The 336th Training Group, Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., is the Air Force's sole unit responsible for training the famed SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape) specialists who in turn train more than 6,000 students a year from this base alone. Becoming a SERE instructor takes great physical strength and endurance. The majority of those who attempt the training will fail. Those who graduate stay at Fairchild instructing for three years before moving on to one of the group's five geographically separated detachments or being assigned operations support squadrons around the Air Force to conduct SERE refresher training for aircrews.
The 336th TRG is broken into three squadrons and one flight. The 36th Rescue Flight flies UH-1Ns and aids in the SERE school's jump training while supporting local authorities when needed for search and rescue operations. The 336th Training Support Squadron encompasses more than a dozen Air Force specialties including medical and logistics to support the 336th TRG. The 66th Training Squadron is responsible for training all of the SERE instructors and the 22nd Training Squadron trains all of the Air Force's aircrews.
Return with Honor.
66th Training Squadron
The 66th Training Squadron has two subordinate detachments. The 66th TRS, Det. 1 is located at Eielson AFB, Alaska, and teaches arctic survival. The 66th TRS, Det. 2 is located in Pensacola, Fla., and teaches parachute water survival. Once SERE instructors complete their three-year assignment at Fairchild these are two places they may be assigned.
From Basic Training to Sage Beret
Believe it or not, the path to becoming a SERE instructor does not start at Air Force Basic Military Training. It begins when a future Airman walks into their Air Force recruiter's office. All too often the SERE career field gets confused with pararescuemen and tactical air controllers. The best advice the 336th TRG offers to anyone joining the Air Force is to make sure recruits understand their job description and what their mission will be after training.
The SERE specialist training, conducted by the 66th TRS, graduates only half their students. This is after potential instructors complete a seven-day training course at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, immediately following BMT where the drop-out rate is also 50 percent.
Once Airmen arrive at Fairchild they are enrolled in all of the 22nd TRS's SERE courses along side of aircrews. This takes about six months. Next begins 19 days of SERE Specialist Indoctrination to prep for SERE Specialist Training.
Upon successful completion of this five and a half month course Airmen earn their three-skill level and their sage beret.
22nd Training Squadron
The 22nd Training Squadron has three geographically separated detachments, one of which is the unit responsible for screeening potential SERE specialists at Lackland AFB, Texas. At Maxwell AFB, Ala., the detachment teaches evasion and conduct after capture, and at the U.S. Air Force Academy the unit teaches combat survival.