The Operators are designed to handle various tasks within the government agency Public Security Section 9, such as operating computers, carrying equipment within the agency's building, and even crewing aircraft. Physically they are gynoids, seen wearing office lady-style suits. In one episode, additional Operators are seen coming out of the walls to replace disabled units during a particularly strenuous task, suggesting that Section 9 has many in backup and that the units are switched regularly.
Their physical appearance is of a female wearing an office lady's suit. They have brown hair tied in a pony tail with brown eyes. It should be noted that they happen to be some of the most advanced Operators in the series besides Proto who is a prototype bioroid.
Operator units are programmed with human-like emotions, including voice inflections, typically human reactions (one is quoted as saying "Huh?" and looking confused when she is told to pick up a person who has left the scene suddenly and is no longer in sight) and human-like body language. Section 9's more advanced robots, the Tachikomas, comment on these as looking "fake", especially a "thinking pose" one Operator assumes when trying to answer a question. Because of the Operators' willingness to be put in danger by the members of Section 9, they receive scorn from the Tachikomas, who are developing individuality and possibly even their own ghosts (nerve center that communicates with the soul: the intact function of this area is required for the survival of an organism as a person).
The Operators appear to have no combat capabilities of their own, though they are used as a diversion in the episode Cash Eye when two units are sent into the basement to distract the guards while a disk of knockout-gas is deployed from the elevator. They have a feature commonly-seen on work-centric cyborgs and machines: hands that can deploy a considerable number of internal rod-like "fingers", letting them type many times faster than normal. This feature however only appears to be used during particularly-demanding tasks. On the other hand, the Operators seen in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex seem to be a newer model which do not use the rod-like "fingers" as much since they type fast enough.
Despite being very advanced androids, the AI of the Operators is also limited. In one episode ("Time of the Machines or MACHINES DÉSIRANTES"), the Tachikomas argue with one Operator. She displays emotion and other aspects of intelligence, but falls prey to the classic liar paradox of What I am saying is a lie. The result was that the Operator seized up, locked into an infinite loop of repeating "I, um..." This is similar to the classic Star Trek episode "I, Mudd", in which a human defeats robotic units with the same paradox. The Artificial Intelligence of the Tachikomas, by comparison, is enough to both solve this paradox and state it to others.
Section 9 is not the only organization to use Operators. Multiple agencies use Operators that look different from the ones used at Section 9, such as the JMSDF. These models have black untied hair and brown eyes. The JGSDF uses an Operator model with short brown hair, brown eyes and glasses. The police uses one with long brown hair and with a policewoman's uniform.
These Operators are more advanced than civilian service models, but less advanced than the Operators used by Section 9. Generally speaking, military and government models are more advanced than civilian models, examples being maids, prostitutes etc.