JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. –
The 316th Security Forces Squadron military working dog section at Andrews collaborated with the Maryland State Police Aviation Command to familiarize the base's MWDs with operational aircraft during a training exercise, Oct. 5.
The introduction training allowed MWD handlers to assess their K-9s' response to loud noise and new environments. To initiate the exercise, handlers introduced the dogs to the Aviation Command’s AW-139, Trooper 2, helicopter. The K-9s were also familiarized with the aircraft platform, its engines and ground movement.
“The goal is to condition them to an environment they could encounter operationally,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Zackory Boozel, 316th SFS MWD handler. “Without training like this, we could end up doing more damage to a mission than good. Imagine a working dog that spins up on an aircraft for the first time and they either shut down out of fear or become agitated and uncontrolled.”
K-9 handlers for 10 dogs, along with four Maryland State Police officers, participated in the semiannual training that prioritized the well-being of the dogs by ensuring safety protocols were in place.
Although this training is not required under Air Force Instruction, the 316th SFS seeks out opportunities that advance their skill set while also connecting with local agencies. K-9 aircraft familiarization has also been a priority for 316th SFS MWD handlers, as their mission is ever-expanding.
“In the real world, the possibilities are endless,” said Boozel. “Most commonly, K-9s are shuttled around by helicopter to get to remote locations, medical emergencies, and joint taskings. As K-9 handlers, we can be tasked to deploy with the other branches of the DOD. I myself have deployed with the U.S. Army and was one of the only U.S. Air Force members assigned to the entire post!”
The 316th SFS and Maryland State Police Aviation Command plan to join forces in the future for additional helicopter training and familiarization with aerial takeoff.