TAMPA — On Wednesday, Special Operations troops from more than a dozen countries jumped out of helicopters, rappelled from buildings and expended hundreds of rounds of ammunition as they attempted to rescue the mayor of this Florida city.
The operation was, of course, an exercise, but it was also a public spectacle for a force that has tried desperately to remain in the shadows despite now being at the forefront of America’s wars.
Aside from U.S. Special Operations forces, including Navy SEALs, Marine Raiders and Army Green Berets, countries such as Ireland and Jordan also participated in the exercise. Many of the participants covered their faces, and only a select few were allowed to speak to the media afterward.
“A lot of what we do is a bit secretive, we don’t really advertise much of what we do and there is a reason for it,” U.S. Special Forces Lt. Col. Chris Robeshaw told reporters following the event. “I think … this is maybe a stark reminder that there are young men and women out there putting themselves at risk.”
Special Operations forces participate in a capabilities demonstration at the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference in Tampa on May 25. (Brian Blanco/European Pressphoto Agency)
The exercise is put on each year as a part of the Special Forces Industry Conference, a 12,000-strong, three-day meeting of Special Operations personnel and companies showcasing the latest technologies available to both U.S. troops and their international allies.
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