Bulldogs conduct Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape training

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Addie Peterson
  • 148th Fighter Wing

Pilots, Aerospace Medical Service Specialists, and other airmen from the 148th Fighter Wing in Duluth, Minn. participated in survival, evasion, resistance, and escape (SERE) training Sunday, March 3, 2024, in Duluth, Minn.

           Annual SERE training is conducted to ensure pilots are prepared if an aircraft goes down in an unfamiliar environment. They spent the morning in a forested area with no form of communication except a radio-device to communicate with the instructor. The exercise helps them experience what it would be like if they were to be stranded alone for an extensive amount of time. 

            “A lot of time with fighter pilots especially, they will be all by themselves,” said Tech Sgt. Jones, a SERE specialist. “If they are flying in the woods somewhere, or over the lake, and God forbid they punch out, they will be by themselves.”

           148th Aircrew Flight Equipment specialists helped plan the training by securing the training area, mapping waypoints, providing specialized equipment while Intelligence personnel provided maps and advisement. The goal was to help create muscle memory to reduce panic if this were to be a real-life situation. They practice emergency tactics that aren’t used regularly, but that are important in case they are ever needed—this included firing flares, land navigation, and simply finding ways to meet their basic needs while out in the woods.

           Although it was cold, the freezing temperatures helped ponds in the area stay frozen. Fortunately, nobody had to worry about falling through the ice, but the goal of the exercise wasn’t to have perfect conditions.

           “We got cold, so what are you going to do to fix that? Create a fire, do that type of stuff. Use your skills and resources available to, long term, keep yourself alive, but also in this scenario, use the tools you have available to make it easier,” said Capt. Zach Schaumburg, a pilot at the wing.

           Schaumburg thought it was a valuable refresher to use some of the tools and equipment they don’t normally need to use. He said their “initial, formal SERE training was more challenging, but that annual training events like this one are helpful to prevent them from losing the skills they acquired in their initial training.”

           While this training was conducted in a local, wooded area, there are many different environments aircrew could land. A pilot could realistically find themselves stranded anywhere, so practicing in any type of unfamiliarity is beneficial. SERE specialists like Tech Sgt. Jones help ensure our pilots stay up to date and on their toes.

           “It’s stuff that you can’t learn from a PowerPoint,” said Jones. “You can start thinking about it from a PowerPoint, but it’s not something you really truly know how to respond and do unless you do it.”

           The 148th Fighter Wing is an F-16 equipped Air National Guard base in Duluth, Minn. There are 1,000 members assigned to the 148th Fighter Wing in 67 different career fields. This SERE training was conducted during their regularly scheduled drill weekend. 

           To see additional photos from the training, check out our DVIDS gallery.