Archive for the ‘SERE’ Category

Dover AFB Leads Joint, Interagency Survival Training

Friday, August 27th, 2021


Imagine being in a yellow life raft in the middle of the ocean after surviving an aircraft incident. There is an aircraft flying several hundred feet overhead. The best chance of being rescued lies in an ability to use the issued survival equipment to signal the position to the aircraft.

While this situation might seem far-fetched, it is a very real possibility for aircrew members flying out of Dover Air Force Base, Delaware.

For this reason, members of the 436th Operational Support Squadron Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape flight partnered with the 3rd Airlift Squadron at Dover AFB, Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City, New Jersey, and Coast Guard Station Indian River Inlet, Delaware, to train local search and rescue procedures during Exercise Castaway.

“The whole idea for Exercise Castaway started with a picture,” said Tech. Sgt. Derreck Day, 436th OSS SERE specialist. “I was conducting a water survival preparation course [that includes] a picture of a 46-man life raft, [where] at 4,000 feet is extremely difficult to spot. Looking at that photo, I thought ‘what is the probability of finding an individual, if not, a whole crew of people in a life raft out in the Atlantic Ocean.’”

The picture Day refers to is a photo taken from a C-17 Globemaster III at an altitude of about 4,000 feet. The raft is nearly impossible to spot with the naked eye. At that altitude, the raft appears to blend in with the ocean waves; an incredible challenge to anyone attempting to locate survivors in the open ocean.

“It’s a photo of the largest life raft we have in our inventory and in that photo you can’t even see the life raft,” Day said. “So looking at that situation, I thought to myself, ‘why not exercise this.’”

During Exercise Castaway, Day and four Airmen from the 436th OSS SERE flight were escorted 5 miles out into the Atlantic Ocean by Coast Guardsmen from Indian River Inlet.

“We got to Coast Guard Station Indian River and by the time we broke through the waves out of the inlet, about 4 and a half miles off shore, the 25 mile buoy was reading 5 foot seas and 17 knot winds,” Day said. “I’m very grateful that the Coast Guard was there to provide over watch in case of an emergency.”

Once in place, the SERE crew then prepared their signaling equipment including the combat survivor evader locator radio, sea dye, flare and life raft canopy. This marked the official start of Exercise Castaway.

Day explained their objective was to go through the issued survival equipment, use it, devise tactics, techniques and procedures, and to relay pertinent information to assist the aircrew in spotting them.

Two aircraft crews participated in the exercise: a C-17 from Dover AFB and a MH-65D Dolphin from CGAS Atlantic City. As the acting on-scene commander, the C-17 crew spotted the life raft and relayed location information to the MH-65D for simulated rescue and hoist practice.

“The scenario for the aircrew aboard the C-17 was for them to respond to a simulated downed aircraft call, provide a search pattern, exercise their on-scene commander checklist and take photographs of what’s happening through their perspective,” Day said. “As they role-play on-scene commander, once they spotted the life raft, they notified Coast Guard Station Atlantic City.”

As the C-17 was spotted in the distance, the crew began their series of signaling attempts to the aircrew aboard the aircraft.

“We came in at 500 feet through several passes while the guys in the raft were trying out different signaling techniques,” said 1st Lt. Nicholas Johnson, 3rd Airlift Squadron pilot. “Then we climbed to higher altitudes to see how clear we can see those visuals at different altitudes and capture data on what would be the best altitude to ingress to try and find guys on the ground.”

Spotting the life raft became a challenge on its own due to the high-speed winds and tall waves. It took a couple passes before the aircrew spotted the life raft.

“At first there were no visuals,” Johnson said. “It was just them on the raft and we had to find them. Even at 500 feet, which is pretty close to the ground, we weren’t able to see them until we were right on top of them.”

With each pass over the raft, the aircrew then ascended to higher altitudes to observe the effects altitude had on spotting the life raft. The higher they climbed, it became increasingly difficult to keep track of the life raft.

“There are a lot of lessons learned that I plan on relaying to the aircrew that could find themselves in that situation,” Day said. “It was amazing to see the interaction between all participating agencies and record all the success and failures that happened during the exercise.”

During flight operations, there is always risk involved. For Dover AFB, being prepared in case of a real world incident means readiness and tactful knowledge of basic water survival and search and rescue principles. Knowing how to signal aircraft aiding in rescue while also experiencing the dangers of open water is paramount to survival. The SERE team here is dedicated to ensuring aircrews have the skills needed to give themselves the best chance of survival.

Stories and some photos by Senior Airman Marco A. Gomez, 436th Airlift Wing Public

Some photos by Senior Airman Faith Schaefer

US Army Soldiers Experience The Great Escape Tour

Thursday, July 22nd, 2021

?AGAN, POLAND — U.S. Army Soldiers with the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division participated in a guided tour at the Great Escape museum in ?agan, Poland, July 5, 2021.

The Great Escape was a massive escape attempt from Stalag Luft III, a prisoner of war (POW) camp in ?agan, Poland, controlled by Nazi Germany during WWII.

The Troopers walked approximately three miles through the woods to get the chance to learn about an essential piece of military history. Upon arrival, the Troopers were provided with a guided tour from the curator around the remains of Stalag Luft III.

The curator began the tour by leading the troopers to the memorial near the entrance of the museum. He explained the history behind the monument and the dedication to the Soviet prisoners that perished at Stalag Luft III. Outside, Troopers were able to see a replica of an old wooden watchtower and an exit to one of the three underground tunnels.

Once inside, the Troopers saw a miniature model of the camp and where the three tunnels — known as Tom, Dick, and Harry — were dug. This miniature model gave the Troopers a visual of the camp’s diversity. The museum displayed multiple flight suits from different countries.

The curator explained all the planning that went into the escape attempt and mentioned a few facts that aren’t commonly known. The camp was nearly impossible to escape from because of the elevated prisoner housing, loose, collapsible soil, and seismograph microphones in the ground around the perimeter of the camp. The prisoners had to be extremely cautious while preparing to escape under the guards’ watch.

The Troopers were able to explore a barracks replica outside the museum that would have housed prisoners of war. To their surprise, the living conditions in the barracks were much better than expected. There’s a common misconception that Stalag Luft III had living conditions similar to those of a concentration camp.

Although it was a prison camp, the Germans had to follow the rules set by the Geneva Convention according to the curator of the museum, so there was a standard of living that the prison had to uphold.

Staff Sgt. Noah Hill, a brigade religious affairs noncommissioned officer with 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, set up the guided tour. He said he enjoys seeing the Troopers get off base and learn more about the Polish culture near their area of operation.

“We went through our training rotation,” Hill said. “However, I also wanted them to be able to talk about the good that’s in Poland and build that trust with the Polish people who we’re working with.”

Troopers of 1st Cavalry have had the opportunity to partake in a few military history tours like this one. They have also toured Auschwitz concentration camp and been given a Polish military history presentation to understand Poland’s culture better. The 1st ABCT is currently undergoing redeployment operations before heading back to its home station in Ft. Hood, Texas.

By PFC Michael Baumberger

Preparation in the Face of the Unexpected – How USAF SERE Educates Military Members

Wednesday, July 14th, 2021


In efforts to prepare and protect the Air Force’s most valuable resource of all — Airmen — survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialists undergo extensive training to make certain aircrew members are up to date with the latest on survival and evasion tactics. The tactics taught give Airmen skills to aid in their survival in worst-case scenarios.

The SERE specialists have to be experts in their profession in order to teach tactics and procedures effectively. To accomplish this they must complete rigorous training at technical school and pass the certification phase that follows.

The process for becoming a SERE specialist begins with a three-week-selection course, followed by a six-month technical school, which includes a three-week survival crash course that pilots and aircrew take to become operational, explained Tech. Sgt. Casey Carter, 18th Operations Support Squadron NCO in charge of SERE training. Once they successfully complete their technical school, they then go through a 6-12 month certification phase.

“When you’re certifying for those 6-12 months, you’re actually teaching aircrew and pilots that are coming through the schoolhouse and you have a trainer that’s evaluating you as an instructor,” Carter said. “Once certified, you’re on your own, and you get your own class of aircrew and pilots to take into the woods and instruct.”

Both Tech. Sgt. Kenji Scouton, 18th OSS NCO in charge of SERE operations, and Carter now lead the refresher courses on Kadena, recertifying pilots and aircrew members on the fundamentals of survival.

“It’s been interesting, I’ve seen some students I taught at the schoolhouse at Fairchild come through and get stationed out here,” Scouton said. “So I’ve had some guys be my students multiple times, whether it be in the initial course or the refresher courses.”

The refresher courses taught by SERE specialists include many classes such as combat survival training, conduct after capture training, water survival training and emergency parachute training. The training sessions typically begin with a few hours of lecture, followed by real-life application of the newly obtained knowledge.

The real-life applications vary for each lesson so preparation and execution can take hours. One of the more involved exercises, combat survival training, starts at sunset and goes until students are rescued, which can sometimes be as late as midnight.

“We put students through an invasion and navigation scenario that culminates in their successful recovery at the end of it,” Scouton said. “With a two-man shop, we have to play many parts. We go from teaching the class to kicking off the survival scenario, then from trying to catch them to trying to recover them. We try to provide them with what could look like real-world information so if the real event does happen, so they would at least be familiar with the steps it would take to be successfully recovered.”

Many factors make Kadena’s SERE team’s courses unique. Not only do they have to take into account the island life environment, but they also have to contend with the variety of aircraft and missions based out of here. This means the local SERE specialists have to be well versed in the specific gear that accompanies each aircraft.

“With each one of the refresher training courses, we have to tailor training to particular aircraft and the equipment they have,” Scouton said. “Being that we have fighter ejection seat aircraft, heavy aircraft and rotary-wing aircraft, we have to carry a multitude of different equipment to make sure we are meeting the needs of each person.”

During deployments, the main mission for SERE is personnel recovery. This entails working with PR assets directly, getting in contact with isolated personnel, guiding them to recovery and finally reintegrating the recovered personnel into their regular day-to-day life.

“Reintegration takes place in three phases. Everyone goes through phase one. If they are psychologically and medically cleared, then they are fit to fight again.” Carter said. “Phase two and three go deeper, and require more rehabilitation and frequent visits with medical and psychological professionals.”

Although their schedules are usually packed with training and refresher courses, the SERE specialists find enjoyment with their roles on island.

“Some may perceive it as a difficulty, but since we have so many different types of aircraft and missions on Kadena, it gives us a good opportunity to actually teach all the available refresher trainings,” Scouton said. “It’s really provided us with a lot of opportunities that you wouldn’t be able to get elsewhere.”

By A1C Cesar J. Navarro, 18th Wing Public Affairs

ITS Releases The SPIE Stick – Pocket-Sized Escape & Evasion Kit

Friday, June 25th, 2021

[ARLINGTON, TX, 06/24/2021] Imminent Threat Solutions is proud to release the ITS SPIE® Stick! It’s the smallest Escape & Evasion Kit available, yet still cost-effective and full-featured. Each SPIE® Stick includes 9 tools that enable you to pick and bypass locks, defeat illegal restraint, start a fire and even navigate your way home.

While ITS carries other small entry tools that can be stored covertly, the SPIE® Stick is purpose-built to be carried overtly in a pocket and hide in plain sight, just as the most popular lip-balm tube would.

Imminent Threat Solutions provides indispensable skill-sets and products to explore your world and prevail against all threats.

For more information on ITS Products, please visit

TacJobs – US Navy SERE Instructor

Saturday, June 19th, 2021

US Navy SERE Instructors are volunteers from various rates across the Navy.

To apply, contact Shore Special Programs at (901) 874-3872 or DSN 882-3872.

CRKT 6-Bit Driver Tool

Friday, June 18th, 2021

During Blade Show, CRKT Knives showed off their new 6-Bit Driver Tool which was designed by Joe Wu of Mountain View, California.

Made from aluminum, it is Type III anodized and utilizes a magnet kn the driver tip to secure the bit.

It holds up to six bits and ships with T6, T7, T8, T9, T10, and T15.

Exotac xREEL

Friday, June 18th, 2021

Mover over Pocket Fisherman, the new Exotac xREEL is a compact, handline fishing kit.

The aluminum construction features an O-ring sealed, screw tight compartment for your tackle (equipped with 6 hooks, 6 split shot and 2 floats) and it comes with 50′ of 15-lbs test monofilament line rolled around the outer perimeter which also features hook parking holes. The reverse side incorporates a Flexible TPE Finger Strap.

Offered in anodized Blaze Orange, Black, Gunmetal, and Olive Drab.

Introducing the Fred Perrin x WNDSN Escape Coin

Tuesday, May 4th, 2021

WNDSN Applied Sciences Lab is pleased to announce the release of a collaboration with French knife maker Fred Perrin, an OSS-inspired coin knife based on the heavy metal WNDSN eclipse challenge coin.

The front side of the coin shows the WNDSN metrology motto: “ex mensura, scientia” or “knowledge from measurement” and a graphical representation of a lunar eclipse that utilizes the old alchemical symbol for verdigris and, later, the astronomical symbol for the Earth. On the back side — on top of four graphical quadrants featuring a shadow square, standing for solving problems of space, a set of equal hour lines, standing for determining time, and the sine quadrant as the most elegant of mathematical instruments — Fred installs the blade, perfectly keeping with the lines, and, in its closed state, perfectly flush with the coin surface itself.

The famous Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was a wartime intelligence agency of the United States during World War II. The OSS Research & Development produced its own line of novel spy tools and gadgets, including compasses hidden in uniform buttons, playing cards that concealed maps, a diverse selection of lapel and otherwise concealable knives as well as coins (in the denomination of the respective country of operations) with integrated blades for escape purposes.

Based in the city of tradecraft, and heavily influenced by the atmosphere and climate of the cold war, WNDSN’s roots are inseparably connected to the divided city of Berlin and its flair of competing interests from all over the world.

Enter Fred Perrin, famous French knife maker and covert weapons designer, well known for his legendary LaGriffe (the claw) design, a small, concealable knife with a ring right behind the blade for retention and control. Fred is a former French Army Commando and a world-ranked martial artist.

Fred has a sizeable portfolio of covert tools made in the spirit of the OSS and its siblings in other countries, among which happens to be a version of the (in)famous “escape coin”. Now, many makers are making these coins, but Fred is the only one who’s integrating a thumb stud as his signature take on that by now almost a century old design.

The blade is made from 1095 carbon steel, the coin and hardware, thumb stud, pivot, and stopper pin choice is between raw copper or brass — either of which will patina beautifully.

Available directly from Fred Perrin.