SERE: readiness is a mindset

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Katie Mullikin
  • 100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

ROYAL AIR FORCE MILDENHALL, England. – A group of scattered Airmen breathe in the sharp, cold morning air that accompanies the British winters, nipping their noses as they anticipate the day. Eyes peer out over the growth of shrubs on the forest ground, surveying their surroundings. Airmen crouch to remain hidden as they swiftly move in formation towards their target, keeping their senses alert, ready for any signs of danger or hostility.

The 352nd Special Operations Wing and 100th Operations Support Squadron Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) instructors conducted combat survival and evasion training with Airmen assigned to the 352nd SOW near Thetford, England, Jan. 17, 2024.

“This training is important for Airmen,” said 352nd SOW SERE instructor. “It enables them to do their job and survive if they ever become at high risk of isolation in a hostile environment.”

Combat survival training is an initial training that aircrew receive at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., and then again at their installation every 36 months by SERE specialists assigned to their units.

“The target audience for this training is aircrew, but any Airmen that may have a high risk of isolation while performing the mission can benefit from this training as well,” said SERE instructor.

Combat survival and evasion training is conducted 12 times a year for over 300 Airmen in the tri-base area.

“This training is really important for our job and our survival,” a participant said.

The training contains techniques and procedures that teach Airmen how to avoid hostile environments, evade capture and approach hostile threats. Throughout the training, Airmen are challenged by developing survival plans and evasion movements.

“It’s important that Airmen know how to respond if their mission goes sideways, and understand they are no longer just aircrew, but also an isolated survivor in a hostile environment,” SERE instructor added.

The U.K. government partners with the U.S. military to coordinate necessary training and activities in forward locations to expand their environmental experiences and readiness. Conducting training in forward locations enables tri-base Airmen to simulate realistic scenarios and increase familiarity in the European area of responsibility.

“As an instructor, my goal is to relate this training to any situation that they could find themselves in when regionally deployed,” added SERE instructor.

The SERE personnel at RAF Mildenhall train and support Airmen among three major commands including: Air Combatant Command, Air Force Special Operations Command, and the U.S. Air Force in Europe Command. They conduct combat survival and evasion, land navigation, water survival, auto injector, hoist, jump, emergency parachute and Code of Conduct continuation training.

“All service members receive basic scenario training when they enter the military, but don’t receive any field skills such as land navigation and survival evasion,” said SERE instructor. “Survival training makes Airmen more effective; it’s the foundation to SERE.”

SERE instructors brief local area survival information to all new aircrew members when they first arrive at their installation. They are responsible for serving as personnel recovery coordinators in deployed locations, where they assist rescue forces and recovery operations.

“Being prepared is a mindset, and training keeps our Airmen situationally aware and ready,” said SERE instructor. “From a car accident to a hostage situation, being prepared isn’t just necessary for your military career, but for everyday life.”