McConnell MWD team deployment support

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Alan Ricker
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
“One night that was memorable to me during a deployment was a time we went on a long run after work — my dog and I heard an explosion,” said Tech. Sgt. Elvin Jose, 22nd Security Force Squadron kennel master. “It sounded really far away, but about 10 seconds later the ground shook and we heard sirens all over the place.”

While patrol vehicles were responding, Jose described that his military working dog’s ears propped up in alert and that the MWD was pulling on him while his tail was wagging.

“He was excited to go to work,” said Jose.

This is one of many events that can occur during a MWD team’s deployment.

McConnell currently has one MWD team deployed, while another MWD is preparing to redeploy at Fort Bliss.

“We have a consistent rotation of deployments,” said Jose. “We support 2 to 3 deployments a year. That is anywhere from a kennel master, a MWD trainer or a MWD team deployment.”

Before deploying, the MWD team goes through the Air Force Security Forces Center’s Ground Combat Readiness Training Center, Desert Defender at Fort Bliss, Texas. The center focuses on training and equipping Air Force Defenders to meet the needs of combatant commanders downrange.

“We have to be prepared to work any aspect of the job,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Smith, 22nd SFS MWD handler. “Some roles during deployment are search pit operations, base defense operations and outside the wire operations.”

Jose explained that during training, MWD teams go through a shortened K-9 course training different tactical methods and scenarios. After the track and imprinting K-9’s with new explosive odors, the teams begin a tier-two training, which consists of weeks of ground combat readiness training.

“Teams train on everything from standard security operations to close precision engagement,” said Jose. “They also go through an improvised explosive detection lane and other realistic training to prepare them for combat missions downrange.”

During deployments, K-9 teams can face multiple challenges, including extreme heat and being in a location without a veterinarian — which is what one of McConnell’s teams is facing now.

“If anything were to happen to the handler’s partner, then it will be solely on that handler to save that dog’s life and perform emergency care,” said Jose.

Jose shared that the K-9 teams are trained quarterly on emergency care for MWDs. This training is provided by the team at McConnell’s Veterinary Clinic.

“Before deployments, we train hard on multiple mission sets to ensure the MWD and handler are ready for anything that comes their way,” said Smith. “The teams must be able to perform the duties without failure, due to the growing through of IED’s in deployed locations.”