For two weeks starting on Jan. 22, Columbus County will be part of a fake foreign country home to guerrilla fighters and other forces opposing U.S. Special Forces. That’s because the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, based out of Fort Bragg, is hosting its “Robin Sage” training exercises across a multi-county area.
“Residents may hear blank gunfire and see occasional flares,” the JFK Special Warfare Center and School explained. “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.”
The “Robin Sage” exercises take place from Jan. 22 through Feb. 4 across 25 North Carolina and three South Carolina counties. The Army did not disclose the exact locations of the training.
“Robin Sage is the U.S. military’s premier unconventional warfare exercise and the final test of over a year’s worth of training for aspiring Special Forces soldiers,” the JFK Special Warfare Center and School said. “Candidates are placed in an environment of political instability characterized by armed conflict, forcing soldiers to analyze and solve problems to meet the challenges of this ‘real world’ training.”
The U.S. Army said that “all movements and events have been coordinated with public safety officials throughout and within the towns and counties hosting the training.”
Columbus County, along with the other 27 involved counties, will be part of “Pineland,” a notional foreign country, for the exercise. The U.S. Special Forces will, according to the details released by the army, try to stop military service members acting as opposing forces and guerilla freedom fighters, known as Pineland’s resistance movement.
The Army said that the following measures have been implemented for public safety during the exercises:
- 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 brown armband during these instances
- Training areas and vehicles used during exercises are clearly labeled.