Saturday, August 22, 2009

I'll take "Dumb Ideas" for $500, Alex...

Can you think of a dumber training exercise to use in a CCW state?
Unwittingly, Fisher had driven into the climactic scene in a secret world of shadow theatrics. The man in the ski cap is a stage actor; the agent with the earpiece is a Secret Service recruit.

Every day, as Washingtonians go about their overt lives, the FBI, CIA, Capitol Police, Secret Service and U.S. Marshals Service stage covert dramas in and around the capital where they train. Officials say the scenarios help agents and officers integrate the intellectual, physical and emotional aspects of classroom instruction. Most exercises are performed inside restricted compounds. But they also unfold in public parks, suburban golf clubs and downtown transit stations.
Fortunately these are only going down in Washington DC where it is vanishingly unlikely that any save .gov employees would be packing heat. However, like that goofy L.A. reality show, Scare Tactics, the possibilities for screwups were this to go down in Free America boggle the mind. Witness what happened a few years back when one deputy failed to get the word regarding the frequent Robin Sage exercise at Fort Bragg:
FORT BRAGG (AP) -- A newly released Army report about the shooting death of a soldier during Special Forces training in February is raising new questions about what really happened.

Two witnesses to the fatal shooting give accounts that conflict with the version given by the sheriff's deputy who killed 1st Lt. Tallas Tomeny during the during the "Robin Sage" exercise in Moore County, according to the report obtained by The News & Observer of Raleigh.


Hunsdon said...

The very first time I saw an ad for Scare Tactics I thought, "Someone's gonna get shot."

Crucis said...

The Robin Sage exercises, on the other hand, have been going on in that area for nearly fifty years. You'd think in all that time, they'd have the notification process well honed---not only on the military side but also on the civilian side as well.

Old NFO said...

Crucis is right... Something doesn't 'smell' right in this case. I'd bet the notification was made, and never put out at roll call...

fast richard said...

Notification or no notification, I don't understand why those morons (the soldiers) would think that every civilian police officer is part of their little training game. What is surprising is that there have not been more such incidents in the many years they seem to have been running these excercises. You can't shut down all civilian activity in a third of a state, just for a training excercise.

It sounds like they at least learned some lessons from this tragic incident. I hope all new trainees are made aware of the pitfalls of dealing with civil authorities and citizens who may not be part of their training staff.

Anonymous said...

You would think that once it got kind of ugly, one of the soldiers (or the civilian) would have started giving the cop a heads up, or let him know they were on a training exercise. To just assume it was all part of the game got one shot and one killed. Hopefully the Army and the Police force will learn from this tragedy.

Tam said...

"You can't shut down all civilian activity in a third of a state, just for a training excercise."

They don't.

Robin Sage has, as Crucis pointed out, been going on in the immediate area of Fort Bragg, with the cooperation of the populace and local civil authorities, for darn near half a century. It wouldn't work without the surrounding townies and cops chipping in as temporary part-time role-players.

I suppose some folks would move to New Orleans and complain about Mardi Gras or next door to a rifle range and gripe about the noise...

I would assume the sheriff signed off on his people being briefed in and ready to go, so bad on him. No foul on the deppity, though; he was doing the right thing.

Mikael said...

"No foul on the deppity, though; he was doing the right thing."

Perhaps, but he certainly doesn't strike me as the brightest bulb in the christmas tree. The civilian helper apparently told him he was from pineland, and the soldiers tried to bribe him with some seriously obvious funny money, at that point, shouldn't the gears in his head start turning a bit? I mean, the state's been doing this thing for 5 decades, and who would normally attempt to bribe a police officer with toy cash?

He's either incompetently dumb, or simply didn't care enough to use that thing between the ears.

I mean most people's first reaction if they weren't in the know would be "what the F*** is this, you're trying to bribe me with toy money? Let me see those hands boy" At which point the soliders would get the drift, and explain. Instead he went instantly on the offensive.

skipelec said...

Sad, both dumb.
This was a clusterf**k from 1 to 10.


Anonymous said...

This touches still raw nerves. I will be calm.

Robin Sage February 2002 was the first Robin sage exercise after 9-11-01. That ought to tell folks a bit about the back story.

After an investigation - and I'll say it was contentious, to say the least - the Department of the Army did the right thing. It still pains me to say that. Deputy Randall Butler was not charged. In all of SOCOM, however, he will be remembered. It was a tragedy, deemed not his fault, but he will be remembered until the end of time.

A number of changes were made to Robin Sage because of this incident. Despite the fact that we'd run Robin Sage in the area for some 40+ years at the time, the Department of the Army decided to change the local notification requirements. I won't go into the background of what the Moore County North Carolina Sheriff's department did with Army notification of the Feburary 2002 exercise.

For ever more, a senior SOCOM Sergeant sits down with all local leaders on the county level, political and LEO, and explains in great detail what the Robin Sage exercise is. Unread faxes will no longer be an excuse.

Robin Sage will never again be held in Moore County, North Carolina.

Robin Sage is an exercise that U.S. Army Special Forces cannot do without, and we still run the exercise 4 times a year.

Before February 2002 Robin Sage, law enforcement in the US had access to a great deal of SOCOM training, especially in weapon's retention and disarmament techniques. That is no longer the case. Simply put, US law enforcement also trains foreign agencies, and SOCOM does not wish to participate in possible unauthorized training of foreign nationals.

Andrew Weitzman said...

Ouch. A few months after 9/11? No wonder it happened.

I would say that, if you are doing a roleplaying exercise, you should always have a safe word in play...

Ian Argent said...

The stupidity in the article, it burned

"Embrey and O'Toole play "op-4s," opposition forces, and "tangos," terrorists. "

Other than the obvious one (op-4 vs OPFOR), I was pretty sure that Tango was used for Target, not Terrorist. A Terrorist is a Tango, but not all Tangos are terrorists, no?

WV: totyptic - too tytpic for the author?

Anonymous said...


A safe word only works if both parties know the safe word. In fact, both parties have to know that you are "playing" ahead of time as well. That appears to be the problem here.

TomR said...

I am a graduate of that training back in the early 70's. Then we called it Gobbler's Woods. A good deal of it took part in Uharrie Natl Forest. As students we were amazed at how much the local civilians took part and role played.

It is sad that this incident occurred. I have heard that some changes were made. As James E Griffin states, it is a necessary exercise to finish up the training of Special Forces troopers.

Rick R. said...

Given that ROBIN SAGE is a quarterly thing that is widely known about (at one point, they used to offer "head bonuses" of beer to local cops who picked up candidates), the fact that the officer in question was unaware is UNSAT.

UNSAT for his department. The Army sent the notice -- HIS chain of command never bothered to read or announce it.

UNSAT by his training officer. It's the sort of thing that ought to come up, just like, "Hey, the local gang colors are PURPLE versus YELLOW, so if you see dudes with pruple hats approaching dues with yellow bandannas, get ready to move in."

Sure it was the first ROBIN SAGE since 9/11.

This is FORT BRAGG. They've been dealing with these guys for 50 years! There wasn't a local within 50 miles who thought that the Army was somehow going to shut down Special Forces training when terrorists just attacked the US.

No excuse.