K-9 handlers visit Hurlburt to sniff out explosive training with EOD

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Kentavist P. Brackin
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

Military working dogs teams from Hurlburt Field, Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, and Eglin AFB, Florida, met for the 2nd Annual Improvised Explosive Device Awareness Training event on Hurlburt Field, Florida, Feb. 20, 2019.

The 1st Special Operations Security Forces Squadron Military Working Dog Section and 1st Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight hosted the training to familiarize K-9 handlers with current events and emerging trends with the employment of IEDs downrange, and to stay current on explosive safety procedures.

“This was the second year in a row that Hurlburt’s K-9 section has done hands-on training with explosive ordinance personnel, but the first time we invited other kennels to attend,” said Staff Sgt. Dustin Reed, an MWD handler trainer with the 1st SOSFS.

The first portion of the training was held in the morning and focused on presenting the information in a traditional classroom setting.

“Usually, the explosives training solely consists of a PowerPoint presentation, which becomes bland and boring,” Reed said. “Including hands-on, scenario-based training with EOD personnel puts everything they teach in the presentation into perspective and allows the dog teams to train as if they were in a deployed location.”

Following the classroom training, the 10 MWD teams traded their notebooks and pencils for leashes to take on scenario-based practical application organized by Hurlburt EOD personnel.

“This is the most up-to-date IED buildup that [they] will see because we have guys coming back from deployments, just weeks ago, out here setting up scenarios,” said Tech. Sgt. Lee Cundiff, the NCO in charge of training for 1st SOCES EOD Flight and coordinator for the training event.

Each team faced a dozen scenarios in rapid succession, simulating some of the situations they may encounter while deployed. 

Scenarios ranged from getting stuck in a minefield to investigating a site where an improvised rocket launch originated.

“Training with mass amounts of explosives is a great thing for the dog handlers to experience,” said Tech. Sgt. David Garver, kennel master for the 96th Security Forces Squadron, Eglin AFB. “Terrorists do not have guidelines on what they can do when building an IED. They are going to
use the amount of explosives necessary to accomplish their goal. This training helps our K-9 handlers get first-hand knowledge of tactics and common trends of the terrorists, ensuring they are prepared andequipped with lifesaving knowledge.”

The scenarios are designed to test the K-9 personnel’s critical decision-making skills and receive feedback on their tactics, techniques and procedures from EOD observers after completing each iteration.

“The biggest thing we want them to take from this training is trusting their gut instincts, mind and their own threat assessments,” Cundiff said. “We want them to use their dog, not as a crutch, but as an asset to their own senses they already have, like their eyes and ears.”

The training is something the MWD personnel want to build upon in the future.

“All of the scenarios were realistic and the handlers really seemed to enjoy all of the scenario stations based on the comments I received from other K-9 personnel,” Reed said. “I would like to see more bases involved in the future, so we are able to facilitate this amazing multi-base training with as many people possible.”