FORT BENNING, Ga. -- An inexperienced handler and an experienced war dog teamed up for Training and Doctrine Command's first military working dog predeployment training here June 17 through 21.
Pfc. Samantha Roden with the 905th Military Police (Military Working Dog) Detachment at Fort Knox, Kentucky, graduated from advanced individual training in December and acquired her partner Tina, an 8-year-old Belgian Malinois, from her kennel master. They've been working together for five and a half months.
There are 15 teams training on three key tasks, said Staff Sgt. Brandon Spears with Fort Benning's 904th Military Working Dog Detachment and noncommissioned officer in charge of the training.
"We designed the training to test physical endurance, tactical knowledge and emergency care," he explained. "From this training, an order of merit list will be put together for the handlers and their dogs. The training will develop a standard for teams deploying downrange because it will help planners match experience and training with the operational needs of a deployment."
Over the course of the week, trainers evaluate the teams on their knowledge and execution of movement in a tactical urban environment, first aid, medical evacuation procedures, using night vision goggles and wearing gas masks, Spears said.
The training started Monday with an explosive ordnance disposal class and continued with loading a helicopter.
"This is all new to me -- everything," Roden said. "But Tina is used to it. This isn't her first time on a helicopter. She loaded fine and then just laid down."
Spc. Juan Tamayo assigned to the 483rd MWD Detachment at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, is at the Maneuver Center of Excellence with Bronco, a 10-year-old Belgian Malinois, a patrol explosive detector dog.
"I wish I had this training before I deployed," he said. Tamayo and Bronco deployed to Iraq for Operation Inherent Resolve. "This is a great experience for the new handlers -- to push them through the challenges. Bronco knows the drill; he's along for the ride."
However, not all the dogs were.
Spc. Jordan Williamson with the 905th MP (MWD) Detachment and Brenda, a German shepherd that turns 6 in August, said he had to run his dog up to the helicopter, but once she loaded -- she stayed calm.
"Brenda doesn't like tunnels or tight spaces," Williamson said, "so this training is pushing our boundaries."