The K-9 section of the 87th Security Forces Squadron conducted Joint Force training with members of Marine Aircraft Group 49 where military working dogs were introduced to helicopter transport.
By leveraging training resources and capabilities, two joint partners were able to immerse pilots, aircrew and military working dogs in a potential real-world scenario with aircraft.
“This training was to see how capable our military working dog teams are in terms of their detection capabilities and their patrol work, with the added variable of helicopter involvement,” said the technician from the United States Air Force. sergeant. Lindsay Zaccardi, K-9 kennel master. “This was the first helicopter training application for all of the dog teams that participated, as well as the Marines.”
According to Zaccardi, this joint training was a first-ever event for both mission partners.
“We had two days of training,” Zaccardi said. “First, our dog teams approached a helicopter to familiarize them with the sounds and appearance of the aircraft. We had to get them comfortable getting on and off the helicopter, and also used to being in their required gear – a dog eye and ear professional. The second day of training consisted of flying to a landing zone and getting the dogs out of the helicopter into the field.
Satisfied with the training results, Zaccardi credits the dog’s quick adaptation to helicopter and other training scenarios to the bond he shares with his handlers.
“These dogs trust their handlers and that bond has been central to their performance as a team,” Zaccardi said. “Each iteration on and off the helicopter became more and more comfortable and eventually was able to immediately switch to ‘detection mode’ upon exit; allowing the team to quickly and efficiently locate explosive training aids.
The actual application of this type of training is primarily in deployed environments. Dog teams are now qualified for helicopter insertions in a hostile theater where bomb detection is vital to mission success.
“Another important takeaway from this training is that if anything were to happen to our flight line at joint base, our dog teams have the ability, as a threat multiplier, to be around the engines of aviation and continue to perform their duties,” Zaccardi said.
The pair of serves proved to be a good match, with both sides walking away from joint training feeling accomplished and invigorated by the experience.
“This particular joint partner was phenomenal to work with,” the US Marine Corps said. Major Kyle Stiritus, CH-53E pilot. “We had the aircraft they needed and the excitement of training. Not only were we able to fly their dog teams, but we also wanted to be as immersive in their training as possible.
Already looking forward to the next joint training opportunity, the K-9 Section is looking to collaborate with other sister services on the facility by leveraging their dogs as mutual training assets.
“In the near future, we would like to set up training with the US Navy Medical Group to introduce canine tactical combat casualty care and how to help a military working dog who is injured in battle.”