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In United States military terminology, a High-Value Target (HVT) is a target (a person or resource) that an enemy commander requires for completion of a mission. The term has been widely used in the media for Osama Bin Laden and high-ranking officers of Al-Qaeda who are considered essential to the completion of enemy operations.

Soldiers are often asked to do all that is possible to capture a HVT alive but, if that is impossible, they are given clearance to fire. Various tasked Joint Special Operations Task Forces (Task Force 145, Task Force 121, Task Force 11) have been established for the main purposes of killing or capturing these High Value Targets. Forces assigned to these tasked forces include units mainly from the Joint Special Operations Command such as the US Army Delta Force, US Navy SEAL Team Six, US Army 75th Ranger Regiment and elements of the British Army's SAS.[1] The term has also become associated with secret US DoD programs to capture and interrogate terrorist leaders.[2]

HVT language also applies in many other contexts, including the potential targeting of weapons of mass destruction.[3]

See also


  1. Seymour M. Hersh, Moving Targets, New Yorker, December 15, 2003 accessed at [1] on 13 Feb 2008
  2. Seymour M. Hersh, The Gray Zone:How a secret Pentagon program came to Abu Ghraib, New Yorker, May 24, 2004 accessed at [2]
  3. Sections on HVT Engagement in The DIM MAK Response of Special Operations Forces to the World of 2025:"Zero Tolerance/Zero Error", A Research Paper Presented To Air Force 2025, August 1996 accessed at [3] and [4]

External links

  • United States Department of Defense definition High-Value Target (HVT) — A target the enemy commander requires for the successful completion of the mission. The loss of HVTs would be expected to seriously degrade important enemy functions throughout the friendly commander’s area of interest. See also high-payoff target; target. (JP 3-09)
  • Bin Laden Trail 'Stone Cold' Washington Post September 10, 2006

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