SERE Specialist – Ensuring Airmen Survival

SERE Specialist helps Pilot Using Survival Mirror (photo by Airman Shawna L. Keyes, USAF, Aug 5, 2016)
SERE Specialists teaches Pilot how to use Survival Mirror (photo by Airman Shawna L. Keyes, USAF, Aug 5, 2016)

The SERE Specialist of the Air Force provides expertise in Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape to Air Force crewmen and other Air Force personnel with a high risk of capture or detention. The story below, by Airman 1st Class Katherine Miller of the 7th Bomb Wing, originally ran on May 23, 2016 on DVIDS.

Can you image having to survive on your own out in the wilderness? Would you be able to build shelter, obtain food and water or use land navigation by compass and GPS devices to find your way to safety?

Can you see yourself being given the responsibility of training Airmen to stay alive if ever they are captured by the enemy or stranded in the middle of the ocean? For Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape specialists, this is a reality.

SERE specialists are highly-trained Airmen whose duty is to teach those with a high risk of capture and isolation how to return home with honor from any type of survival situation.

“I actually first joined the reserves as an aircraft fuels systems maintainer and I did that for about a year and nine months but I was getting tired of it. I felt driven to do something different,” said Tech Sgt. David Noriega, 7th Operations Support Squadron SERE specialist. “So, I went to an active-duty recruiter and he said that the only jobs that are available are those in the critically-demanded career fields.”

There, he was introduced to the SERE Specialist Air Force Specialty Code.

After being given a pamphlet, Noriega’s recruiter explained that SERE specialists do a lot of outdoor activity.

To become a SERE specialist, Noriega explained that you must pass the initial physical training test. This entry-level test consists of push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups and a 1.5 mile run.

Upon successful completion of this test, Airmen then attend the first portion of SERE training, a two-week SERE Selection Training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

After two weeks of extreme training, Noriega made the cut.

“We started off with 33 guys on my indoctrination team and after two weeks, there were only eight that made it to that point,” Noriega said. “And that was just the beginning of becoming a SERE specialist, because once you graduate that, it’s not over.”

SERE candidates that have successfully completed the SERE Selection Training then make their way to Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., for five and a half months of technical training.

During this training, SERE candidates learn how to live off of the land by obtaining food and water, creating fires and shelter. Candidates also learn the skills necessary if captured by the enemy and support rescue and recovery if captured or isolated on land or at sea.

“After those five and a half months, you can call yourself a SERE specialist and wear the beret,” Noriega said.

Noriega is now one of three SERE specialists at Dyess.

“Here at Dyess, we give the aircrew their continuation trainings,” Noriega said. “All of them must go to Fairchild to get formal training – that includes combat and water survival and resistance. What we do here, now that they have their formal training, is refresher training.”

The combat survival course training, a general refresher course, places aircrew out in the woods where they must avoid the SERE instructors and other volunteers that are dressed as simulated enemies. During this scenario, the aircrew must also use different techniques to help them make their way from point A to point B without being detected or caught by the adversary. Aircrew members use diverse methods such as land navigation by GPS and compass, communication via radio to rescuers and maneuvering quickly and quietly while blending in with their environment to remain unnoticed.

This training serves as an opportunity to show the aircrews what may happen if an aircraft were to crash in hostile territory and how to survive in this situation.

Aircrew here also receive another general refresher course from SERE instructors in a water environment. Water survival training places aircrew in a situation in which they have been ejected from their aircraft, deployed their parachute and landed in water. Aircrew must be able to disengage from their harnesses and extricate themselves from their canopies. They also learn how to survive out in the open water.

Noriega explained that training is essential for aircrew since skills can potentially be lost after long periods of time. Therefore, some training is required yearly and others are required every three years.

For each aircrew member they encounter, SERE specialists pass on their knowledge and skills that could potentially save countless lives.

“The skills and experiences that I have to put upon them are to instill confidence in them so that in the event that they are in these situations, they can get themselves out,” Noriega said. “And that’s the gratifying piece of everything that we [SERE specialists] do – it’s not about us, it’s always about them.”

Original story can be found at link below:

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