USAF SURVIVAL, EVASION, RESISTANCE, ESCAPE (SERE) BERET BADGE

For pilots, aircrew members, and a few other Air Force specialists, there is one portion of their training that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives: the Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) Training program at Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington. Legendary for pushing Airmen to the brink of mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion, the SERE training program began to be fully developed following the Vietnam War, as POWs returned home and explained in detail what they had endured.

Building upon that foundation, the Air Force’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape specialists (Air Force Specialty Code 1T0X1) are the men and women who develop, conduct, and evaluate all the aspects of SERE training. Crafting a program that provides the appropriate challenges without inadvertently going too far in testing the psychological, physical, and mental resiliency of those undergoing the training can, quite understandably, be a very delicate affair. That’s why the process employed by the Air Force in selecting candidates for SERE Specialist Training is so rigorous and involved.

Following the completion of Basic Training, Airmen seeking to qualify as SERE Specialists are sent to Lackland Air Force base in Texas to take part in the SERE Specialists Selection Course. Conducted by the 66th Training Squadron, Detachment 3 and designed to serve as a first pass at weeding out Airmen not suited (in one way or another) for the challenges of acting as a SERE instructor, the course has a graduation rate of just 50 percent.

Those who make the cut will make the trek to Fairchild, where they begin the first of several steps in acquiring their sage berets and SERE Specialist flash. Here, they take part in six months of SERE courses—the same ones taken by Pilots, Aircrew Members, and others—followed by nearly three weeks of SERE Specialist Indoctrination in preparation for their SERE Specialist Training proper. Just as with the Selection Course held at Lackland, only about half of those entering Specialist Training will graduate and be assigned to the 22nd Training Squadron, at which point they’ll begin to acquire certifications in the different areas in which they will be teaching in the future.

The ultimate goal of this extremely stringent regimen training and education is to ensure that those who train under SERE Specialists will be able to fulfill the motto on the SERE emblem: Return With Honor.
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