336th Training Group [336th TRG]
The 336th Training Group is the sole manager of US Air Force survival training. Its mission is to give aircrews the means to survive "anywhere, anytime." The group is located at Fairchild Air Force Base, WA, with one subordinate unit at Naval Air Station Pensacola, FL, and one at Eielson Air Force Base, AK.
The 336th Training Group, U.S. Air Force Survival School, provides Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) training primarily to aircrew members. Instruction concentrates on the principles, techniques, and skills necessary to survive in any environment and return home.
The group incorporates the heritage of the 336th Bombardment Group (Medium)--later, the 336th Air Refueling Wing, (Heavy)--and the 3636th Combat Crew Training Wing. The 336th Bombardment Group (Medium) was activated on 15 July 1942. Assigned to MacDill Field, FL, it operated the B26 Marauder medium bomber, training replacement crews for operational units. The group relocated to Lake Charles, LA, where it was disbanded on 1 May 1944.
Instructors assigned to the Survival School teach seven different courses to approximately 6,500 students annually. Five of the seven courses are taught at Fairchild. The other two courses are conducted at NAS Pensacola, FL and Eielson AFB, AK.
Combat Survival Training, which all Air Force aircrew members must attend, is conducted by the 22nd Training Squadron. Forty-nine classes are taught per year, with each class lasting 17 days. The majority of the course is taught at Fairchild; however, six days are spent in the mountains of the Colville and Kaniksu National Forests, approximately 70 miles north of Fairchild. Instruction at Fairchild begins with classroom training on the physical and psychological stresses of survival. This is followed by hands-on training in post ejection procedures and parachute landing falls, various life support of equipment procedures, survival medicine, and recovery device training. Students then transition to the mountains where they receive additional training including shelter construction, food procurement and preparation, day and night land navigation techniques, evasion travel and camouflage techniques, ground-to-air signals, and aircraft vectoring procedures. Finally, students are returned to Fairchild and given training in conduct after capture.
The SERE Training Instructor Course, conducted by the 66th Training Squadron, is also taught at Fairchild. This is a five-and-one-half-month program designed to teach future survival instructors how to instruct aircrew members to survive in any environment. The course includes instruction in basic survival, medical, navigation skills, overland travel, evasion, arctic survival, teaching techniques, rough land evacuation, coastal survival, tropics/river survival, and desert survival. Basic survival, navigation skills, overland travel, evasion, and teaching techniques are taught in the Colville National Forest; arctic training is conducted on Calispell Mountain near Cusick, WA; desert training is conducted in an arid sand dune area near George, WA; rough land evacuation is conducted near Tum-Tum, WA; tropics/rivers survival is taught in the Olympic National Park, WA; and coastal survival is conducted on Tillamook Bay off the Oregon coast.
The third course conducted at Fairchild is the non-ejection water survival course which trains aircrew members of nonparachute-equipped aircraft. The course lasts two days and includes instruction in signaling rescue aircraft, hazardous aquatic life, food and water procurement, medical aspects of water survival and life raft procedures. Group and personal survival are stressed throughout the course.
The fourth course is the resistance training orientation course. The 66th Training Squadron conducts the five day course for U. S. Air Force SERE training instructors and designated Department of Defense personnel. The course covers the theories and principles needed to conduct Level C Code of Conduct resistance training laboratory instruction. Established by 1993 Year of Training initiatives and the new career field education and training plan for SERE training instructors, course graduation is mandatory for upgrade to the 5 skill level.
The final course conducted by Fairchild is the SERE training instructor, 7-level upgrade course. This 19 day course, conducted annually, provides 5-level instructors with advanced survival training in barren arctic, barren desert, jungle, and open-ocean environments. Training is conducted at Eagle Summit, AK (arctic); Yuma Proving Grounds, AZ (desert); Schofield Barracks Military Reservation, Oahu, HI (jungle); and the Gulf of Mexico based out of Pensacola NAS, FL (open ocean). Instructors spend three to four days in each environment learning and applying skills required for surviving with minimum gear and support.
Arctic Survival Training is taught by Detachment 1, 66th Training Squadron at Eielson AFB, AK. This is a five-day course conducted from October through March, and it is designed for aircrews assigned to flying duties in the northern regions. Instruction concentrates on food and water procurement, thermal shelter construction, firecraft, and various signaling techniques. This course prepares individuals to cope with the harsh arctic environment and familiarizes the student with cold weather survival equipment and procedures.
A second water survival course offered by the Survival School is conducted by Detachment 2, 66th Training Squadron at NAS Pensacola, FL. This course lasts four days and simulates in-flight over water emergency. The course centers its training on aircrews which utilize parachuting as the primary means of escape. Instruction includes initial academic training, parachute equipment procedures, parachute drag training, post egress and recovery training which includes a deep water landing, and a one to two hour raft familiarization exercise.
Each summer, the group also supports the United States Air Force Academy in the conduct of their survival and evasion training program. Additionally, survival instructors train approximately 2,200 Air Force Reserve Officers' Training Corps cadets at different field training encampments throughout the United States each summer. Approximately 1,200 Air Force Academy cadets are instructed in three 21-day programs.
Survival personnel also conducts survival presentations to hundreds of civilian organizations including Boy and Girl Scouts; Civil Air Patrol, and local schools. In 1996, Survival School instructors performed more than 60 public appearances and tours, taking the survival message to more than 15,000 civilians.
The Arctic Indoctrination School at Marks AFB, AK, was the first United States Air Force aircrew survival school.
It began in August 1947, and training proved to be so valuable to aircrews' survivability that a land survival training school was soon established at Ladd AFB, Alaska. The strongest advocate of the survival program was the Commander in Chief of Strategic Air Command (SAC), General Curtis E. LeMay. He believed that with the proper training in environmental and situational survival, the Air Force could decrease aircrew member losses during conflict. However, due to limited training instructor resources and budgetary shortfalls the survival schools were forced to consolidate in November 1948. This proved to be a viable merger in that aircrews received multiple condition survival education.
On 16 December 1949, SAC opened a mountainous terrain survival school at Camp Carson, Colorado. Other commands, along with the Far East Air Forces and the Royal Canadian Forces, were soon vying for training slots for their aircrews. By 1952 demand for student training outgrew the Colorado location. Strategic Air Command sought a larger training area for the new Land Survival School and by July 1952 training began at Stead AFB, NV. With the beginning of the Korean War the conditions at Stead AFB were perfect. Ten miles northwest of Reno, the new training center afforded students the high Sierra Nevada Mountains; and opposite the base was the hot, bleak, treeless encampment of sagebrush and desert. Two other classes instructed at Stead AFB were Instructor Training and Combative Measures (Judo). The Combative Measures course was extremely successful but, in an effort to reduce aircrew training time and to reduce spending, it was dropped from the course.
Due to an Air Force realignment action on 1 September 1954, the Land Survival School and Stead became part of Air Training Command's (ATC) Crew Training Force. While at Stead, the school stopped its practice of collectively training aircrews, opting for individual training by mixed element instead. In 1957, the newly developed Fighting Man's Code of Conduct was added to the curriculum. Also, as the need for aircrew members in Southeast Asia increased, the length of the course decreased. In the early 1960s, the Air Force combined it's efforts with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to start a five-day desert survival training course for astronauts.
With the Secretary of Defense announcing the closure of Stead AFB, all survival school assets transferred to Fairchild AFB, WA. Air Training Command activated the 3636th Combat Crew Training Group (Survival) as a tenant unit at Fairchild on 15 March 1966, and training resumed at Deep Creek Air Force Station which was located in the southwest corner of the base. There were several other survival training programs conducted by other Air Force commands, and their number continued to grow during the course of the Vietnam War. Two of the largest were Tactical Air Command's Sea Survival School at Homestead AFB, FL, and Pacific Air Command's Jungle Survival School at Clark Air Base, Philippines. By the late 1960s there were over one-hundred land and water survival and life support continuation training schools. This situation proved to be a duplication of effort and a waste of money and resources.
By the early 1970s, the school was preparing to train women who had special flying duties such as flight nurses and intelligence officers. The first female Air Force member entered the Basic Survival Training Course on 10 August 1970. The first female survival instructor graduated in 1977.
In 1971 the Air Staff consolidated all survival training under ATC. This consolidation brought about many unit redesignations. In the spring of 1971, the 3636th Combat Crew Training Group was redesignated the 3636th Combat Crew Training Wing (Survival) with Detachment 1 at Eielson AFB and Detachment 2, the Tropic Survival School at Albrook AFB, Panama Canal Zone, joining the Survival School. The Jungle Survival School at Clark AB became the 3614th Combat Crew Training Squadron (CCTS) and the Water Survival School at Homestead AFB became the 3613 CCTS. In addition, a helicopter detachment was assigned to the school to add realism to the rescue and recovery portions of survival training.
As the Vietnam War came to a close, so too did the Jungle and Tropic Survival Schools. The Jungle Survival School closed in April 1975 and the Tropic Survival School closed in June of 1975 with the curriculums being incorporated into the Water Survival Training School and the Basic Survival Training School. The Air Force activated Detachment 2, 3636th Combat Crew Training Wing on 20 June 1976 to assist in planning and conducting search and rescue (SAR) and escape and evasion (E&E) exercises. However, after training more than 2,300 students the detachment deactivated on 15 March 1985. The '80s also brought about an increase in the basic survival course, increasing course length to 17 days and changing its name to combat survival training in order to emphasize the importance of training in a combat environment.
In August 1992, Hurricane Andrew ripped through southern Florida, destroying Homestead AFB in the process. As a result, the water survival school was temporarily relocated to Tyndall AFB, Florida. Training continued there until an Interservice Training Review agreement moved the school to its permanent location at NAS Pensacola in Florida. Air Force training is now collocated with the Navy, the first move in what is ultimately hoped to be the collocation of all Air Force, Navy, Army, and Marine Corps survival training.
On 1 January 1993, HQ USAF consolidated the 3636th Combat Crew Training Wing with the 336th Air Refueling Wing, (Heavy). Then, on 29 January 1993, the consolidated unit was redesignated as the 336th Crew Training Group. In July of that year, Air Training Command was redesignated as Air Education and Training Command (AETC), Headquarters Nineteenth Air Force activated at Randolph AFB, TX, and the 336th Crew Training Group subsequently assigned to that Numbered Air Force. The 336th underwent another name change on 1 April 1994 when "Crew" was removed from its title.
Today, the 336th Training Group conducts survival training for the United States Air Force and other selected Department of Defense personnel. Five courses are taught at the Fairchild location, with Arctic Survival being taught at Eielson AFB and one of two water survival training courses being conducted at Pensacola, FL. Additionally, the Survival School's 36th Rescue Flight provides UH-1N support for both the combat survival and survival training instructor courses while strongly supporting the National Search and Rescue Plan covering a three-state area.
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