USARPAC hosts ATF certification for working dogs

| August 15, 2017 | 0 Comments

The ATF provided National Odor Recognition Testing for military and civilian working dogs from a variety of organizations, to include the Honolulu Police Department, the Transportation Safety Administration, the U.S. Army, the New Zealand Armed Forces, and the Australian Army during a training event hosted by U.S. Army Pacific Command at Schofield Barracks, July 28-Aug. 3. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. 1st Class John D. Brown, 8th Military Police Brigade)

Story and photo by
Sgt. 1st Class John D. Brown
8th Military Police Brigade Public Affairs
8th Theater Sustainment Command

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Working dogs play a critical role in the safety and security of Soldiers and civilians. The training these canines receive varies from organization to organization, but the certification process remains the same.

“U.S. Army-Pacific hosted members of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to provide training and certification for both military and civilian working dogs,” said Master Sgt. Viridiana Lavalle, the USARPAC Military Working Dog (MWD) program manager.

According to Lavalle, 25 dog teams from various government organizations – including U.S. Army Japan, U.S. Army Alaska, the 8th Military Police Brigade, the Transportation Security Administration, ATF, the Honolulu Police Department, the New Zealand Army and the Australian Army – participated in the training.

Pfc. Daniel Rule and “Kondor,” a military working dog (MWD) Team with the 901st Military Police Detachment, U.S. Army Japan, work through a series of tests designed to test the MWDÕs ability to identify homemade explosive odors during National Odor Recognition Testing at Schofield Barracks, August 3. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. 1st Class John D. Brown, 8th Military Police Brigade)

“It was amazing being able to exchange knowledge and explore different training methods,” said Staff Sgt. Jeremy Coleman, a dog handler with 520th MWD Detachment, 728th Military Police Battalion, 8th MP Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command.

Coleman said comparing the similarities and differences in the way handlers from various organizations employ their unique capabilities was an outstanding opportunity.

“The training consisted of imprinting and certifying on various explosives to include homemade explosives,” said Lavalle.

For some of the dogs, this occasion was their first opportunity to work with homemade explosives.

Lavalle said imprinting a working dog is the process of teaching the dog to recognize particular scents and react in specific ways to ensure that both the dog and the handler understand what the dog has identified. This process is key to ensuring that working dogs remain effective when providing safety and security, according to Lavalle.

Staff Sgt. Jeremy Coleman, a dog handler with 520th Military Working Dog Detachment, 728th Military Police Battalion, 8th MP Brigade, rewards ÒSindyÓ during National Odor Recognition Testing at Schofield Barracks, Aug. 3. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Maurice Gaddy, 28th Public Affairs Detachment)

Lavalle said that the certification, provided by the ATF, is known as the National Odor Recognition Test (NORT).

“Getting the NORT certification is important because homemade explosives are used worldwide,” said Coleman. “Being able to allow our dogs to hit pure homemade explosive odor that is not contaminated by other odors is impossible to do without the ATF making and controlling it all the way to the point of introducing it to the dogs.”

The NORT certification remains with the working dog throughout its career; however, each MWD unit will continue to undergo regular certifications in accordance with applicable legal and regulatory guidance to ensure the safety and well-being of those they serve, according to Coleman.

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