By U.S. ArmyOctober 18, 2012
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- The Army unveiled its latest chapter in the military working dog legacy here October 16 with the activation of the 180th Military Working Dog Detachment under the 92nd Military Police Battalion, 4th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade.
The new unit has never been activated and will be comprised of military police MWD teams old and new.
"In preparation for the new Military Occupational Specialty, 31K, Soldiers currently attending One Station Unit Training here at Fort Leonard Wood will be forwarded the opportunity to attend the MWD course and become MWD handlers," said Sgt. 1st Class Cory Lorenz, MWD career counselor of the U.S. Army Military Police School. "This will create a balance within the ranks of our MWD handlers when their new MOS becomes fully implemented sometime in October 2014."
There are only two Soldiers who have graduated from this program so far and they are both assigned to the 180th MWD Detachment.
"This is a great opportunity and it's so much more than I expected," said Pfc. Cody Barratt, a military police Soldier assigned to the 180th MWD Detachment. "I'm excited to be experiencing things that people of the same rank don't get to experience."
Soldiers within the new unit will train with their dogs on attack and detection operations in preparation for worldwide deployments.
While some Soldiers will begin entering the Army with a new career in mind, the military working dog team is not a new training concept.
"I entered the military in 2000 as a military police Soldier and have been working as a dog handler since 2003," said Staff Sgt. Michael Bending, 180th MWD Detachment kennel master.
Bending has handled half a dozen military working dogs during his career so far and has completed two combat deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Bending said that he has also trained with other countries to improve their detection dog handling techniques and that he looks forward to sharing his experiences with brand new Soldiers.
The first commander of the newly activated unit shared some of Bending's views and offered his own insight into the significance of the detachment.
"With the integration of this new MOS, our Soldiers will begin their training as military working dog handlers alongside seasoned experts from right here at Fort Leonard Wood in a detachment created specifically for them," said Capt. Joseph McGough, 252nd Military Police Detachment and 180th MWD Detachment commander. "I look forward to seeing the many accomplishments that will undoubtedly come from the activation of this unit."
The unit's first deployment is slated for next spring.