U.S. Air Force Water Survival Training (Report)


The SERE Airmen team hosted the Republic of Korea SERE instructors to share knowledge on water survival training for pilots from both nations at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Nov. 27, 2015.

Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) is a program, best known by its military acronym, that provides U.S. military personnel, U.S. Department of Defense civilians, and private military contractors with training in evading capture, survival skills, and the military code of conduct. Established by the U.S. Air Force at the end of the Korean War (1950–53), it was extended during the Vietnam War (1959–1975) to the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Navy. Most higher level SERE students are military aircrew and special operations personnel considered to be at high risk of capture.

The primary Air Force SERE training center is at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington; training for Level “B” medical aircrew was conducted at Brooks City-Base, Texas until the planned course closure 30 September 2009. The Air Force conducts arctic survival training at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, and parachute water survival training at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. The parachute water survival training ceased its Florida training operations in August 2015. Both egress and non-egress water survival training now occurs at Fairchild AFB in a combined course.

SERE training was also conducted at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs from the late 1960s until 1995, enabling those USAF officers commissioned through USAFA to exempt USAF SERE training at Fairchild AFB following undergraduate pilot or navigator training. In contrast, those USAF officers commissioned through AFROTC or OTS still had to complete SERE at Fairchild following flight training. In 1995, the resistance/escape element of the course at USAFA was abolished (see Controversies below), leaving the survival and evasion classes in a program called Combat Survival Training (CST). The academy discontinued CST entirely in 2005, however in summer 2008, some portions of the program, including resistance training, were reinstated. Following the Summer of 2011, the scope of the CST program was reduced drastically and incorporated into the mandatory expeditionary skills training for budgetary reasons. Now, all USAFA graduates selected for pilot, air battle manager, or navigator training must complete SERE training at Fairchild after receiving their wings, along with their AFROTC and OTS graduate counterparts.



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