It is that time of the year again. “Free Pineland” flags will be flying all over large areas of North Carolina. Several county sheriff’s departments are advising citizens that they will see “unusual military activity” during the next few weeks and should not be alarmed. 

The U.S. Army’s JFK Special Warfare Center is conducting “Robin Sage,” the final unconventional warfare exercise that all prospective Special Forces must pass before being awarded the Green Beret at the end of their training pipeline. 

Robin Sage puts all of the training the prospective Special Forces students have learned to the test. It takes place in the fictitious country of Pineland, located across 21 counties of North Carolina.

According to the scenario, the former government of Pineland was friendly to the United States. Yet, it was overthrown in a coup. The scenario takes place following the coup that deposed the legitimate government. The Special Forces students will have to work with an eclectic mix of role-players and soft-skill MOS soldiers to raise and train a guerrilla force that will fight the enemy government troops and attempt to restore the true Pineland government. The Special Forces students will teach the guerrillas the basics of patrolling, raids and ambushes, communications, and medical training.

The enemy soldiers or OPFOR (Opposing Forces) for the exercise are generally members of the 82nd Airborne Division from Ft. Bragg. They provide a good test for the SF candidates to take on. They’re well trained and motivated to make things as interesting as possible.

U.S. Green Beret students are infiltrated into Pineland via helicopters and vehicles. Then, they must continue on foot and link up with guerrilla forces, portrayed by active-duty troops. Auxillary forces are portrayed by civilians in the area.

The A-Teams must gain the trust of the guerrilla movement, by building rapport with its leaders, and begin an intensive training program and then work with, by, and through the guerrillas on combat operations against enemy forces.

The scenario was developed by the SWC to train Special Forces soldiers in unconventional warfare.

The Robin Sage exercise gets its name from the town of Robbins, NC, a central area of operations for the exercise, and former Army Colonel Jerry Sage, a World War II veteran and an Office of Strategic Services (OSS) officer who taught unconventional warfare tactics.

The Special Forces’ bread and butter is working and building rapport with indigenous forces. Most missions that SF is tasked with have that as a key component. Therefore, language and cross-cultural communications are very important.

Robin Sage is the culmination of the entire Special Forces Qualification Course as it prepares the prospective Special Forces operator for a variety of missions and most importantly on how to work with indigenous forces.

Pineland flag and poster used in Robin Sage

According to a press release by SWC, about 200 Special Forces students, 500 military and civilian support personnel, and 150 members of the general public will be participating in or providing support during these exercises.

A video from the SWC from a few years ago can be seen here.

Free Pineland!