The U.S. Army Special Forces qualification course culmination exercise code-named ‘Robin Sage’ begins later week and will continue until early February.
During Robin Sage, Green Beret candidates operate as advisers and trainers for resistance forces in the fictional nation of Pineland.
Robin Sage is the final test for soldiers going through the Special Forces Qualifications Course at the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School based at Fort Liberty (Ft. Bragg). Candidates will have already successfully completed the Special Forces Qualification Course as well as their MOS-specific skills training before putting everything they’ve learned into practical application during Robin Sage. If they successfully demonstrate that they have mastered the skills they need then they will earn the right to don the Green Beret and be assigned to one of the Army’s elite Special Forces units.
Robin Sage involves approximately 100 Special Forces students, 100 counter-insurgent personnel (OPFOR), 200 guerrilla personnel, 40 auxiliary personnel, and 50 cadre. Local communities of North Carolina also participate in the exercise by role-playing as citizens of Pineland. Many of the OPFOR and guerrilla personnel are North Carolina residents and are paid for their participation. The role of the guerrilla chief, “G-chief”, is sometimes played by a retired Green Beret. During the summer Robin Sage exercises, Army ROTC cadets from The Citadel and cadets from the United States Military Academy act as guerrilla fighters.
The final field operation portion of the exercise usually involves the SF students making an airborne infiltration into the fictitious country of Pineland to contact guerrilla forces. The students must then accomplish their task of training, advising, and assisting the guerrillas in various specialties; including weapons, communications, medical, and demolitions. The training is designed to enable the guerrillas to successfully fight for the liberation their country from the invading UPA forces.
This type of final qualification exercise was first held in 1952 and went through various names – Operation Snowdrop, Cherokee Trail, Devil’s Arrow, Swift Strike, Guerrilla USA, and Gobbler’s Woods – before coming to be officially standardized as Robin Sage in 1974. It is named in part after Col. Jerry Sage, who spent time in the Office of Strategic Services and was a prisoner of war held by Nazis while serving during World War II.
With the current, and forecasted weather across the South, the aspiring Green Berets will again also be up against the forces of General Winter, Colonel Snow, and Major Frost this year as well.