Robin Sage Exercise Under Way
American warriors came to the aid of Moore County's fight against a foreign occupying force last weekend.
They came in secretly, quietly - more than 130 of them - dropping in to connect on the ground with local resistance fighters.
None of it was real, and all of it was real. Moore and 14 other counties in North Carolina comprise an imaginary country that has been fighting a 50-year war against occupying forces from Opforland to the north. The Army calls Pineland a "notional" nation. The practice conflict is Robin Sage, the U.S. military's unconventional warfare exercise
The soldiers are training to be in Special Forces. Robin Sage serves as the culmination phase of the 252nd Special Forces Qualification Course. The exercise began May 8, when more than 130 candidates infiltrated Pineland, which encompasses Alamance, Anson, Cabarrus, Chatham, Davidson, Guilford, Hoke, Montgomery, Moore, Randolph, Richmond, Rowan, Scotland, Stanly and Union counties.
"The exercise has been coordinated with public safety officials throughout the affected area," said Staff Sgt. Marshall Pesta, of Fort Bragg's JFK Special Warfare Center and School. "We appreciate the help, consideration and support the citizens of North Carolina extend to the soldiers participating in the exercise and ask for their continued understanding of any inconveniences the training may cause."
Residents may hear blank gunfire and see occasional flares, neither of which pose any risk to persons or property, the Army said. Residents with concerns should contact local law enforcement officials, who will immediately contact exercise control officials.
Robin Sage is conducted by the 1st Special Warfare Training Group (Airborne) and is designed to provide realistic training in unconventional warfare tactics and techniques, according to the Army.
It is the final training exercise before graduation and assignment to one of the Army's seven operational Special Forces groups.
With the help of civilian authorities and local residents, Robin Sage has been conducted for nearly 50 years. In the past, future Green Beret soldiers have parachuted onto school rooftops in Southern Pines, while 82nd Airborne personnel played the part of Opfor invaders stopping cars on May Street to check for resistance fighters.
Green Beret veterans returning from distant conflicts have praised the experience they had here and credit it with saving the lives of the nation's military forces.
It hasn't always been safe at home. Two student soldiers wearing civilian garb were shot by a county sheriff's deputy eight years ago. One died. A lawsuit against the county and the deputy was settled out of court after a 2009 trial favored the wounded soldier, but the deputy's lawsuit against the Army is still before the federal courts.
The military made changes to its training immediately following. Now, the Army says safety is always the No. 1 priority. The following measures have been implemented:
n Formal written notification to the chiefs of law enforcement agencies in the affected counties, with a follow-up visit from a unit representative.
n All civilian and non-student military participants are briefed on procedures to follow if there is contact with law enforcement officials.
n Students will only wear civilian clothes if the situation warrants, as determined by the instructors, and will wear a distinctive armband. Personnel role-playing as Pineland law enforcement officers wear distinctive hats and armbands, as well.
To add realism to the exercise, civilian volunteers throughout the state act as role-players. Participation by these volunteers is crucial to the success of this training, and the Army says past trainees attest to the realism they add to the exercise.
About 200 military service members from units across Fort Bragg will also support the exercise.
"These military members provide realistic opposing forces and guerrilla freedom fighters, also known as the resistance movement," Pesta said. "These troops play a critical role in the training the students will encounter in the country of Pineland. The exercise will end May 21."
Questions concerning the exercise should be referred to the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School Public Affairs Office at (910) 396-9394, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Contact John Chappell by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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