The real bad guys these days are known as the Taliban, al Qaeda, ISIS, and others. But for decades, U.S. troops have been fighting wars against fictional enemies that only exist in training exercises. They usually have ridiculous-sounding names and strange back stories.
While we received plenty of help on social media and this post at Mental Floss on these opposition forces (OPFOR), to include name and which training exercise or location they operate in, some details remain murky.
If you find yourself fighting these forces in the future, here’s the basic intel you need to know.
The Krasnovians (National Training Center)
These are your hard-core fighters from a Soviet bloc country called Krasnovia. Unpredictable and a very non-traditional enemy force, the Krasnovians are known to switch up their tactics and quickly adapt, like stopping the use of radios and moving to cell phones to throw off U.S. soldiers they are fighting.
We’ve heard the key to beating them is by offering them vodka as a peace offering, or just send in this guy:
The United Provinces of Atlantica (Special Forces “Q” Course)
A northern neighbor to Pineland, the UPA is a former Cold War ally of the Soviets. The Atlanticans aren’t fans of the U.S. or their neighbors. That’s especially true, since they invade and take over peaceful Pineland around eight times a year.
Fortunately, Army Special Forces candidates come in and save the day on a regular basis.
The Mojavians (Combined Arms Exercise at 29 Palms, Calif.)
Not much is known about the Mojavians, except that they like to exclusively fight against U.S. Marines during a 22-day period of combined arms training at their desert base in Twentynine Palms, California. These bad guys operate in similar fashion as insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, and will rarely engage in a real fight. Instead, they rely on hit-and-run tactics.
The Centralian Revolutionary Force (The U.S. Marine Corps Basic School)
In the depths of a three-year civil war, the people of Centralia hope to have a democratic state and live in peace. But their neighbors in Montanya, and an oppressive rebel force known as the Centralian Revolutionary Force, continue to harass the local populace.
Both the CRF and the Montanyan Regular Forces continue to attack the Centralian Army and civilians in the region. Let’s all just hope those fresh Marine Corps officers are able to bring stability to Centralia, a country which has been oppressed for far too long.
Arianan Special Purpose Forces (Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk, La.)
A force from Ariana — an enemy nation seeking nuclear weapons and hostile to the U.S. and Israel which sounds kind of like Iran — the ASPF constantly invades its neighbor in Atropia, a key U.S. ally.
The ASPF is a threat to U.S. interests — including the consulate in Dara Lam — and it continues to support a local insurgency known as the South Atropian People’s Army. This enemy is unpredictable and employs similar tactics to enemy forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Possibly worst of all: U.S. soldiers only have 11 days to beat them and save Atropia. Good luck.
Have any more you would add to the list? Let us know the enemy force and where you heard it in the comments.
Army Spc. Paul Chelimo competed in the 5,000-meter race in the Rio Olympics on Saturday, crossing the finish line in second place. But officials told him during a post-race interview that he had been disqualified and lost his medal.
Then, he got it back.
Chelimo was recruited into the Army’s World Class Athlete Program out of the University of North Carolina. He serves as a water treatment specialist but is allowed to spend a lot of his time training to represent the U.S. and the Army in high-profile athletic competitions.
On Saturday, he ran in the Olympic men’s 5,000-meter race and posted a strong second-place finish, giving America its first medal in that event since Bob Schul took gold and Bill Dellinger took bronze in the 1964 games in Tokyo.
“I was trying to get to the outside,” he said. “I was trying to save myself from all of the pushing.”
The U.S. track officials protested the decision. The judges are allowed to use their discretion on whether an athlete stepping out of bounds was on purpose or not and whether it provided a competitive advantage.
In Chelimo’s case, the judges found during the review that the soldier had likely stepped out of bounds on accident and that he would have placed second either way. Chelimo had beaten the bronze medalist by nearly a half-second, 13:03.90 against Hagos Gebrhiwet of Ethiopia’s 13:04.35. That is much more than any advantage he might have gained.
It also represents Chelimo’s personal record in the 5,000-meter event.
So, Chelimo was given his 2nd place finish back and allowed to keep his silver medal. He joins Army 2nd Lt. Sam Kendricks as an Army medalist in Rio. Kendricks won the bronze in the men’s pole vault.
China has made excellent progress developing its second aircraft carrier, and Chinese state-run media says it could start patrolling the South China Sea by 2019.
The South China Morning Post, based on a scan of Chinese state media reports, states that the carrier was “taking shape.”
“It will be used to tackle the complicated situations in the South China Sea,” said Chinese media.
The “complicated situation” the media report referred to stems from Beijing’s claims to about 85% of the South China Sea, which sees $5 trillion in trade annually. China has developed a network of artificially built, militarized islands in the region, and at times has unilaterally declared “no fly” or “no sail” zones.
In 2016, the International Court of Arbitration ruled these claims illegal, and the Trump administration has promised to put a stop to China’s aggressive, unlawful behavior.
But that’s easier said than done, and a designated aircraft carrier in the region could help cement China’s claims.
China’s second carrier, likely to be named the “Shangdong” after a Chinese port city, will resemble the Liaoning, China’s first aircraft carrier, which itself is a refurbished Soviet model.
China’s carriers, like Russia’s sole carrier the Admiral Kuznetzov, feature a ski-slope design. US models, on the other hand, use catapults, or devices that forcefully launch the planes off the ship. Ski-slope style carriers can’t launch the heavy bomb-and-fuel-laden planes that US carriers can, so their efficacy and range are severely limited.
But Taylor Mavin, a UC San Diego graduate student in international affairs, notes for Smoke and Stir that these smaller, Soviet-designed carriers were built with the idea of coastal defense, not seaborne power projection, being the main goal:
“Since a major confrontation between NATO and Warsaw Pact would most likely take place in Europe, during the later Cold War Soviet planners focused on protecting the heavily defended ‘bastions’ shielding their ballistic missile submarines and not seaborne power projection.
China’s navy has undergone rapid modernization in the last few years with particular emphasis on fielding submarines. So while a Chinese carrier couldn’t travel to say, Libya, and project power like a US carrier could, it might just be custom made for the South China Sea.
But don’t expect the world’s most populous nation to stop at two carriers. A recent report from Defense News states that satellite imagery from China shows the nation developing catapults to possibly field on a US-style carrier.
Taken in concert with China’s other efforts to create anti-access/area-denial technology like extremely long-range missiles, the US will have to have its work cut out for it in trying to offer any meaningful counter to China’s expansionism in the Pacific.
The best snipers in the world meet up at Fort Bragg, North Carolina each year to fight for top bragging rights and to learn from each other.
Twenty-five sniper teams from the U.S., Ireland, Singapore, Kazahkstan, and other allied nations competed in 21 tough events during the 2016 U.S. Army Special Operations Command International Sniper Competition, which took place Mar. 20 to 25.
Each event tests snipers’ professional and tactical skills and is based on actual combat experiences. The competitors conducted day and night shoots in a tactical environment at ranges from a few dozen feet to over 3,000.
“The competition is combat-oriented on things that have been used on deployment,” Master Sgt. Jason Brown, a Special Forces Sniper Course instructor and an event coordinator during the 2014 competition told an Army journalist. “Because of this, it tests the competitors on tasks that will help them complete their missions down range.”
Snipers have to prove they can stalk through the bush and fire a variety of weapons to win. And the competition is fierce, most units send their best sniper and spotter teams to earn top honors. They have to be masters of sniper techniques.
One of the best things about this competition and others like it is that when top-tier snipers from friendly militaries get together, they trade tips and secrets on how to be effective. The cadre running the event can also see skills they can teach to future students.
“It brings all the snipers together from all over the world, which gives them a chance to communicate on what they are doing in training to become better snipers,” said Brown. “This helps the SFSC committee because most of the competitors are from the Special Operations Forces Regiments and it allows us to see how well they have been trained by us and how well they are conducting their own training once they have completed ours.”
Special Forces Association-Chapter 62 with The Special Forces Charitable Trust sponsored the competition and funded prizes such as rifles, optics, and other high-quality, essential equipment.
Green Berets swept the podium as 3rd Special Forces Group took the top spot in 2016 and two other Special Forces groups took second and third.
The U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School and U.S. Army Special Operations Center of Excellence Sniper Course instructors ran the annual U.S. Army Special Operations Command International Sniper Competition.
There are currently 20 aircraft carriers in service with nine different countries around the world today. Five of those countries are currently building new aircraft carriers, which are expected to take to the seas in the next few decades.
The US, UK, China, India, and Italy are all either in the process of building new flattops or are in the final stages of planning. Aircraft carriers that support fixed-wing, smaller helicopters are being built and may be upgraded to carry aircraft, like the F-35B, which has vertical take-off and landing capabilities.
See the newest aircraft carriers here:
1. USS Gerald R. Ford
The USS Gerald R. Ford was laid down in November 2009, completed in October 2013, and commissioned in July 2017. It is the lead ship of its class and is planned to be the first of 10 new aircraft carriers.
The ship has a number of new technologies, like the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System, which is intended to replace the steam-powered launch system on current aircraft carriers.
With a length of 1,106 feet, Ford is expected to carry over 75 individual aircraft, with most of them planned to be F-35 variants. However, due to technical and delivery issues, Ford will likely not see F-35s on her deck until late 2018 at the earliest.
Ford recently tested launching F/A-18F Super Hornets off of its deck. It is expected to be fully operational and integrated and into the US Navy by 2022.
2. USS John F. Kennedy
USS John F. Kennedy is the second Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier to be built for the US Navy. The ship was reportedly 50% structurally complete as of June 2017.
Kennedy is currently under construction at a Huntington Ingalls Industries facility in Newport News, Virginia. The carrier was originally supposed to be completed in 2018, but it ran into a number of problems during construction.
Most of the problems stem from cost issues relating to the Gerald R. Ford. Ford had a cost increase of 22%, topping $12.8 billion in 2008.
The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommended delaying the commissioning of the ship in 2013. It is now expected to be commissioned in 2020.
3. USS Enterprise
USS Enterprise is the third Gerald R. Ford-class carrier currently being built. The first cut of steel was cut in a ceremony August 2017 by the ship’s sponsors, Olympians Katie Ledecky and Simone Biles.
Enterprise will the be the ninth vessel in the US Navy to have the name. The previous ship was the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier ever built and was decommissioned February 2018.
Like the Ford and the Kennedy, Enterprise expected to carry over 75 aircraft.
4. HMS Queen Elizabeth
Commissioned in 2017, HMS Queen Elizabeth is the newest aircraft carrier of the Royal Navy, and currently Britain’s only active one as well.
Queen Elizabeth is unique from other carriers in that she has two control towers, one for sea operations, and one for air operations.
With a deck that is 932 feet long, Queen Elizabeth is intended to have up to 40 aircraft, with the F-35 being the main fixed-wing jet for the ship. Other aircraft planned to be included are Chinook helicopters, Apache AH MK1 gunships, AW101 Merlin transport helicopters, and AW159 Wildcat anti-surface warfare helicopters.
Queen Elizabeth docked for the first time at an overseas port on February 2018, when it visited Gibraltar.
5. HMS Prince of Wales
HMS Prince of Wales is Britain’s second Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier. It is currently under construction at the Rosyth Dockyard in Scotland and will be Britain’s second aircraft carrier when complete.
Prince of Wales was officially named at a ceremony September 2017, which was attended by the current Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, and his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Rothesay.
December 2017, Prince of Wales un-docked and was afloat for the first time. The carrier was moved to her fitting-out berth, where she will have all of her equipment and controls added on.
The carrier is structurally complete and is expected to start sea trials in 2019 and be officially commissioned in 2020.
Liaoning is the Peoples Liberation Army Navy’s first combat-capable aircraft carrier. China had bought other aircraft carriers before to use as casinos and museum ships, but it wasn’t until it purchased a half-built Soviet carrier in 1998 that China seriously started its carrier program.
Liaoning is 999 feet long and has an air wing of 26 Shenyang J-15 multi-role fighters, 12 Changhe Z-18 anti-submarine warfare/transport helicopters, and two Harbin Z-9 utility helicopters.
The carrier was commissioned in 2012, and although the Liaoning is a fully functional aircraft carrier, it is currently classified as a training ship, so as to help the Chinese Navy (PLAN) become familiar with aircraft carrier operations.
The Type 001A is China’s first domestically built aircraft carrier. Initial construction started almost immediately after Liaoning was commissioned, and it has a number of improvements over its Soviet-built predecessor.
Most notably, the Type 001A has an overall length of 1,033 feet and is planned to carry 48 aircraft.
It is not known what the Type 001A will be named, but there was speculation that it will be named ‘Shandong.’ The carrier is currently being fitted out at the PLAN port in Dalian and is expected to be commissioned around 2020.
8. Type 002
The Type 002 will be China’s second domestically-built aircraft carrier, and the third in its fleet. It has been under construction since 2015 and is reportedly a massive leap forward for China’s aircraft carrier ambitions.
The Type 002 will be nuclear powered, which will make China only the third nation in the world to have nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, the first two being the US and France.
The carrier will also have electromagnetic (EMALS) catapults to launch aircraft from its deck, which is expected to be longer than the Liaoning.
The EMALS systems will allow the carrier to launch more than just J-15s, the only jet that can be launched on China’s other two carriers. In fact, China announced that it wants its future aircraft carriers to launch its J-31 or J-20 stealth jets.
China announced that it intends to speed the development of the unnamed Type 002, which is part of its plans to have a “blue-water navy” by 2025.
9. INS Vikramaditya
INS Vikramaditya is currently India’s only aircraft carrier after India retired the INS Viraat in early 2017.
A heavily modified Kiev-class, it was originally built for the Soviet Navy in 1982 and served the Soviet Union under two names: Baku from 1987 to 1991, and Admiral Gorshkov from 1991 to 1996.
The carrier entered full service in the Indian Navy in 2013, after extensive modernization efforts.
Vikramaditya is 930 feet long and carries a total of 36 aircraft: 26 MiG-29K and 10 Kamov Ka-31 and Kamov Ka-28 helicopters. It is also the first ship in the Indian Navy to have an ATM on board.
1o. INS Vikrant
INS Vikrant is India’s first domestically-built aircraft carrier, and the first ship in the Indian Navy to be built completely using domestically-produced steel.
The carrier was ordered in 2004, and initial construction started in 2009. It is shorter than the Vikramaditya, with a total length of 860 feet. It will reportedly be able to carry 30 to 40 aircraft, mostly MiG-29Ks and helicopters.
The Vikrant has been the cause of a lot of headaches for India. It was delayed several times and has gone over budget, but is expected to finally start two years of sea trials by the end of 2018. It is planned to be commissioned in 2020.
Trieste will be Italy’s third aircraft carrier, after the Giuseppe Garibaldi and the Cavour. The Trieste is not a traditional aircraft carrier, but a Landing Helicopter Dock, more similar to the US Navy’s America-class amphibious assault ship.
Its total length is 803 feet, smaller than the America-class. It will hold 12 aircraft, probably AgustaWestland AW101s or NHIndustries NH90.
But the Italian Navy may put a small number of F-35Bs, the short take-off and vertical landing variant of the F-35, on the Trieste, which would make it a conventional aircraft carrier that can carry fixed-wing aircraft.
Italy currently has San Giorgio-class amphibious transport docks.
Trieste is expected to be launched in 2019, and commissioned in 2022.
12. ROKS Marado
Like the Trieste, South Korea’s ROKS Marado is an amphibious assault ship. Construction started April 2017 and it is expected to be launched just a year later, in April 2018.
Current plans are to have Morado commissioned by 2020, which will make it South Korea’s second Dokdo-class amphibious assault ships, behind ROKS Dokdo, which was commissioned in July of 2007.
At 653 feet, the Morado can currently carry 10 helicopters like the UH-1H, UH-60P or the Westland Super Lynx. However, like Italy, South Korea is debating putting F-35Bs on the ships as well.
Operation Desert Storm kicked off 24 years ago on Jan. 17, 1991.
The Gulf War officially lasted from August 2, 1990 to February 28, 1991. It consisted of two phases; Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. Desert Shield was the codename used for the part leading to the buildup of troops and defense of Saudi Arabia and Desert Storm was the combat phase by the coalition forces against Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.
15,000 Western civilians – including 3,000 Americans – living in Kuwait were rounded up and taken to Baghdad as hostages. In this YouTube screen capture, 5-year-old Briton, Stuart Lockwood refuses Saddam Hussein’s invitation to sit on his knee … Awkward.
700,000 American troops were deployed to the war; that’s more than 2015’s entire population of Nashville, TN.
Desert Storm was the largest military alliance since World War II; 34 nations led by the United States waged war in response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.
American troops prepared for every scenario since Iraq was known for employing chemical weapons in the past.
Untested in combat, Desert Storm would be the first time the M1 Abrams tank saw action; 1,848 of them were deployed to the war.
The Iraqi Army used T-55, T-62, and T-72 tanks imported from the Soviet Union and Poland.
But they were no match for U.S. forces.
More than 1,000 military aircraft were deployed to the Gulf War.
One of the key players in Desert Storm was the stealthy F-117 Nighthawk.
Coalition forces flew over 100,000 sorties and dropped more than 88,500 tons of bombs.
You can’t hit what you can’t see. Iraq’s anti-aircraft guns were useless against the F-117.
Here’s the aftermath of a coalition attack along a road in the Euphrates River Valley…
Russia has sent two modernized submarines equipped with advanced stealth technologies to the Mediterranean Sea as part of efforts to reinforce naval presence off the Syrian coast.
“The Black Sea fleet’s new large diesel and electric submarines, Kolpino and Veliky Novgorod … have arrived in the Mediterranean,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on its website on Aug. 28.
The ministry added that the two stealth submarines were fitted with new navigation systems, fully automatized control systems, high-precision missiles, and powerful torpedo equipment.
The submarines, classified by NATO as “Improved Kilo” class, were built in the northwestern city of Saint Petersburg and are designed for anti-ship and anti-submarine operations in mid-depth waters. They are capable of holding a crew of 50 and have a top underwater speed of 20 knots and a cruising range of 400 miles.
A Improved Kilo-class submarine. Photo from Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation.
Part of Russia’s Black Sea fleet is engaged in the battle against the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in Syria.
Moscow launched its campaign against Daesh and other terror outfits in Syria at the Damascus government’s request in September 2015. Its airstrikes have helped Syrian forces advance against militant groups fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad’s government.
Syria has been fighting different foreign-sponsored militant and terrorist groups since March 2011.
Damascus blames the deadly militancy on some Western states and their regional allies.
Northrop Grumman Corp. and Boeing Co. have received the ICBM replacement contracts for technology maturation and risk reduction, the service said in an announcement on August 21.
The two contracts are not to exceed $359 million each, the service said, though Boeing was awarded a $349 million agreement and Northrop received a $328 million deal.
Lockheed Martin Corp., the world’s largest defense contractor, was also in the running for the competition announced last year. The Air Force opted to down-select from three companies to two for the next phase of the program.
After the 36-month risk reduction phase, a single company will be chosen for the engineering and manufacturing development in 2020.
“We are moving forward with modernization of the ground-based leg of the nuclear triad,” said Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said. “Our missiles were built in the 1970s. Things just wear out, and it becomes more expensive to maintain them than to replace them. We need to cost-effectively modernize,” she said in the release.
“As others have stated, the only thing more expensive than deterrence is fighting a war. The Minuteman III is 45 years old. It is time to upgrade,” added Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein.
The Air Force is responsible for two out of the three legs of the nuclear triad. It expects to deploy GBSD in the late 2020s.
Northrop and Boeing were selected because the defense companies are determined “to provide the best overall value to the warfighter and taxpayers based on the source selection’s evaluation factors,” which are their technical approach, technical risk, and cost/price, Air Force officials said.
Boeing will perform majority of the TMRR’s program work in its Huntsville, Alabama facility, while Northrop will use Redondo Beach, California, as its facility.
For the GBSD acquisition program, the service’s Nuclear Weapons Center will also be “focused on developing and delivering an integrated GBSD weapon system, including launch and command-and-control segments,” the announcement said.
Officials have noted that GBSD is meant to be more modular and technically advanced, and more readily adaptable to challenges posed by hostile adversaries.
The first contract awards come at a time when the Defense Department is conducting the Nuclear Posture Review, designed to determine what role nuclear weapons should play in US security strategy — and how many should be in the arsenal.
Additionally, the GBSD news precedes the Air Force’s anticipated announcement for the Long Range Standoff Weapon, or LRSO — a nuclear-capable cruise missile to be launched from aircraft such as the B-52 Stratofortress.
The LRSO program would replace the AGM-86B Air Launched Cruise Missile, and a contract is expected to be announced this year.
The U.S. is sending 2,500 additional forces to Kuwait to serve in a reserve capacity in the fight against the Islamic State, Army Times reports.
The forces will largely be drawn from the 82nd Airborne division and will be used at the discretion of ground commanders in the ISIS fight. The announcement is the latest in a series of escalations by the Trump administration in the war against ISIS which could signal a prolonged U.S. presence in Syria and Iraq.
A spokesman for U.S. Central Command would not comment to The Daily Caller News Foundation on the role these forces may play in Syria. The additional personnel will be “postured there to do all things Mosul, Raqqa, all in between,” Army Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson told Congress Wednesday.
U.S. conventional forces could be used in stabilization operations in Syria after the initial local force assault on ISIS’s capital of Raqqa, Army Gen. Joseph Votel intimated to Congress Thursday. The Trump administration is also significantly increasing the number of U.S. personnel inside Syria to support the assault.
The Pentagon confirmed Wednesday it deployed nearly 400 additional troops to Syria to serve in a support capacity for the Syrian Democratic Force’s assault. The troops include U.S. marines to provide artillery support who will set up a firing base just 20 miles away from the terrorist group’s headquarters.
The additional personnel to Syria and Kuwait, are likely part of a larger facet of a new Pentagon plan to “eradicate” ISIS. Trump campaigned heavily on a promise to defeat the terrorist group and ordered Secretary of Defense James Mattis to deliver a series of options to the White House to get rid of the group.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford told a think tank audience in late February it would be “a political-military plan.”
“The grievances of the [Syrian] civil war have to be addressed, the safety and humanitarian assistance that needs to be provided to people have to be addressed, and the multiple divergent stakeholders’ views need to be addressed,” Dunford continued.
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U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Paul T. “PJ” Johnson is right up there with the best pilots to have ever flown the A-10. While serving as a captain during Operation Desert Storm, he was decorated with the Air Force Cross for leading the rescue mission of a downed Navy F-14 Tomcat pilot deep behind enemy lines.
Capt. Johnson was en route from another mission when he received the call to search for the F-14 crew that had been shot down the night before. During the next six hours, he lead the search through three aerial refuelings, one attack on a possible SCUD missile site, and three hours of going deeper into enemy territory than any A-10 had ever flown. When he finally spotted the survivor, an enemy vehicle was heading in his direction, which Johnson proceeded to destroy, thus securing the target.
The mission was successful and a first for the A-10. A few days later, Johnson’s skills were on full display when he was hit by an enemy missile while trying to take out a radar site. The explosion left a gaping hole on his right wing, which disabled one of the hydraulic systems. Still, he managed to fly back to safety.
This video shows how Johnson pulled through his “high pucker factor” experience, which he credits to a “wing and a prayer.”
Gen. Johnson received his commission in 1985 from Officer Training School, Lackland Air Force Base. He’s a command pilot with more than 3,000 hours on the A-10 and served as commander of the 75th Fighter Squadron, Pope AFB, N.C.; the 354th Operations Group, Eielson AFB, Alaska; the 355th Fighter Wing, Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona; and 451st Air Expeditionary Wing, Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. He’s retiring on July 01, 2016, according to his Air Force profile.
Welcome to Pineland, the fictional country made up of more than 20 North and South Carolina counties — including Alamance — that US Army Special Forces students will infiltrate to overthrow its oppressive government.
Students at the US Army’s John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, based out of Fort Bragg, and role-players will conduct training missions during the exercise, dubbed “Robin Sage,” such as controlled assaults, but also live, eat, and sleep in civilian areas, according to a Fort Bragg news release.
The Army notified local law enforcement agencies, said Randy Jones, spokesman for the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office. This is something the Army has done several times a year for many years,” Jones said.
“We just know they’re in the area and how they’re flagged,” he said.
Students will wear civilian clothes only if instructors determine the situation warrants it and then will wear distinctive armbands, according to Fort Bragg, and training areas and vehicles used during exercises will be clearly labeled.
Service members from other units at Fort Bragg will support the exercise by acting as opposing forces and guerrilla freedom fighters — Pineland’s resistance movement. Civilian volunteers throughout the state also act as role-players.
Residents may hear blank gunfire and see occasional flares, according to the release. Controls are in place to ensure there is no risk to people or property.
The Army has been conducting Robin Sage since 1974, but it has not always gone smoothly.
In August 2002 a Moore County deputy, who didn’t know Robin Sage troops were in his area, shot and killed one army trainee and wounded another. The soldiers, who were dressed in civilian clothes, were shot after they tried to disarm the deputy, who they thought also was part of the exercise.
US Army officials have since modified the exercises to make the public and law enforcement aware of what is happening, and to make sure troops know how to deal with civilians and civilian authorities.
Residents with concerns should contact local law enforcement officials, who can contact officials in charge of the exercise.
About a dozen young men and women are gathered at a shopping center, lining up outside Marine Corps Recruiting Sub-Station here, to prepare for the challenges of recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina.
Some recruits are more prepared than others. Some still have ground to cover and goals to obtain, but 17-year-old Demetri E. Ramos has covered more ground than his peers.
Over the past three years he lost about 90 pounds to be eligible to enlist in the United States Marine Corps. He started his journey at 260 pounds and now weighs 170 pounds.
His stepfather, Robert Haag, challenged him during his freshman year to turn his life around. Haag noticed his stepson would spend many hours every day playing video games in the basement of his house. Haag approached Ramos and challenged him to earn his place on “the wall.”
“There is a big wall in our house that you have to earn your way [onto],” Haag said. On this wall are photos of six current and former Marines.
Setting a Goal
“My stepfather told me if I go from 260 pounds to 180 pounds, he would buy me an Xbox One,” said Ramos, a Severna Park High School native. At first, Ramos was hesitant about the large amount of weight he would have to lose.
But, he said, after eating healthier and spending long hours in the gym with his stepbrother he accomplished his goal.
After graduating high school this past spring, Ramos’ stepbrother and stepfather, who are both Marines, went with him to visit the local Marine Corps Recruiting Station, a trip that would change his life forever.
Ramos added he always looked up to and admired the Marines in his family because of their character and values they learned.
“To see the dedication he had before talking to [us] was incredible,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jason Irwin, the commander of the Glen Burnie Marine recruiting office. “You can definitely see the commitment he had to make himself eligible for enlistment, and to take the initial steps of becoming a United States Marine.”
“It wasn’t fun being incapable of doing things because of my weight, or being out of shape and not progressing,” Ramos said. “My motivation initially started with these restrictions and it grew more and more when I continued to lose weight and wanted to continue to make myself better as a person.”
Ramos is scheduled to attend recruit training at the end of this year, and according to Irwin, “he is pumped and ready to go.”
“If you never have confidence in yourself, you’re not going to go anywhere,” he said.