ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam --
Airmen from the 736th Security Forces Squadron hosted a subject matter expert knowledge exchange between several military and civilian K-9 units on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam Nov. 20.
Fourteen dog teams hailing from the 3rd Law Enforcement Battalion, U.S. Naval Base Guam K-9 Unit, 36th Security Force Squadron, and Guam International Airport Authority Police K-9 Unit utilized Air Force equipment and facilities to hone working dog skills in combat situations. This training helps keep the continuity between the branches in the event Air Force, Marines, or Navy dogs were ever attached in the same area of responsibility.
“It does not matter the branch, civilian police, or TSA,” said Staff Sgt. Casey Wheatley from the 36th SFS military working dog section. “As handlers, we are always trying to enhance our dog teams to the best they can be to protect the citizens we all serve.”
During the exchange, civilian police officers exercised combat techniques they normally don’t get to practice with their working dogs. Training in a simulated combat environment provided the chance to receive advanced training between civilian police and service members, and the chance to learn from their sister branches, making procedures more fluid in a joint-fighting force.
“The way we get the edge on adversaries is to set up these types of exchanges to bounce knowledge off one another due to the various ways we train within the agencies,” said Wheatley. “Additionally, it allows access to different training areas and odors in which the working dogs are trained on.”
The exchange included two combat scenarios, one being pyro exposure, which involved maneuvering under light machine gun and ground burst simulations, exposing the working dogs to loud gun fire, explosive sounds, and smoke bombs. This exercise put the working dogs under stress, and it was the goal of the handlers to keep the working dogs calm in this situation and help them acclimate to the sensations of a combat zone.
The second exercise allowed for shoot, move, and communicate tactics in an urban environment while working dogs searched for improvised explosive device indicators. The dogs were required to stay mobile while moving through tight entryways and up stairs, but, at the same time, remain close to their handlers, so as to not expose themselves or the handler to enemy fire.
“If this plan is a success, it will open a lot of doors for future training with the Marines and Navy, and will help build the relations with local PD and Air Force units for when they get on island,” said Wheatley.
Unifying techniques and skill sets across Guam’s many K-9 units allows for interchangeable teams in crisis situations where one team may not be available. It also builds a line of communication among the different populations across the island.