Receiver operator characteristic (ROC) analysis is an emerging automated target recognition system performance assessment tool. The ROC metric, area under the curve (AUC), is a universally accepted measure of classifying accuracy. In the presented approach, the detection algorithm output, i.e., a response plane (RP), must consist of grayscale values wherein a maximum value (e.g. 255) corresponds to highest probability of target locations. AUC computation involves the comparison of the RP and the ground truth to classify RP pixels as true positives (TP), true negatives (TN), false positives (FP), or false negatives (FN). Ideally, the background and all objects other than targets are TN. Historically, evaluation methods have excluded the background, and only a few spoof objects likely to be considered as a hit by detection algorithms were a priori demarcated as TN. This can potentially exaggerate the algorithm's performance. Here, a new ROC approach has been developed that divides the entire image into mutually exclusive target (TP) and background (TN) grid squares with adjustable size. Based on the overlap of the thresholded RP with the TP and TN grids, the FN and FP fractions are computed. Variation of the grid square size can bias the ROC results by artificially altering specificity, so an assessment of relative performance under a constant grid square size is adopted in our approach. A pilot study was performed to assess the method's ability to capture RP changes under three different detection algorithm parameter settings on ten images with different backgrounds and target orientations. An ANOVA-based comparison of the AUCs for the three settings showed a significant difference (p<0.001) at 95% confidence interval.