S.E.R.E. - Survive Evade Resist Escape
The S.E.R.E. is an infamous school conducted under secrecy in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The main staple of students come from the Special Forces, and this course is a prerequisite for graduation into the Green Berets.
The course provides students with survival skills for high-risk soldiers in danger of being captured. Because Special Forces fall under this high-risk category, this training is mandatory for them. Most combat helicopter pilots undergo this training as well.
Deep in training, the Special Forces candidate is dropped of into a mock-country, complete with local government and civilians. They must find their way out of the woods, and set up a local resistance underground with locals in the area.
You're dropped off, and organize a resistance. Eventually you're betrayed and captured, and that's when you do S.E.R.E.
S.E.R.E. is considered to be one of the most stressful and testing schools in the military. "Special Warfare" magazine did a study of students in S.E.R.E. training, as well as other stressful events. These were the results as published by the JFK Special Warfare Center:
The average cortisol levels for a person performing their very first skydive is about 450nmol/l (nanomoles per liter). The average cortisol levels of a soldier in S.E.R.E. training average around 900nmol/l. Average cortisol levels in Ranger school: 650nmol/l.
The special forces have a motto, more like an advertisement, "People join the Special Forces not because we're different, but because they are. Throw out the word impossible." A biological profile was done using adrenaline levels Pre-Stress-Post of both SF candidates and normal soldiers. The Special Forces candidate's adrenaline levels were higher on average, during stress. Post, the Special Forces soldier's adrenaline levels returned to normal, while the regular soldiers were depleted. This shows that the normal Special Forces soldier has, what the JFK Special Warfare Center called, a "cool under fire" profile.
Details and information on this school are still classified, so not much is known publicly. What is known, is that it is meant to be as realistic as possible. The soldiers are captured, physically abused, but not beyond the point of doing damage (most of the time). They are stripped of dignity, and forced to eat things like insects. They are chained together, and marched long distances, with hoods tied over their heads. They are thrown in cells, with nothing more than a hole to urinate or defecate in. They are held in a prison compound, complete with guards and enemy soldiers. The class lasts 3 weeks. Only after it and language training is completed, along with ALL the other qualifications, tests, and courses, is the soldier finally allowed to wear the Green Beret.
I trained with girl at Fort Leonard Wood whose husband went through Delta Force selection. They have something similar to S.E.R.E., supposedly. When asked about his experience, he would do nothing more than close his eyes and shake his head. He came back with a fractured jaw, and scarring around his wrists, and this was an Airborne Ranger. He would only say, "I know if I was ever tortured, I could deal with it."
"Don't dare S.E.R.E. graduates to eat bugs. They always do it."
"How'd that worm taste?
Kind of fishy, kind of like dirt."
S.E.R.E. is a highly classified school, and you aren't even told about it during the Special Forces brief to sign up. The highest level of S.E.R.E. supposedly allows them to break small bones.
"If my own guys, in MY Army would do that to me, I can't imagine what the enemy would do. I'll never get captured, I know that much."
Source: Dr. C.A. Morgan III and Maj. Gary Hazlett of the JFK Special Warfare Center and "Special Warfare" magazine.