North and South Carolina have warned their residents to be watchful of occasional flares and mock gunfire that will be part of the simulated but ‘realistic’ battle against “guerrilla” forces that the US army is set to hold.
According to the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, the drills will be held between January 22 and February 4 on private land in dozens of counties in the south – 25 counties in North Carolina and three others in South Carolina – but the exact times, locations and exercise specifics were not provided.
The expensive combat drills in which, according to the US Army, young, special operations trainees will be battling seasoned “freedom fighters,” are part of the unconventional warfare exercise dubbed ‘Robin Sage’.
The warfare exercise is the final test in the Army’s elite Green Berets’ intensive training program – the Special Forces Qualification Course – and it places candidates in a politically unstable, fictional nation known as Pineland.
Its aim is to force soldiers to analyze and solve problems in a “real-world” setting – an environment of political instability characterized by armed conflict – in which they’ll be fighting resistance movement made up of “guerrilla freedom fighters” – seasoned service members from units from Fort Bragg.
To add realism to the drill, the drill will also include some specially trained civilian volunteers who will act as role players.
The aim of the advance publicity around the drill, which has been held in variations since 1974, is intended to make sure civilians, as well as the law enforcement officers, don’t mistake it for terrorism or criminal activity as it has happened in the past.
In 2002, a local sheriff’s deputy fatally shot one soldier and seriously wound another, mistaking them for criminals, so the army has prioritized advance public notice of the combat simulation since then to avoid similar tragedies.