AL ASAD, Iraq -- When it comes to the security of Al Asad, nothing is left to chance. Cameras, firepower and a team of military working dogs are always ready. The dogs are able to use their noses to sniff out trouble.
The Al Asad military working dog detachment is a joint service unit with Air Force and Marine canines and handlers. The partnership of dog and handler is never ending. When the dog works, the handler works.
“Our job is all about the dogs,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Michael Williamson, one of the Air Force military working dog handlers and Fort Worth, Texas native. “We work daily to ensure our dog is ready for their next assignment. They do all the work. We just take care of them and provide them guidance.”
While aboard Al Asad there is no shortage of work for the dog teams. With security being the heart of all of their missions they can not afford to have a dog sidelined for something as preventable as a heat related injury.
“Once the dogs get acclimated, they work on shifts that are generally a couple hours long,” Williamson said. “Work and rest cycles are the key to ensuring their safety and well-being throughout the hot summer months. They are too valuable to the military to be taken out of the fight prematurely.”
“It comes down to knowing your dog,” said Cpl. Robert La Place, a military working dog handler and Sacramento, Calif., native. “If your dog starts to act different from his normal behavior, something is usually making him feel uncomfortable.”
The military working dogs and their handlers work side by side during the day at various security points and flightline. The team also conducts security sweeps special events.
“We ensure the safety and security of buildings, luggage, and vehicles as part of our different missions,” La Place said.
Being able to work with the dogs daily allows the handlers to witness how their partners’ skills far exceed their expectations.
“Our dogs are dependable partners,” Williamson said. “They are aware of things well before the average person is. They are loyal partners who will do anything they can to please us.”
Just having the dogs around makes everyone feel safer and helps deter any suspicious behavior, according to the team.
“I think having us around makes everyone feel more at ease about whatever situation they are in,” Williamson said. “After we check a vehicle, the probability of a foreign substance being on board is greatly diminished. Usually if the dog is acting like nothing is amiss then everyone follows his lead. If something isn’t right the dog will pick up on it well before any of us will.”
The military working dog teams split their time among their various missions they are called two perform. By providing security for all personnel here, they are proving to be an essential part of the Al Asad security team. They allow others to concentrate on their jobs without worrying about their basic safety and help the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing continue the mission of supporting ground units throughout the Al Anbar province.
*For more information about this story please contact Cpl. Herron at email@example.com*