Friday, February 25, 2005

Robin Sage - The adventure continues.

The next two pictures are very similar to what an elementary school teacher saw Thursday as she peered out her classroom window.

Three guys dressed in camoflage, carrying assault rifles, were sneaking through the wooded area adjacent to two school.

So after this story hit the local paper, we headed out to figure out exactly what had happened the day before that caused the elementary school and a middle school to go into full lockdown mode for 15 minutes as the local police department figured out what these guys were up to.

The three guys dressed in fatigues are army special forces trainees. They are participating in Robin Sage, a special forces exercise that uses a group of several surrounding counties here in the Piedmont Triad of North Carolina as a fictional foreign country called Pineland.

This we know. Those screenshots are from a series piece I did last February when we followed the participants in Robin Sage for 2 days as 'Special Forces Units' conducted mock attacks on cell phone towers, and twice found themselves in an ememy ambush, all while we rolled tape.

The objective of our daily news story today was to get the answer to why Robin Sage was so close to the school, and how the school didn't get the word the armed men were going to be there. The simple answer is that the local law enforcement DID know that the operation was going down in the area of the schools.

The trainees were supposed to be closing in on a nearby Concrete Plant that can clearly be seen from the school. Their route through the woods to get to the 'target' took them nearer to the schools than anyone involved thought it would.

As we were interviewing the principal of one of the schools about what they saw and how they locked their schools down, we saw for ourselves another strange site to see at a school. Ttwo guys were walking across the parking lot dressed in army fatigues. My reporter quickly ran them down to see who they were, and I noticed quickly the Robin Sage Sticker on their vehicle. One of the men was even a contact on my story with them last year.

They are instructors of the program and they were at the schools to apologize for scaring the schools and to shoulder the blame for the mis-communication.

They weren't allowed to go on camera, but they did tell us that the three trainees weren't supposed to be moving around in the daylight.

I can just imagine some General somewhere is giving his vocal cords a workout as he screams, "YOU GUYS EXPECT TO TAKE DOWN BAGHDAD AND YOU CAN'T EVEN GET PAST AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHER!!!"

It turned out to be a very interesting story. The video from my adventures with this group last year gave the story a bit of a visual kick not to mention a little perspective.

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