Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE). This training has been pertinent for the former Army Green Berets Luke Denman and Airan Berry since their prompt capture on Monday, May 4. Despite the perceived circumstances, the politics, and the backstory, one thing is certain — these two brothers are having the worst days of their Earthly lives.

Never mind the five-Ws of their getting there — they are there and it is time for them to stay alive. Something I will avoid saying is:

“Well, if I were them I would…”

Right, I’m not there and I have no palpable clue what their ground-truth situations are really like. Captivity during armed conflict is quite truthfully an incomparably awful situation and every man has to deal with it in his own way. There are no right or wrong decisions there for them; all decisions the men make for themselves are the right decisions.

Every situation where a soldier is carrying an Escape and Evasion (E&E) map and a Blood Chit is as serious as it gets. I have carried both and understood with intense sobriety that I could find myself captive by enemy elements. In my case, we already had a man from our Task Force captured and held.

An American Blood Chit.

I’m pleased to know that the two men have had the great fortune of SERE training as part of their basic Green Beret qualification training. Having had the SERE training myself I estimate my fate in captivity without it as astronomically bleaker. A saving grace, however, was having (at least) read Nick Rowe’s captivity biography “Five Years to Freedom.” I honestly read an embarrassingly small number of books in my days. Nick’s book is the one book that has stayed with me the most.

Colonel James Nick Rowe and his novel Five Years to Freedom.

The first couple of hours during capture are critical in that the longer one is held in the enemy’s hands, the greater the likelihood of remaining in captivity on a more permanent basis. The longer the enemy has you the deeper they can maneuver you into a captive situation that is more and more complex to try and escape from. An immediate breakaway from an instance of potential capture is the best option, since an attempt to break away as soon as possible after capture bears the greatest promise for success.

Against Their Favor