Robin Sage Training Exercise Begins Saturday
Special Forces candidates will be participate in a training exercise across 15 North Carolina counties starting Saturday.
More than 100 of these students will participate in Robin Sage, the final Special Forces training exercise before students graduate and move to an assignment with one of the U.S. Army's Special Forces units, an Army news release said. The exercise will continue through March 20.
Robin Sage is a two-week exercise run eight times a year, once for each class of Special Forces candidates, as the final test of their training in the Special Forces Qualification Course. These candidates are students at the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, based out of Fort Bragg.
The exercise's fictional country of Pineland encompasses 15 counties, including Moore, Alamance, Anson, Cabarrus, Chatham, Davidson, Guilford, Hoke, Montgomery, Randolph, Richmond, Rowan, Scotland, Stanly and Union counties. Throughout the exercise, Special Forces candidates and Robin Sage role-players not only conduct missions, 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 towns and counties hosting the training, the Army said.
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.
A Moore County sheriff's deputy shot two student soldiers after stopping a suspicious truck in 2003. The two soldiers and the volunteer driver thought the traffic stop was part of their training.
In the ensuing incident, one soldier died, and the other was badly wounded. The Army and state authorities termed it a tragic accident resulting from a misunderstanding, and no charges were ever filed.
Since then all vehicles used in Robin Sage bear special placards, and training soldiers wear identifying armbands even when in civilian clothes. The Army notifies law enforcement ahead of time when scenarios will take place in their areas.
With the help of civilian authorities and local residents, Robin Sage has been conducted for nearly 50 years. Safety is always the command's top priority, the Army said. 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 nonstudent 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 during these instances. Personnel role-playing as Pineland law enforcement officers wear distinctive hats and armbands, as well.
n Training areas and vehicles used during exercises are clearly labeled.
About 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, the Army said.
To add to the 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, according to the Army.
"We appreciate the support and consideration the citizens of North Carolina extend to the soldiers participating in the exercise and thank them for their understanding of any inconveniences the training may cause," the Army news release said.
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