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U.S. Military

Article: Special Forces prepare to fight Mock insurgency on U.S. soil

The U.S. Army’s annual unconventional warfare exercise Robin Sage is set to kick off across rural North and South Carolina this month, pitting Special Forces candidates against simulated guerillas fighting for the fictional nation of “Pineland.” The exercise is so realistic and spans such a large area that the U.S. Army has issued notices to local law enforcement agencies warning them not to mistake the exercise for a real insurrection, an error that has cost one soldier his life during a previous Robin Sage event.

Robin Sage is conducted annually by the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (SWCS) at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. This year’s Robin Sage will take place from January 22 to February 4 and will span across 25 counties in North Carolina and three counties in South Carolina. The exercise was first held in 1974 and is the culmination exercise (CULEX) — the final test in the U.S. Army’s Special Forces Qualification Course standing between candidates and their green berets. An Army release given to local outlets in NC and SC this week said that the exercise is designed to represent 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 exercise is designed to simulate a special forces-led guerilla campaign against the forces of the “United Provinces of Atlantica,” a fictional island off America’s eastern seaboard. Candidates embed themselves with mock guerillas fighting on behalf of the “Republic of Pineland,” a United States ally. Members of the 1st Batallion, 1st Special Warfare Training Group have even published a 157-page fictional “history” book that provides a worldbuilding backstory for the exercise, titled Atlantica: A Concise History.

One of the most unique features of Robin Sage is that the culmination exercise features civilian role-players. These volunteer actors range from “salaried independent contractors” to “middle-aged school children,” according to a 2016 article in Special Warfare, an official SWCS publication that calls these role-players the “heart of Robin Sage.” These civilian participants fulfill roles such as engaging in mock public protests, acting out simulated mass casualty events, or serving as simulated guerilla forces complete with their own leadership. Some civilians even allow the U.S. Army to use their private land, which accounts for the majority of the area on which the exercise takes place. The event even features its own fake currency for the Republic of Pineland featuring a pine tree.

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