Special Forces candidates in the U.S. Army will participate in a very unique training exercise soon. The young soldiers will learn how to overthrow “illegitimate governments” and “seasoned freedom fighters” who, theoretically, would establish such governments.
The woody terrain of North Carolina will host the guerrilla program. News of the new training comes as President Biden’s Justice Department has placed a stronger emphasis on domestic terrorism. According to the department, an “elevated threat from domestic violent extremists” exists today, which necessitates the Army training.
Other iterations of the training, known in the military as Robin Sage training, have existed for nearly 50 years. What the exercise really boils down to is a civil war rehearsal of sorts. During the training, greener soldiers face off against older veterans from Fort Bragg. The veterans (and some special civilians) act as opposing forces and guerrilla fighters trying to rebel against the U.S. government.
But does this type of training blur the lines of the military and police? A century-old law explicitly bars the military from acting as civilian law enforcement. Why? Because military action can pose a significant threat to liberty and democracy if put in the wrong hands.
The exercise prepares the soldiers for potential situations that may arise at home or abroad.
This year’s Robin Sage exercise will serve as the final exam for the Special Forces Qualification Course. The test begins late January 2022 and will be held on private land.
What Does the Training Look Like, Specifically?
Soldiers must navigate a politically unstable environment as they attempt to gain control of the situation. They must conduct reconnaissance, ambushes, and other operations in the face of a “numerically superior enemy.”
“The Special Forces candidates have to meet up with and make rapport with a third-world nation guerrilla force, train them up, and then work by, with, and through that guerrilla force to conduct combat operations against a numerically superior enemy occupying force,” retired Special Forces warrant officer Steve Balestrieri, who typically runs the course, said.
The US Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School says that candidates must understand war-crime scenarios, political persuasion, and negotiations in order to succeed. The soldiers must also proceed through the exercise without losing support of their allies, considering how common espionage becomes in countries dealing with internal strife.
“To add realism of the exercise, civilian volunteers throughout the state act as role players,” the JFK center said. “Participation by these volunteers is crucial to the success of this training, and past trainees attest to the realism they add to the exercise.”