K-9 Units in the Korean War

The U.S. Army was in Korea on occupation duty after World War II and remained in the south after a Communist government was established in North Korea. In 1950, at the outbreak of the Korean War on 25 June, more than one hundred dogs were stationed in Seoul on sentry duty to reduce theft and pilferage around warehouses and storage areas. Some of these dogs were recruited for combat duty.

10th Rescue Squadron, Dog Team Air Drop, Early 1950's, Ladd Field,  east of Fairbanks, Alaska
10th Rescue Squadron, Dog Team Air Drop, Early 1950's, Ladd Field, east of Fairbanks, Alaska.

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Use of Military Working Dogs in the Korean War

At the start of the Korean War, the 26th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon was in training at Fort Riley, KS. They were immediately sent to Korea for combat patrols. On 11 July 1951 the War Dog Receiving and Holding Station was activated at Cameron Station, Alexandria, VA, where newly purchased dogs were processed and conditioned before they were shipped to the Army Dog Training Center, Fort Carson, CO. On 7 December 1951 the responsibility of dog training in the United States (CONUS) was again transferred, this time to the Military Police Corps, and early in 1952 the dog training center, along with the 26th Scout Dog Platoon was moved from Fort Riley, Kansas to Camp Carson, CO (later Fort Carson). The photo at left shows a class at the Dog Training Center, February 1953.

In Korea, the 26th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon quickly established the value of the dogs on patrol and commanders demanded more dogs than the 26th could provide. On 27 February 1952 the 26th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon received a citation for its service, reading in part:

The 26th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon, during its service in Korea, has participated in hundreds of combat patrol actions by supporting the patrols with the services of an expert scout dog handler and his highly trained scout dog. The members of the 26th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon while participating in these patrols were invariably located at the most vulnerable points in the patrol formation in order that the special aptitudes of the trained dog could be most advantageously used to give warning of the presence of the enemy, The unbroken record of faithful and gallant performance of these missions by the individual handlers and their dogs in support of patrols has saved countless casualties through giving early warning to the friendly patrol of threats to its security.

The outstanding results with the 26th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon, led to plans for scout dog platoons for each Division in Korea, but but only five platoons were trained and shipped before the war ended.

The War Dog Receiving and Holding Station at Cameron Station was placed in a stand-by status on 4 May 1954 after peace negotiations had ended the fighting. At the end of the war, scout dogs not assigned to Infantry Divisions were retrained for sentry work to patrol the DMZ that was established between North and South Korea.

The Army Dog Training Center at Fort Carson was used during the period 1954 to 1957 to train Military Working Dogs, largely for the the US Air Force. In 1957, the Army center was deactivated and the responsibility for training was transferred to the Air Force which established a permanent training center at Lackland AFB, Texas. The photo to the left shows Military Working Dog training at Lackland during the late 1950s.

In the 1960s the United States Army Infantry Center at Ft. Benning, GA established Headquarters Detachment Scout Dog with two attached platoons, the 26th Infantry Platoon (Scout Dog) and the 51st Infantry Platoon (Scout Dog), who conducted all training of dogs and handlers for duty in Vietnam.

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