Working dogs help clear Anbar of danger

2 Apr 2008 | Cpl. Ryan Tomlinson

Operation Iraqi Freedom has made for a safer and more stable Iraq.  That goal was reached with hard work from the service members as well as what a group of people call, “Man’s best friend.”

Military working dogs with Task Force Military Police, 1st Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, have assisted Coalition forces throughout OIF to prevent insurgent activity by locating weapons caches and explosive materials.

“These dogs use a keen sense of smell,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael T. Williams, a kennel master with TFMP. “That sense (of smell) can locate weapons caches to prevent future attacks.”

The dog handlers with TFMP work in Camp Korean Village, Iraq, in support of 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 5. The group is comprised of members of the U.S. Army, Marines and Navy, and is ready to assist at a moments notice.

“We train the dogs constantly every week; if we aren’t on missions, we are training the dogs,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Eliot J. Tiashi, 25, a dog handler with TFMP from Daytona Beach, Fla. “By training them every day, (the dogs) maintain their efficiency.”

The dogs acquired their initial training in Lakeland Air Force Base, San Antonio.  During the course, the K-9s are trained to locate various types of explosives and weapons. The training advances from lower levels to higher by placing the dog in different environments where they have to locate specific items.

Despite all of the training the K-9s endure, the handlers still care for them and play with them like family dogs.

“The relationship is like a father and a son,” said Williams, 27 from Culleoka, Tenn. while walking his German shepherd “Kitt.” “They make deployments go by easier, because no matter what, you still have your friend there with you.”

The dog handlers with TFMP have conducted operations since January and will be detaching to I Marine Expeditionary Force (FWD). Despite the change of command, the service members will conduct operations in support of 2nd LAR Bn. as well as any infantry or logistics battalion needing K-9 assistance until the day they return home.

“Every day the dogs are saving lives,” said Williams. “Whether it’s that day or in the future, it’s one less life taken.”