SERE training takes place to military personnel who are seen to be more prone to capture by an enemy during war. The training aims at providing the student with skills that would enable them to survive and avoid being captured, and if captured, one is taught how to resist interrogation and how to escape if possible. The training starts with an academic setting where the students are allowed to interact with a trainer in a class discussion. In the class, they look into survival tactics, cases of successful escape and ways of resisting enemy attack. The following step includes going to the field where the students are put in an unknown environment and left to learn how to survive in an experimental way rather than class set up. During the period they are introduced to hostile conditions such as hunger, fatigue, discouragements and uncertainties. In order to survive, they are supposed to look for ways of getting food such as edible plants and animals. After sometimes in the field, they are exposed to a hostile mock army force who they should evade. When captured they are taken to the mock prison where they should try to escape; this stage is typically demanding both physically and psychologically.
From the process of training that the SERE students go through, a psychologist has several roles that have to be performed. Fist, the trainees, are exposed to different environmental conditions such as the comfortable classes, hostile weather conditions with varied temperatures sometimes very low and other times very high. An operational psychologist has a role of offering psychological support as well as environmental instructions necessary. During the training, they act at evaluator throughout the whole training and ensuring that the students achieve the main target. They also assist in evaluating the best suitable instructors of the SERE training school. The SERE training involves torture and unfriendly environment, especially in the mock prison. The physiologist should ensure the safety of the students as well as ensuring that they learn the best way and they are not dehumanized by the trauma of the process. The psychologist educates both the trainers and students on several aspects that are necessary for an effective and efficient training process. They ensure that the trainees are well equipped with the best faith that ensures that they become fully trained and can overcome any trap by an enemy to change them such as having a lot of faith in God and country. On the areas of improvement in the training school, the psychologist is consulted, and they also carry out research on areas of improvement. After training, the work of helping the training to go back to their normal life is done by the psychologist.
Going through the SERE training helps the operational psychologist in different ways. First, they understand the environment through which the students go through and hence they normally acquire the first-hand experience which is vital in offering the psychologist roles. Secondly, their skills as an operational psychologist in assisting students in SERE training schools are sharpened by the existing psychologist. For example, when a student is taken by as prisoner of war and is unable to escape, the psychological problems they undergo in prison and their attempt t escape teaches the operational psychologist a lot in how to encourage students to come out of it after the training. Also, in offering their opinion on areas to improve the training process for better results, they offer advice from personal experience.
The SERE training process is a necessary for an operational psychologist because of the value added to their career. Out of the process they go through, they understand the challenges faced by the students and because of the hostile conditions in the training school a psychologist who has not gone through the training may not help the students effectively. It is, therefore, necessary for any SERE psychologist to go through the training so that they can perform in an efficient and competent way possible. Some roles of the SERE operational psychologist such as educator and evaluator require one to have gone through the training process to be competent and reliable in their duties.
Operational Psychologist while undergoing SERE training may face problems such as role drift and problems in repatriation. Role drift in SERE training for an operational psychologist is the process where a psychologist slowly has their mind set changing, and they change their target role to another one. By participating in the SERE training, an operational psychologist faces the risk of having their roles change gradually because of the environment within which they train which best suits the student in the military who wish to acquire the training for performance of military duties. The operational psychologist may have their role changing and adopting active SERE duties as a military officer after a successful training. Also, the operational psychologist faces the risk of failing to recover to after the SERE training process. Repatriation process is not easy for the operational psychologist because it is expected they will join the training school but not go back to their normal life. There is a risk that the training process may make the operational psychologist change their personal perspective of issues and adopt some traits received in the training that may limit their normal personal living.
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