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    Airmen partner with Kyrgyz State Security Service K-9 team

    Manas K-9 Handlers Train Kyrgyz State Security Service: Unleashed Training

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Olufemi Owolabi | Lieutenant Maxatbek Turmanbetov, Kyrgyzstan State Security Service K-9 Unit handler,...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Olufemi Owolabi 

    376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

    TRANSIT CENTER AT MANAS AND BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan - There was an explosion of joy that erupted from Kyrgyz Maj. Natalia Balabrikova when Vali, one of the Kyrgyz drug and explosive detection dogs, discovered a hidden 'plant' during a training exercise for canines here.

    The training was part of an ongoing partnership between Airmen at the Transit Center at Manas and the Kyrgyz Department of State Security Service.

    The 376th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron Airmen are aiding a team of Kyrgyz dog handlers to hone the skills necessary to manage their own law-enforcement, force protection, antiterrorism and explosive-detection canine program, which according to Major Balabrikova was practically nonexistent.

    "We are very lucky to have professional handlers and canine masters here at Manas that promoted our love for this profession," said the major, chief of Kyrgyz SSS K-9 unit, who spoke through an interpreter, Alexey Belov. "We learned, for example, in terms of planting explosive aids. We learned how to plant them in different places and locations. We appreciate this and will always remember the experience."

    The program, which started about three years ago, was prompted when Kyrgyz president visited Manas and was being fascinated by the 376th ESFS Military Working Dog program.

    "They [Kyrgyz government representatives] approached the Air Force leadership at Manas, and they agreed to train our team," she said. "I remember the first day we started; we had no prior experience and didn't have any dogs."

    She described their first few days in training to a child first entering a high school without any experience or knowledge, but now she feels like her team of handlers and dogs are near graduation.

    Thanks to the Transit Center personnel, today their Kyrgyz counterpart can now boast of some well trained dogs and several puppies, which are still at different training levels.

    Despite a busy schedule, the team of Airmen from Manas K-9 unit set up training schedules to accommodate an extra training routine for the partnership. The schedule allows the 376th ESFS Airmen to train their partners semiweekly.

    One of the training sessions requires the team of Airmen to travel to the city of Bishkek to meet the Kyrgyz team for training.

    The training session, Aug. 8, was full of energy. Several Kyrgyz dogs received decoy training from a Manas dog handler, Joseph Villalobos, who acted as a decoy. Mr. Villalobos was drenched in sweat after the training, which focused on perfecting the dogs' skills on properly charging and attacking a perpetrator.

    After the day's mission was accomplished, both teams sat together and looked backed at how well they did, and what areas needed improvement.

    Both teams agreed that the training was enlightening.

    "Our Kyrgyz dog handlers love to come out and train," said Mr. Villalobos, former Air Force technical sergeant and K-9 handler for over ten years. "They are always ready to train and have fun, just like any other [dog] handler I have ever met. They are now fully capable of continuing this program on their own when they need to."

    On a weekly basis, the Kyrgyz team also reciprocates by visiting the Transit Center to take advantage of an alternative training environment.

    For them, the Transit Center provides a lot more training areas the dogs are not used to. It also facilitates different training scenarios with different odors of explosive.

    Even though they have completed training with some of their dogs, the Kyrgyz team wants more assistance with other dogs and puppies because every dog is different and requires different approaches.

    "We would like to continue this program because it's very important for our country to have these types of dogs," Maj. Balabrikova said.

    Since Mr. Villalobos started training with the team in October 2008, he has seen significant effect of the training on the dogs.

    Mr. Villalobos said since he joined and started training the team in October 2008, he has seen much improvement.

    "... Another dog that has made a huge improvement is named Casey," he said. "She is a lot more proficient now than when I first got here."

    Apart from the Kyrgyz obvious improvements, they were also encouraged by the sense of friendship and equality that their American counterparts and trainers show toward them every time.

    "We train hard. They are happy to have us here, and they definitely want to continue this relationship," Mr. Villalobos said.

    "They [Americans] treat us equally, like we are their own personnel," Maj. Balabrikova said. "They are always happy about our achievements and progress."

    For the Kyrgyz, they have gained a lot of experience that will be a lingering and lasting memory, even when they decide to train their own dogs without assistance.



    Date Taken: 08.11.2009
    Date Posted: 08.11.2009 09:42
    Story ID: 37362
    Location: MANAS AIR BASE, KG 

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