HILL AIR FORCE BASE — Hill’s 75th Security Forces Squadron dog handlers and their military working dogs recently teamed with local and regional partners for a joint training exercise on base to detect homemade and military grade explosives.
Explosive detection dogs and handlers from the Utah Transit Authority, Utah Highway Patrol, Transportation Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security and special agent bomb technicians from the FBI conducted the training in a Defense Logistics Agency warehouse on base.
“The achieved goal was to encounter the regional and national threats that we may potentially face as military working dog handlers,” said Tech. Sgt. Alexis Romero, 75th SFS kennel master.
“All the agencies have different real-world experiences with canines. This gave us an opportunity to learn innovative techniques that allows our military working dog teams to establish, maintain, and develop a better product for hostile environments,” Romero said.
Detection training with canines can be complex. Many factors play a part in how the dogs pick up specific odors, including air movement, weight and location of the explosive and external environmental factors.
Hill dog handlers try to do as much joint training as possible, helping to improve their knowledge while gaining experience for their dogs and trying to keep things fresh.
“Like people, dogs can also get complacent and pick on similarities around them,” Romero said. “It’s vital that we change-up our tactics with a wide array of factors that will allow them to problem solve and most importantly enjoy their time working.”
This is all done because working dogs do such a vitally important job and have a huge impact on the Air Force mission.
“Their job is to find possible explosives and, when called, protect our government officials,” Romero said. “Our dogs also deploy downrange to protect our brothers and sisters who are fighting the war against terrorism. If they can find an explosive device before it goes off, it’s a win for the Air Force.”
Romero said participating in this joint exercise was another way the dogs in his kennel proved their worth.
“These dogs constantly impress me on their ability to do their job,” he said. “We ask so much from them and they never talk back, never say no, never complain and always perform above and beyond the call of duty.”
More joint canine exercises are planned in future months.