News: Baghdad Police College K9 handler graduation
Story by Spc. Karen Sampson
BAGHDAD – U.S. and Iraqi soldiers, along with distinguished members of the Iraqi National Police, gathered at the Baghdad Police College at Forward Operating Base Shield for a graduation of 26 canine handlers, July 30.
The 8-week training program was designed to educate Iraqi police in the handling of dogs specifically trained in explosives detection.
Bomb detection dogs are universally recognized as the most effective means of detecting explosives, said U.S. Air Force Capt. John W. Jansheski, chief, Canine Advisory Team, Iraq Training and Advisory Mission Police, from Newark, Ohio. The dogs arrive to the college trained in basic obedience and odor recognition of approximately nine basic components of explosives.
“We follow up our handling program with the proper care of working dogs,” said Jansheski. “We make the new handlers aware of the dogs’ need for attention 24/7 with logistic support, medical support and care of the dog’s emotional side as well.”
The challenge in Iraq, as in much of the Arab world, is that dogs are considered unclean,” said Gen. Mohamed Moshab Hajer, chief, Iraqi National Police K9 Unit, Baghdad Police College. “Very few families in Iraq grow up with dogs,” he said.
The ITAM Police - K9 training program, in conjunction with the Baghdad Police College, is working to move beyond these sensitivities. “The program’s training mission is to create a successful training team between the canine and the Iraqi handler,” said Mohamed.
“It is also very important that we have proper veterinary care in place in all provinces of Iraq as well,” said Mohamed, who is a licensed veterinarian himself. “The success of the explosive detection dogs is creating more demand for them in all provinces.”
“The office of the Iraqi prime minister recently requisitioned explosive detection dogs to secure the prime minister’s compound,” said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Michael Smith, director, ITAM Police, originally from Randolph, N.J., who attended the graduation. “This shows trust and confidence in the canine training program.”