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Marines train alongside soldiers at Robin Sage exercise

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 200531191749
Story by Cpl. Brian Kester

MCRD PARRIS ISLAND, SC (March 11, 2005) -- Twenty-three Marines from across the Depot, alongside more than 350 members of the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division and various reserve and National Guard units from across the country, recently participated in the fourth phase of training for Special Forces soldiers called Robin Sage in a 14-county area in central North Carolina.

According to the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School Public Affairs Office, Robin Sage is designed to provide prospective Special Forces soldiers with realistic training in unconventional warfare and it is the capstone training exercise for the Special Forces Qualification Course.

The exercise placed Special Forces soldiers in various scenarios involving a guerilla force in the fictional country of "Pineland" fighting against a foreign aggressor, the "United Province of Atlantica." The soldiers then build camaraderie with that force and begin training them to fight and survive efficiently.

According to the Special Warfare Center, Robin Sage has been conducted for more than 40 years with the help of both civilian authorities and the citizens of central North Carolina.

To add to the realism of the exercise, auxiliary forces consisting of civilian volunteers throughout the state will act as role-players during the training. Participation by these auxiliary members is crucial to the success of the Special Forces training, according to reports from past trainees.

One Special Forces student of the course yearned for any and all challenges as he underwent the scenarios.

"I wanted to do something a little more high speed, a little more challenging," said one student who wished to remain anonymous.

He felt the need to be able to think on his feet a little more than what may be allowed in the conventional Army.

While he had heard stories about what Robin Sage would be like, he was still in awe over the overwhelming support and participation in the community.

"I think that it is cool that the local people are involved," he said. "They are fans of the military and like to support it. This is a way for them to help out and it's good."

That support has grown not only within the community in North Carolina, but now at Parris Island as well.
"Robin Sage was a good experience for me," said Lance Cpl. Philip E. Pickens, a Combat Visual Information Center fiscal clerk. "As a fiscal clerk, you can imagine I don't get to the field very often and the longest I ever was [in the field] at one time was during Marine Combat Training."

Pickens' brief experience in the field left him yearning for more and when he got to Robin Sage, he soaked up all the knowledge he could.
Being in the field for two weeks makes a big difference, said Pickens. I learned a lot and will know how to prepare better for it next time.

"As part of the recon team in our guerilla force," Pickens said, "we gathered intelligence for upcoming assaults and raids against the "United Province of Atlantica."
"I learned a few things that I didn't know before when it comes to planning a mission.

Good intelligence is everything when planning, but if it is a little off, being flexible and able to function when things go wrong is everything."

That ability to learn was not only relegated to those who are not in a combat related military occupational specialty. The entire 10th Mountain Division is infantry and they were able to learn some new tasks while participating in Robin Sage.

We are infantry, so about the only thing that was really new to us was the demolition classes and some communications classes, said Sergeant First Class Larry D. North, platoon sergeant with 10th Mountain Division.

"I support helping out in the Special Forces training," said North, Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran who, along with the rest of the 10th Mountain Division, will soon be deploying to Afghanistan. "[Special Forces are] a very important part of the Army and are supposed to be the cream of the crop. I think that the students would benefit a lot more if they had real role players from Iraq or elsewhere that they would have to train from scratch and not seasoned soldiers or Marines."

The exercise benefited both combat experienced troops as well as those that primarily sit behind a desk.

"It's a good experience and reiterates on some skills that you do not receive training on while sitting at your desk," said Pickens.


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