MH-6 Little Birds and MH-60 Black Hawks helicopters buzzed downtown Los Angeles this week as a part of a Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) training exercise. Spectators observed the helicopters landing operators on building rooftops, then later setting down to pick them up at street level. Presumably, the training scenario involved the operators assaulting from the top down to their target somewhere in a building, then exfiltrating to the street.

This type of exercise is what the U.S. Army calls Realistic Urban Training (RUT), which requires quite a bit of paperwork and preparation before conducting. Army Special Operations units sometimes conduct training like this in towns and cities near their home bases. But JSOC runs annual RUT scenarios, some of which recently occurred in New York City, Atlanta, and New Orleans.

These exercises take place within the context of elaborate training scenarios. Operators have to plan, rehearse, and execute the mission in a real-world setting as it would actually play out. This scenario in LA was most likely designed around a potential mission that could take place in one of many worldwide hot spots.