HomeNewsArticle Display

SERE-ious training

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Stephen Drakes, 192 Operations Support Squadron, Virginia Air National Guard SERE Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape non-commissioned officer in charge, ensures Lt. Col. Jonathan Kuntz, 633rd 1st Operations Support Squadron director of operations, and Capt. Nathan Miller, 94th Fighter Squadron instructor pilot, talk about the advantages of finding a water source during a training at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Dec. 12, 2019. The training taught skills needed to survive in the event of an isolation situation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sarah Dowe)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Stephen Drakes, 192 Operations Support Squadron, Virginia Air National Guard SERE Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape non-commissioned officer in charge, ensures Lt. Col. Jonathan Kuntz, 633rd 1st Operations Support Squadron director of operations, and Capt. Nathan Miller, 94th Fighter Squadron instructor pilot, talk about the advantages of finding a water source during a training at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Dec. 12, 2019. The training taught skills needed to survive in the event of an isolation situation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sarah Dowe)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Stephen Drakes, 192 Operations Support Squadron, Virginia Air National Guard SERE Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape non-commissioned officer in charge, demonstrates camouflaging techniques during a training at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Dec. 12, 2019. Drakes led the training which taught survival skills necessary for an isolation situation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sarah Dowe)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Stephen Drakes, 192 Operations Support Squadron, Virginia Air National Guard SERE Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape non-commissioned officer in charge, demonstrates camouflaging techniques during a training at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Dec. 12, 2019. Drakes led the training which taught survival skills necessary for an isolation situation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sarah Dowe)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jonathan Kuntz, 633rd 1st Operations Support Squadron director of operations, waits to begin SERE training at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Dec. 12, 2019. The training is a requirement for aircrew members who may be flying over hostile territory. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sarah Dowe)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jonathan Kuntz, 633rd 1st Operations Support Squadron director of operations, waits to begin SERE training at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Dec. 12, 2019. The training is a requirement for aircrew members who may be flying over hostile territory. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sarah Dowe)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Stephen Drakes, 192 Operations Support Squadron, Virginia Air National Guard SERE Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape non-commissioned officer in charge, sets a survival radio during a training at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Dec. 12, 2019. Drakes led the training which taught survival skills necessary for an isolation situation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sarah Dowe)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Stephen Drakes, 192 Operations Support Squadron, Virginia Air National Guard SERE Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape non-commissioned officer in charge, sets a survival radio during a training at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Dec. 12, 2019. Drakes led the training which taught survival skills necessary for an isolation situation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sarah Dowe)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Stephen Drakes, 192 Operations Support Squadron, Virginia Air National Guard SERE Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape non-commissioned officer in charge, watches as Capt. Nathan Miller, 94th Fighter Squadron instructor pilot, demonstrates how to work a survival radio during a training at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Dec. 12, 2019. Participants used the equipment they would have in an isolation situation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sarah Dowe)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Stephen Drakes, 192 Operations Support Squadron, Virginia Air National Guard SERE Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape non-commissioned officer in charge, watches as Capt. Nathan Miller, 94th Fighter Squadron instructor pilot, demonstrates how to work a survival radio during a training at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Dec. 12, 2019. Participants used the equipment they would have in an isolation situation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sarah Dowe)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Stephen Drakes, 192 Operations Support Squadron, Virginia Air National Guard SERE Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape non-commissioned officer in charge, ensures Lt. Col. Jonathan Kuntz, 633rd 1st Operations Support Squadron director of operations, and Capt. Nathan Miller, 94th Fighter Squadron instructor pilot, know how to operate a survival radio during a training at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Dec. 12, 2019. The training taught skills needed to survive in the event of an isolation situation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sarah Dowe)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Stephen Drakes, 192 Operations Support Squadron, Virginia Air National Guard SERE Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape non-commissioned officer in charge, ensures Lt. Col. Jonathan Kuntz, 633rd 1st Operations Support Squadron director of operations, and Capt. Nathan Miller, 94th Fighter Squadron instructor pilot, know how to operate a survival radio during a training at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Dec. 12, 2019. The training taught skills needed to survive in the event of an isolation situation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sarah Dowe)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jonathan Kuntz, 633rd 1st Operations Support Squadron director of operations, places a flare on the ground during a training at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Dec. 12, 2019. The flares are able to be activated in any location in the world during the day or night. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sarah Dowe)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jonathan Kuntz, 633rd 1st Operations Support Squadron director of operations, places a flare on the ground during a training at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Dec. 12, 2019. The flares are able to be activated in any location in the world during the day or night. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sarah Dowe)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jonathan Kuntz, 633rd 1st Operations Support Squadron director of operations, and Capt. Nathan Miller, 94th Fighter Squadron instructor pilot, walk stealthily through the woods during a training at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Dec. 12, 2019. The training taught skills needed to survive in the event of an isolation situation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sarah Dowe)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jonathan Kuntz, 633rd 1st Operations Support Squadron director of operations, and Capt. Nathan Miller, 94th Fighter Squadron instructor pilot, walk stealthily through the woods during a training at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Dec. 12, 2019. The training taught skills needed to survive in the event of an isolation situation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sarah Dowe)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Stephen Drakes, 192 Operations Support Squadron, Virginia Air National Guard SERE Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape non-commissioned officer in charge, demonstrates camouflaging techniques during a training at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Dec. 12, 2019. The training taught skills needed to survive in a rural or urban area. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sarah Dowe)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Stephen Drakes, 192 Operations Support Squadron, Virginia Air National Guard SERE Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape non-commissioned officer in charge, demonstrates camouflaging techniques during a training at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Dec. 12, 2019. The training taught skills needed to survive in a rural or urban area. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sarah Dowe)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Stephen Drakes, 192 Operations Support Squadron, Virginia Air National Guard SERE Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape non-commissioned officer in charge, ensures Lt. Col. Jonathan Kuntz, 633rd 1st Operations Support Squadron director of operations, and Capt. Nathan Miller, 94th Fighter Squadron instructor pilot, walk through a field during a training at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Dec. 12, 2019. During the training, participants learned camouflaging, evasion and other survival skills. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sarah Dowe)
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 10 of 11

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Stephen Drakes, 192 Operations Support Squadron, Virginia Air National Guard SERE Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape non-commissioned officer in charge, ensures Lt. Col. Jonathan Kuntz, 633rd 1st Operations Support Squadron director of operations, and Capt. Nathan Miller, 94th Fighter Squadron instructor pilot, walk through a field during a training at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Dec. 12, 2019. During the training, participants learned camouflaging, evasion and other survival skills. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sarah Dowe)

Volunteers simulating hostile individuals, search a field for U.S. Air Force personnel during a training at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Dec. 12, 2019. The training taught participants camouflaging, evasion and other skills necessary in the event of an isolating situation. U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sarah Dowe)
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 11 of 11

Volunteers simulating hostile individuals, search a field for U.S. Air Force personnel during a training at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Dec. 12, 2019. The training taught participants camouflaging, evasion and other skills necessary in the event of an isolating situation. U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sarah Dowe)

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. --

Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape specialists are experts on how to survive in the most remote and hostile environments in the world.

Along with teaching water survival courses, SERE specialists at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, train aircrew personnel on an array of skills from making a basic shelter to escaping an active pursuant.

“This training helps our personnel at high risk of isolation increase their odds of survival in the case of an isolating event,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Stephen Drakes, 192nd Operations Support Squadron, Virginia Air National Guard SERE non-commissioned officer in charge.

This specific training is given to pilots and aircrew personnel who may be flying over hostile territory.

The beginning part of the training starts with classroom training and progresses to hands-on, in the field skills using everything that would be in their survival vest and inside their seat when they fly in an aircraft.

“They practice using flares, which are one of the signaling devices they would have available and can be used in all facets of personnel recovery; in the ocean, desert, Arctic, day or night,” said Tech. Sgt. Justin Bender, 1st Operation Support Squadron, SERE operations non-commissioned officer in charge. “These work especially well for helicopters or any close support that may be flying, so they can land or do a hoist rescue.”

Participants use survival radios that are the actual communication network they would have in the event of an isolating situation.

The survival radios work by connecting to a satellite and then sending signals to a base station where personnel type messages and instructions back to the isolated individuals.

“It gives them confidence that the system works,” Drakes said. “It’s also a good opportunity for them to refresh their muscle memory while using the radios and equipment.”

Drakes and Bender explained that because of time constraints and the nature of the training, some situations that isolated personnel could encounter are not able to be practiced, but they are covered beforehand.

“We talk a lot about evasion and how to maintain their basic needs during the phases of an evasion,” Drakes said. “We practice evasion movements, camouflaging, taking accountability of what you have on your person and building a shelter or hideout to rest, drink water, get on the radio and meet other needs.”

After participants demonstrate that they understand how to work the communication and signaling devices, they are dropped off in a simulated hostile environment to practice the evasion skills they have learned.

“Volunteers simulate hostile aggressors who search for the pilots or other participants, to create a realistic training environment,” Drakes said. “A lot of moving pieces go into a training like this.”

While evading hostile forces and making contact with friendly forces, the participants are required to locate a cache site and find shelter in a location directed by messages received.

“Because of the requirements here, we are able to invest more time on the actual scenario, requiring them to do more tasks by going through the woods and urban areas,” Bender said. “They are really able to focus on using the tools they would have in that sort of environment.”

This training is imperative for personnel at high risk of isolation, so they can return safely from any type of survival situation. It’s also a requirement for pilots to be combat mission ready.

Through preparation, planning and training, the SERE specialists here at Langley are able to continue the mission of the base and the Air Force by ensuring aircrew personnel are prepared and trained to survive in the event that a mission doesn’t go as planned.