News: Military working dogs aid Marines, find explosives
Story by Cpl. Shawn Coolman
COMBAT OUTPOST CASTLE, Afghanistan -When used, military working dogs and their trainers are an immense asset to troops on the ground.
Select Marines assigned to I Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, as military working dog handlers here, train to keep the area around COP Castle clear from explosives through military working dogs.
Before the dogs are assigned a unit they must first go through months of training, finding explosives and personnel with their handlers.
Partnered with Afghan national police, 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, and the Police Mentoring Team, the Marines and their dogs train daily for vehicle, personnel, building and area searches.
The ANP here do not use dogs, but the PMT is training them to become better police officers and the military working dogs are here to make sure everything is clear to do so.
"We go out with the Afghan National Police and the Police Mentoring Team as an attachment to make sure that everything is safe in the surrounding area," said Sgt. Eric R. Taylor, 28, a military working dog handler, from Oklahoma City, Okla.
The dogs are relatively new to this part of Afghanistan, but the Taliban have already noticed what these dogs can do, and have made efforts to divert the dogs from finding buried explosives.
Despite the best efforts of the Taliban, the dogs are still able to locate explosives, Taylor continued after a training session with the dogs.
While on patrols the dogs responded to possible improvised explosive devices.
"Our dogs have responded to possible explosives, but our job is detection based. We don't confirm an IED," said Lance Cpl. Jimmy W. McGhee, 26, military working dog handler, from Fredericksburg, Va. "We call up an explosive disposal team to confirm if it is an IED or not."
The dog handlers and their military working dogs continue to keep the roads clear for Marines to conduct counterinsurgency operations.
"We work for the dog and always put the dog above us," said Taylor. "If there weren't any dogs out here then we wouldn't be here."