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Dozens of armed, black-clad officers assembled in the car park of the Taieri airfield to receive their briefing.
Within minutes, the first six-strong squad was in a Royal New Zealand Air Force Iroquois helicopter bound for an undisclosed rural Taieri location in search of an offender.
The operation involved 40 members of the Dunedin and Invercargill squads, who were joined by police dog teams and St John paramedics.
Dunedin AOS commander, Inspector Jason Guthrie, said this type of large-scale training day involving the southern squads took place about once a year.
''It is an opportunity for us to test ourselves in a rural environment with groups we don't get to work with all the time,'' he said.
''Training can only take you so far. The kind of people we get on the squad are selected for their initiative and their ability to be flexible.''
Insp Guthrie said members came from a variety of different police roles and while the AOS role was, at times, exciting, there were ''many cold, long nights without a lot of excitement''.