OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- The 55th Operations Support Squadron’s survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialists, better known as SERE, joined with the Nebraska Army National Guard to conduct hoist training Nov. 4.
Company G, 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 104th Regiment, flew a UH-60 Blackhawk from Lincoln to Offutt, which enabled personnel from both units to carry out some mandatory training.
“In order to maintain our mission-capable status, SERE specialists are required to accomplish hoist proficiency training every 36 months,” said Master Sgt. Clifton Cleveland, 55th OSS SERE program superintendent.
All of the 55th OSS SERE specialists had accomplished their training before arriving at Offutt, so Cleveland came up with a plan to keep them proficient.
“We reached out to the Nebraska National Guard in September and the discussion evolved into this joint training opportunity,” he said.
For the Nebraska Army National Guard Soldiers, this training also allowed them to remain current, which is required every 90 days.
“It is important for us to continuously train hoist to remain proficient for any potential missions we may get,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Russell Kuhlman, G Company, 2-104th GSAB training officer. “For example, during the 2019 floods, we conducted many hoist missions to rescue people from the cold water.”
SERE specialists are experts at surviving in the most remote and hostile environments. Hoist training is invaluable for exfiltrating people when aircraft cannot land.
“Hoist training is designed to prepare SERE specialists and aircrew members how to properly execute recovery tactics, techniques and procedures safely in a wide variety of austere environments,” Cleveland said.
“If an aircraft could not land for whatever reason, like steep terrain, foliage or urban environments, a hoist could be used,” Kuhlman said. “This involves hoisting a medic down to patients to treat, package, triage and evacuate them from the battlefield. Once the medic has done what is needed on the ground, we can hoist patients and the medic out using different types of extraction devices.”
Maintaining proficiency is essential not only to the SERE specialists but also to all of Team Offutt. By maintaining their mission-capable status, they can offer SERE refresher training, a 36-month requirement for all aircrew members.
“The SERE program exists to better train, prepare and equip over 2,700 warfighters here at Offutt as well as at three operating locations and two geographically separated units,” Cleveland said.
With the positive outcome for both units involved, they are already looking ahead for other chances to collaborate.
“This initial integration with the Nebraska Army National Guard has already opened numerous opportunities for our SERE specialists to integrate into future personnel recovery exercises and events together,” Cleveland said.
“There are a lot of valuable training opportunities our teams could mutually benefit from,” Kuhlman said. “We are looking at the possibility of doing a SERE training event for some of our crew chiefs and medics who do not get the same SERE training our pilots do.”