BraggIf you’ve ever bought or sold a house around Sanford, you have likely had to sign or check a box referring to “military noise.”

A simple search on Twitter of the terms “Bragg” and “thunder” brings up a host of tweets from concerned central North Carolina residents trying to discern whether or not they should take cover. And there are the joys that comes from your dogs freaking out in the middle of the night because of the booms, all thanks to having the largest military base in the country, Fort Bragg, right in our backyard.

But what is that noise? We set out to get some answers. We hit Fort Bragg hard. We want the TRUTH!

Ok, so we sent a nicely worded email to Fort Bragg’s public affairs department, sheepishly asking what’s going on, not really expecting a response. Luckily, they are nice people down there. Christina Douglas, Deputy of Public Affairs at the base, had answers.

Basically, it’s what you think it is. Soldiers are training.

“Fort Bragg is a power projection platform, fully capable of rapidly deploying forces around the world in support of our nation and allies,” Douglas said. “Every single day our service members are training around post.”

Most of the booms you hear are indeed from weapons used on ranges. Fort Bragg’s ranges are used for everything ranging from pistols, rifles and machine guns to demolition, aerial and field artillery ranges.

The loud booms you’ve heard recently are actually from some noisy houseguests.

“The past two weeks we’ve had Marines from Camp Lejeune conducting field artillery training. The loud booms are the sounds of these Marines honing their skills to ensure they are fully prepared to deploy across the globe when called to serve our nation,” she said. “The Marines come to Fort Bragg typically twice per year for field artillery training. We also have artillery assets here at Fort Bragg who are out training as well.”

What about those big cargo planes that fly over Sanford, or the convoy of military equipment on U.S. 1 once a week? Does increased activity on our roads and in the air mean that the U.S. is ramping up for war?

Calm down. Mostly, it’s just soldiers doing what soldiers do – training. Douglas said that our military is always ready, and because Bragg is so large and important it’s a common site for large trainings with soldiers from all over.

In fact, the travel to the base can be training in itself. Her office sends out media releases when convoy activity will be abnormally high, like it was last week when the 82nd Airborne Division conducted convoy training from Bragg to Charleston.

Sometimes, though, it’s more than training.

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“We constantly have units returning home from tours overseas and others getting ready to deploy,” she said. “As an example, we just had more than 250 paratroopers from the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division return from Afghanistan and Kosovo on Monday.”

If you grew up in or just after the Cold War in this area, you know that the Russians have a target on us. Everyone’s grandpa told them that when the nuclear war pops off, Fort Bragg was one of the first targets, since it’s the nation’s largest military base.

Is the target on our head? Is Fort Bragg on top of Putin’s big board? Obviously Douglas can’t divulge that kind of info. But from her perspective, Sanford area folks may be the safest in the world because of the base.

“I don’t know about you, but I sure appreciate living next to such a highly capable force,” she wrote.

With 50,000 soldiers and more than 250,000 in support population (family members, civilians who work on base, local area retirees who use services on post), it’s safe to say that Fort Bragg is a transformative force in our region and our economy.

There’s nothing to be afraid of. The next time you hear those booms, rest assured that someone is working hard to protect us and be all that they can be.

Once you calm down the dogs, that is.