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50th MPs: New Fort Polk unit goes to dogs

November 2, 2012

By Staff Sgt. Melilitite^Patton, 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade

FORT POLK, La. -- There is a new unit on post and they have already gone to the dogs - the 50th Military Police Detachment, 519th Military Police Battalion, 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, is a canine unit that was activated Oct. 16 at 1st MEB Field.

Military working dogs have been a part of U.S. military history since as early as 1942. The Quartermaster Corps ran the Army's then-called "K-9 Corps," which was another named used for the War Dog Program.

The first official use of dogs for military purposes in the United States was during the Seminole wars, three conflicts between the Seminole Native Americans and the Army between 1814 and 1858, said Lt. Col. Glenn C. Schmick, commander, 519th MP Bn. The American Pit Bull Terrier was used during the Civil War for protection and sending messages, and as mascots in American World War I propaganda and recruiting posters.

Many breeds of dogs have worked to serve the military in a variety of roles, including attack dogs, tactical dogs, silent scout dogs, messenger dogs, casualty dogs, sled dogs, pack dogs and more.

"Military dogs have been a vital part of our defense," said Command Sgt. Maj. Jonathan E. Narcisse, 519th MP Bn. "There are so many unique attributes that the dogs bring to any large scale organizations and the military. Dogs are just as vital as any Soldier that we train and prepare for combat. They are definitely a great asset."

One of things that sets this unit apart from other canine units is its inclusion of officers.

"This is my first experience with a canine unit," said 1st Lt. Katharine McDonald, officer in charge of the 50th Military Police Detachment. "It's a great experience, its very different and not everybody gets the opportunity to do it.

"There is usually no officer involvement, so this is a great step forward for the detachment because there will be an officer involved in the canine world."

Narcisse said he was glad for the new addition in the battalion.

"I'm excited to have another detachment as part of the battalion's legacy," said Narcisse. "I think it's going to bring some value in terms of preparing future handlers for deployment as well as support to the installation. It adds another legacy to the military working dog program."

The detachment has narcotics dog teams, patrol and explosive detection teams, said McDonald.

"I think all the roles are important because they can be deployed anywhere for pretty much anything," said McDonald. "They can do health and welfare events, show of force, search for narcotics and explosives and protect the public."

There are many different reactions when people see the military working police dogs; some people literally step back, while others want to get a closer look.

"All the dogs have different personalities but they're all very lovable," said McDonald. "People are afraid of them because they are aggressively trained, but they are actually sweet."

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