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SERE training to be required for all Airmen

WASHINGTON (AFPN) -- Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley met Aug. 10 at the Pentagon with several Air Force leaders to discuss the road ahead for survival, evasion, resistance and escape training.

Air Force leaders plan to broaden the focus of SERE training for all Airmen due to the threat of isolation and capture for Airmen supporting the war on terrorism.

"As we've seen recently, the capture of military personnel has the potential of exploding into a larger strategic event with global impacts," General Moseley said. "Today's battlefields are non-linear and non-contiguous; their shape and venue change constantly. I worry we've not prepared our Airmen for the world we're operating in."

In today's ever-changing world, Airmen increasingly find themselves in a non-traditional environment outside the wire. SERE training teaches Airmen principles, techniques and skills to survive in any environment, avoid capture, resist and escape if captured.

SERE training is currently conducted on three levels. All Airmen receive entry-level, or A-level, training. B-level is provided to those with a moderate risk of capture and C-level is reserved for those with a high risk of capture. B- and C-level training is provided primarily to aircrew members, those traditionally in higher risk duties.

Col. Bill Andrews, a guest speaker at the summit, was an F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot flying his 35th mission in the final stages of Operation Desert Storm when he was shot down, captured and spent time as a POW.

"An Airman captured faces grave moral and physical challenges," Colonel Andrews said. "My training gave me a gut understanding that I was still at war and not in a time-out. My SERE training at the Air Force Academy, 14 years earlier, was clear as a bell, giving me the confidence to not break in the face of the enemy."

In addition to aircrews, advanced SERE training currently is provided to battlefield Airmen, those with the responsibility for combat control, pararescue, tactical air control and combat weather.

"This is a great day. For the first time in history, we're talking about preparing all Airmen in the total force to deal with the increasing threat of isolation and capture," said Chief Master Sergeant John Myers, SERE career field manager.

"With the issues we've addressed at this summit, we've taken a great step forward in facing this ultimate challenge that confronts our Airmen who fall into enemy hands," Colonel Andrews added.

General Moseley's new initiative will be to incorporate SERE training throughout the Air Force.

"We need to inject these skills across the entire force," General Moseley said. "Whether deployed for combat operations, stationed overseas or even in the continental United States, there are persistent threats to all Airmen. We must ensure every Airman is properly trained to deal with these threats. From the moment Airmen report for initial training until they separate or retire, we must train them to ensure they return with honor."