In United States military terminology, a high-value target (HVT) is a person or resource that an enemy commander requires to complete a mission. The term has been widely used in the news media for Osama Bin Laden and high-ranking officers of Al-Qaeda who are considered essential for completing their operations. Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was known as High Value Target Number One by the United States military before his capture.
Not to be confused with a High-Payoff Target which is a target whose loss to the enemy will significantly contribute to the success of the friendly course of action. High-Payoff targets are those High-Value targets that must be acquired and successfully attacked for the success of the friendly commander's mission also known as an HPT.
Soldiers are often asked to do all that is possible to capture an 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 capturing or killing these high-value targets. Forces assigned to these tasked forces include units mainly from the Joint Special Operations Command and SOCOM such as the US Navy SEALs, US Army Delta Force, US Navy SEAL Team Six, US Army 75th Ranger Regiment and elements of the British Army's Special Air Service (SAS). The term has also become associated with secret US DoD programs to capture and interrogate terrorist leaders.
- Seymour M. Hersh, Moving Targets, New Yorker, December 15, 2003 accessed at  on 13 Feb 2008
- Seymour M. Hersh, The Gray Zone:How a secret Pentagon program came to Abu Ghraib, New Yorker, May 24, 2004 accessed at 
- 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