CAMP BUEHRING, KUWAIT –
They trained in roadway, compound, and building searches to work on their identification and detection, skills essential for proficiency in the field. While the military working dogs were searching for ordnance on the ground, the handlers had to keep their eyes peeled on the surrounding area.
“This is a way for us to integrate what we need to look for as handlers,” U.S. Navy Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Petty Officer Michael Vanbergriff, a kennel supervisor with ASG-KU DES K-9, said. “When your dog is working a roadway, you don’t need to be paying attention to the dog. What the handler needs to be doing is searching the surroundings for other areas of interest.”
Service members had to investigate the areas for signs of possible improvised explosive devices (IED) set up by the explosive ordnance disposal specialists, who worked to make the experience as realistic as possible. Spc. Meghan Murray, military working dog handler with ASG-KU DES K-9, spoke on the benefits of the training, especially being able to work with EOD Soldiers.
“It helps us understand what we could possibly see if we’re out on patrol,” she said. “It’s good to work with other [military occupations] so you can see a different picture and point of view. Now I have a [better] idea of what I need to look for as a handler.”
The training is vital for K-9 units as they are constantly tasked for dangerous assignments such as patrols, drug searches, and IED detection. Murray said that constant training is vital as both the handler and the canine need to rely on each other to complete their roles as an effective team.
Despite the dangers that being a military working dog handler entails, Vanbergriff feels there is no military occupation he would rather be in.
“Best job in the military all together,” he said. “Very challenging, always changing; keeps you on your toes all the time and at the end of the day, your partner is a dog.”