US Leads Multinational Working Dog Handler Training in Germany

The US has hosted a multinational training at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, to improve the interoperability of working dog handlers.

The event involved preparations in command and communication skills to upskill the teams’ ability to localize threats, detect explosives, and find missing persons in various settings.

Sessions involved scent detection simulations in outdoor and low-light environments, suspect apprehension, and search and rescue, some of which required the use of night-vision equipment.

Throughout the program, the US soldiers and their counterparts worked through cultural differences and training approaches that boosted their cooperation.

Participants involved military and law enforcement units from Germany and Luxembourg.

Activities were led by the US Air Force 52nd Security Forces Squadron (SFS) Military Working Dog (MWD) Section in partnership with the US Army 100th Military Police MWD Detachment and the 86th Security Forces Squadron.

“The knowledge learned from the events our teams were run through today will allow us to set forth a training plan that will strengthen our capabilities over time,” Military Police Brigade Operations Officer Sgt. Aaron Vinson explained.

Canine Medical Support Covered

During the training, US Army animal care specialists from the Veterinary Readiness Activity Rheinland-Pfalz also facilitated hands-on canine tactical combat casualty care for handlers.

Trainees received first-aid lessons using the TecMed-developed Advanced K9 Medical Trainer mannequin, which offers realistic anatomy, breathing, reactions, and health concerns of a working dog.

U.S. Army Pfc. Toby Wolin (left), a military working dog handler (MWD), and MWD Szike, both assigned to 100th Military Police (Military Working Dog) Detachment, 709th Battalion, 18th Military Police Brigade, prepare to apprehend Senior Airman Brandon Duncan, a MWD handler assigned to the 86th Security Forces Squadron simulating a suspect, during a suspect apprehension scenario as part of a working dog training seminar at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, June 26, 2024. In the scenario, teams were evaluated by MWD trainers on their ability to find a simulated suspect and exercise proper rules of engagement to apprehend them. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Max J. Daigle)
A military working dog handler (MWD), and MWD Szike prepare to apprehend personnel simulating a suspect. Photo: Staff Sgt. Max J. Daigle/US Air Force

“These are areas we all have some level of expertise in,” said 52nd SFS SWD/MWD Section Trainer Staff Sgt. Nathan Fortmayer stated.

“As the hosts, we wanted to make sure we provided teams with realistic scenarios the dog teams could very well face, so they not only get the training, but get it in a way where we all learn something from each other as a result.”

“To us, these dogs are much more than dogs – they’re partners. We care about these dogs the same way we would any human because they defend us with their lives. It’s critical we can help them when they are most vulnerable.”

Reconstructing Military Working Dog Center in Germany

The Spangdahlem training followed a US Department of Defense announcement in September 2023 to revamp an American military working dog facility in Germany.

Located in Grafenwöhr, the $4.6-million project will establish a permanent center to replace an aging kennel built over 100 years ago.

Assets at the site will involve canine equipment and multiple hubs designed for training, medical needs, supply storage, and administrative tasks.

The center will be open to US joint force dogs and handlers deployed in the European, African, and NATO theaters.

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