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New safety in training begins for Army's Special Forces
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. -- Soldiers training for the Special Forces began a qualification exercise Saturday under sweeping new security measures imposed after a participant's death earlier this year.
Students in the Special Forces Qualification Course use the "Robin Sage" exercise to practice interactions with guerrilla forces. Trainees work with civilians playing the role of insurgents in a fictional scenario.
The exercise was halted in February after a Moore County deputy fatally shot a soldier and wounded another. The soldiers were in civilian clothing and tried to disarm the deputy as part of the role-playing.
The deputy was unaware the soldiers were participating in the exercise.
To make the exercise safer for participants and civilians, the Army said it would no longer role-play with law enforcement officers and participants would be uniformed. The Robin Sage exercise has been held for 40 years in counties around Fort Bragg.
"Safety is our number one priority," said Maj. Richard Patterson with Fort Bragg's John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, which trains Special Forces soldiers. "The additional safety measures incorporated during the exercise in February will continue during this exercise."
The exercise will continue until May 18.
The Army contacted local authorities about the exercise and made a personal visit to discuss the precautions, said Lane Carter, chief deputy sheriff in Moore County.
The Army has not concluded its investigation into the shooting death Feb. 23 during the last exercise. First Lt. Tallas Tomeny was killed and Sgt. Stephen Phelps was wounded.
The exercise is the final step in the qualification course for soldiers seeking the coveted Green Beret. It usually takes place four times yearly.