation Desert Storm (1991): During the Gulf War, U.S. and coalition forces created systems and means of marking vehicles to help decrease the risk of friendly fire incidents. Combat identification played a crucial role in enabling the coalition forces to differentiate between friendly and enemy combatants on the battlefield. Despite these efforts, there were still incidents of friendly fire due to the fast-paced and rapidly changing nature of the conflict.

NATO’s Tactical Data Link in Afghanistan (2001-2014): To enhance situational awareness and maintain coordination among coalition troops during the War in Afghanistan, NATO implemented a Tactical Data Link (TDL) network. The TDL enabled secure communication and data exchange between various military platforms, providing real-time information about friendly and enemy forces’ positions. This enhanced situational awareness reduced the possibility of friendly fire incidents, improving combat identification significantly.

Blue Force Tracking (BFT) systems in Iraq War (2003-2011): During the Iraq War, the United States military employed the Blue Force Tracking system, allowing real-time tracking of friendly units during military operations. The BFT system used GPS and satellite communication technology to share friendly forces’ positions within the command and control network. The increased situational awareness provided by BFT substantially improved combat identification capabilities and reduced the likelihood of friendly fire incidents.

FAQ – Combat Identification (CID)

What is Combat Identification (CID)?

Combat Identification (CID) is the process of accurately identifying and distinguishing friendly forces from potential enemy forces in a military operation. This is crucial in ensuring the safety of friendly troops and minimizing the risk of friendly fire incidents.

Why is CID essential in military operations?

CID is essential in military operations because it reduces the risk of fratricide, enhances situational awareness, and increases the efficiency and effectiveness of combat engagements. Proper identification allows commanders to make informed decisions and use force appropriately, ultimately saving lives and resources.

What are the key components of a CID system?

The key components of a CID system include sensors, communication systems, and decision-making tools. Sensors help detect, identify, and track targets, while communication systems share this information with other units. Decision-making tools analyze the data to provide actionable intelligence for the commander’s decision-making process.

Are there challenges with implementing Combat Identification?

Yes, there are several challenges with implementing Combat Identification, including technological limitations, interoperability between systems, and the rapidly changing dynamics of a combat environment. Overcoming these challenges requires continued research, development, and integration of advanced technologies to improve accuracy, speed, and reliability of CID systems.

How can technology improve CID?

Technology can improve CID through advancements in sensors, data processing, and communication systems. Improved sensors can increase the accuracy, range, and speed of identification, while advancements in data processing and communication allow for better sharing of information between units, ultimately leading to improved decision-making and more effective military operations.

Related Military Operation Terms

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Agent Orange Exposure
  • Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC)
  • Service-Connected Disability
  • VA Health Care

Sources for More Information

  • U.S. Army – The official website of the United States Army, providing comprehensive information on the Army’s mission and the various aspects of military operations, including combat identification (CID).
  • NATO – The official website of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, offering a wealth of information on military operations and multinational cooperation, including details on combat identification (CID) systems and techniques.
  • RAND Corporation – As a global policy think tank, RAND Corporation provides research and analysis on a wide range of topics including military operations and combat identification (CID) systems, which can be found in their publications and reports.
  • Jane’s by IHS Markit – A renowned source for defense, maritime, and aerospace information, Jane’s by IHS Markit offers detailed and up-to-date analysis and reports on combat identification (CID) technologies utilized by various military organizations.

Benefits.com Advisors

With expertise spanning local, state, and federal benefit programs, our team is dedicated to guiding individuals towards the perfect program tailored to their unique circumstances.

Rise to the top with Peak Benefits!

Join our Peak Benefits Newsletter for the latest news, resources, and offers on all things government benefits.

Related Articles