TAMPA - The area around the Tampa Convention Center turned into a mock war zone Wednesday afternoon as part of the International Special Operations Forces Conference.
Ten different countries, including the US, participated in a capabilities demonstration in the water around Harbour Island.
"Doing this for the public is a very powerful thing," said USMC Special Forces Sgt. Dan, who withheld his last name for safety. "It lets our common enemies know that if they mess with one of us, they're going to have to answer to all of us."
Sgt. Dan is an American who jumped off a MH 47 helicopter beside a man he just met a few days ago, Australian Army Pvt. Mark, whose name is also withheld for security purposes.
"When you first meet someone, you don't really know what they're like. You don't know the kind of person they are," Pvt. Mark explained. "It's not really 'till you jump in the back of that boat and start doing rehearsals that you know everybody's going too, and stand beside you, behind your back the whole way."
The ISOF conference is held every four years. In 2008, it also took place in Tampa. This year, it drew 8,000 people from all over the world. The purpose is to showcase the latest in technology and weaponry, as well as to build rapport among special forces members across the globe.
Wednesday's objective was to secure enemy territory around the Tampa Convention Center, and rescue Mayor Bob Buckhorn.
"I've fended off pirates. I'm glad we have these guys on our side. They're the best in the world. They saved me. I'm not sure the voters appreciate that, but my wife and kids do," Buckhorn said. "That is our family. They get to come out and demonstrate what they do everyday for us so that we're safer. I love them to death and I know everyone in this community does too."
Wednesday night's keynote speaker is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
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