KUNSAN AIR BASE, SOUTH KOREA
Base defense is an essential part of the Wolf Pack’s mission; with more than 2,500 Airmen, Soldiers and civilians, and billions of dollars in equipment, ensuring the safety and security of Kunsan Air Base is a priority for the 8th Security Forces Squadron.
The 8th SFS Military Working Dog section plays an integral role in base defense, including the detection of explosives and narcotics and deterrence. Through routine patrol work, MWDs maintain a strong presence on the installation; helping Security Forces Airmen maintain order.
“Our mission at the Wolf Pack is to defend the base with one of the Department of Defense’s greatest assets, our dogs,” said Tech. Sgt. Monica Rodriguez, 8th SFS MWD kennel master. “We utilize their strong detection capabilities to eliminate potential explosives from entering the installation and enforce the Air Force’s zero tolerance policy on narcotics.”
In order to maintain discipline and order on the installation, training and readiness are of the utmost importance for the MWD section.
“We maintain readiness by training like our lives depend on it,” said Rodriguez. “We train daily, putting our handlers through real-time scenarios where we show them what can differentiate between life or death. We also work with 8th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal to stay up-to-date on modern day explosive devices.”
The section continues to train in various locations around base to expand their dogs’ environmental versatility and push their dog teams to step outside of their comfort zones.
“We are constantly challenging dog teams, forcing them to tap into their knowledge base, making them ready to fight at any given moment,” said Rodriguez.
In addition to detection and patrol work, handlers are continuously working with their MWDs on obedience. The obedience course highlights the capabilities of each dog while also preparing them for potential obstacles they might encounter in the field such as tunnels, windows or stairs.
Another potential obstacle in the field is injury. MWD handlers train on basic field and preventative veterinarian care throughout their careers, including administering vaccines and monitoring vitals.
“Being able to handle emergency first aid increases the overall capability of handlers,” said Staff Sgt. Robert Gust, 8th SFS MWD handler. “The trust between handler and dog also develops, making for a stronger and more effective MWD team in and out of the field.”
In order to work in the field, each MWD team must run through numerous detection scenarios in order to validate. Depending on the dog’s skillset, they must be qualified in different environments, such as a warehouse or vehicle lot, and must pass with a 100 percent.