By Cis SpookApril 6, 2017
LEOPOLDSBURG, Belgium -- U.S. Army Garrison Benelux-Brussels MPs, two dog handlers from the 100th Military Working Dog Detachment on Chièvres Air Base, members of the ISTAR - Bataljon Jagers te Paard (a Belgian Army Tactical Recon and Intel Battalion) stationed in Heverlee, Belgium and Belgian police members from the local Zaventem Police gathered for a joint training covering three different topics in Leopoldsburg, Belgium, March 29, 2017.
USAG Benelux-Brussels MPs participated for the first time with their Belgian counterparts and the Zaventem Police for an active shooter exercise in November 2016. The exercise being beneficial for all parties, they commonly decided to schedule other training opportunities, among which the March 29 training.
Soldiers, police and military are to work together on a more frequent basis then before. Since the recent terrorist attacks, the Belgian forces have the additional duty of surveillance with the Vigilant Guardian mission, in which the Belgian military are patrolling the streets of larger cities and strategic locations.
The Belgian ISTAR Battalion in Heverlee has some 60 to 70 of its Soldiers dedicated on a rotational basis to the Vigilant Guardian mission.
As their mission within the battalion is recon and intel, any additional training they can get in surveillance is beneficial.
Moreover, in real case scenarios, whether on post in Belgium or deployed around the world, Belgians and Americans are working together on frequent occasions.
"Having a chance to see how the units work and familiarize each other with the different procedures is very interesting for all parties," said Chief Inspector Freddy at the Zaventem Police.
The training held in Leopoldsburg covered three areas: dog handling, tactical field and evacuation care and a firing session.
"Federal Police dogs are being trained in the field they will be operating in," said Inspector Nancy, who demonstrated her techniques with her working dog, 007. "My dog was trained to patrol with me."
Not all dog handlers are able to choose their working dog while still a puppy but Nancy was lucky to do so and trained her dog herself.
In law enforcement, the techniques used by the Federal Police dog handlers are similar to the U.S. Army dog handlers. Chango and Rex, the two U.S. Army working dogs attending the training, not only accompany their handler on patrol but they are also trained on obedience and detection.
During a different session, Instructor Luc from the Belgian Army, showed their procedures in tactical field and evacuation care. Here again, the tactics may vary from U.S. military to Belgian military to Police members but nobody was there to claim their technique is the best.
"The intent of this session is not to replace a doctor on site but to know what to do prior to the medics' arrival and thus, saving lives," Freddy mentioned during the session.
The third part of the training was held at the outdoor firing range. The MPs were able to familiarize themselves and fire with the Belgian FNC and SCAR weapons, whereas the Belgian military got the chance to fire with the M4 or M9.
For Staff Sgt. Matthew Severino, USAG Benelux-Brussels Military Police, it would be a waste not to take the opportunity while being stationed here, to train with the Belgians. "For instance, in case of an incident on one of our bases where the Police would come, we now know what their interoperability capabilities are."
USAG Benelux-Brussels being in the Zaventem Police footprint, the garrison has an established working relation with them. "The more comfortable we are with each other, the better it is for both of us," Severino concluded.
Note: For force protection reasons, the Belgian Army and Police will not be identified in pictures and will only be named by their rank and first name.