The Best ODA / SOT-A Assessment

By Carolina SierraSeptember 22, 2023

CAMP "BULL" SIMONS, Fla. - After weeks of training and preparation, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) organized the best Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) and Special Operations Team Alpha (SOT-A) Assessment with a friendly competitive match at Camp "Bull" Simons, Fla., from April 26 to 28, 2022.

The Best ODA / SOT-A Assessment is a grueling, three-day event that evaluates technical and tactical knowledge while testing physical and mental resiliency. Twenty-one teams of Soldiers took part in the assessment representing each battalion within 7th SFG(A).

Events vary each year adding to the stress and challenge to the competitors. The 2022 assessment began with an intense physical fitness test followed by an obstacle course and overnight land navigation using dead-reckoning techniques. Day two consisted of critical task evaluations and a challenging field of fire testing the teams’ abilities on multiple weapons systems. Hours later, the teams set out for a 12-mile long-range
movement where participants were tested on radio communication tasks, weapons assembly, an improvised explosive device (IED) lane and medical treatment procedures. The intense testing and miles of rucking were conducted throughout the night until the following morning of day three.

Teams prepared for weeks honing their physical abilities and tactical proficiency. "Lots of rucking; we had range training for the past three days to prepare for the marksmanship events, and we have also been working on our equipment requirements and communication knowledge." said Staff Sgt. James Rodriguez, 2nd Battalion, SOT-A Team Sergeant.

This event gives the teams an opportunity to improve upon their team trust and culture. "Off-times, guys are spread out everywhere doing OCONUS (Outside the Continental U.S.) trips or TDY (Temporary Duty)" said Capt. Charles Allen, 3 rd Battalion, ODA Team Leader. "The fact that we can train together in a friendly competition builds our
readiness and builds good camaraderie."

The Best ODA / SOT-A Assessment started as the Best ODA Competition in 2018, an event internal to 7th SFG(A) to instill excellence across the organization. In 2021, the event shifted from a focus on competition to a focus on assessing ODAs with an emphasis on ensuring proficiency at fundamental tasks.

Sgt. Maj. Zachary L. Bowman, 7th SFG(A) Operations Sgt. Maj., reiterated the Group’s intent, "The teams recognized as the best are the ones that have not only demonstrated their mastery…but also completed the events faster than their counterparts."

The teams participating in the assessment demonstrated their readiness and re-enforced the fact that they are prepared to compete, deter, and win in any conflict; validating 7 th SFG (A)’s role in the global environment.