Marine Corps dog handlers rehearse explosive detection measures
KADENA AIR BASE, OKINAWA, Japan — Marines executed explosive detection training Feb. 4 at the Kadena Passenger Terminal on Kadena Air Base, Okinawa.
The Marines are military working dog handlers with the K-9 section of the Provost Marshal’s’s Office, Headquarters & Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations Pacific-Marine Corps Base Camp Butler, Japan.
During the training, dog handlers used military working dogs to assist them in detecting odors that are commonly used in explosive devices.
The training ensured the Marines remained proficient in handling and communicating with the military working dogs as they identified threats in different locations.
Some of the dog handlers placed materials commonly used in explosives, called training aids, throughout the Kadena Passenger Terminal. Only the handlers who placed the materials knew the locations of the training aids.
The military working dog handlers entered the building one-by-one with their dogs and searched the area, using a series of hand signals to correctly detect and communicate the simulated threats.
The K-9 section’s responsibilities are not limited solely to the detection of explosives, however.
“What we do varies from drug detection to explosive detection, as well as command inspections and supporting PMO on the road,” said Lance Cpl. Wilson Ferreira, a military working dog handler with the K-9 section of PMO, H&S Bn., MCIPAC.
The section’s primary responsibility is to maintain anti-terrorism readiness, according to Sgt. Matthew B. Ferris, the kennel master with the K-9 section of PMO, H&S, MCIPAC.
“Our biggest job is to provide anti-terrorism support, whether it’s through actually searching or being a visual deterrent,” said Ferris, a Livonia, Michigan, native. “Our dogs also have the capability to scout. We are able to respond 24 hours a day, seven days a week for emergency purposes, whether it is a bomb threat or a narcotics call.”
The simulations are executed frequently to help establish trust between the dogs and their handlers, which is vital to mission completion, according to Cpl. Cameron L. Chapman, a military working dog handler with the K-9 section of PMO, H&S Bn., MCIPAC.
“The handler is pretty much the dog’s voice,” said Chapman, a Sonora, Kentucky, native. “I want to trust my dog, and my dog wants to trust me. When they find something, we know because of our continuous training.”
This training maintains unit readiness for terrorist threats that can save lives, according to Ferreira, a Queens, New York, native.
“When we go out on calls, the dog is trusting us, and the handler is trusting the dog with his life,” said Ferreira. “You have the handler walking into a situation where they don’t know the area and they just have their dog. That goes back to what’s important about the training — your dog and that relationship. You and your dog are going to save your life and the lives of many others.”