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Special Forces Berlin
by James Stejskal




Survival Evasion Resistance Escape - SERE Training

Home > Training > SERE

Army Special Forces SERE training is both a component of the Special Forces Qualification Course and a stand-alone course. Although the length changes over the course of time it is generally about 30 days long.  The training is held at Camp Mackall, North Carolina - not far from Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

SERE Fire Starting Skills

Variety of SERE Courses.  While the SERE course that Special Forces Soldiers attend during the Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC) is at Camp Mackall, North Carolina, there are many other types of SERE courses taught around the country by the different military services.  Descriptions of those courses can be found in the following paragraphs on this page.

Camp Mackall.  Camp Mackall is one of the Special Warfare School and Center's satellite training locations.  Camp Mackall is home to a lot of the Special Forces field training and much of the training that takes place in the Special Forces Qualification Course. The facility, which occupies land in Hoke and Moore counties, houses the Rowe Training Facility, FOB Freedom, the SERE Complex and the Special Forces Preparatory Training Complex.

Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE)

There are different levels and types of SERE training. Currently there are three levels of training.  Level A is introductory training and includes Code of Conduct classes.  Level B is focused on code of conduct, survival, evasion, and resistance but is mostly academic in nature. There are different types of SERE B courses - some online and others are a type of resident course.

The SERE Level C Course is usually the one that everyone refers to when discussing training for special operators.  Level C is considered to be the hardest of the SERE courses and is quite demanding.  Special Forces candidates are required to attend the Level C course as part of their training.  The course teaches the student how to evade capture, survival skills during evasion, survival skills during captivity, methods of resistance in captivity, and of methods of escape.  Other topics such as the military code of conduct are taught as well.

History of SERE Level C. The first SERE Level C course was conducted at Camp Mackall, North Carolina in 1986. LTC Nick Rowe, a Special Forces officer and former POW during the Vietnam War, developed the first course.  Special Forces Soldiers who were qualified in SFQC prior to 1986 have not attended SERE although many attended similar training in other venues. Many also attended SERE Level C as a stand-alone course once it was established.  In 1998 it became mandatory that all Special Forces candidates attend SERE prior to assignment to an SF group.

Program of Instruction for SERE Level C. The course incorporates classroom training and field training on Code of Conduct Training, a field training exercise where evasion and survival skills are practiced, and surviving and resisting captivity in  mock prisoner-of-war camp.

Peacetime Government Detention
and Hostage Detention (PGD/HD) Course

The Peacetime Government Detention and Hostage Detention (PGD/HD) course is a five-day course. It is offered by the Army and the Air Force as a stand-alone course or in conjunction with other training. In August of 2005 the PDG/HD course was incorporated into the SERE Level C course at Camp Mackall.  Those SF Soldiers who did not attend the SERE Level C course after August of 2005 are now "encouraged" to attend one of the stand-alone PDG/HD courses offered by the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA), the Army or the other services. PDG/HD provides the student with the skills to resist exploitation in a range of operational environments that go beyond the context of a prisoner-of-war camp during wartime.  Although some refer to PDG/HD as a gentleman's course - when compared to SERE Level C at Camp Mackall - it is noted that the academic role-play laboratory can get interesting.

Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA)

The Joint Personnel Recovery Agency or JPRA has oversight on Personnel Recovery and SERE courses.  JPRA is located at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.  Many of the Personnel Recovery (PR) courses are taught in Virginia while the SERE courses for the different military services are taught at locations such as Fort Bragg, Fairchild Air Force Base, Fort Rucker, and Rangley, Maine. PR courses are taught at the Personnel Recovery Education and Training Center (PRETC) in Virginia (learn more here).  Some additional information about JPRA can be found at the links below.

JPRA.  Joint Personnel Recovery Agency.

Joint Personnel Recovery Agency.  WikipediA.

Joint Personnel Recovery Agency.  Fairchild Air Force Base Factsheet.

Web Sites with Info on the SERE Course

Survival Training.  On the Special Forces Search Engine web site. Although the information is somewhat dated the following link will provide a glimpse of the SERE training Special Forces students go through.

Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape. Wikipedia.org provides information on what SERE is and some historical info as well.

Camp MacKall.  The SERE Level C course is taught at Camp Mackall, North Carolina.

SF SERE School.  Inside Special Forces.

MIAD: Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape Course.  West Point.

SF SERE School.  California Army National Guard.

Videos about SERE School and Survival Training

"Kibler - SERE Instructor", Defense.gov DVIDS, November 2, 2018. An instructor at the U.S. Army SERE school at Fort Bragg talks about his job. (2 mins).

"American Hero: LTC Nich Rowe on the R of SERE".  YouTube.

Air Force Video on SERE Training.  YouTube

US Marines SERE

US Marines SERE. U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command.

US Air Force SERE

goSERE.com.  Informational website about the US Air Force SERE Specialist career field (1T0X1).

Fact Sheet.  U.S. Air Force Survival School, Fairchild Air Force Base.

Miscellaneous Info on SERE

COL Nick Rowe.  The SERE committee was founded at Fort Bragg, North Carolina by Nick Rowe.  He was a POW for five years during the Vietnam War and used much of that experience in the development of the course.  He wrote an autobiography based on his POW experience entitled Five Years to Freedom. For a short time he left military service and lived in Connecticut.  He later re-entered the Army and was asked to stand up the SERE course.  He was assassinated by a Philippine terrorist group in 1989 while he was serving in the embassy in Manila.  The link that follows has a short biography on Nick Rowe provided by Psywarrior.com.

SERE Forum.  on NationalGuard.com.

"SERE: Doing More and Giving Back", Special Warfare Magazine, Volume 29, Issue 2, July - December 2016, pages 24-29.

SERE References

Army Regulation 350-30.  Code of Conduct, Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) Training.

Department of Defense Directive 1300.7.  Training and Education to Support the Code of Conduct.

Department of Defense Instruction 1300.21.  Code of Conduct Training and Education.

News and Magazine Articles about the SERE Course

February 29, 2016. "Green Beret high-risk survival, escape, resist, evade: Surviving as prisoner of war", by George E. Hand IV, SOFREP.

December 25, 2014. "What It's Like at the Training Camp Where US Troops Learn to Survive if They Are Captured". Business Insider. A long article about the Navy's SERE school in Maine.

March 9, 2012. "Fayetteville exhibit shows 'uncomfortable' side of Vietnam War". News Observer.

February 8, 2012. "SERE School: myths vs. reality". SOFREP.

November 10, 2011.  "A Bit of a Challenge".  Seymour Johnson AFB.

November 9, 2011. "L-3 MPRI wins contract to support SERE". GSN.

October 11, 2011.  "Interagency Exercise Hones Rescue Operations".  American Forces Press Service.

October 9, 2011.  "4-yr Army SERE Contract to L-3 for 2011-2015". Defense Industry Daily.

April 22, 2009.  "Military helped with CIA interrogation tactics, report says".  Los Angeles Times.

January 29, 2009. "Cancel Water-Boarding 101".  Slate.com.

December 5, 2008.  "Kansas couple teaches Soldiers how to live off the land".  Army.mil.

September 1, 2008.  "Reality show displays grit, gore of SERE school".  Air Force Times.

February 23, 2008.  "A Narrative of JFK Special Warfare Center SERE Instructor School".  The Real Revo.

2008.  SERE in Transition. Special Operations Technology Magazine.

November 5, 2007.  "Waterboarding: A SERE-ing Experience for Tens of Thousands of US Military Personnel".  Human Events.

May 10, 2006.  "Personnel Recovery Agency Works to Bring All Americans Home Alive". American Forces Press Service.

December 1, 2005.  "US Military Runs Torture Training Facility".  Blackfive.net.

November 2004.  "Pentagon Seeks Joint Doctrine, Training for Personnel Recovery".  National Defense NDIA.

February 2004.  "Helping with post-conflict readjustment".  American Psychological Association.

 March 31, 2003.  The Ultimate Survivor. FastCompany.com.

May 2001. "Technology Hurdles Hamper Search-and-Rescue Missions".  National Defense NDIA.

Summer 2000.  "SERE: Training Soldiers to Survive". Special Warfare Magazine, Vol. 13, No. 3. (Adobe Acrobat pdf file located here).


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