Canine Units in Afghanistan Issued New Protective Vests
By Spc. Cheryl Ransford
Special to AFPS
BAGRAM AIR BASE,
Afghanistan — When canine handlers of the 25th Military Police
Company conduct extraction missions and area searches in Afghanistan,
their highly trained dogs often serve as the main tool for finding
weapons and people in hiding.
Sgt. Danny Rogers, a dog handler with the 25th Military
Police Company, is "attacked" by Jordon, a military
working dog, during a training exercise at the military-operations-in-urban-terrain
training site at Bagram Air Base.
by Spc. Cheryl Ransford, USA / DoD Photo
the added dangers these dogs face in the line of duty, their ballistic
vest equipment has been upgraded.
new vests are an upgrade from the current vests the dogs have
been using," said Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Thomas,
assistant kennel master for the 25th MP Co. "Before, the
vests were only stab proof, which worked well for missions in
the states. However, with the additional dangers these dogs are
facing during this deployment, they are now wearing vests that
are not only stab proof, but also bullet proof."
new vests are slightly heavier than the vests the dogs previously
used, neither their mobility nor their mission has been hindered
by their use. "When the dogs are conducting missions that
require them to use the new vests, they are in areas that could
possibly cause them to be injured or killed," said Thomas.
"They are the first one into the area looking for people
or weapons. They help us find the things we can’t see."
are currently being used by the K-9 units at Bagram Air Base and
Kandahar Airfield, said Sgt. 1st Class Erika Gordon, kennel master
for the 25th MP Co. "Even though we only have a few vests
at the moment, we are working to get vests for every dog in Afghanistan,"
she said. "These vests are the dogs’ only means of protection.
They go in before their handler. It is a matter of ‘get them before
they get you.’ That’s why these vests are so important."
are also able to carry all of the dogs’ gear, which includes heating
or cooling packs. "These vests make us more versatile in
what we can do with the dogs," said Gordon.
people may say, ‘They’re just dogs, why do they need that kind
of equipment?’ But these dogs are a part of a team and need to
be protected just as much as every member of every other team
in country," said Thomas.
dogs are our partners," he said. "We travel with them,
sleep with them and live with them. They are our best friends.
Every dog handler will agree that there is nothing we won’t do
to protect our dogs."