How Hard is SERE School

The survival, evasion, resistance, and escape school, commonly known as Sear school, is one of the best and most professional schools I ever attended. Let’s take a quick look at Sear school using seven criteria. Duration and phasing, physical training, harassment, sleep, food, and performance measures. Let’s start with duration and phases. Sear school is about three weeks long, broken into three phases. Academic training, a survival and evasion field training exercise, and the resistance training lab. All army special forces go to level C Sear school at Camp McCall, North Carolina. With the exception of one person, everyone in my class was a green beret. There are three other locations authorized to teach the seer course. Level C. The Air Force conducts training at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, and the Navy has facilities in Brunswick, Maine and in North Island, California. The Army Aviation center at Fort Rucker, Alabama is currently building their level c facility. The academic phase is absolutely amazing training. I wish I could go through it again. Here’s where you learn how to survive off the land. You learn several ways to determine which direction is north. You learn how to build weapons, how to trap, how to hunt, how to make shelter.


During the survival and evasion field training exercise, you put into practice what you learned during the academic phase. Carrying almost no equipment, my team and I stepped off of our helicopter into several inches of snow. We then spent the next few days surviving on the run, hiding from, quote, bad guys who were tracking us on foot, in vehicles, and with dog teams. The final phase is the resistance training lab. This is where you get to practice the US code of conduct. The code of conduct states, I am an american fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense. I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command, I will never surrender the members of my command while they still have the means to resist. If I am captured, I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape and aid others to escape. I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy. If I become a prisoner of war, I will keep faith with my fellow prisoners. I will give no information or take part in any action which might be harmful to my comrades.


If I am senior, I will take command. If not, I will obey the lawful orders of those appointed over me and will back them up in every way when questioned. Should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give name, rank, service number, and date of birth. I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability. I will make no oral or written statement disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to their cause. I will never forget that I’m an american fighting for freedom, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in my God and in the United States of America. Let’s move on to physical training. I don’t remember doing physical training at searschool, but I do remember that most of the training was physically demanding. We did some grueling combatives training and some very difficult and dangerous obstacle courses. Let’s move on to harassment. There’s almost zero harassment at Sear school. Our instructors were very professional and extremely competent. I will say that I was slightly harassed for being an officer, but this is to be expected and sometimes even deserved.


A crusty sergeant major collected up all of the officers late one evening, and.


He said to us, do you men lead by example?


Of course we do, sergeant major.


Good, because tomorrow afternoon you’re going to do a very long tunnel crawl for training, and I want to make sure that the officers have already done it and can properly lead the ncos through the tunnels. Leadership by example, gentlemen.


So he took us to the entrance of the tunnel complex, and we crawled single file through the tunnels for about an hour. Crawling through concrete and metal tunnels on your belly or hands and knees is not a morale builder. And of course, it was our pleasure to get to do it again the next day. Let’s move on to sleep. During phase one of training, you get plenty of sleep, but don’t be surprised if you’re doing classes and conducting training late into the evening. The amount of sleep you get during the survival and evasion field training exercise is dependent upon your team’s established security measures and how good you are at hiding. But let’s agree that you don’t get very much sleep. And in the resistance training lab, you will get zero sleep. Moving on to food. During phase one, you are well fed. You will generally eat at the dining facilities or have mres every day. You occasionally eat food that you kill and prepare yourself or as a team. During the survival and evasion field training exercise, the amount of food you eat is based upon how well you paid attention to training during the previous phase.


Weather is also a significant factor. For example, we evaded with snow on the ground. This made it much more difficult to scrounge for edible plants. I highly recommend not going to Sear school in the winter, and this takes us to performance measures. I’m going to be vague on purpose and simply say that the most significant performance measure of searschool is that the students learn and act in accordance with the code of conduct. The last day of searschool is a one on one debrief and a very discreet graduation ceremony. We got iced in at Camp McCall and for safety reasons we were not allowed to bus back to Fort Bragg for graduation. So our guest speaker drove to Camp McCall for our ceremony. He was a korean war prisoner of war. We were all inspired by what he said and completely humbled. Okay, so there you have it. A brief explanation about how hard is Sear school. I lost 16 pounds at Sear school and I couldn’t feel the bottom of my feet until 60 days after graduation. Despite my weight loss and my cold weather injury, I still consider sear one of my all time favorite schools, not because it was easy, but because I will never forget what I learned.


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