Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) training equips select U.S. military personnel with the skills to survive if they become isolated or captured by the enemy. If you’ve ever wondered who exactly attends this intense training, you’ve come to the right place.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: SERE school is required for all pilots, aircrew members, special operations personnel, and certain other high-risk jobs in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. Around 20,000-30,000 service members go through it every year.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about SERE school: who attends, what the different levels of training entail, what you actually learn and more. By the end, you’ll have a complete picture of this unique and selective program.

Background on SERE Training

SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape) training is a specialized program that prepares military personnel to survive and resist capture in hostile environments. This intense training is not for the faint of heart and is only offered to a select few.

Let’s delve into the origins and history of SERE training, as well as its primary goals and objectives.

Origins and History

The roots of SERE training can be traced back to World War II when military pilots were trained in survival skills to increase their chances of surviving if shot down behind enemy lines. Over the years, the training evolved and expanded to include various branches of the military.

The formalization of SERE training came about in the 1960s during the Vietnam War. The Department of Defense recognized the need for a standardized program that would equip military personnel with the skills and mindset necessary to survive and resist enemy captivity.

Since then, SERE training has become an integral part of military preparedness.

Primary Goal and Objectives

The primary goal of SERE training is to prepare military personnel to survive and resist capture in high-risk situations. This training focuses on developing physical and mental resilience, as well as teaching essential survival techniques.

The overall objectives of SERE training can be summarized as follows:

  1. Survival Skills: SERE training provides individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to survive in various environments, such as jungles, deserts, and cold weather conditions. Trainees learn how to find food and water, build shelters, and navigate through challenging terrains.
  2. Evasion Techniques: Trainees are taught strategies to evade capture and navigate through enemy territory undetected. This includes camouflage techniques, stealth movement, and understanding enemy behaviors.
  3. Resistance Training: SERE training focuses on building mental and emotional resilience to withstand physical and psychological pressures during captivity. This includes learning how to resist interrogation, maintain morale, and communicate covertly.
  4. Escape Tactics: In the event of capture, trainees are taught escape techniques to free themselves and return to friendly forces. This includes learning how to pick locks, escape restraints, and navigate to safety.

It’s important to note that SERE training is not limited to military personnel alone. Certain government agencies, such as intelligence and law enforcement organizations, also undergo similar training to enhance their operational capabilities.

For more information on SERE training, you can visit the official website of the SERE School.

Who Is Required to Attend SERE School?

Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) School is an intense training program designed to prepare individuals for worst-case scenarios in hostile environments. While it may sound like something out of an action movie, attending SERE School is a requirement for certain groups of individuals who face high-risk situations in their line of work.

Let’s take a closer look at who is required to attend SERE School.

Pilots and Aircrew

Pilots and aircrew members are among the top groups of individuals who are required to attend SERE School. This includes both military and civilian pilots and aircrew who operate in high-risk areas or fly missions that could potentially result in capture or isolation.

The training they receive at SERE School equips them with essential survival skills and techniques to increase their chances of survival and successful evasion if they ever find themselves in a hostile environment.

Special Operations

Members of special operations forces, such as Navy SEALs, Army Rangers, and Marine Force Recon, are also required to attend SERE School. These elite military units often operate in high-risk environments where the likelihood of capture or isolation is greater.

SERE training helps them develop the mental and physical resilience needed to endure difficult conditions and evade capture if necessary.

High Risk of Isolation Personnel

There are certain individuals within various occupations who may not fall into the previous categories but still face a high risk of isolation due to the nature of their work. This could include intelligence operatives, diplomats, journalists, and humanitarian aid workers who operate in conflict zones or other dangerous areas.

While not mandatory for everyone in these roles, attending SERE School can provide them with valuable skills and knowledge to increase their chances of survival and successful escape if they ever find themselves in a hostile situation.

It’s important to note that while SERE School is primarily designed for those who face high-risk situations, it is also open to individuals who are not required to attend but choose to do so voluntarily.

Many outdoor enthusiasts, adventure seekers, and individuals who simply want to challenge themselves and learn new skills have also attended SERE School to gain valuable survival knowledge.

For more information on SERE School and the training it provides, you can visit the official website of the U.S. Department of Defense at

The Different Levels of SERE Training

When it comes to SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape) training, there are different levels that individuals can undergo to develop their survival skills. Each level offers unique training experiences and challenges, preparing participants for various scenarios they may encounter in hostile environments.

Let’s take a closer look at the three main levels of SERE training: SERE 100, SERE 200, and SERE 300.

SERE 100: Basic Survival Skills

SERE 100 is the starting point for anyone interested in SERE training. This level focuses on providing participants with the fundamental survival skills needed to navigate and survive in challenging environments.

During this training, individuals learn essential techniques such as building temporary shelters, finding and purifying water sources, and identifying edible plants and wildlife. Additionally, SERE 100 includes instruction on basic navigation, fire-starting methods, and first aid.

Participants in SERE 100 are typically military personnel, but civilians who are interested in acquiring basic survival skills can also participate. This introductory level lays the foundation for the more advanced training to come.

SERE 200: Field Training

SERE 200 takes survival training to the next level by immersing participants in realistic field scenarios. This level focuses on honing skills learned in SERE 100 and introduces additional challenges. Participants undergo training in evading capture, navigating through unfamiliar terrain, and procuring food and water in survival situations.

One of the key aspects of SERE 200 is the introduction of simulated captivity experiences, where participants experience what it’s like to be a prisoner of war (POW). These simulations help individuals understand the mental and physical challenges associated with captivity and resistance techniques.

SERE 300: POW Training

SERE 300 is the most advanced level of SERE training and is specifically designed for military personnel who may find themselves in high-risk situations, such as special operations forces. This level focuses on preparing individuals to endure and resist interrogation techniques and harsh treatment that may be encountered as a POW.

SERE 300 includes intense physical and mental training, simulating the conditions and psychological stressors associated with being a POW. Participants learn resistance techniques, develop mental fortitude, and practice communication skills to withstand interrogations.

The goal of SERE 300 is to equip individuals with the tools and mindset necessary to survive and resist enemy captivity.

It’s important to note that SERE training is physically and mentally demanding. Participants should be prepared for rigorous challenges and be in good physical condition before undertaking these programs.

For more information on SERE training and its different levels, you can visit the official website of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency at

What Is Taught During SERE Training?

SERE training, which stands for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape, is a rigorous and intense program that prepares individuals for the most challenging situations they may encounter. In this training, participants learn a wide range of skills and tactics to survive and evade capture, resist interrogation, and ultimately escape from hostile environments.

The training is primarily designed for military personnel, but it is also open to civilians who may be at risk of being captured or held captive in hostile environments.

Survival Skills

One of the main focuses of SERE training is to equip participants with essential survival skills. These skills include but are not limited to finding food and water sources, building shelters, starting fires, and navigating through unfamiliar terrain.

Participants are taught how to make the most of their surroundings, using natural resources to their advantage. This knowledge can be life-saving in situations where individuals find themselves isolated and in need of basic necessities.

Evasion Tactics

Another crucial aspect of SERE training is learning evasion tactics. Participants are taught how to remain undetected and navigate through hostile environments without being captured. They learn how to blend in with their surroundings, camouflage themselves, and move silently to avoid detection.

Evasion techniques also include understanding enemy tactics and how to counter them effectively. These skills are crucial for individuals who may find themselves behind enemy lines or in dangerous situations where evading capture is essential for survival.

Resistance Interrogation

Resistance to interrogation is a critical skill taught during SERE training. Participants are trained to withstand psychological and physical pressures that may be imposed upon them by captors. They learn techniques to maintain their mental and emotional fortitude and to provide minimal information to their captors.

The training helps individuals understand the tactics used in interrogation and how to resist them without compromising their safety or mission.

Escape Techniques

Escape techniques are an integral part of SERE training. Participants are taught various methods to free themselves from captivity and make their way back to safety. This includes learning how to pick locks, create improvised tools, and navigate through complex environments.

Participants are also trained on what actions to take immediately after escaping to increase their chances of evading recapture and successfully reaching friendly forces or safe zones.

Notable SERE School Graduates

Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) School is a rigorous training program designed to prepare military personnel for worst-case scenarios. Graduates of SERE School possess invaluable skills that can mean the difference between life and death in hostile environments.

Throughout the years, many notable individuals have successfully completed this intense training. Let’s take a look at some of the most notable SERE School graduates:

1. Marcus Luttrell

Marcus Luttrell, a former Navy SEAL, is one of the most well-known SERE School graduates. He gained international recognition for his heroic actions during Operation Red Wings in Afghanistan. Luttrell’s survival and evasion skills, which he acquired through SERE training, played a crucial role in his ability to evade capture by enemy forces for several days until he was rescued.

His story was later depicted in the book and movie titled “Lone Survivor.”

2. Jessica Lynch

Jessica Lynch, a former Army supply clerk, became a symbol of bravery and resilience after her capture during the Iraq War in 2003. Following her rescue, it was revealed that Lynch had undergone SERE training, which aided her in surviving her traumatic ordeal.

Her story inspired many and shed light on the importance of SERE training for all military personnel.

3. Bob Hoover

Bob Hoover, a legendary pilot and aviation pioneer, is another notable SERE School graduate. Known as the “pilot’s pilot,” Hoover’s remarkable skills were honed during his time at SERE School. His ability to withstand and navigate challenging situations in the air was greatly attributed to the training he received during his military career.

4. David Crane

David Crane, a former prosecutor and international human rights advocate, underwent SERE training during his time in the U.S. Army. This training provided him with the resilience and mental fortitude needed to handle high-pressure situations throughout his career.

Crane went on to serve as the Chief Prosecutor for the Special Court for Sierra Leone, where he played a crucial role in the prosecution of war criminals.

These are just a few examples of the many notable individuals who have successfully completed SERE School. The training they received equipped them with invaluable skills that have been instrumental in their respective fields.

Whether it’s military personnel, pilots, or individuals working in high-stress environments, SERE training continues to play a vital role in preparing individuals for the unexpected.


SERE school equips those most at risk of isolation or capture with essential skills to survive harrowing situations and return home with honor. While the training is extremely tough both mentally and physically, graduates emerge with critical abilities that can one day save their lives and the lives of their fellow servicemembers.

In summary, pilots, aircrew, special operations personnel and other high-risk jobs attend SERE school. The multi-phase program teaches survival, evasion, resistance and escape techniques. Around 20,000-30,000 trainees graduate each year, joining an elite group prepared for the worst.

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