Army holds DOD military working dog symposium with interagency partners

By Shannon Collins, Army News ServiceMay 14, 2024

A group of U.S. Army soldiers run through an exercise during the U.S. Army Military Working Dog symposium May 15, 2023, at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, Mich.  The 2nd annual symposium provided in-person training for canine handlers from across the Department of Defense, various law enforcement and federal agencies, and our foreign partners. (U.S. National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Tristan D. Viglianco)
A group of U.S. Army soldiers run through an exercise during the U.S. Army Military Working Dog symposium May 15, 2023, at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, Mich. The 2nd annual symposium provided in-person training for canine handlers from across the Department of Defense, various law enforcement and federal agencies, and our foreign partners. (U.S. National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Tristan D. Viglianco)
(Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Tristan D. Viglianco)
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WASHINGTON – The Army is holding its third annual Military Working Dog Symposium from May 11-17 at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center in Michigan.

There will be about 30 subject matter expert instructors teaching more than 250 MWD/K-9 Defense Department, interagency, law enforcement and NATO partners and their dogs on specialized courses.

The dog teams can attend 17 different types of courses and then a full-day course at the end of the week. Each course focuses on different critical sets, said Sgt. Maj. Viridiana Lavalle, Army MWD program manager.

“Our goal is to further educate our military working dog teams,” she said. “It’s very important for us to collaborate, not just within the Department of Defense, but also interagency, with local law enforcement and with our NATO partners. It’s important for us to learn from one another.”

MWDs and their handlers are force multipliers who not only support installations but also worldwide contingency operations, Lavalle said. Events like this are important because they provide the teams with advanced training capabilities, increased readiness, new training methods and further capability to support future large-scale combat operations.

The purpose of the symposium is to bring all the partners of the MWD community together so they can share lessons learned so when they’re on the battlefield or at home station, they can equip their handlers and the dogs with the best resources to perform their job, said Command Sgt. Maj. Shawn Klosterman, Army Military Police School, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

“We’re arming our handlers with the knowledge they need to be successful to a point where when we have to work interagency, we can co-locate and work together,” he said. “We will have synergy and knowledge to be able to execute those duties professionally.

“The more information and knowledge we can give them, the better prepared they are to execute their duties,” he said.