Special Forces Launch War Drill In 21 North Carolina Counties Next Week

At the end of next week, residents across North Carolina will see a series of Special Forces war exercises, including heavy caliber gunfire, simulated bombs, helicopters, and whatever else encompasses a warzone, is being held in 21 North Carolina counties starting Aug. 03. The Army told residents don't panic if they hear gunfire at the middle of the night or early morning.

The war exercise, known as "Robin Sage," is considered one of the most extensive training exercises in the US and started in the early 1950s, reported The Charlotte Observer.

Robin Sage will be held in complex urban environments in North Carolina. Hostile forces will battle Special Forces students, volunteer civilians, and soldiers from Fort Bragg. The training concludes on Sept. 12, said an Army press release.

Most of the simulated warfare will be conducted in Alamance, Anson, Cabarrus, Chatham, Cumberland, Davidson, Davie, Guilford, Harnett, Hoke, Lee, Montgomery, Moore, Randolph, Richmond, Robeson, Rowan, Scotland, Stanly, Union and Wake counties, said US Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg.

Col. Stuart Farris, the Commander of First Special Warfare Training Airborne in Fort Bragg, told ABC 11 Durham that Special Forces students will "fight" in a fictitious country called Pineland [21 North Carolina counties].

The students will go against seasoned soldiers, who will "act as realistic opposing forces and guerrilla freedom fighters," officials said in a release.

Local government officials in the 21 counties, including all police forces across the state, have been alerted about next week's war exercise.

"Residents may hear blank gunfire and see occasional flares. Controls are in place to ensure there is no risk to persons or property," officials said. "Residents with concerns should contact local law enforcement officials, who will immediately contact exercise control officials."

Special Forces students will "wear civilian clothes," but the public will be able to spot them with "a distinctive brown armband," officials said. As they zip between counties chasing enemy forces, their vehicles will be labeled, too, along with training sites, a release noted.

"Robin Sage is the US military's premier unconventional warfare exercise and the final test of over a year's worth of training for aspiring Special Forces soldiers," according to the press release.

"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 advance warning of the exercise in the media is to prevent a 2002 incident in which a disoriented Moore County deputy killed one Special Forces soldier and wounded another after he thought they were robbers.