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Engineer Canine Company

The Army's Engineer Military Working Dog program is operated out of Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri by the Counter Explosive Hazards Center. All deployable Engineer Military Working Dog personnel and dogs are part of the Engineer Canine Company, also at Fort Leonard Wood. Specialized search dogs provide unique detection capability to the force. Dogs are reliable, proven, and efficient detectors of explosives and unexploded ordnance. Dogs have excellent mobility and utility over ground not accessible to most mechanical detection tools. Specialized search dogs are not not attack trained and are bold but not aggressive. They are steady under gunfire, but sensitive and not easily distracted by other covering scents. The dogs are able to operate in real time, reduce manpower and increase search speed, and can work in most weather conditions. When deployed correctly, the dogs can and will minimize the risk to life of friendly force personnel. Training of the dogs consisted of a week-long certification that depended on successful completion of each search by both dog and handler, working as a team.

Specialized Search Dogs were introduced and first used by the Army by the Engineers on 16 October 2004 with the reactivation of the 67th Engineer Detachment (Canine) at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. The 67th Engineer Detachment built on work begun by the British army in Iraq, where they used dogs to find explosives and contraband almost. Initially the dogs supplied to the unit were found in pounds or otherwise donated to the program. The dogs were usually Labrador retrievers or a Labrador mix, and were awarded a rank one level higher than that of their handler. The stated reason for this was to make it easier to prosecute abusive handlers under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. If the handler was promoted, the dog would be promoted as well.

The dogs initially operated primarily in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. So effective were the dogs in Iraq, that insurgents, learning that each dog had a specific serial number tattooed on their ear, reportedly attempted targeted dogs by number and offered bounties for specific animals.

The clear utility of the Engineer Military Working Dog program led to the unit being expanded to company size in 2005. As of 2010, the Engineer Canine Company, assigned to the 5th Engineer Battalion, part of the 4th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, consisted of its headquarters and 3 specialized search dog engineer detachments, the 49th, 67th, and 94th Engineer Detachments. The Engineer Canine Company subsequently deployed military working dog teams from its assigned detachments in support of Overseas Contingency Operations such as Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, as well as training rotations.

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Page last modified: 20-07-2012 16:22:06 ZULU