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NEWS | March 1, 2024

Nebraska Guard Infantry trains with Air Force on survival tactics

By Staff Sgt. Lisa Crawford, Joint Force Headquarters - Nebraska National Guard

Soldiers with the Nebraska Army National Guard’s Company B, 2-134th Infantry (Airborne) conducted survival, evasion, resistance and escape (SERE) training, Feb. 3-4, 2024, at the Mead Training Site near Yutan, Nebraska. 

The 59 Soldiers were trained by six U.S Air Force instructors from the 55th Operations Support Squadron from Offutt Air Force Base. 

“Including the 55th OSS made a difference in the quality of training provided because they brought a unique type of training to our table,” said Sgt. 1st Class Ben Heimes, Co. B readiness noncommissioned officer.  “Soldiers were provided with specific tactics on survival and taught how to accomplish the mission of being put into a rescue scenario.”

With extreme cold-weather conditions and high snowfall in mid-January, the original intent for the training was going to be on arctic environment survival. But as the weather warmed and the snow melted, the focus shifted to basic cold weather survival training.

Soldiers were tasked with building different types of shelters, use of snares and traps, procuring materials to build fires and producing a smoke signal for air to ground recovery. Through the hands-on training, Soldiers learned how to survive and evade in different environments. 

“We learned how to effectively prepare ourselves for isolating events and plan for a potential rescue operation,” Heimes said. “This type of training empowers Soldiers with the skills for survival when the unexpected happens.”

This is the second recent engagement where SERE specialists from the 55th OSS have teamed up with Nebraska National Guard Soldiers to conduct training. In November 2023, the 55th OSS SERE Program conducted hoist proficiency training with Nebraska Army National Guard’s Co. G, 2-104th General Support Aviation Battalion, using UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters. 

“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,” said Master Sgt. Clifton Cleveland, 55th OSS SERE program superintendent, after the hoist training in November 2023.

The cold weather survival training in February demonstrated this commitment to a mutually beneficial partnership between the Nebraska Army National Guard and the 55th OSS. Heimes said he is looking forward to more valuable shared training opportunities in the future.