Survival, evasion, resistance and escape program enhanced by range support operations

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Joe McFadden
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
Air Force officials incorporated Code of Conduct into its survival, evasion, resistance and escape program to help Airmen evade capture and sharpen their survival skills while in enemy territory.

The primary SERE training center at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., introduces soon-to-be specialists to six months of intense physical and mental conditioning before sending them out to teach programs and deploy around the world.

The 1st Special Operations Support Squadron range support flight offers refresher courses for Airmen to complete any necessary training requirements. SERE specialists are able to utilize multitude of resources and teachings from the 1st SOSS Range Support flight.

"We have one of the most robust SERE programs in the entire Air Force," said one SERE specialist. "Our training goes through a full spectrum of scenarios (Airmen) may find themselves in during a wartime function or other geo-political situations. My entire job exists to support those guys to make sure they know what to do to resist, escape, get recovered and get back home with their families."

In addition to Code of Conduct continuation lessons, SERE specialists provide indoctrination reviews on emergency parachute, water survival and combat skills training to Airmen with a high risk of capture. Unlike computer-based training modules and PowerPoint slideshows, these refresher courses submerge, both literally and figuratively, Airmen back into underwater and outdoor environments to reintroduce them to survival scenarios like radio and land navigation, urban movement drills and post-escape situations.

"An experience can change someone's outlook more than someone just telling them," said Staff Sgt. Hamsa Linsky, the 1st SOSS range support flight SERE NCO in charge. "Everything from planning, preparing and ultimately doing something is why I enjoy this. In a way, a lot of what happens here ends up reinforcing common sense in people when it's needed most."

The SERE team's mission is only enhanced by the presence of other range support teams, the use of aircraft from the 1st Special Operations Wing and the program's proximity to the Gulf of Mexico and the Eglin Air Force Base Range.

"We work tightly together since we share assets and are under a unified chain of command," Sergeant Linsky said. "And the people assigned here have more big-picture qualifications, capabilities and knowledge so that we're able to do a lot of things that a SERE program typically wouldn't be able to do."

Many of those contributions came into play during a combat skills training session conducted on the Eglin AFB Range. During the exercise, SERE specialists instructed techniques of making it through a simulated urban environment complete with pyrotechnics and explosions. The Airmen also had to complete a 3.4-kilometer trek through the woods.

"That's when you get to see changes in people," Sergeant Linsky said. "They realize that, although they have set positions and titles, they will be taken out of their comfort zones and sometimes task-saturated while getting the mission done. That's when they have to communicate and work together as a team.

"That's what Range Support does best," Sergeant Linsky said. "And even if it's just the confidence of them knowing our guys are really good at what they do, the Airmen come out of here better. Everything we do supports the mission and helps save lives."