It's the ultimate competition, featuring a series of events that promises to test the physical and mental toughness of the combatants.

Starting Saturday, teams from throughout the West will gather at a ski resort for the 2006 High Sierra SWAT Challenge — a competition that will feature some of the most physically fit law enforcement officers around.

Once again, the Alameda County Sheriff's Office has been selected as the host agency for the five-day contest, which concludes next Thursday at the Kirkwood Mountain Resort.

Scores of SWAT teams from various Western law enforcement agencies will compete in this year's challenge, including Oakland, Fremont, Santa Rosa, Sacramento and Stockton, said Lt. Bill Gaudinier, spokesman for the Alameda County Sheriff's Office.

The San Mateo and Alameda county sheriff's offices, the California Department of Corrections, the Phoenix office of the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the San Francisco office of the FBI also are among the agencies participating, Gaudinier said.

"It's one of the few opportunities for law enforcement tactical groups to really push themselves and find out exactly where they are," Gaudinier said. "And it's a great opportunity for the sheriff's office to work with other agencies in remote field operations."

During the competition, teams must maneuver through a number of individual tactical exercises within a 56-hour period.


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Some of the exercises include hostage rescue, tactical rappelling, engaging terrorist cells, dealing with weapons of mass destruction, fugitive apprehension, and daytime and nighttime land navigation.

The competition was started by the San Francisco FBI as a training exercise 10 years ago, but the agency was forced to redirect its resources because of national security concerns.

Ricci Graham can be reached at (510) 293-2469 or rgraham@dailyreviewonline.com.