Monthly Archives: September 2012

Military Working Dog Teams in Regional Command West

The Dog Teams of Regional Command – West, Afghanistan

Military Working Dog Teams in Regional Command West

MWD Pparis

 Sergeant First Class Gregg Bockelman was kind enough to allow me to use them. Gregg is the Military Working Dog Program Manager for United States Forces- Afghanistan, Regional Command West. We served together at Fort Bragg, North Carolina many moons ago.

 So what is Regional Command West? Well I took this directly from Wiklipedia…..

Regional Command West (RC West) is a multinational military formation, part of the International Security Assistance Force involved in the war in Afghanistan. It is tasked with controlling Herat Province, Farah Province, Badghis Province and Ghor Province, which have a population of about 3,156,000 people. Currently, the formation is led by Italy.

There are currently four Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) under RC West:

Military Working Dog Teams in Regional Command West

MWD Breston

  • PRT Herat — located in Herat, Herat Province and led by Italy. This is currently the command and control (C2) headquarters and the forward support base for the formation[2]
  • PRT Chaghcharan — located in Chaghcharan, Ghor and led by Lithuania
  • PRT Farah — located in Farah, Farah Province and led by the United States
  • PRT Qala-e Naw — located in Qala-e Naw, Badghis and led by Spain

When I was in Afghanistan, 2010-2011, I spent some time in the west. What I found interesting about this Italian/ Spanish led command was the fabulous pizza parlors and the taunting shelves of liquor. Most of you know that U.S. Soldiers must abide by General Order #1 while in Afghanistan. That order says so alcohol. So it was just really funny for me to see shelves and shelves of liquor while deployed!Military Working Dog Teams in Regional Command West

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Hug

From the Minefields of Bosnia- Heregovina to the IED of Afghanistan

This is part III of the series. You may wish to read part I or part II first.

For eight years Danica Dada Djikov and Mine Detector Dog Cindy practically lived in the mine fields of Bosnia Heregovina.

Six days a week, 12 hours a day, surrounded by landmines, Danica committed herself to clearing her country of these barbaric weapons. She would do everything in her power to ensure that no one would ever again lose family or friends to a landmine. She personally had lost too many already.

But after eight years of doing one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, Danica was burned out. She had a young child at home who needed her to be a mom. So she did one of the hardest things she’s ever done.

She walked away after clearing over a half a million square meters of mine fields in her country. The worst part of leaving the minefields was that Danica would have to leave Cindy. Cindy didn’t have the freedom Danica did. Mine Detector Dog Cindy belonged to the Canadian International Demining Corps and they were still in need of her services.

Danica walked away from the most rewarding thing she had done to that point. But she wasn’t done with dogs or clearing explosives. Helping her homeland was only the first chapter for this child of war.

Over the next few years, Danica had lots of time to reflect and realized that her heart was in one thing. She knew that she belonged working with dogs—dogs that help and save others. So she began searching for another opportunity to serve. Danica bounced around a few other K9 companies. With each company came a new dog, but she longed to be reunited with her best pal, Cindy, with whom she maintained contact.

But it was not meant to be. The world had other plans for Danica.

After searching for a while, she heard about that the American contractor, American K9 in Afghanistan, was equipping the 2,800 service member Canadian Army Task Force with working dog teams in southern Afghanistan.

As I mentioned in the first post in this series, according to the Cape Breton Press in 2010, “Of the 138 Canadian soldiers who have died during the Afghan mission, more than 120 were killed by IEDs or land mines, including one that killed five soldiers and a Canadian journalist.”

Up to this point in her mine detector dog career Danica had worked in only former war zones. Now this single parent was considering leaving her eleven year old son, Stefan, and going to a current war zone.

Could she leave her son?

What if she was killed? Who would take care of Stefan?

But her skills were needed in a new war zone. How could she not go?

For months the internal battle raged within this child of war. In the end Danica’s desire to help people in a current war zones was too great. She couldn’t get the picture out of her mind of those innocent children—children just like Stefan—being killed and maimed by landmines and IED’s in Afghanistan.

She was just a child during the Bosnian war, but now she had the ability to help the Afghan people the same way her country had been helped by NATO Soldiers

Danica never forgot what the Canadian International Demining Corps had done for her personally or the country of Bosnia Herzegovina. She decided to give back and applied to for a position with the Canadian Army contract held by American K9 in Afghanistan.

This was a new step in her K9 career and she was excited and scared.Danica and her MIlitary Working dog in Afghanistan

As a mine detector dog handler Danica had only to worry about being killed by what was buried in the ground. Now she would have to worry about that and an enemy force dead set on killing as many coalition troops as possible.

She knew that the Taliban wouldn’t distinguish between her as a Bosnian Herzegovinian trying to clear explosives and a Canadian Soldier.

She interviewed in Sarajevo and was quickly hired by American K9. Within ten days of being hired she was on an airplane headed to Afghanistan.

She worried that she wouldn’t be able to connect with a new dog.

She worried she wouldn’t be able to pick up this new skill of Patrol Explosive Detector Dog handling.

She was worried the men wouldn’t accept her.

But the hardest thing and what she worried about most was leaving her son Stefan. She worried the next time Stefan would see her was when she came back in a body bag.

How does Danica pair with her new dog?

How is Danica received by the Canadian Army Forces?

Stay tuned for the next exciting iteration of Danica: A Child of War!

The next chapter (IV) in this series, Danica Arrives in Afghanistan.

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Military Dog Picture of the Week. (September 20th, 2012)

Brake, a Syracuse Police Department working dog, sprints towards his target during water confidence and aggression training held at the East Canyon State Park reservoir, Utah, Aug. 21, 2012. The water confidence and aggression training strengthened the K-9′s ability to subdue and detect in an unfamiliar environment. Most of the dogs had never been in water outside of routine baths.
(Photo by Staff Sgt. Julianne Showalter)

(I know that wasn’t a military dog but I thought it was a terrific picture of our brother in the police department)

Staff Sgt. Gizmo, a patrol narcotics detection dog, makes his way through the back entrance of the livestock barn at the Puyallup Fair, Wash., Sept. 7. He and his military police-dog handler, Sgt. Todd Neveu, showcased a bite demonstration to display the military working dogs training on Joint Base Lewis-McChord. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Sarah E. Enos, 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

Staff Sgt. Barret Chappelle, 100th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, RAF Mildenhall, and MWD Zulton, 100th SFS, perform a second sweep of a building to ensure there are no dangers during a joint U.S. and Royal Air Force exercise, Sept. 6, 2012, at Stanford Training Area, Thetford. Two 100th SFS MWDs and their handlers assisted in the joint exercise to make the training scenario more realistic. (Photo by Senior Airman Ethan Morgan)

And finally the most famous Miliary Working Dog!

Maya, Alena and Kayla, students at Bunny Bears Preschool, reach up to pet “McGruff the Crime Dog,” played by Lance Cpl. Steven E. Evans, a crime prevention officer at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and a Payson, Ariz., native, during a crime prevention presentation at Bunny Bears Preschool Aug. 3. The Provost Marshal’s Office sends McGruff out to local schools two to three times each month to talk to children about stranger danger, bicycle safety and crime prevention awareness.

Note: Permanent dog handlers in the United States Military are all police related troops. So in the Army and Marines dog handlers are military police. In the Navy they are master of arms. In the Air Force they are Security Forces.

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U.S. Army Spc. Ian Lynch, a native of Palatine, Ill., stands next to his co-worker Pista, a 4-year-old Belgian Malinois, at Forward Operating Base Joyce, Afghanistan, Aug. 19, 2012. Lynch is a tactical explosive detector dog handler with Company B, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.

Why we serve: U.S. Army Spc. Ian Lynch

Everyone has a different reason for joining the Military. In 1992 I graduated from high school and joined the Massachusetts National Guard to pay for college. While in the Guard a friend convinced me to join the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). I joined to become an officer in the National Guard. But as college graduation neared I still wasn’t sure what I was going to do after school. I elected to go active duty. Sixteen years later I am still at it!

So I thought this story below was interesting. Specialist Ian Lynch joined the Army in a time of war. He knew by signing his name to that Army enlistment contract that he was going to fight and possibly die for his country.

Ian represents everything that is great about our country. From the Minuteman of the Revolution to the Soldiers of today, young American’s have risked it all in the defense of this nation.

It is Soldiers like Ian who keep me in the military. It is an honor to serve with them.  

Why we serve: U.S. Army Spc. Ian Lynch

Story by Staff Sgt. Alexis Ramos

KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Sitting in a college classroom almost three years ago and surrounded with students eager to learn, something felt out of place that day for U.S. Army Spc. Ian Lynch, a native of Palatine, Ill.

“Right there and then I said ‘You always wanted to join, go join’,” said Lynch, a tactical explosive detector dog handler with Company B, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. “I got up out of class, went home, slept on it and woke up the next morning and went to the recruiter.”

U.S. Army Spc. Ian Lynch, a native of Palatine, Ill., stands next to his co-worker Pista, a 4-year-old Belgian Malinois, at Forward Operating Base Joyce, Afghanistan, Aug. 19, 2012. Lynch is a tactical explosive detector dog handler with Company B, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.The decision to join the Army was something he had always wanted to do after the 9/11 attacks, explained Lynch. His mother, Sandra Sesterhenn, was not happy about it, said the 21 year old.

“She always said she’s supportive of anything I decided to do, so she played the ‘I’m a supportive mother role’,” he said with a smile.

Three years after his initial amendment into the U.S. Army, she still supports him, continued Lynch. A snowboarder since the age of three, Lynch was always looking for the next thrill. When joined the Army in 2009, he only saw one job that could meet his adventure seeking ways.

“I didn’t see any other job that fit for myself other than being infantry [and] always having that adrenaline rush that the infantry was going to provide,” said Lynch.

“There’s really no adrenaline rush like it,” explained Lynch, who is now a veteran of war. “You don’t get that feeling of getting into a firefight [any other way]. There’s nothing else that touches that.”

Serving in his second tour to Afghanistan, his mission has changed from his first deployment.

“I was infantry last tour. I was a designated marksman and SAW gunner,” said Lynch. “This TEDD opportunity came up, and it’s just taking a whole new responsibility.”

The tactical explosive detection dog handler program is a new program the Army created, explained the dog handler.

“It’s an amazing job, it’s not for everybody,” said Lynch. “Tough school… it takes a very select person to get to the level to deal with the dogs.”

His partner against the Taliban threat is a 4-year-old Belgian Malinois named Pista. Together they have done about a dozen patrols along eastern Afghanistan.

“It’s a lot different,” said Lynch, comparing it to his first tour as an infantryman. “I guess you’re a little more on edge, because you’re trained to watch for his settle indications when he gets an odor. You’re watching out just for him as well as keeping an eye out for your surroundings and pulling security for yourself.”

According to Lynch, the TEDD program is something that is very valuable to the Army.

“I feel it helps out a lot,” he said. “[Taliban’s] main fight is the [improvised explosive devices] and when you get dogs like this and people like this, it takes away their fight. They don’t like to engage in small arms [fire] all the time, they like the big catastrophic blast, and it takes it away.”

“I know they see us out there, and I know they are watching us with the dogs,” said Lynch referring to the Taliban. “They know what the dogs are doing; they know they are trying to find those IED’s.”

The TEDD program is greatly beneficial to the Army. If the Army continues the program, the Army would need more dogs and handlers, explained Lynch.

“It’s dangerous, but in the long run it’s better,” he said.

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U.S. Air Force Military Working Dog Suk waits to begin a day of training and patroling at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Aug. 15, 2012. Military Working Dogs are commonly used for detecting narcotics, explosives and other harmful materials.

Military Dog Picture of the Week. (September 13, 2012)

 U.S. Air Force Military Working Dog Suk waits to begin a day of training and patroling at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Aug. 15, 2012. Military Working Dogs are commonly used for detecting narcotics, explosives and other harmful materials. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Xavier Lockley/ Released)U.S. Army Sgt. Bety, a military working dog, looks up at the camera Aug. 16, 2012, at Forward Operating Base Gardez, Paktia province, Afghanistan. Bety’s handler was Spc. Eric Neher, an infantryman with Baker Company, 3rd Battalion (Airborne), 509th Infantry Regiment, Task Force 4-25. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kimberly Trumbull/Released)

 

U.S. Army Spc. Ian Lynch, a native of Palatine, Ill., stands next to his co-worker Pista, a 4-year-old Belgian Malinois, at Forward Operating Base Joyce, Afghanistan, Aug. 19, 2012. Lynch is a tactical explosive detector dog handler with Company B, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.

U.S. Army Spc. Ian Lynch, an infantryman with Baker Company, 3rd Battalion (Airborne), 509th Infantry Regiment, Task Force 4-25, poses for a photo with Sgt. Bety, his assigned military working dog, Aug. 16, 2012, at Forward Operating Base Gardez, Paktia province, Afghanistan. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kimberly Trumbull/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt Joshua Fehringer, 27th Special Operations Security Forces Squadron K9 handler, shows an identification tattoo of Military Working Dog Suk, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Aug. 15, 2012. Military Working Dogs are commonly used for detecting narcotics, explosives and other harmful materials.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt Joshua Fehringer, 27th Special Operations Security Forces Squadron K9 handler, shows an identification tattoo of Military Working Dog Suk, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Aug. 15, 2012. Military Working Dogs are commonly used for detecting narcotics, explosives and other harmful materials (Photo by Airman 1st Class Xavier Lockley/ Released)

Note: All U.S. Military Working Dog have an identification tattoo as seen in the above picture. If a dog doesn’t have a tattoo then it is not an  MWD.

In case you missed or want to revisit prior weeks. Here are the links:

Military Dog Picture of the Week. (6 Sep  2012) Air Force Dogs bringing the Heat!

Military Dog Video of the Week(August 23th, 2012): Service Dogs

Military Dog Picture of the Week. (August 16th, 2012): Honza Bear

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U.S. Army Maj. Bryan Hux (left), a veterinarian with the 438th Medical Detachment ? Veterinarian Services from Fort Carson, Colo., removes the cast for a Contractor Working Dog during an office visit on July 27, 2012. The veterinarian clinic at Kandahar Airfield handles everything from routine veterinary care to critical care, taking care of Military Working Dogs for the United States military, NATO, contractors and Afghan National Army.  (U.S. Air Force photo/TSgt. Stephen Hudson)

Veterinarians Serve Four-Legged Warriors

I didn’t write this story but I believe it warrants a read. These great folks enable our working dogs to perform their life saving duties on the battlefield. They perform a vital function on the battlefield.

When we at United States Forces- Afghanistan Headquarters began flooding dogs into Afghanistan in 2010, Veterinarian Detachments were a vital part of the package. This was actually a point of contention because every boot on the ground is managed closely. The force cap is a zero sum game. We sat at 98K as mandated by the President. Bring in something new and something must go. Regardless if both assets are needed.

I know, that is a crappy way to fight a war but….. it is what is.

But in the end it was either bring the veterinarian detachments in with the dog teams or don’t increase the dog teams. Common sense prevailed and our request for an additional veterinarian detachment was approved.

Kandahar Airfield Veterinarians Serve Four-Legged Warriors

Story by Tech. Sgt. Stephen Hudson

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – When a working dog is sick or injured, the staff of the Kandahar Airfield Veterinary Medical Team is a dog’s best friend. The veterinary medical team here operates a medical clinic for canines deployed to southern Afghanistan.

Whether it is a U.S. military working dog, a NATO dog, a contractor, or Afghan National Army canine – they are all treated here at one of only two Role 3-level facilities for canines in Afghanistan. The second is located at Bagram Air Field and both can provide high-level trauma treatment to those in need.

The staff here is currently deployed for nine months from the 438th Medical Detachment Veterinary Services at Fort Carson, Colo., supporting Kandahar Airfield, as well as the surrounding forward operating bases and outlying veterinary clinics. A typical day is anything but typical for the staff here because their mission includes anything from routine care to critical care. The veterinarian office is staffed around the clock, seven days a week. While health exams and physicals are on ongoing occurrence they never know when their services could be needed for something more catastrophic.

Maj. Bryan Hux is an on-site veterinarian at Kandahar Airfield. A 1997 graduate of Mississippi State University, he completed his residency for emergency critical care in 2011 at Auburn University. That specialty is critically needed when a canine comes in with severe injuries – the team here is prepared for it. However if a canine’s injuries are too severe and cannot be stabilized by the staff here, the dog and an escort, or sent to a larger facility in Germany for in-depth care.

“They’re athletes,” Hux said of the canines. “They work a lot.”

And like any athlete there is preventive maintenance to keep from getting injured and injuries.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Gabriel Travers, a military working dog handler, brought in eight-year-old Belgian Malinois, Tora, into the Kandahar Airfield veterinary office to have a quick check-up. Tora, a patrol explosive detection dog, was dealing with bouts of diarrhea and dehydration. They flew in from the horn Panjwai where her job is to search for IEDs and IED making materials as well as weapon cashes.

“The work performed for my dog is without question most appreciated,” said Travers said of visiting the veterinarians at Kandahar Airfield. “If my dog is not healthy then that could possibly jeopardize my safety on the mission and the safety of others.

“To me, even at home station, the Vet is my best friend aside from my dog. As a handler our first action is safety and wellbeing for our dogs. Without them we lose that asset and become just another soldier.”

After being seen by the staff, Travers took Tora around to different offices as a morale boost for the people working there. Sometimes dogs brought in are taken over to Role 3 or the CASF to visit wounded warriors lifting their spirits.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Thomas Sager, an animal care non-commissioned officer with the 438th, is also deployed from Fort Carson. He is one of the on-site veterinary technicians who handle the dog’s medical needs. It takes many hands to care for one dog.

“Vet medicine is fantastic,” Sager said.

Sager added there is nothing better than having a hand in the recuperation of the dog and getting them back into the field. Outside of the care for the canines their specialties can mean the staff here deals with other animals on and around this sprawling base. The team here also manages a small portion vector control program at KAF to protect those deployed here from dangerous animals. Military Working DogThat mission primarily deals with animals that are trapped on base.

“The vector control people bring the trapped animals by for us to evaluate,” said Hux. “If any endangered species are captured we evaluate their health and then they are released outside the wire.”

Other wildlife, like the river cats (a local feline breed that resembles a mix of bobcat and lynx) are also released.

The dedicated staff of professionals here works around the clock to care for these four-legged warriors. The care they provide keeps these canines in the fight.

“We have a really good team,” Hux said praising the staff. “They keep the hospital running and do a great job.”

No matter what the circumstance, or the reason behind the visit, this veterinarian team is fully capable of taking care of these furry heroes. Because without the vets and the technicians these dogs wouldn’t be able to do their jobs, which is saving lives.

This video isn’t associated with this article but I thought it was terrific. It is a video about the vet clinic at Bagram Airfield.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkWnMtYCQt4[/youtube]

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irman and their military working dogs from the 11th Security Forces Group perform a ruck march around Joint Base Andrews, Md. Aug. 8, 2012, the Airmen are getting the MWD acclimated to walking long distances and still performing their duties, before they are deployed downrange. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Perry Aston)

Military Dog Picture of the Week. (6 Sep 2012) Air Force Dogs bringing the Heat!

Airman and their military working dogs from the 11th Security Forces Group perform a ruck march around Joint Base Andrews, Md. Aug. 8, 2012, the Airmen are getting the MWD acclimated to walking long distances and still performing their duties, before they are deployed downrange. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Perry Aston)

Military Working Dog

 A Military Working Dog finds a traffic cone to keep him busy while taking a break during a ruck march Aug. 8, 2012 at Joint Base Andrews, Md. The Airmen are getting the MWD acclimated to walking long distances and still performing their duties, before they are deployed downrange. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Perry Aston).

When I first watched the video below I was like……holy crap! That is one badass Malligator.

Look at the speed, focus and absolute fearlessness that Belgian Malinois possesses. I wish I knew his/ her name. Nevertheless, that is one kick ass military working dog!

She reminds me of our pal Uti the Malligator. I’m still hoping to rendezvous with our pal Uti sometime soon. I recently began a new job which doesn’t provide me a ton of flexibility during the duty day. That is a Soldiers life sometimes though!  

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfrWk2J58FI[/youtube]

Over the past couple months I’ve mixed and match a little between pictures and videos. What does everyone like the best….pictures or videos?  Maybe I am hitting the right mix? Please let me know in the comment section. 

In case you missed or want to revisit prior weeks. Here are the links:

Military Dog Video of the Week(August 23th, 2012): Service Dogs

Military Dog Picture of the Week. (August 16th, 2012): Honza Bear

Military Dog Video of the Week(August 9th, 2012): K9 Healers

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Military Working Dog Honza with a ball

Honza Bear: Released and Rumbling in Afghanistan

This Part IV of John and Honza Bear. If you haven’t already…..you may wish to read Part III: Warning: The Bear Has Been Poked or skip back to Part I: John and the Lumbering “Honza Bear”  prior to reading this one.

As the Blackhawk got ready to take off, Army Specialist John Nolan heard Sergeant Celeste says, “You won’t find shit out there man. There is nothing to be found.”

“I guess that’s good,” John said. “I mean, no improvised explosives means no one is getting blown up, right?”

Celeste looked down at John’s Specialized Search Dog (SSD) Honza, a.k.a. “Honza Bear,” and smirked.

Military Working Dog Honza with a ballHonza was rolling on his back and groaning trying to hit that sweet spot that was itching him. He must have succeeded because he rolled onto his stomach, stared up at John, and yelped at him.

John couldn’t resist. He knelt and scratched a spot of yellow fur right by Honza’s belly, about where his ribs were.

John started to get pissed. This Celeste dude had already talked smack to one of the guys on the Special Forces Operations Detachment-Alpha (ODA) team because Honza wasn’t attack-trained. Like that frigging mattered in Afghanistan anyway.

As his and Celeste’s two dog teams transitioned, John listened but took everything Sergeant Celeste said with a grain of salt. Celeste just rubbed him the wrong way.

To make it all worse, if John had one success, Celeste had three. Any feat John accomplished Celeste could one-up him. He was just one of those guys. So John listened to him but didn’t hear a thing.

John watched as the Blackhawk became smaller and smaller and eventually disappeared into the grey murky sky. He was glad to see Celeste go.

He surveyed the dried mud walled qalat. It was in the middle of a small village and had once been a wealthy Afghan family’s home. They had fled when the Taliban were forced out of power. Now it was home to a United States Forces Special Forces Alpha Team. The qalat was now also home to Specialist John Nolan and Honza Bear.

The qalat was about the size of a football field. There was a small parking area for vehicles, wooden steps that lead down into the troops living and common areas. There was a small wooden building built by a former ODA team that served as the morale, welfare, and recreation center. Inside the building was a television where they men watched movies, and gathered for meals and meeting.

John and Honza were going to living in an actual mud hut with the ODA medic. He knew this was going to be one hell of a year.

He knelt back down and Honza leaped up on his knee and licked his face with his wet slimy tongue. The warmth of his tongue made John smile.

“We are going to do things our own way, Honza Bear. We are going to do things the John and Honza Bear way. This is our ODA team. Those Taliban fucks have no idea that I am about to unleash The Bear on their ass.”

“Woof, woof,” replied Honza Bear.

Honza Bear pushed himself against John’s chest and held his head up high. John knew he was ready. All those problems they had during certification were in the past. In Afghanistan you played for keeps.

“Nolan, the detachment sergeant wants to see you. We just got information about a possible cache of homeade explosives buried in the side of a wadi near our qalat,” said a team member named Maxwell.

John looked down at Honza with his eyes bulging and said, “Holy crap, pal, it looks like we’re getting thrown into the game in the first quarter.”

As he walked to meet the detachment sergeant, Master Sergeant Ramey, he couldn’t help but drift back to when Honza searched too quickly and ran past explosives. And those had been explosive aides. If Honza missed anything out here it would get John and half the ODA team killed.

A couple hours later John’s shoulders were sore from carrying his heavy gear. The men had loaded up on ammunition because, if they got into any trouble, reinforcements were a long way away. They would have to fight their way out.Military Working Dog Honza

Honza Bear was on his retractable leash which was attached to a carabineer on John’s vest. A local national had pointed the team in the general direction but was not 100% sure where the explosives were located.

Master Sergeant Ramey nodded at John and said, “All right, Nolan, let’s see what you and your dog have. The shit is buried that way,” as he pointed past John’s 12 o’clock direction of travel.

This was the moment they had been training for. All the trials and tribulations of certification were in their past. This was prime time now. This was for real. A Soldier and his dog—leading a group of men to safety or to their death.

As John approached the wadi his heart began to race and he was sweating his ass off. This was it. He could feel it. He took Honza Bear off of the leash.

John took a deep breath and commanded, “Seek.”

Military Working Dog HonzaHonza took off, his nose down low and tail wagging. He looked happy to be off of the leash and was actively working.

John just prayed that we didn’t miss the explosives like he had in training. The explosives here in Afghanistan could kill them all.

Click here for the next exciting chapter in this story! 

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