Survive, Evade, Resist, Extract

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In the United Kingdom, SERE is an acronym for Survive, Evade, Resist and Extract.[1] At a basic level, this is a core aspect of training for all UK military personnel on an annual basis. Regular Army personnel are tested as part of their Military Annual Training Tests (MATTs)[2] as befits their frontline nature (similar processes are run by the Royal Marines and RAF Regiment) with non-frontline personnel mandated to watch a DVD detailing SERE methods.[3]

UK armed forces personnel who train at the SERE school, may be subject to methods of interrogation that are prohibited under international law. This training is carried out under strictly controlled conditions and is only delivered to enable the trainees to understand the methods that may be used against them if they are captured by hostile forces who are not signatories to, or adherents of, the Geneva Convention or of international law.[4]

SERE is mandated for all aircrew (from across all three services) and involves sea drills for those that require it. Sea drill involves jumping into the sea and spending some time adrift before hauling oneself into a dinghy from where the servicemember can be rescued. The Royal Navy and Royal Air Force aircrews practice this with regularity.[5] Television personality Carol Vorderman undertook sea drills SERE training at RAF St Mawgan as part of her effort to become the ninth female to fly solo around the world.[6] SERE training is also delivered to aircrew because the nature of their job makes them vulnerable to capture if they have to bale out over or crash an aircraft into hostile territory.[7]

The UK SERE School has been based at RAF St Mawgan since 2008[8] and was formed when the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force combined their survival schools with the Resistance Training Wing.[9] The Royal Air Force is the lead on aircrew-focused training for military personnel in the United Kingdom and their second training centre (ASTC) is located at RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire. The patron of ASTC is Ray Mears, who himself was in a SERE situation whilst filming in 2005 when his helicopter crashed in Wyoming. Mears managed to recover all of his crew to safety after the incident.[10]

The Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force have what has been described as a "rich history of survival training". Crews were often lost at sea during the Second World War which prompted this training to be initiated.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "JOINT WARFARE PUBLICATION 3-66 JOINT PERSONNEL RECOVERY." (PDF). Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Extraction. SERE is an inclusive term (of US origin) that has recently superseded phrases previously used such as Escape and Evasion and Conduct After Capture. It encompasses all practical and theoretical measures required to prepare personnel for isolation, captivity and recovery. 
  2. ^ Defence Information Notice 2008DIN07-109
  3. ^ Gage, William, ed. (2011). "6: Survive, Evade, Resist & Extract (SERE) training given to UK service personnel". The Baha Mousa Public Inquiry report. London: Stationery Office. p. 1256. ISBN 978-0-10-297492-8. 
  4. ^ "Army Inspectorate review into the implementation of policy, training and conduct of detainee handling" (PDF). British Army. 15 July 2010. p. 22. Retrieved 10 February 2017. 
  5. ^ "Royal Air Force aircrews based at RAF Coningsby regularly undergo Survive Evade Resist and Extract (SERE) training in the North Sea". Retrieved 10 February 2017. 
  6. ^ Wilkins, Warren (19 October 2016). "Star Carol's survival training". Newquay Voice. Retrieved 10 February 2017. 
  7. ^ Gould, Matthew; Meek, Daniel; Gibbs, Tony; Sawford, Hannah; Wessely, Simon; Greenberg, Neil (February 2015). "What Are the Psychological Effects of Delivering and Receiving 'High-Risk' Survival Resistance Training?". Military Medicine. Kensington, Maryland: Association of Military Surgeons of the U.S. 180 (2): 168–177. ISSN 0026-4075. 
  8. ^ "RAF St Mawgan visit - June 2006". Air Training Corps. While at the station the cadets went on a number of visits including: 203(R) Sqn, where they looked round the Sea King helicopters, which are employed in the search and rescue role; Visiting Aircraft Handling Section (VAHS) where they saw two Tornado F3s; the Sea King simulators; the Survive, Evade, Resist and Extract (SERE) school; the Safety Equipment Section; the Air Traffic Control Tower; Fire Section and had a tour of the Shackleton gate guardian 
  9. ^ a b "RAF - Defence SERE Training". Retrieved 10 February 2017. 
  10. ^ Allen, Tracey (21 October 2016). "Survival of the fittest". RAF News (1405). Royal Air Force. p. 21. ISSN 0035-8614.