By Emily Allen
PUBLISHED: 03:48 EST, 24 May 2012 | UPDATED: 07:07 EST, 24 May 2012
These look like scenes from a Bond film or perhaps the start of World War Three.
Dressed in full combat gear with guns raised, members of the Special Operations Forces (SOF) looked like they were on serious business as they swooped on Tampa, Florida, in boats, assault vehicles and helicopters.
But fortunately for the thousands of bystanders there was no need to be frightened – it was a ‘mock’ assault as part of a training exercise.
The dramatic scenes took place at the Tampa Convention Center yesterday, when 14 SOF members from the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force showcased their combat skills in a half-hour demonstration.
Representing 10 different nations, they roared through the water in two inflatable boats and leaped ashore using Humvees and all-terrain vehicles.
Others jumped from the rear of a helicopter directly into the water.
Then they spent several minutes ‘engaging the enemy’ by repeatedly firing their weapons, before freeing ‘hostages’ including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.
Schoolchildren, office workers, shoppers and other spectators gathered with their cameras on the Harbour Island Bridge to watch the spectacle in and around the Seddon Channel.
The SOF teams didn’t hold back in creating the full battlefield effect.
The public were able to photograph a CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor, a MH-47 Chinook, a MH-60 Blackhawk and the Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats and witnessed fake explosions and listened to hundreds of rounds of blank gunfire.
One U.S. Marine, who declined to be named, told the Tampa Bay Times that it was great working with military personnel from other countries considering their different training and backgrounds.
He said: ‘And doing this for the public is a very powerful thing because it tells our common enemies if they mess with one of us, they mess with all of us.’
The demonstration was part of the ‘Building the Global SOF Partnership’ conference attended by delegates from 96 countries around the world, including Canada, Australia, Brazil, Columbia, Thailand, Norway, Poland and Jordan.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was a keynote speaker at the event, invited by SOCOM commander Admiral William McRaven, who helped plan the mission which killed Osama Bin Laden.