One of the primary reasons America’s special operations forces (SOF) are so effective is the first-class support they get from all fronts. Even in the lowest tiers of the SOF structure, the operator-to-support-guy ratio is remarkable, averaging about one operator to every eight support personnel. The higher up within the SOF hierarchy you go, the more support guys there are for every operator (Delta Force and SEAL Team 6, for instance, have a ratio of one operator to 15 support personnel). Support can range from armorers to high-end comms to rotary-wing and fix-winged aircraft support. In the lattermost case, the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command’s (AFSOC) MC-130J Commando II fleet ensures that other SOF units get nothing but the best service.

In early July, seven crews from the 67th Special Operations Squadron (67th SOS), 352nd Special Operations Wing (352nd SOW) came together for a four-day performance competition.

Regarding the grading criteria of the competition, one of the judges of the event—who also is serving as a pilot with the 67th SOS—said to DVIDS that “crews will be judged on objectives such as hitting targets on time, dropping equipment on time, and getting as close to the point of impact as possible. We have judges flying on the aircraft and judges on the ground.”

The judges evaluated the crews on the following events: precision landings, vehicle infiltration/exfiltration, accuracy of equipment airdrops, tactical offload, and low-level flight.