MWD Symposium encourages higher collaboration amongst leaders and handlers | Article

A Soldier learns medically deal with an injured navy working canine throughout a simulation train on the Muscatatuck City Coaching Middle in Butlerville, Ind.
(Picture Credit score: Courtesy photograph)


WASHINGTON -–To boost fight effectiveness whereas encouraging revolutionary practices to defeat present threats, the Army hosted 2022 Army Working Canine Symposium final June.

The primary annual occasion of its scale, the symposium supplied in-person coaching for navy working canine handlers of all ranks and expertise ranges whereas encouraging higher collaboration throughout Okay-9 items.

“This [was] the primary time that we’ve ever finished one thing of this magnitude with regard to giant scale coaching occasions,” stated Sgt. Maj. Viridiana Lavalle, Army Working Canine Program Supervisor.

From June 25-30 navy working canine handlers from throughout the Army gathered in southern Indiana to attend the symposium designed to supply MWD leaders with revolutionary methodologies to defeat present threats each domestically and overseas and to reinforce fight effectiveness by fielding higher skilled MWD groups. The symposium leveraged among the nation’s finest Okay-9 instructors and material consultants and strengthened collaboration with Okay-9 business professionals, Lavalle stated.

Lavalle stated handlers should regularly replace and hone their expertise. Handlers had been challenged in a wide range of disciplines throughout coaching programs led by Okay-9 instructors and veterinarians together with; obedience, bodily conditioning, battle administration, techniques, choice making, canine tactical fight casualty care, superior marksmanship and detection.

The coaching supplied the attendants with real looking, scenario-based coaching that recognized present strengths and weaknesses within the MWD program. It supplied a wealth of coaching methodologies to include into their coaching applications to reinforce capabilities.

The symposium, which Lavalle plans to make an ongoing annual coaching occasion, brings the vital facet of hands-on tutelage obligatory for navy canine handlers. The MWD Program Administration Workforce plans to broaden the symposium to different navy branches and authorities entities within the coming years.


A military working dog trains with a handler wearing a dog bite suit during the 2022 Military Working Dog Symposium in Butlerville Indiana, in June 2022.

A navy working canine trains with a handler carrying a canine chunk swimsuit in the course of the 2022 Army Working Canine Symposium in Butlerville Indiana, in June 2022.

(Picture Credit score: Courtesy photograph)


The 1,000-acre Muscatatuck City Coaching Middle in Jennings County, Indiana, housed the symposium, which featured superior coaching in giant scale, fight operations, canine detection efficiency, behavioral coaching, and tactical and superior obedience.

Lavalle plans to assist the Okay-9 career evolve because the Army’s fight operations evolve. Army leaders have predicted future fight operations will shift to city settings and mega cities.

At Muscatatuck, which homes 953 buildings, workout routines had been performed in an city sprawl to simulate navy operations in an city setting.

“We’re always making an attempt to reinforce our talents to conduct giant scale, fight operations and higher combine navy working canines with different items,” Lavalle stated.

Canine handlers and their canines skilled in simulated areas together with a collapsed parking storage, a seven-story excessive rescue coaching constructing, multi-purpose buildings, a cave advanced, and a canine park.

The symposium centered on Army MWD senior leaders and handlers this 12 months, together with constructing relationships with the Army Particular Operations Command Multipurpose Canine and Army Engineer Mine Detection Canine applications.

“I believe it is essential for us to have the ability to collaborate amongst ourselves as a program, to grasp one another’s capabilities and to trade techniques, methods, and procedures that handlers have utilized down vary,” Lavalle stated.

Along with hands-on coaching, briefings that embrace overviews on canine efficiency and bodily conditioning, present analysis efforts, and problem-solving approaches for canine handlers had been supplied to senior leaders.

MWD detachment commanders and Army veterinarians additionally participated within the symposium to expertise first-hand the calls for and rigors that MWD groups face.

Commanders attended each day management briefings on the present and future state of the MWD program. As well as, MWD leaders recognized coaching that might profit each MWD Handlers and different navy police patrol troops inside their instructions.

The MWD Program and the Army Veterinarian Corps collaborated all through the symposium and established initiatives to proceed bettering the bodily conditioning and psychological well being for MWDs.

Handlers can even learn to deal with their canines in medical emergencies in addition to acquire an understanding of how their habits and temper impacts their canine companions.

Other than performing publish safety and patrol, navy working canines and their handlers work with U.S. Border patrol on joint safety operations. Additionally they carry out Secret Service missions for the president.

“I believe some of the essential issues is we’re constructing relationships with exterior companies and our civilian counterparts,” stated. CSM Casey Freeman, U.S. Army Provost Sergeant Main. “These relationships will final a lifetime.”


Army Working Canines’ expertise in detection present a vital service to regulation enforcement and different navy items. A canine’s means to detect explosives and different dangerous objects can typically imply the distinction between life and loss of life for troops and civilians, Lavalle stated.

“Obedience is the inspiration for all navy working canine groups,” she stated. “Lots of emphasis is on handlers understanding and having the ability to learn their canines’ change of habits to having the ability to acknowledge there may be some kind of explosive risk.”

Handlers and their canines should be able to react and carry out the second they’re known as. Handlers should even be cautious of their very own feelings. If Canine handlers exhibit stress or nervousness, it could possibly negatively have an effect on their canine’s efficiency.

“The whole lot runs down leash,” Lavalle stated.

“Handlers need to belief their canines,” Lavalle stated. “That’s one thing that we attempt to emphasize lots to those younger handlers. As a result of their life relies on their canine’s efficiency.”

Greater than 2,000 navy working canines serve within the nation’s protection. Canines spend 4 to seven months in a extremely selective course of to turn out to be licensed as Army Working Canine groups. MWD groups should meet regulatory sustainment coaching necessities whereas performing anti-terrorism and pressure safety safety at Army installations, CSM Freeman stated.

“[Military working dogs] work hand in hand with our fight operations, not solely inside Special Forces, but additionally with our infantry and engineering items,” Freeman stated. “And so they detect explosives earlier than there’s the [opportunity] for the enemy to harm our Troopers.”

Canine handlers kind a detailed bond with their canines, and sometimes turn out to be inseparable throughout missions. After years of service, handlers typically undertake their assigned MWDs after they retire.

“That’s the kind of bond that they kind,” CSM Freeman stated. “They’re very shut as a result of that’s their accomplice. They depend on one another.”

Lavalle hopes to repeatedly educate the general public concerning the vital function MWD handlers and Okay-9 items face in assist of the nation’s safety. She stays conscious of her function because the senior enlisted advisor for the Army’s MWD program.

“Our precedence for the MWD program is to construct stewards of the career by growing professionalism, bettering our information, and significant ability units to advertise confidence and belief with commanders and the general public,” Lavalle stated. “Proceed to search out methods to construct revolutionary, vital thinkers by means of difficult, real looking, and decision-making situation primarily based coaching applications. The MWD Symposium is a stepping stone in engaging in this.”

Sgt. Maj. Viridiana Lavalle contributed to this report. 


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