FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. - More than a dozen Soldiers from the 5th Engineer Battalion, K9 Company, 49th Mine Detection Dog Detachment are scheduled to deploy this week in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. This deployment will mark the eighth detachment cycle of mine detection teams to deploy since the engineer K9 unit activation in 2004.

"Mine detection teams are extremely versatile theater assets consisting of individual augmentees that are capable of supporting multiple units," said Sgt. 1st Class David G. Richmond, a Mine Detection Dog handler and K9 Company platoon sergeant.

The teams are certified in route clearance tactics, mine field reduction and individual rescue team operations. Teams consist of one mine detection dog and their handler but all clearance operations require two dog teams and any support elements that may need such as veterinary technicians and squad leaders.

"These dogs find mines, they find explosives, they help find IEDs, they help protect and clear routes," said 1st Lt. Kyle Hart, the deployment headquarters commander. "The bottom line is that these teams play an essential role in keeping people safe."

Army mine detection dog teams have been utilized in combat since World War II and were introduced to the engineer regiment by British soldiers in 2003.