Canines and carbines: weapon system safety

  • Published
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Safety Office

You may not think of K-9 units and combat arms training as part of safety’s risk mitigation. However, these facets of securing our installation are fundamental to ensuring the Altus Air Force Base mission. Whether employing weapons, canines, or aircraft, the Airmen of Altus accept risk to ensure the mission endures!

What you call a firearm, combat arms trainer calls a weapon system. SrA Pierce teaches weapon safety fundamentals in the classroom. On the firing range, he acts as the focal point of safety engagement in the “tower,” or supervising instructor position. From this vantage point, line of sight for all weapons is established and maintained. So when your CATM instructor is yelling “keep your muzzle low and pointed down range!” they are mitigating risk:  you. Like Jeff Cooper, the father of modern hand gun training famously said, “Safety is something that happens between your ears, not something you hold in your hands.”

Another weapon system with muzzles, is security force’s K9 section. Safe operations stem from the critical relationship between each dog and handler. Keeping each other safe during patrols and drug and bomb detection is difficult. A handler’s calm demeanor is a fundamental necessity in different circumstances to ensure operations are controlled and effective when conducted by the canine. Handlers require a keen eye of their surroundings simultaneously paying close attention to their dog. Like a weapon malfunctioning, many contingencies with a canine require planning and proactive training.

When working around the general population, part of this is bite training. Bite training is an essential function of the K9 section inflicting precise amounts of pressure to achieve the desired effect. During Wing Safety’s visit, SrA Turner and his canine Bingo demonstrated their safety mentality by controlling different situations challenging Bingo to remain at the top of his game while engaging an “aggressor.”

The 97th SFS holds great risk at their fingertips in every work center. Whether it’s a “weapon system,” a leash, or a two-ton vehicle, 97th Security Forces Squadron knows there is #More2Safety.