By Airman 1st Class Stefanie Torres , 388th Fighter Wing
/ Published January 05, 2007
Hill Air Force Base -- With nothing but frigid temperatures, shrubs and rocky terrain in front of them, the 388th Fighter Wing pilots wait until the sun descends behind the mountains before they make their initial move to safety away from insurgent reach. The pilots put their training to the test as they prepare to evade more than two miles to their destination with the sun rapidly falling. They know to move swiftly and evade while in enemy territory to avoid capture. On top of the mountains and beyond the brushes, they are watched.
This scenario takes place at the Utah Test and Training Range as part of Combat Survival Training. The pilots are trained by the 388th Operations Support Squadron's Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape Specialists assigned to the 388th Fighter Wing and receive assistance from life support. "We allow life support and intelligence personnel to augment so they can see how their equipment and knowledge can help out a pilot when they are in an evasion situation," said Staff Sgt. David Scarborough, 388th Operations Support Squadron SERE specialist.
In order to keep personnel trained correctly, the SERE specialists spend time researching different cases of wartime scenarios to assist in accuracy of the training. "We will always be looking at real-world examples from personnel that have gone through evasion or detention situations, and convey the lessons learned along to deploying personnel so that they can be prepared," said Sergeant Scarborough.
Along with training, a realistic environment contributes to the experience as well. The Utah Test and Training Range is often used for these types of situations to provide the most realistic type of war environment. "I can't stress how great it has been to establish working agreements with all the people involved for coordination and support for CST. (Involved are the Bureau of Land Management, 388th Range Squadron, 775th Explosive Ordinance Flight and the 211th Aviation Battalion.) "These personnel have enhanced the SERE program by making it more realistic for everyone who comes out and supports us," he said.
With the combined Team Hill effort, Senior Airman Arthur Logan and Sergeant Scarborough can train them properly and hope they will never use it. "The main purpose is to have Airman Logan and I at Hill to help the war-fighters get the knowledge they will hopefully never have to use. The worst thing that could happen is that someone thinks that it will never happen to them and it really does," said Sergeant Scarborough.
"A great example is the 507th convoy that took a 'wrong turn' in Iraq and ended up getting ambushed. Those personnel had the most basic level of training and were not prepared for a detention situation. However they were able to adapt and overcome, and were able to 'return with honor' because of the decisions they made. Hopefully, the training that SrA Logan and I can provide here at Hill will help personnel in survival, evasion, and captive situations be able to do the same thing -- return with honor."
The pilots go through three hours of academics to review the basic fundamentals of pre-mission preparation, survival and evasion technique before going out to the field. "We are currently revising the CST so that there is less time spent in the classroom though, and more time spent hands-on in the field," said Sergeant Scarborough.
Combat Survival Training is conducted one to two times per month and offers several different programs as refresher training for those who need it or for a "nice to have" type of training.
Other types of training conducted by the two individuals include:
* Emergency Parachuting Training
* Local Area Survival
* Theater High Risk of Isolation/Moderate Risk of Isolation briefings to deploying
* Refresher training on the Code of Conduct, Survival Radios, and other SERE-specific
training as requested.