Lackland Training Detachment
Senior Airman Linda Johnson and Gizmo, a Belgian Malinois, 37th Security Forces Squadron, Lackland AFB TX as they check a truck, 2002. Gizmo is certified as a drug detector and patrol dog.
War Dogs: Lackland Training Detachment
The Lackland Training Detachment (LTD), 701st MP Battalion, is located at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas. Its mission is Joint Service assistance in the training of all military working-dog (MWD) handlers, MWDs, and traffic-accident investigators deployed worldwide. The base is the only facility in the U.S. that trains dogs for the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. Canines are dual certified in explosive detection and patrol, which means they will attack on command, or, to protect themselves or their handler. After training, they are posted to assignments to fullfill military requirements wherever U.S. forces operate.
The new centralized U.S. Army Military Working Dog School at Lackland was started in January 1974. The U.S. Army Military Police School Training Detachment was also established there on 2 October 1974 (Photo to the right shows USAF Security Police, 1965). After several changes, on 5 December 2002, the detachment was redesignated as Company D ("dog"), 701st Military Police Battalion, 14th Military Police Brigade.
The 341st Training Squadron at Lackland was once known as the Military Working Dog Studies Branch, Security Police Academy, and before that era, as the USAF Sentry Dog School.
Training Military Working Dogs and Handlers
The 341st Training Squadron oversees the Millitary Working Dog Handler Course, with instructors from all four branches of service. The U.S. military is increasing its reliance on working dogs. Before 11 September 2001, Air Force security forces trained about 200 working dogs a year for the Defense Department. That number increased to more than 500 in the next few years, with the vast majority of dogs being trained as sentries and bomb-sniffers.
Intense, intelligent and hard working Belgian Malinois and German Shepherds are the primary breeds trained. The 120-day program teaches the dogs basic obedience as well as more advanced skills, such as how to attack and how to sniff for specific substances. The initial training program, conducted by the 341st Training Squadron team, is based on "positive rewards" -- generally a ball or rubber toy rather than food.
Once the dogs receive their initial training, members of the 37th Security Forces teach the dogs and their trainers to work as a team. The dog has skills to learn and the handler has to learn to recognize what the dog is trying to communicate.
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