Known as ‘Robin Sage’, the drills are considered the US Army’s ‘premiere unconventional warfare exercise’, and see special forces cadets, troops out of the Fort Bragg military installation, and volunteer civilians descend on counties across North Carolina for training.

The US Army is planning to hold a series of extensive special forces training drills across 21 counties in North Carolina starting next Friday and running through September 12, with the military urging the public not to be concerned about the drills, which will feature troops “acting as realistic opposing forces and guerilla freedom fighters, known as Pineland’s resistance movement,” the Charlotte Observer has reported, citing an Army press release.

The special forces student-based ‘resistance’ will be wearing civilian clothes, along with a “distinctive brown armband,” with personnel involved in the drills simulating “an environment of political instability characterized by armed conflict, forcing Soldiers to analyse and solve problems to meet the challenges of this ‘real-world’ training,” the release added.

Footage from previous similar drills shows troops in army camo detaining a vehicle, frisking a suspect, and roleplaying machinegun-toting ‘militia’ fighters driving around in in a battered pickup truck, followed by tactical engagements in a wooded area and a warehouse. Previous iterations of the drills have included the use of helicopters, Humvees, and other military equipment.

According to the military, the drills were announced well ahead of time, with all local law enforcement agencies and local officials informed following a deadly 2002 incident which saw one soldier killed and another wounded after a police officer from Moore County mistook troops involved in the drills for actual criminals.

“Residents may hear blank gunfire and see occasional flares. Controls are in place to ensure there is no risk to persons or property. Residents with concerns should contact local law enforcement officials, who will immediately contact exercise control officials,” officials said.