There's no I in team

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Christopher Callaway
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
Two deployments into his Air Force career, one Airman decided to change it up and switch to a new job with a four-legged companion by his side.

Staff Sgt. Corey Rainge, 1st Special Operations Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, graduated MWD Handler School in 2009 and is now preparing for his first deployment with his four-legged partner, Cora.

"The best moment for me is when I know I have established trust with my dog," Rainge said. "Once the trust is there between the handler and the dog, there is no limit on how hard that dog will work for you."

Air Force dog handlers work with their canines to detect explosives or find drugs in state-side and combat situations. There are more than 1,300 dog handler teams in the U.S. military.

Dogs go through multiple training regimes that teach them and their handlers how to deal with different scenarios. The training involves working together with an assigned companion to learn how to perform the mission as a team.

On Hurlburt Field, MWDs are here to support the flightline, help secure the base, and protect the people who come in and out the gates.

"We have our mission that we take pride in performing," Rainge said. "Our secondary mission is to train. We train not only to become better handlers, but also to become a better military working dog team."

Rainge and Cora have been training together since May 1, but the two already have a strong bond and are more than ready to help with mission succes, said Rainge.

"I am very excited to see how Cora and I do at the Regional Training Center versus the other dog teams that have been together longer," Rainge said. "I trust Cora to lead me the right way, and I know that she will trust me to take care of her."

The next step before deploying will be to attend training at Ft. Bliss, Texas. It consists of two weeks of K-9 training and two weeks of combat training without the dogs.

Through the process, the team will be evaluated on how they conduct themselves at all times.

"I am constantly being evaluated by my trainer and other trainers," said Staff Sgt. Ryan Troester, NCO in charge of the military working dog section for the 1st SOSFS. "Each MWD team is trying to be the best, but at the same time they're helping the team next to them be better."

Rainge and Cora have recently completed certification in front of the 1st SOSFS commander. This is to ensure the decisions they make while searching for explosives will be the correct decisions to keep everyone safe and the mission running smoothly.

"If you want to earn the commander's and your peers' respect, you step into that certification with your chest out, focused on nothing but the task and saving lives," Troester said. "The dog team has to peak. It's time to stop climbing the mountain and stand on top of it. You have to be perfect, and anything less will not get it done. Perfection earns not only your leadership's confidence but everyone who counts on you to protect them."