SERE Course keeps Airmen Proficient

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jonathan Schmitz, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa personnel recovery survival, evasion, resistance, and escape (SERE) specialist, demonstrates how to build a fire during desert and coastline Combat Survival Training on the Djiboutian coast, Dec. 6, 2013. SERE specialists provide Airmen with the skills needed to survive in isolating circumstances in combat. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Antoinette Gibson/Released) CJTF-HOA Photo U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jonathan Schmitz, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa personnel recovery survival, evasion, resistance, and escape (SERE) specialist, demonstrates how to build a fire during desert and coastline Combat Survival Training on the Djiboutian coast, Dec. 6, 2013. SERE specialists provide Airmen with the skills needed to survive in isolating circumstances in combat. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Antoinette Gibson/Released)
Pararescuemen from the 303rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron depart the training area after the successful completion of desert and coastline Combat Survivial Training on the Djiboutian coast, Dec. 6, 2013.  The training was designed to develop confidence and familiarize Airmen with techniques and skills needed to survive in the event of a water landing or crash. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Antoinette Gibson/Released) CJTF-HOA Photo Pararescuemen from the 303rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron depart the training area after the successful completion of desert and coastline Combat Survivial Training on the Djiboutian coast, Dec. 6, 2013. The training was designed to develop confidence and familiarize Airmen with techniques and skills needed to survive in the event of a water landing or crash. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Antoinette Gibson/Released)
Airmen demonstrate the  â€stick and shadoww†method during desert and coastline Combat Survival Training on the Djiboutian coast, Dec. 6, 2013. When a compass is not available, this method provides service members with a way to find direction by using the sun. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Antoinette Gibson/Released) CJTF-HOA Photo Airmen demonstrate the â€stick and shadoww†method during desert and coastline Combat Survival Training on the Djiboutian coast, Dec. 6, 2013. When a compass is not available, this method provides service members with a way to find direction by using the sun. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Antoinette Gibson/Released)
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jonathan Schmitz, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa personnel recovery survival, evasion, resistance, and escape (SERE) specialist, shows Airmen participating in the desert and costal Combat Survival Training how to procure food and water on the Djiboutian coast, Dec. 6, 2013. This refresher course helped Airmen sharpen their skills, furthering their preparedness for real world survival scenarios. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Antoinette Gibson/Released) CJTF-HOA Photo U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jonathan Schmitz, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa personnel recovery survival, evasion, resistance, and escape (SERE) specialist, shows Airmen participating in the desert and costal Combat Survival Training how to procure food and water on the Djiboutian coast, Dec. 6, 2013. This refresher course helped Airmen sharpen their skills, furthering their preparedness for real world survival scenarios. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Antoinette Gibson/Released)
U.S. Air Force Capt. Andrew King, a 303rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron HH60 Pave Hawk pilot, departs the aircraft to begin desert and coastline Combat Survival Training on a Djiboutian coast, Dec. 6, 2013. Throughout this refresher course, Airmen gained skills to help them survive in the event of a combat emergency. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Antoinette Gibson/Released) CJTF-HOA Photo U.S. Air Force Capt. Andrew King, a 303rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron HH60 Pave Hawk pilot, departs the aircraft to begin desert and coastline Combat Survival Training on a Djiboutian coast, Dec. 6, 2013. Throughout this refresher course, Airmen gained skills to help them survive in the event of a combat emergency. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Antoinette Gibson/Released)

In the desert and off the waters of East Africa, service members never know what types of situations they will encounter.

U.S. Air Force survival, evasion, resistance, escape, (SERE) specialist, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jonathan Schmitz, gave first-hand working knowledge of how to survive missions and combat to Airmen with the 303rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron during desert and water survival training on the Djiboutian coastline, Dec. 6, 2013.

The training ensures the 303rd ERQS pilots and crew member’s maintain their mission-ready status and enhance specifically their capabilities to provide personnel recovery efforts across the Horn of Africa.

 “The purpose of today’s training was to refresh skills through hands-on practical application allowing them the opportunity to train in a realistic environment they are not familiar with,” Schmitz said.“Although they have had the initial training, without practice, it’s hard to recall what you have learned.”

Through an HH-60G Pave Hawk crash survivor scenario, Airmen improved their skills and combat efficiency through testing navigation techniques, procuring food, water, ground to air signals, and shelter, and preparing for recovery operations in desert and coastal environments.

“As an intel analyst for the aircrew, I’ve never had this type of training. In this little bit of time, I have learned so much” said Senior Airman Charles Brock, of the 303rd ERQS.

This training was particularly important because it gives the 303rd ERQS the opportunity to go out and get hands-on training in and environment they are not familiar with.

“The Horn of Africa is such a big area of responsibility and the possibility exists that we can find ourselves isolated for an extended period of time,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Nathan Franklin, a 303rd ERQS pilot.

At the end of the day, Schmitz looked to see if they’ve retained some of the skills they’ve learned.

 “I’m trying to make sure they can execute what skills they already have and that they’re building upon those skills to survive if the unexpected occurs,” he said.

Training such as this ensures military members assigned to CJTF-HOA are prepared at a moment’s notice to respond and provide personnel recovery and search and rescue support throughout the East Africa area of responsibility and return with honor.

“This opportunity was an invaluable refresher of skills we hope we never have to use; but in the case we do, we have the skills to potentially save a life,” Franklin said.

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U.S. Air Force Djibouti Training

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