By Buddy Blouin
Working in the Armed Forces means that you're going to be pushed mentally and physically to your limits in order to be prepared for the realities of war. On the battlefield, being ill-prepared is literally the difference between life and death. Not only will you need to know how to survive to improve your chances of making it back home safely and completing your mission, but you're going to need these skills to help your fellow troops also make it home safely. SERE training is going to help you gain the skills necessary to survive the harsh conditions you may be subjected to during deployment.

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What Is SERE Training?

SERE stands for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape. The first SERE school was created at the MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, following the conclusion of the Second World War. Since then, it has been adopted by additional military branches and evolved into various specialized training for different departments. Even civilians working for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) will undertake some form of SERE training; however, the degree of difficulty will vary depending on which course is taken and the skills being taught. Everything is on the table. Participants are taught things such as how to live off the land and avoid detection, as well as specialized skills for more advanced courses that may involve opening a parachute while freefalling or conducting jungle warfare. The outcome of the training is to identify and develop skills relating to survival, critical thinking, leadership, following instructions, and the capacity to communicate. It was never going to be easy, but SERE training is very rewarding. As you advance in your military career, additional certifications may be required, and you’ll be able to hone more skills that prove how much SERE training helps you both in your military and civilian life. The goal of SERE training is to have troops “Return with Honor” from unfavorable scenarios. It also helps military personnel learn the Code of Conduct for the training they will be enduring as well as how to handle enemy forces. It's impossible to cover everything here, and frankly, you can only truly gain a clear view of the scope of your training once you’re in the thick of it. But here's an overview of the different SEREs training you can expect depending on the branch you are enlisted with.

SERE Training Air Force

Airmen will find themselves at Fairchild AFB for training. Here, a variety of skills will be tested, including survival skills, understanding how to deal with high-pressure situations with a focus on being captured, and more. Students will face a mix of classroom, scenario, and field-based exercises.

SERE Training Army

The U.S. Army has a wide range of SERE courses available due in part to the sheer size of this branch of the military. Some of the courses may not be called a survival school; however, they are specifically crafted to help Soldiers survive certain scenarios. SERE training prepares leaders for complex environments and will also use a combination of classroom, field exercises, and simulations to teach its students.

U.S. Navy SEAL SERE Training

Training to be a U.S. Navy SEAL means that you’re going to not only undergo the standard SERE training each Sailor undergoes, but you’ll be subjected to a much harder test, as well. The Navy conducts some of its SERE training in conjunction with other military branches, including the U.S. Marines. Expect the same kind of combination learning style as other branches, but specific to the Navy are a few fun extras like being forced to survive off of the land after being dropped off on a beach.

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SERE Marines Training

Roleplaying simulations, field operations, and classrooms are the backdrop for some of the most intense training U.S. Marines will undergo. These courses are carefully crafted, like those in other branches of the military, to prepare you for potential survival situations and capture while fighting in the field. Because Marines are tasked with both amphibious and land operations, you can find a variety of SERE courses that range from jungle warfare to mountainous terrain to urban movement and many others.

How Long Is SERE Training?

The length of a SERE course will depend on many things, like the level of completion you are undertaking as well as your military branch. For example, a Level A SERE course that's required for all Soldiers in the Army is going to be much shorter and less intense than a Level C course designed to help Airmen prepare to avoid capture behind enemy lines. The forces may also change the focus of a SERE course and the length depending on the needs of the military at the time. Be sure to speak with your Commanding Officer to learn more about what to expect from your training.

What Happens if You Fail SERE Training?

SERE training is far from a fun activity, but despite its difficulties, it is not impossible to complete. Many succeed, but if you happen to fail, your branch is there to help you improve and retake the course. Military branches such as the USAF are committed to raising SERE graduation rates, as those who pass are an important component of our Armed Forces.

SERE Training Prepares You for the Battlefield

It may feel like torture or testing your limits just for the sake of it, but war is a harsh reality, and troops need to be prepared under the most extreme conditions possible. Critical thinking and the knowledge to survive in a number of climates and situations is important for anyone, but especially for military personnel. If, God forbid, you find yourself stuck behind enemy lines in a jungle on the verge of being captured or find yourself in the arctic stranded and desperate to survive, you’re going to need the tools to overcome these circumstances. SERE training will provide you with the knowledge and experience to perform under pressure and make it out alive.

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