High-value target

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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 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 enemy operations. Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was known as High Value Target Number One by the U.S. Military before his capture.

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 such as the 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).[1] The term has also become associated with secret US DoD programs to capture and interrogate terrorist leaders.[2]

Prince Harry has been rejected for deployment in February 2007 due to concerns that he would be a high-value target for enemy troops due to his public profile.[3] The prince went on to serve two tours of duty in Afghanistan, with the media suppressing some details about the time and location of his deployment. While on his second deployment, the Taliban threatened his life. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid spoke to Reuters and was quoted as saying; "We are using all our strength to get rid of him, either by killing or kidnapping," and "We have informed our commanders in Helmand to do whatever they can to eliminate him."[4][5]

HVT language also applies in many other contexts, including the potential targeting of weapons of mass destruction.[6]

See also[edit]


  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. ^ "Prince Harry will not go to Iraq". CNN. 17 May 2007. Retrieved 14 October 2008. 
  4. ^ Hamid Shalizi; Amie Ferris-Rotman (10 September 2012). "Afghan Taliban threaten to kidnap, kill Prince Harry". MSNBC Today. Retrieved 11 September 2012. 
  5. ^ "Taliban Threatens Prince Harry [video]". CNN. 11 September 2012. Retrieved 11 September 2012. 
  6. ^ 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]

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