The objective of this study was to uncover the cognitive underpinnings of Improvised Explosive Device (IED) emplacement detection expertise possessed by United States Army Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Mission Payload Operators (MPOs) who have a proven history of success at this task. Specific issues of interest include identifying strategies used to detect IED emplacement threats, as well as identifying indicators and cues associated with IED emplacement to provide the basis for future training. We reviewed existing training programs and interviewed MPOs with varying levels of in-theater experience. Initial data gathered was verified by presenting video recordings from UAS sensors depicting possible IED emplacement activity to an additional group of experienced MPOs. These videos were used to elicit cues and strategies used to identify potential threats. Results of this study highlight tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) employed by experienced MPOs. The results also emphasize the need for training on IED emplacement detection and support the presentation of feedback from tactical ground units to reinforce effective search strategies. Finally, there is support for the development of realistic IED emplacement indicators in the visual models, supporting simulation for use as an unclassified training tool for initial and reinforcement training.