Continuing from our post of part 1 we catch up with the SERE Trainees as they near completion of the course. Up to this point, the trainees have been proven in the field. Out of the 62 who started, only 7 graduated the familiarization phase. Now with only a month left in training, only five individuals remain.
Tropics Phase – FORKS, WA
We are now in the Tropics Phase of training, conducted near Forks, Washington where it rains 212 days a year. The objective for the trainees in this phase is to prove what they have learned while battling harsh rain, wind, and more rain. Surviving in the tropics can be tricky. The trainees must build elevated shelters to keep them off the ground away from snakes and constant flash floods. The shelters are built only from materials they were able to procure from the environment – no rope, no cord.
A survival expert must also have the ability to recognize edible food sources. Trainees eat animals and plants that are tasty and also some that even Andrew Zimmerman would question.
What’s for dinner? Raw Slugs.
The banana slug is a very common to the tropical region in Washington and can be found on trees and inching around on the ground.
In one instance, I saw an instructor come into our perimeter carrying two giant banana slugs freshly harvested and ready to be eaten. The instructor wrapped the slug in a leaf and then called for the team leader, telling the trainee to eat and enjoy!
This slug was about 4” in length and as big around as a thumb. As the trainee bit into the slug it immediately exploded, releasing a goo-type substance into his mouth. The trainee started to gag but was forced to swallow, thus receiving a lesson in overcoming food aversions. Trying to communicate, the trainee developed a horrible lisp from the thick goo stuck to the inside of his mouth, cheeks, and tongue. The instructor suggested the trainee shove dirt in his mouth to remove the substance. Following the recommendation, the trainee grabbed a handful of dirt and shoved it into his mouth – only to hear the instructor’s sarcastic insults telling him that dirt won’t solve the problem. This may sound cruel but in a survival situation you could find yourself needing calories and the only food may be something similar to a banana slug.
Next Up – Ocean Survival / Coastal Survival
After the Tropics Phase the trainees will head off to the Oregon Coast for Open Ocean Survival and Coastal Survival. They are still four environmental phases away from graduating.
I have been to many different jungles located throughout the globe. While the jungle can be a very target rich environment for surviving and finding food, it can also be very deadly. The jungle provides concealment for enemy combatants and dangerous predatory animals. The terrain can also be very difficult to navigate, especially when dealing with fast moving streams and rivers.
SERE training will teach you how to overcome these obstacles and survive. I have been thrown into class 4 rapids wearing only a uniform, forced to tread water and navigate downstream while avoiding waterfalls and large rocks. As our motto Return With Honor says, the job is to prepare for every possible obstacle that a SOF, SEAL, or Aircrew members might encounter and get them home safely when they are cut off from friendly control.
If you would like to learn more on SERE or becoming a SERE SPECIALIST check out www.gosere.com for recruitment and more information.