I had the great opportunity and privilege to attend the Special Operations Forces International Conference in Tampa, Fla. this month and got more research done in one day than I could have accomplished in a year!
In addition to getting a firsthand look at the latest in Special Operations technology, I also got a front-row seat to the international demonstration, which was a collaborative effort among 14 countries plus the United States.
Special Operations Forces have changed over the past decade and requirements have grown substantially, (as has the demand for the best equipment and technological advances). Technology has even gone to the dogs. As you can see in the photo above, the dog has a bullet proof vest, camera, googles and a microphone so its handler can deliver commands.
The best part of the day was the demonstration provided by a contingent representing 15 different countries. The scenario was that the mayor of Tampa had been kidnapped and special operators had to come in and search a yacht in the bay, find the mayor, and kill the terrorists. As you can see, I had a fabulous view from the press area as the operators breached the sea wall right in front of me.
Here is a picture of the forces coming in on their rigid hull boats with a Little Bird helicopter between them. The sights, sounds, and smell of the action was as close as I will ever get to an actual raid. It definitely helped me to understand the importance of timing and how quickly things happen.
Another highpoint was getting to meet these young men after the demonstration and thank them for their service. My short trip went so fast, it all seems like a blur now, but I have lots of notes and can’t wait to sit down and start writing!
If you want to watch a really good video, go here and see the short promo taped by the conference organizers. It gives you a small idea of what took place. I took some video as well that I will watch when I’m writing specific scenes.
My next post will be on the GI Film Festival and getting to meet the brave contractors who save State Department and CIA workers in Benghazi. If you haven’t seen the movie “13 Hours” yet, it comes out in DVD June 7. Get a copy!