Air Force S.E.R.E.(Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape)This article does not citeany references or sources. (December 2007)
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The Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) Specialist career field was born in 1947 when General Curtis LeMay, the Commander, Strategic Air Command in the United States Air Force created the first survival training program at Marks AFB, Alaska. As the demand for SERE training increased, the school relocated in December of 1949 to Camp Carson, Colorado. The first arch can be traced back to this approximate point-in-time.
SERE Specialists, mission is to prepare aircrew and high risk of capture Department of Defense (DoD) personnel to survive under any conditions. SERE Specialists train over 6,500 aircrew members a year in the proper use of principles, techniques, equipment, and procedures necessary to survive anywhere in the world.
SERE Specialist are expert on the methods used to survive in the Arctic, desert, open ocean, jungle, mountain regions, in-combat and captivity situations. Through training, they learn the skills necessary to pass their knowledge on to others. SERE Specialists can "talk the talk" because they have "walked the walk." Additionally, because of the intense instructional program, they are authorized to wear the SERE Beret, SERE Specialist Arch, and the Air Education and Training Command (AETC) Instructor badge upon completion of Tech school.
After completion of the SERE Indoctrination Course at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, all approved applicants are assigned to Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington where their training will take place. Before starting technical training they will complete the Combat SERE Training course and the Water Survival, Non-Parachuting course. The Combat SERE Training course is a 17 day course that includes eleven days of academic, laboratory, and field training over survival and evasion techniques followed by six days of academic and laboratory training on surviving captivity. The Water Survival, Non-Parachuting course provides aircrew members with two days of hands-on training with the equipment they would actually use in a water survival situation.
After successfully completing their training, they will be ready to take their place along other 300+ SERE Specialists in the Air Force. While their primary base of operations is in Fairchild AFB, Washington, positions are available at several bases around the world. After graduating Tech school they have the option to volunteer to attend a variety of DoD courses, such as the Army's Basic Parachutist Course at Fort Benning, Military Freefall (MFF), and SCUBA to name a few.
The SERE Arch
The SERE Arch, as it is known today, is rooted in the United States Army’s Ranger Tab as General LeMay’s initial cadre was recruited heavily from Ranger units. As SERE has evolved the USAF Survival School has changed locations and commands but the distinctive scroll-shaped arch worn on the left shoulder has always been a part of a SERE Specialists uniform. Through the years, the arch has been approved for wear at various levels of command.
Nearly two years ago the approval process authorizing Air Force-wide wear of the arch for qualified SERE Specialists began. In a June 2004 message from Headquarters AF, the request became a reality. The Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, General John P. Jumper through the 96th Uniform Board, approved the wear of this uniform accouterment. Currently it is not authorized on the new Air Force Battle Uniform (ABU) and will have to go through uniform approval before being allowed.
AF SERE Specialists are the only career field in the entire DoD specifically recruited, trained, and employed to conduct global SERE operations from graduation of technical school to retirement. Led by Combat Rescue Officers (CRO), SERE Specialists prepare the nation's highest risk-of-capture personnel in the employment of Personnel Recovery tactics, techniques, and procedures across the full spectrum of engagements.
Approval of the SERE Beret by the 96th Air Force Uniform Board is a significant milestone in the evolution of the AF. The SERE beret is much more than another piece of head gear as it represents the solidarity in the CRO, SERE and Pararescue communities as a weapon system.
Unity as a weapon system ultimately translates into improved combat capability as it provides theater commanders a unique end-to-end capability for Personnel Recovery operations and better integrates subject matter expertise from all three career fields.
From pre-mission preparation, to recovery of isolated personnel, through repatriation and reintegration, effectively closing the Personnel Recovery loop is what the weapon system is designed to do. CRO, SERE, and Pararescue all have different tasks within the PR continuum, but the goal of bringing the isolated person home is shared by all. The triad. United as a weapon system, they do these things so "That Others May Live" to "Return With Honor". In 1962 President Kennedy referenced the beret as;
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