Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif. -- A gray truck slowly comes to a stop at a checkpoint where military policemen are conducting vehicle searches. The moment the vehicle is ready, military working dog Colli leaps out of the police vehicle and begins sniffing his way through the truck while guided by his handler.
The Provost Marshal’s Office K-9 Division conducted a class on vehicle searches for members of Marine Wing Support Squadron 374, July 25, 2014. The Engineer Company of MWSS 374 has been receiving classes on various forms of flight line security from 1st Law Enforcement Battalion to better prepare air stations for security while deployed.
“Since the Camp Bastion incident, there has been a call for wing units to learn more detailed security procedures for air base ground defense,” said 1st Lt. Matthew Gonzales, platoon commander, 1st LEB.
The 1st LEB also visited Integrated Training Exercise 3-14 and returned for ITX 4-14 to further increase the knowledge of Marines in MWSS 374.
“During the last ITX, we had a lieutenant come out with a team to teach tactics and basic guidance on flightline security; so this time we built on that with more classes to include tower drills, range cards and escalation of force,” Gonzales said. “One of our missions is to train forces in lieu of military police by teaching them the same procedures even if it isn’t their primary job, creating force multipliers.”
The visit from the base K-9 Division allowed the Marines from MWSS 374 to see how having working dogs available adds to the security of a location through searches.
“Having a military working dog available not only adds capability to the security of a checkpoint but also alleviates manpower by having one dog be able to detect certain odors and search with their skill set rather than multiple Marines search one vehicle, said Cpl Paul Kelley, military working dog handler, PMO.
Having working dogs and handlers adds a valuable capability to the defense of a compound, which was important to show the Marines in the class.
“That’s why the K-9 Division is here; they are a huge enabler at any checkpoint because they can detect things like narcotics or explosives that we miss with our eyes or as humans we just can’t smell like a working dog would,” Gonzales said.
The mental aspect of having working dogs at security checkpoints also adds to their use when supporting units.
“Seeing a working dog with the ability to attack on command and utilize a varied detection skill set acts as a mental deterrent for those who would want to try and get something passed a point which adds to their value,” Kelley said.
The 1st LEB and base K-9 Division will continue to support training with wing units for the current ITX and the upcoming evolution to keep improving and building the training of Marines.