Over the next two years, millions of people from all over the globe will descend on Brazil to attend both the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
With them, they will bring several different languages and hundreds of dizzying dialects that will make communication an arduous task for the civil and military law enforcement agencies charged with maintaining order throughout the two major world events.
Speaking Portugese instructions to a Romanian tourist, who may not realize he has crossed a boundary, has the potential to lead to a conflict the Brazilian authorities want to avoid. One tool the Brazilians plan to employ is a sort of universal translator … a dog's bark.
To assist the Brazilian army during their security preparations leading up to the World Cup, U.S. Army South conducted a military working dog training exchange with the Brazilian army and the Brazilian Federal Police April 1-4 at the Batalhao de Policia do Exercito de Brasilia (Brasilia Military Police Battalion) in Brasilia, Brazil.
"This exchange allows both armies to discuss the capabilities and the potential of the military working dog so that we understand how their dogs are used and they can understand how we use our dogs," said Master Sgt. Kirby West, the U.S. Army South military working dog program manager.
The purpose of the exercise was to share information that would assist the Brazilians in narcotics and explosives detection, while also allowing the U.S. Soldiers learn more about Brazil's working dog breeding program.
The Brazilian civil and military policemen that will work the World Cup and Olympics indicate that military working dogs are a crucial component in the effort to host major sporting events.
During this summer's World Cup, Brazil will be home to 64 separate games in 12 different cities. Of those games, the nation's capital, Brasilia, will host seven games; a fact that remains the focus for Brazilian Maj. Alexandre Cirne de Paula, the BPEB military working dog program chief.
"In Brazil, we utilize our working dogs mainly to support crowd control in our capital," said de Paula. "With the major sporting events approaching, we will depend on our military working dogs to assist us in other areas such as searching for explosives and narcotics."
He knows that his working dogs and handlers will have a major part in the screening of hundreds of thousands of individuals at both the stadium and the surrounding venues.
The Estadio Nacional, where the soccer games will be played in Brasilia, holds more than 68,000 spectators and while Brasilia boasts a population of nearly 2.5 million people, that number is sure to swell once the World Cup games start in June.
"The use of K-9 units is critical, especially with the major events coming to Brazil," said de Paula. "We saw during this exchange, that the use of K-9 units can save military and civilian lives. I can assure you in these events, the K-9 units will have a very important role."
The ability to effectively screen thousands of individuals in a relatively quick manner makes the working dogs a force multiplier for the soldiers and policemen working the events this summer.
"I think the information we shared in regard to our combat experiences with working dogs in Iraq and Afghanistan gave them some techniques that they will hopefully be able to use in providing a safe environment with the major sporting events that are coming up," said West.
In addition, both sides discussed lessons learned in the selection, health and nutrition of working dogs. The two sides also compared the differences in breeding programs to include attrition rates of dogs before being selected for training, the age of which each country begins training dogs and the care of the dogs prior to and during training.
"It's important to have a healthy and well-fed dog to be able to achieve its full potential," said Brazilian Lt. Felipe Borges Soares, a veterinarian assigned to the BPEB. "The sharing of knowledge and experiences allows us to appreciate how different situations are addressed and how solutions are reached."
"The training methodology we use is different," said de Paula. "We hope that the information we provided in the way we breed and train our dogs at an early age will assist the U.S. with their working dog program."
West believes the week-long exchange will provide immediate dividends for both armies as Brazil prepares for this summer and the United States looks to improve its programs.
"The importance of an exchange like this is to provide a forum for us to strengthen each other's programs that will allow those dogs to be utilized properly, which enhances each army's capabilities overall," said West. "This was a complete exchange between our two nations that will allow each of our working dog programs to be used to their maximum potential to protect our people."