Special Operations forces from the United States and more than a dozen other countries took part in a mock mission in downtown Tampa last week in an operation that drew applause from some but concern from others.
The troops from the U.S. and countries such as Ireland and Jordan “jumped out of helicopters, rappelled from buildings and expended hundreds of rounds of ammunition” as they pretended to rescue the mayor of Tampa, The Washington Post reported.
The operation involving Navy SEALs, Marine Raiders and Green Berets was part of the Special Forces Industry Conference, a trade show for the world’s commandos that drew 12,000 people.
“This type of mission  would be undertaken during the cover of darkness,” an announcer told a crowd. “The sniper over watch team is equipped with high-powered rifles that can hit a target from more than a mile away.”
The “mission” was to rescue Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn from mock pirates armed with AK-47 semiautomatic rifles.
Thousands of spectators watched the event and cheered, The Post reported, and afterward some even had their pictures taken with the few troops who were allowed to talk to the media. Some of the troops who didn’t pose for the cameras covered their faces so they would not be seen, The Post reported.
The rescuers were supported by helicopter gunships, a rubber boat equipped with a .50 caliber machine gun and a Blackhawk helicopter.
“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,” US Special Forces Lt. Col. Chris Robeshaw told reporters following the Tampa event. “I think … this is maybe a stark reminder that there are young men and women out there putting themselves at risk.”
But the operation touched off an interesting debate on social media and in the comments section on The Post website.
“Why are soldiers from other countries doing this here? Answer: They’re practicing tactics to put the American population under control (martial law),” one person wrote. “Why don’t they do this in, say, Russia? Or Venezuela? Or even Germany, with its horrendous illegal invasion? It’s bad enough having U.S. soldiers practicing their martial law tactics here. But GET THOSE FOREIGN TROOPS OUT!”
Wrote another person, “No big deal; just a little martial law training plus perhaps testing the efficacy of Posse Comitatus.”
Others, though, supported the drill.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t be there to join in the applause,” the person wrote. “These men and women keep us safe in a very dangerous world. Without a strong U.S. military force, many outside of the U.S. would not enjoy the freedoms they have today.”
What do you think – was this an innocent drill or one that never should have taken place? Share your thoughts in the section below: