Combat survival training essential to mission

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Nick Wilson
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
There may be a time when 52nd Fighter Wing aircrew members' duty to "Seek, Attack and Destroy" take an unanticipated twist. A pilot and his crew may be forced to eject from an aircraft and parachute into a hostile environment due to aircraft failure or enemy missile attacks. This is why all 52nd FW pilots and crew are required to attend Combat Survival Training. 

CST is a two-day program where aircrews receive refresher training on skills learned during survival, evasion, resistance and escape training at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., where they participate in a 19-day course concentrating on the fundamentals needed for survival. 

"Here at the unit level we provide refresher training just to keep them razor sharp when it comes to meeting the basic needs outside of the jet," said Staff Sgt. Robert A. Martin, 52nd Operations Support Squadron survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialist. 

The first day consists of approximately four hours of academic training in the wing SERE building to refresh aircrew on how to meet their basic needs, such as finding food and water, taking care of medical injuries, and traveling in diverse environments while staying hidden from the enemy. 

"[They] take all of [their] basic skills and then apply those to a combat setting where they are trying to not only meet their basic needs to stay alive, but also trying to stay hidden and avoid detection and capture by an adversary," Sergeant Martin explained. 

Pilots are required to take CST so they have their training to fall back on if they find themselves in a combat situation where survival in less-than-serene conditions is necessary. 

"People tend to fall back on what training they've received when they are in that situation," Sergeant Martin said. 

The CST instructors prepare and train pilots for as many potential situations as possible. Additional skills learned include utilizing lifesaving skills, such as providing themselves warmth and shelter, blocking the wind, and contacting recovery assets for rescue from a hostile environment. 

"Even here in lovely Germany, I teach them how to survive in a jungle. So if they were deployed to the Philippines and they ended up having to eject out of their aircraft, they would know how to meet those basic needs in a jungle environment," Sergeant Martin said. 

After completing the first day of academic training - a prerequisite to the field training exercise - the students and instructors drive to Gerolstein Army Base, which is about 45 minutes north of Spangdahlem. The training range is used for German, 606th Air Control Squadron and 52nd Medical Group field training exercises. 

In order to provide the most relevant CST information to their students, Sergeant Martin and other CST instructors train often since training requirements constantly change and there are constant updates to lesson plans and training and Air Force instructions. 

"In order for me to give the most current and the most relevant information to our high-risk guys, I have to go out and get what is currently being taught, as well," Sergeant Martin noted. 

Aircrew receive combat survival training to learn the skills necessary to "Return with Honor" as the SERE motto states.