SOF - Special Operations

SOFIC 2018: SOF partner capabilities in the spotlight (video)

28th May 2018 - 12:00 GMT | by Scott Gourley, Tony Skinner in Tampa, Florida

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With the overlap between USSOCOM’s International SOF Week at SOFIC 2018, planners across multiple special operations organizations conducted an International SOF Capabilities Demonstration in, on and above the land and waters surrounding the convention center in Tampa, Florida.

The demonstration scenario, which was designed to reflect only shared capabilities and interoperability – not specific tactics, techniques and procedures – involved hostile elements hijacking a large yacht and moving one of its occupants to a local “mock village” with enemy checkpoints securing the surrounding terrain.

Against that setting, Special Operations Forces from the US and seven countries conducted a scenario-based demonstration of capabilities. Scenario participants included officers, warrant officers, and non-commissioned officers from Colombia, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Singapore, and the United States. In addition, a US interagency effort was reflected in participants from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Elements of the scenario included: insertion of maritime forces via “helocast” of a Combat Rubber Raiding Craft from MH-60 Black Hawk helicopter; insertion of a support-by-fire team and a sniper team to lookout positions by MH-6 Little Bird helicopters; where they can observe the objective area; assault of the seized yacht by both sea (swim elements from the stern) and air (fast rope from MH-60) elements; engagement of enemy sentries near the terrorist camp at the village by sub-surface swim elements; assault and elimination of enemy checkpoint by a ground assault force; attack on the enemy village by a boat assault force of two Special Operations Craft – Riverine to rescue the hostage.

Exfiltration operations included recovery of personnel via the Fast Rope Insertion and Extraction System (FRIES), in which up to eight fully-laden troops can be lifted off the ground and carried away by helicopter, as well as the MH-60 “caving ladder” removal of divers.

After completion of the scenario phase, a military free-fall parachute team - consisting of jumpers from Colombia, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Singapore, and the United States – jumped from an MC-130 Combat Talon II aircraft at 8,000 feet and landed in the water in front of the convention center.

The event concluded with a reminder that all capabilities shown would normally be conducted late at night, under cover of darkness, to maximize the element of surprise.

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