US Marine Corps Employing Dogs to Detect IEDs

Discussion in 'Staff College and Staff Officers' started by jumpinjarhead, Aug 7, 2009.

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  1. US Marine Corps Employing Dogs to Detect IEDs

    06-Aug-2009 12:59 EDT

    The US Marine Corps is buying dogs that can detect improvised explosive devices (IEDs) for deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan. The USMC Regional Contracting Office National Capitol Region in Quantico, VA awarded an $8.7 million firm-fixed price contract to K2 Solutions in Southern Pines, NC for the purchase of 112 trained and certified IED detector dogs. The contract also covers maintaining a pool of 247 dogs as well as training for the dogs and handlers.

    The contract includes kenneling of the dogs, including feeding and medical care during the period of performance; team integration training for 4 weeks at a training venue designated by the USMC, currently Twenty-Nine Palms in California; and contractor field support services to assist the USMC after deployment.

    The contract has an option for the procurement of replacement dogs, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $8.8 million. K2 will perform the work at Southern Pines and Twenty-Nine Palms and expects to complete it by Aug 4/10. The contract was competitively procured via a request for proposals, with 3 proposals solicited and received by the USMC Regional Contracting Office National Capitol Region (M00264-09-C-0028).

    USMC’s Military Working Dog Program, which trains explosive detection dogs and handlers, was first developed during World War 2…

    The USMC started to train dogs and their handlers to be capable of scouting and patrolling during combat operations where the dogs’ keen sense of smell enabled Marines to search a larger area in a shorter amount of time.

    Unlike other branches of the military where service members become dog handlers after several years of enlistment, to become a dog handler in the Marine Corps, Marines go from boot camp to Military Police school and straight on to the dog handling school, after a selective process.

    While at MP school, individuals interested in the K-9 field must be in the top 10% of their class. After writing an essay on why they want to be a handler, they will then go on an oral board to get selected for the K-9 school.

    Just like the handlers, the dogs go through a selective process as well. Dogs begin training when they are 9 months to a year old. Like Marines, they go through a basic boot camp to learn the rudimentary skills of being a military working dog. The training can be as quick as a few weeks to as long as several months depending on the dog, but after boot camp it’s up to the handler to make advancements in their skills.
  2. Great idea, however if you wait a while you will get some animal rights bods being outraged at the risk to the animals. I am always happy to accept that viewpoint provided that they volunteer themselves to replace the animal doing the dangerous job.

  3. I seem to remember RATS being used for this too, somewhere. That seems like a good idea too - a lot cheaper to run, and easily portable. A friend of mine used to freefall with his in a top pocket....
  4. Seen that as well, I think they use cane rats. link here:
  5. We have had dogs sniffing for explosives for a long time, NI?
    Added problem in the sandpits is the heat and dust fatigue the dogs much quicker. However the dogs now have some of the best accommodation deployed.
  6. Good idea. However, I hope your country looks after them better at end-ex, than they did at the end of the Vietnam War.
  7. Please elaborate!
  8. At one stage Canadian Customs tried a caged gerbil and a fan,proved quite effective for finding drugs on inbound passengers. They set the fan up on one side of a corridor,had the gerbil and an officer on the other side and passengers walking between them. If the gerbil reacted,the customs officers stopped and searched them. It was never implemented across the board for "reasons of credibiity at trail".
  9. Most were put down, rather than being shipped back to the USA and retrained to become family pets. This was seen as the simplest and least problematic way. Many dog handlers tried to get their dogs back but were unsuccessful. The official line, was that they were unable to be retrained.

    Not all of the dogs were destroyed and the ones that did make it back, were, mostly successfully retrained.

    There was a documentary on this last year, complete with interviews wth the handlers during the war and after.

    If I'm wrong, then I fully retract this statement, but I am sure (for once) that my beer soaked memory is functioning correctly. :D
  10. You need to be a bit careful with dogs and IEDs.

    The LAST thing you want is for a dog to do a "fetch" with a device back into an ICP! Explosive search dogs are good for finding smuggled explosives or devices in luggage etc, but are less value in detecting mines and booby traps in the field. You can train them to pick up the air scent of explosives or Terry etc, but you have to be careful to control them ( and their handlers!) in a close-in situation..
  11. Thanks, I know if a dog has been part of hunting pack it can't be rehabilitated but a search dog :?
  12. These dogs could have been "rehabilitated" but the "conventional wisdom" at that time was they were merely "materiel" and it was cheaper to kill them. Things have changes at least a bit for the better but it is not something for which should be proud.
  13. A couple of years ago I went to a 3 day seminar on airport/aircraft bombings. Attendees included (US) Police, Fire, Federal sorts. Speakers were a similar mix including a beautiful young dentist whose specialty was identifying charred cadavers by their teeth. Lovely girl with a tough job.

    A number of participants were handlers of sniffer dogs who brought the dogs with them. One day the dog handlers arranged a contest/demo at lunchtime. About 20 dogs and 40-50 suitcases etc, some of which had various explosives within. The dogs were amazing and each rapidly found all of the explosives. None missed any explosives and there were only a couple of "false positives". All the dogs had been trained to do exactly the same thing when they get a hit: sit stock still in front of the bag about 2-3 feet away, and do not move until released by the handler. None of the dog touched any of the bags. Quite different behavior than drug sniffers I have seen. They are rewarded, by the way, with playtime, favourite toy etc., not with food. All have been certified to detect a fairly large list of explosives. Labs seem to be the favorite breed in the US.

    I would not worry about a properly trained sniffer playing with an IED.
  14. the dogs are great for searching wide areas, and in particular, cars at VCPs. however, a few drawbacks particularly when trying to clear vulnerable points:

    if it is a victim operated device, the dog is likely to initiate it.

    severley limited endurance.

    force protection issues for the dog and searcher are not that different to those required for dismounted search by humans (which gives a higher level of assurance than a dog), and any inidication from the dog needs to be confirmd by a soldier anyway

    still a good tool in the commanders inventory though