Police Week: 97 SFS MWD’s stay deployment-ready

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kayla Christenson
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Military working dog handlers and their canine partners are two sides of a sacred relationship. Together, they protect and defend Airmen through their matchless skill and unbreakable bond. For the dogs, it begins in their youth, as MWD handlers passionately and respectfully train their assigned dog in multiple areas of expertise.

Tech. Sgt. Andres Posada, 97th Security Forces Squadron kennel master, said military working dogs provide security for the installation and provide detection capabilities at installation entrances by searching vehicles or persons.

“They are also trained to conduct patrol work which consists of searching the base perimeter and buildings,” he said. “Our dogs are capable of tracking certain individuals, whether it's by sight, scent or sound. They can track over two football fields.”

The MWD unit includes two teams -  one that deploys for six months and another that protects the home station. Most deployments require MWD’s and their handlers to detect explosives and patrol areas.

“We conduct the same training monthly as required to make sure that we are ready to go out all the time,” said Posada. “We constantly train for deployment type readiness whether that is short notice deployments or secret service missions to help out presidential security.”

Without the MWD unit, the training mission could be halted due to security breaches and safety of the aircrew and aircraft.

“At the gate, we are checking fuel trucks and cargo to make sure those individuals and those vehicles are vetted to ensure that there are no explosives that can harm anyone or vital equipment,” said Posada. “We also provide a lot of security by doing perimeter checks, making sure that the flight line is clear at all times.”

Posada said the bond between the handler and their MWD is vital to training.

“It's kind of like being a supervisor,” he said. “We learn more about our Airmen to understand the way they learn and grow. It's the same for dogs. Basically, we are these dog’s supervisors. Except we take care of them, feed them, and train with them. So, there is a bond that happens over time, and that's what is really important to training.”

Airman 1st Class Jaylen Bigelow, 97th SFS MWD handler, who has been with the 97th SFS MWD unit for three weeks, said he is excited for the opportunity despite being new to the job.

“I volunteered for this and waited nearly a year,” he said. “I went to train for 90 days then came here and the work and waiting has definitely paid off. I really enjoy working with the dogs and am looking forward to my future with them.”

Posada said the bond between handler and dog is something that can never be broken.

“Military working dogs have a special purpose for the military and for security,” said Posada. “But, as handlers, we care for them as friends.”