FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — For the first time since Fort Bragg was changed to Fort Liberty, U.S. Army Special Forces will be conducting a combat training exam across 26 North Carolina counties and three counties in South Carolina.

Of the 29 total counties, seven are in our viewing area. Those counties are Avery, Anson, Cabarrus, Rowan, Stanly and Union in North Carolina and Chesterfield in South Carolina.

“Robin Sage,” which will run from Sept. 15 to 28, is the culmination exercise and has been the litmus test for soldiers striving to earn the Green Beret for more than 40 years.

Special Forces candidates assigned to the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School patrol are tested in the final phase of field training called “Robin Sage” in central North Carolina.

This year, Fort Liberty officials said the exercise includes Carter County in Tennessee, which is on the North Carolina border near Boone and Blowing Rock.

The exercise drew criticism in 2019 when helicopters and simulated weapons fire lit up an office building along Capital Boulevard in Raleigh.

The more than 6,700 Army Green Berets are highly trained commandos who usually work in 12-person teams that are often used for specialized combat and counterterrorism operations and to train other nations’ forces in battle skills.

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Soldiers in a past Robin Sage field exam. DVIDS photo

During the Robin Sage training, students will be fighting in a fictional nation called “Pineland” which in the past has been an “environment of political instability characterized by armed conflict, forcing soldiers to analyze and solve problems.”

For a realistic experience, the role-playing “unconventional warfare exercise” involves more than the Special Forces candidates. Military service members will act as “guerrilla freedom fighters,” Special Forces officials have said in the past.

Civilian volunteers usually also take part.

Fort Liberty military members will act as realistic forces opposing the students and as guerrilla freedom fighters, also known as Pineland’s resistance movement.

The training mission exercises could include “controlled assaults” and “engagements” while soldiers train, eat, and sleep in the area.

The U.S. Army wants to alert residents to the exercise, as they may see flares or hear blank gunfire during the training. The Army typically works in coordination with local public safety officials and “controls are in place to ensure there is no risk to persons or property.”

In March 2019, the Robin Sage exercise descended on the Capital Plaza Hotel in Raleigh and was “considerably louder and more disruptive than the city anticipated,” Ralegh officials said afterward. Wake County is again in the list of counties this year, but it’s not known if any action will take place in urban areas.

If area residents do have concerns, they are asked to contact local law enforcement, who are in touch with military officials.

Special Forces candidates assigned to the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School take part in the final phase of field training known as Robin Sage in central North Carolina, September 28, 2021. (U.S. Army photo by K. Kassens)

The other North Carolina counties in this year’s Robin Sage are: Alamance, Anson, Bladen, Brunswick, Chatham, Columbus, Cumberland, Davidson, Duplin, Guilford, Harnett, Hoke, Lee, Montgomery, Moore, Randolph, Richmond, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland and Wake

The Special Forces exam will also take place in the South Carolina counties of Dillon and Marlboro.

Following the completion of the two-week Robin Sage exercise, soldiers will graduate from the Special Forces Qualification Course training. From there, they move on to their first assignments in the Army Special Forces.

Robin Sage has been conducted since 1974.

The Associated Press contributed to this report