Kentucky’s ADT 5 up close with military working dogs

Story by Sgt. Matthew Thomason, Agribusiness Development Team 5

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Tech Sgt. Jessie Johnson speaks to members of Kentucky Agribusiness Development Team 5 about her dog Crash and his abilities as an attack and bomb dog at Forward Operating Base Pasab, Afghanistan, June 20, 2013. The Military Working Dog Team is utilized to assist ADT 5 in clearing areas quickly when business is being conducted outside of the wire in the villages and farms. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Dallas Kratzer)

FORWARD OPERATING BASE PASAB, Afghanistan– The afternoon sun was beating down as soldiers from Kentucky Agribusiness Development Team 5, gathered for training conducted by Military Working Dog Teams in order to better understand their counterparts and the abilities they possess.  Since their arrival to country, ADT5 has been utilizing the invaluable asset of the MWD teams and has established a great working relationship with the handlers and their dogs. Today would be a lesson to remember, as members of ADT5 would now gain a greater understanding of the professionalism and dedication of both the handlers and the dogs themselves.

The training began with a demonstration of the capabilities of the dogs in finding explosives.  C4, a high explosive, was buried in a large search area out of the view of the MWD’s. Dart, a black Labrador, was let off his leash by his handler and the search began.  Within a matter of minutes, Dart had found the buried explosives and lay down, a signal to his handler he had found something.

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Staff Sgt. Matthew Nicholson is pinned down by Crash, Tech Sgt.
Jessie Johnson’s loyal companion during an exercise at Forward Operating Base Pasab, Afghanistan, June 20, 2013. The dog is trained to keep a detainee in place until further instructed to release his hold.(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Dallas Kratzer)

“I’ve been on six deployments and this is the first time I’ve worked with Military Working Dogs,” said Sgt. 1st Class Richard Harris, Security Forces platoon sergeant. “Personally, I prefer dog teams because it allows me to move much faster when dismounted. Handlers train and work together every day, so it makes it easy to use different teams each mission.”

The biggest threat the International Security Assistance Forces face in Afghanistan is the Improvised Explosive Device and MWD teams are a great asset in defeating the IED threat. ISAF forces utilize MWD teams on a regular basis to clear areas of IED’s before allowing the security personnel to move into the area. MWD teams are essentially on the front lines of any mission. ADT5 uses MWD teams in the same capacity. When asked how the absence of MWD’s would affect the mission, Staff Sgt. Robert Denham, Security Forces Team Leader said it’s the fastest way to clear an area of threats.

“The mission would be impacted greatly because of the excessive time it would take to clear (the area) and the strain it puts on the dismounted security,” he said. “There is no tool, other than the Military Working Dog, as versatile and able to take on anything the mission throws at them.”

ADT5 soldiers were given a demonstration of obedience where the dogs were given many commands to follow and responded accordingly, proving just how much control the handlers have. Then came the main event: bite training. Many of these dogs serve a dual purpose, in that, they can search for explosives and are trained to attack. The troops were given a great demonstration of the power these dogs have and capped off the training day by volunteering to train with the dogs.

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1st Lt. Clint Bushong of Kentucky’s Agribusiness Development Team 5 tries to get away from Crash, a military working dog during a demonstration at Forward Operating Base Pasab, Afghanistan, June 20, 2013. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Dallas Kratzer)

Spc. Morgan Vinson, a Security Forces team member, was the first brave soul to volunteer to be attacked by one of the dogs. He donned a protective jacket and was given a quick safety brief by one of the handlers. He then participated in several role plays where he played an aggressor and was suppressed by the MWD.  One such role play was a situation where Vinson was a suspect who decided to run from the Military Police. The dog waited patiently until instructed by the handler to attack. Like a flash of lightning, the dog bolted after Vinson, quickly catching up and latching onto his arm. The power of the dog biting Vinson’s arm was enough to knock him off his feet.

“It’s like a strong force hitting you, but I knew I was protected by the suit,” said Vinson about his experience. “I felt very confident in the dog’s ability and it helped me realize the ability and obedience of the dogs. It was pretty cool.”

At the end of the day it seemed that everyone had a new respect for the dogs and their handlers. It was also a fun way to incorporate training with entertainment. The day ended with a group picture and lots of petting and wagging tails.

After all, what dog doesn’t like a little attention?

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