LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Army Capt. Jason Merchant, the company commander of Company A, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, Task Force Ironman from Dysart, Iowa, hands out cards Dec. (click for more)
KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Spc. Lauren Hyman of Texarkana, Texas, armored vehicle driver for the 64th Military Police Company based at Combat Oupost Fortress, says hello to an (click for more)
LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Taylor Gingrich, an infantry officer from Cedar Falls, Iowa, with Task Force Ironman, draws a smile from an Afghan boy as Gingrich (click for more)
LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Spc. Brian Stowe, a human resources specialist from Elkmont, Ala., with Task Force Knighthawk, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, sings a ballad he wrote and (click for more)
PAKTYA, Afghanistan – Servicemembers defend the wall after an improvised explosive device detonates on Forward Operating Base Lightning Dec. 5. (click for more)
KAPISA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan and French military chiefs conduct a briefing before deployment during a security operation. Afghan National Security Forces and French Task Force Richelieu conducted Operation Montevideo (click for more)
PANJSHIR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Phil Compton, Doty, Wash., Panjshir PRT engineer, and PRT local Afghan engineer Abid Wardak check the structural integrity of the retaining (click for more)
GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – An Afghan family looks at their new family member after she was delivered by the Polish Army medical team at Forward Operating Base Warrior Jan. 3. (click for more)
KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- Soldiers from 2nd Platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion 187th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, maneuver through Sabari District during patrols to disrupt insurgent activity in the (click for more)
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Sgt. Shawn Fouste, Decatur, Ill., noncommissioned officer in charge of the Freedom Restoration Center with the 455th Expeditionary Wing, Task Force Med, plays with (click for more)
40th Public Affairs Detachment
LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- Some of the best tools at the Army’s disposal aren’t always the latest and greatest pieces of high tech gadgetry. Sometimes there is a low tech solution for high tech problems. To date, the Army hasn’t any piece of technology as effective at discovering ordinance, improvised explosive device components or IED builders, than the noses of military working dogs.
Military working dogs work paw in hand with their handlers to help make Afghanistan a safer place for Afghans and Coalition Forces.
In Laghman province, Military working dogs help find militants that build, place and detonate IEDs.
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. William Burger, the non-commissioned officer in charge of Forward Operating Base Fenty Kennels, said the dogs are very quick and efficient when performing their duties, which includes searching houses.
“Having a dog go in (a house) is a lot safer (than sending in Soldiers),” Burger, a native of Mountain Top, Pa., said, “because the dogs don’t stumble onto anything. If they smell something, they will sit and then we’ll get (explosive ordinance disposal) to come check it out.”
This is good because if a Soldier was searching and didn’t know an explosive was there he could accidentally set it off, Burger said.
Spc. Brandon Steffey, a combat tracking dog handler for Fenty canine, agrees with Burger and notes other advantages of using military working dogs.
“They move quickly,” the Sault St. Marie, Mich., native said. “The dogs are able to search an area more thoroughly with much more speed and safety than (humans).”
This allows Soldiers to move more quickly onto their next risky objective.
Though finding IEDs and those who build them can be dangerous, to the military working dogs, their job is fun.
“It’s a game,” Burger said. “To them (the dogs), finding bombs is fun. It is like hide and seek.”
Though the handlers know that being in Afghanistan is not a game, they appreciate having the opportunity to contribute with their special skill set.
“During my last deployment in Iraq, I couldn’t do my job,” Steffey said. “I was a gunner, but here I’m doing my job. I like being able to get the bad guys with my dog.”
Regardless what mission they are doing, the dog handlers appreciate the risks they and their dogs are taking each day in Afghanistan.
“They are like Soldiers,” Steffey said. “They risk their lives just like us. Their lives are in our hands and that is why we look out for them.”
Such risk requires the dogs and handlers to spend a lot of time training together, so they are mitigated, Burger said.
“Dealing with a dog, teaching a dog and watching him execute his job is very rewarding,” Steffey said. “I spend a lot of time with my dog and he is my best friend. We are a team.”
Burger shares Steffey’s sentiments and takes pride in his job.
“Dogs save lives,” Burger said. “They are a great asset here and I’m proud to be a part of it.”
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