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Deception target

Definition A deception target refers to the entity against which a military deception operation is directed. This can be an individual, a group, or a larger organization such as an enemy force. The primary goal is to manipulate the target’s understanding or perceptions, leading them to take actions that are beneficial to the operation. Key […]


A deception target refers to the entity against which a military deception operation is directed. This can be an individual, a group, or a larger organization such as an enemy force. The primary goal is to manipulate the target’s understanding or perceptions, leading them to take actions that are beneficial to the operation.

Key Takeaways

  1. Deception Target refers to the entity against which a military deception operation is focused. It could be an individual, a group, or an entire entity that the military intends to deceive.
  2. Deception targets are critical components of military strategies. They help to mislead the enemy by manipulating their understanding of situational reality, thereby gaining a tactical advantage on the battlefield.
  3. This term not only pertains to conventional warfare but also has significant importance in information and cyber warfare, where it is used to create a deceptive virtual environment to confuse adversaries.


The term “deception target” in military operations is important as it refers to the group or individual that the deception is intended to mislead.

Deception strategies are pivotal in warfare because they can create confusion, delay response times, misdirect resources, and manipulate enemy actions to work in favor of the deceiving entity.

A well-executed deception can provide a strategic and tactical advantage, helping to protect the actual plans, forces, and capabilities of a military operation.

It can guide an adversary to direct its defenses or attacks in unwarranted areas, allowing the executor to conduct operations with minimum resistance or to surprise the enemy.

Understanding the “deception target” is crucial to these tactics, as it helps to tailor the strategies that will be most effective for the specific adversary being targeted.


A deception target, placed in the broader context of military operations, is an integral part of strategic, operational, and tactical deception plans. It essentially serves to misguide or mislead the enemy about the actual plans, capabilities, and intents of the friendly forces.

The primary purpose of a deception target is to divert the enemy’s attention, resources and focus away from the actual objective to achieve a strategic advantage. In military warfare, a deception target could be an imitative, manipulative or distractive entity.

For example, it could be a false military installation, equipment, or troops that look convincingly real, aiming to deceive enemy intelligence systems. By effectively using deception targets, military forces can induce or reinforce enemy’s perceptions and behavior that would contribute to accomplishing the mission.

They are used to save resources, achieve surprise, increase security, and enhance effectiveness of operations.

Examples of Deception target

Operation Mincemeat (World War II): This operation was conducted by the British intelligence during WWII. A dead body, dressed as a British Royal Marine officer and carrying false invasion plans, was left where it would be found by German forces. The Germans believed the deception, shifting their defenses in preparation for an attack that never came, while real Allied forces landed in Sicily.

Operation Bodyguard (World War II): This operation was designed to conceal the true location of the D-Day invasion. To mislead the Germans into thinking the Allies plan to land at Pass de Calais, France, they made use of double agents, fake radio traffic, and inflatable tanks and trucks. It allowed the Allies to gain the upper hand on D-Day.

Operation Desert Storms’s Left Hook (Gulf War): Leading up to the ground invasion of Kuwait, the U.S military built a large dummy army made up of inflatable tanks, trucks, and aircraft in Saudi Arabia. They wanted the Iraqi forces to believe an invasion would come directly from the south. Meanwhile, a substantial force swung around to the west and came in behind the Iraqi forces, who were focused on the south, causing a swift end to the conflict.

FAQs about Deception Target Operations

What is a Deception Target?

A Deception Target refers to an enemy, area, or object to which a commander wants to deceive or mislead an opponent. These can include potential adversary capabilities and intentions, related facilities and locations. It’s a key element in military strategy to create misapprehension in the enemy’s mind.

What is the purpose of employing a Deception Target?

The main goal of using Deception Targets is to cause the enemy to allocate resources inefficiently, not perceive an existing threat, delay timely responses or fail to take action that could have been beneficial. Through the use of Deception Targets, the military aims to gain advantageous operational situations.

Can you give an example of a Deception Target?

An example of a Deception Target could be a fake military installation. During World War II, for instance, fake inflatable tanks and dummy aircraft were used to misled enemy forces, causing them to believe that large forces were operating in areas where they were not.

How are Deception Target strategies developed?

Deception Target strategies are developed through comprehensive process which include defining the Deception Target, developing a Deception Story, formulating the Deception Plan, and finally, executing and maintaining the Deception. The process requires detailed intelligence and careful planning to ensure they are effective.

Related Military Operation Terms

  • Covert Operation: A military or political activity carried out in a way that attempts to hide the fact that it is happening, often associated with deception target strategies.
  • Intelligence Gathering: The practice of obtaining information that is important for military, political, or business purposes, often used within the context of deceiving adversarial forces.
  • Counterintelligence: Activities designed to prevent or thwart spying, intelligence gathering, and sabotage by an enemy or other foreign entity. Intersecting with deception targets when creating false data to mislead enemy forces.
  • Psychological Warfare: The use of propaganda, threats, and other psychological techniques to mislead, intimidate, demoralize, or otherwise influence the thinking or behavior of an opponent, often involving deception targets.
  • Strategic Deception: Deliberate actions taken to deceive adversaries about one’s strategic capabilities and intentions, which can involve the creation and delivery of deception targets.

Sources for More Information

  • RAND Corporation: A research organization that develops solutions to public policy challenges to help make communities throughout the world safer and more secure, healthier and more prosperous.
  • Official U.S. Army Website: The official site of the United States Army, providing valid information about various military operations including deception targets.
  • Air University (US Air Force): The intellectual and leadership center for the Air Force, providing comprehensive military education and research.
  • U.S. Naval Institute: An independent, professional military association that focuses on issues related to the sea services and provides relevant military knowledge.

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