FORT BRAGG, N.C. — Starting on Friday (Sept. 11), Special Forces candidates will participate in the Robin Sage, a training exercise, held within multiple North Carolina counties, including Union. Robin Sage is the final test of their Special Forces Qualification Course training.

Between Sept. 11-18, students will participate in this exercise before graduating the course and moving on to their first assignments in the Army’s Special Forces community.

For those in the local communities who have been quarantined at home, the introduction of a large number of people into the community may be disconcerting, but there is no need to worry, according to a report from event organizers. The U.S. Army Special Warfare Center and School has also been following strict quarantine procedures.

Soldiers have undergone health screenings at multiple points throughout the training pipeline to insure that no Soldiers have COVID-19.

According to Col. Stuart Farris, the commander of the 1st Special Warfare Training Group (Airborne), social distancing has been built into the training, as well as into living areas.

“1st SWTG is following all recommended guidelines to stop the spread of Covid. If a soldier exhibits any signs (coughing, sneezing, fever), we will remove them from the training and follow appropriate quarantine protocols,” said Farris in a statement.

The exercise’s notional country of Pineland encompasses Union, Alamance, Anson, Cabarrus, Chatham, Cumberland, Davidson, Davie, Guilford, Harnett, Hoke, Lee, Montgomery, Moore, Randolph, Richmond, Robeson, Rowan, Scotland, Stanly and Wake counties; however, not all counties will be used in every exercise.

Throughout the exercise, military and civilian support personnel, as well as community volunteers who serve as auxiliary, will participate in and/or provide support during each of these exercises. 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, 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.

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 reduce risk to persons or property. Residents with concerns should contact local law enforcement officials, who will immediately contact exercise control officials.

While attention has been focused on preventing the spread of coronavirus during this exercise, the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School has kept safety a command priority during all training events.

The following safety 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 brown armband during these instances.

• Training areas and vehicles used during exercises are clearly labeled.

Robin Sage is the U.S. military’s premiere unconventional warfare exercise and the final test of more than a year’s worth of training for aspiring Special Forces Soldiers. 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.

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 pao_swcs@socom.mil.