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Kosovo Police and KFOR dog handlers make a great team in joint training

Jan 1, 2010

By Sgt. Jill Fischer

CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo - K9 forces from all areas of Kosovo conducted Joint Action Training here recently to share experiences, information and ideas.

Joint Action Training creates bridges between different countries' K9 handlers, and also their dogs. This training is important to develop the dog handlers' skills in detection of explosives, some that may not be readily available within their own countries.

It's also important that the Kosovo Police K9 units be trained alongside KFOR in order to improve proficiencies so that they can take the lead on explosive detection missions.

Warrant Officer Lars Persson, a member of the European Rule of Law in Kosovo (EULEX) K9 Unit, has been training K9 handlers and their dogs in Kosovo for 11 months. He'll be heading back to Sweden in early January. During his time in Kosovo, he has worked with handlers form many nations, including Germany, Austria and Switzerland; Finnish Advisors, Kosovo Police, and other EULEX members.

Persson shares his knowledge with K9 handlers, while, at the same time, learning form them. He finds and develops new ways to train the K9 handlers and their dogs.

"I will be able to use this training back home in Sweden, too," Persson said. "This experience has broadened my mind about how I can train K9 handlers and their dogs, along with my dog, back home."

The training, which has been conducted every week since Persson arrived, is set up by the handlers. The training locations are rotated between different camps of participating NATO countries.

"This training allows us to train in different environments, and train outside of our own camps since the environments are the same every day," Persson said. "Joint training changes the environment weekly, which helps the handlers and the dogs so they cannot get used to or bored of one environment."

Staff Sgt. Carlos Paniagua, a member of the 615th Military Police Co. out of Grafenwoehr, Germany, is the kennel (Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge) NCOIC for Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo. Paniagua played host during this training exercise at a warehouse on Camp Bondsteel.

"This training is important for us and our dogs because we receive information on different training techniques. The other forces may have more knowledge on a specific subject," Paniagua stated.

"Being a dog handler is all about communication - we are the translator for the dog," Persson said. "We watch them and read their body language and speak for them, but they also read our body language and feed off of that."

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