Soldier, take me from this shelter’s cage.
Give me back my life. In return, I’ll cover your back.
I’ll be your canine warrior, your sixth sense.
I’ll stand guard into the night and chase the demons away,
the uninvited, cloaked in night sweats and darkness.
I will help you open your cage of solitude
then walk tall by your side into the light of day.
Together, our faith will rise as tall as your soldier’s pride.
We are now family in this post-911 world.
Because together, we stand.
Military working dogs continue to be a vital part of a military team on the battlefield and on U.S. military installations at home and overseas. They’re used for detecting explosives, finding lost or missing military members or casualties, or patrolling perimeters with their handlers to keep intruders away. In addition to all of the fine qualities that dogs have as team members, dogs can do even more. They have highly refined visual and olfactory sensory abilities, can go where a soldier cannot, and can often subdue or intimidate an enemy more quickly with non-lethal force. Because of these traits, they have been successfully trained for many military duties and roles by modern armies for a century.
At Fort Bragg, the Wilmington District is supporting the Defense Department’s Military Working Dogs (MWD) of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) by building kennels that are expected to provide a comfortable working and living environment for the hard working dogs and their handlers.
“The Corps of Engineers is supporting USASOC through the design and construction of a new facility to serve the needs to a military working dog unit,” said Wilmington District Project Manager James Griffith. “The new facility will allow special operations to fulfill the operational and medical needs of the MWD and their handlers by providing new climate controlled kennels, dedicated planning and training space, and a veterinary clinic.”
The vast majority of U.S. military working dogs in recent times are German and Dutch Shepherds, breeds chosen because they are very aggressive, smart, loyal and athletic.
Every military working dog is a noncommissioned officer – in tradition at least. Some say the custom was to prevent handlers from mistreating their dogs; hence, a dog is always one rank higher than its handler.
German Shepherd dogs are preferred as the standard breed because of their unique combination of traits. Shepherds are intelligent, dependable, predictable, easily trained, usually moderately aggressive, and can adapt readily to almost any climatic conditions. While many dog breeds exhibit some or most of these traits, the Shepherd more than any other breed, most consistently exhibits all of these traits.
For specialized roles, detector dogs in particular, other breeds are used. Retrievers (Labrador, Golden or Chesapeake Bay) are the preferred breeds for One Odor Detector dogs. All dogs trained and used by the U.S. military are procured and trained by the 341st Military Working Dog Training Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.