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A patrol dog and its handler form an MWD team. Military working dog teams working with MP teams provide the commander with additional MP assets. MWD teams can help identify, intercept, and defeat saboteurs and terrorists. MWD teams can also enhance the ability of MP units to detect the presence of enemy recon elements and enemy incursions.

MWDs can be used as a security-in-depth measure. Or they can be used as an economy-of-force measure. Dogs can detect someone nearby much sooner than humans. And dogs can detect an enemy presence despite concealing vegetation or terrain. MWDs are useful as early warning sensors. They extend an MP's ability beyond the limits of human sight and hearing.

Dogs can enhance MP response forces when they augment MP elements. Teams with dogs aid in the early detection of hostile forces, allowing rapid tactical response. MWD teams can increase a response force's ability to find and capture the enemy by operating downwind in a blocking force. Or they can operate in the lead position during response force sweeps.

Dogs are a valuable adjunct for MP when they are used for guarding. MWD teams offer a real and a psychological deterrent against escape attempts. At access control points or dismount points, dogs can guard persons during ID checks. And MWD teams can help secure EPWs--

  • At collecting points.
  • In holding areas.
  • During movement.
  • During work details outside the fence at internment locations And, should an escape occur, the dogs can help track and capture the escaped EPW.

When MWD teams are employed, they take part in all phases of the unit's mission. The handler recommends ways to use the MWD team. He considers, in addition to METT-T and the commander's concept, the--

  • Length of tactical employment (8 to 12 hours, depending on climate and environment).
  • Location and size of area to be covered.
  • Condition and type of terrain.
  • Prevailing wind directions.

A dog works best when placed to take advantage of odors carried on the wind. When there is little or no wind, a dog can detect intruders up to 200 meters away using its senses of smell, hearing, and sight. In unfavorable wind conditions, a dog can still detect by sound and sight. But a dog's capabilities are reduced by--

  • Noise.
  • Movement.
  • Smoke.
  • Dust.
  • Dense undergrowth.
  • Heavily wooded areas.
  • Jungle growth.

POL can damage paws and the dog's sense of smell. Work near POL points must be infrequent and brief. NBC agents also limit the use of dogs because there are no protective devices for dogs.

Whenever possible, a MWD team rehearses with team or patrol members so everyone can get used to working with the dog. Team members also must know what to do if a handler is seriously wounded or killed. A dog that has worked closely with a team and has developed a tolerance for one or more of the members will usually allow one of them to return it to the kennel. However, a dog may not allow anyone near its handler. In this case other handlers may have to be called on for help.


MWD teams at fixed locations can often extend security into or across concealing terrain. MWD teams work best at perimeter posts and at posts located well away from distracting activity. Teams with dogs at OPs/LPs should be forward of the tactical AO to reduce distractions to the dog. But they should be close enough to maintain contact with friendly forces. (Covering fires must be provided for MWD teams withdrawing to the perimeter.) MWD teams also work well in large enclosures that take many sentries to secure effectively. In large spaces MWD teams can move to take advantage of prevailing winds. But the team must be posted where obstacles (fences, buildings, gullies, streams) will not hinder the dog's movement and mission.

Posting a team inside or outside a fence depends on the purpose of the security. Is it to protect resources? Or is it to capture intruders?

Dogs are useful at posts often secured only in periods of high threat or where occasional random posting is needed during rain, fog, and the like. But locations and limits must be adjusted for factors that affect a dog's ability to see, hear, and smell. For example, lights can cause a dog to rely more on sight than on its other senses. MWD teams operating in lighted areas should patrol varied routes, remain in shadows, or stand stationary in concealed downwind positions as needed. Varied posting of a team increases deterrence by avoiding a set patrol pattern.


MWD teams can help patrols detect the enemy, avoid discovery, and locate enemy outposts. Generally, MWD teams work directly in front of a patrol or on its flanks. MWD teams should be downwind from potential enemy positions or avenues of approach. This improves the teams' chances of providing early warning. Unless a patrol is moving directly into the wind, the MWD team may have to move left or right of a line of march to make use of the prevailing wind. In some cases, the MWD team can traverse while the patrol continues on a direct route.

On a combat patrol (most commonly for an ambush), the MWD team operates in front of the patrol to reduce distractions. But the dog team should be close enough to stay in contact with the patrol. You should plan for several ways of warning the patrol of a dog's alert in case radio cannot be used.

When a dog alerts, the handler signals the patrol to halt until the cause of the alert can be identified and the patrol can proceed safely. Based on how the dog alerts, the handler can judge the direction, distance, and location of the enemy. The information perceived by the handler becomes more exact as the team moves closer to the enemy. If the whole patrol cannot reconnoiter the position, the MWD team can reconnoiter and report. Because the handler concentrates on his dog to read its alerts, he cannot use his weapon quickly. Therefore, security for the MWD team must be provided.

In hot, humid weather, a dog works at top efficiency for only two or three hours at a time. The team works best in uninhabited areas. If a dog frequently responds to friendly forces and is constantly called off from following through on its responses, it soon loses interest and reliability.

Responses can be tailored to fit a variety of offensive or defensive situations. For example, the MWD team can--

  • Follow the alert and locate the cause.
  • Maintain the alert position until assistance arrives.
  • Withdraw to a more tactically advantageous position.

A handler releases a dog only when he must defend himself, other people, or protected resources. See AR 190-12 and DA Pam 190-12 for more information on MWDs and related equipment.

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