This weekend, approximately 100 Special Forces students will participate in the Robin Sage training exercise, held within 15 North Carolina counties as the final test of their Special Forces Qualification Course training.
The soldiers, from Fort Bragg's U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, will participate in this exercise before graduating the course and moving on to their first assignments in the Army's Special Forces community. Robin Sage is a two-week exercise run eight times a year, once for each class of Special Forces candidates.
The exercise's notional country of Pineland encompasses 15 counties in North Carolina including Alamance, Anson, Cabarrus, Chatham, Davidson, Guilford, Hoke, Montgomery, Moore, Randolph, Richmond, Rowan, Scotland, Stanly and Union counties. Throughout the exercise, Special Forces candidates and Robin Sage role-players not only conduct training missions such as controlled assaults and key-leader engagements, but also live, eat and sleep in these civilian areas.
All Robin Sage movements and events have been coordinated with public safety officials throughout and within the towns and counties hosting the training. Residents may hear blank gunfire and see occasional flares. Controls are in place to ensure there is no risk to persons or property. Residents with concerns should contact local law enforcement officials, who will immediately contact exercise control officials.
With the help of civilian authorities and local citizens, Robin Sage has been conducted since 1974; before that time, similar exercises were run under the names Devil's Arrow, Swift Strike and Guerilla USA.
For the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, safety is always the command's top priority during all training events. The following measures have been implemented:
- Formal written notification to the chiefs of law enforcement agencies in the affected counties, with a follow-up visit from a unit representative.
- All civilian and non-student military participants are briefed on procedures to follow if there is contact with law enforcement officials.
- Students will only wear civilian clothes if the situation warrants, as determined by the instructors, and will wear a distinctive armband during these instances. Personnel role-playing as Pineland law enforcement officers wear distinctive hats and armbands, as well.
- Training areas and vehicles used during exercises are clearly labeled.
Approximately 200 military service members from units across Fort Bragg will also support the exercise. These military members act as realistic opposing forces and guerrilla freedom fighters, also known as Pineland's resistance movement. These troops play a critical role in the training exercise. To add realism of the exercise, civilian volunteers throughout the state act as role-players. Participation by these volunteers is crucial to the success of this training, and past trainees attest to the realism they add to the exercise.
During this exercise, these future Special Forces Soldiers must infiltrate areas in small groups and train guerilla forces to independently and effectively use tactical force to liberate Pineland by teaching them to communicate, move, fight and provide medical aid as part of the curriculum before successfully graduating the course.