Man’s best friend’ and the fight against IEDs

Man has yet to create a mobile device as effective as the Army’s canine partners in Afghanistan, Reprinted with permission from Kevin Hanrahan http://khanrahan.com/

Posted on 26th November, by Kevin Hanrahan in Dog Advocate. 

This story provides great insight into the daily life of a dog handler deployed!

4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry DivisionBy 1st Lt. Jay Mohr

PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Deployments to Afghanistan force many soldiers out of their comfort zones. For  many, it is the addition of stress caused by being in a combat zone. For others,  it has to do with learning a completely different set of skills than the Army  has prepared them for.

This is true for Staff Sgt. Shawn Martinez, who  has previously trained as a howitzer section chief. On his current deployment,  Martinez serves as a tactical explosive detection dog handler for Forward Support Company G, 2nd  Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry  Division.

Martinez last served on the gun line for Battery A, 2-32 Field  Artillery until he was sent to the dog handler’s  course to be trained as a TEDD handler. After completing 14 total weeks of  training, he was put to work immediately in Afghanistan. He would not be going  alone though, as he would be deploying with his new partner, Bono. Bono is a  4-year-old male German shepherd trained to detect explosive substances in a  combat environment.

“The training was much different than what I was used  to. The biggest thing I took out of it was the need for constant  professionalism. Bono was not given to me to be a pet that I could play with,” said Martinez. “He is a living creature, but also an important tool that the  Army uses to find explosives.”

On a daily basis, Martinez and Bono  perform a variety of tasks to protect the average war fighter. Bono is  specifically trained to detect explosives and lead dismounted elements through  various kinds of terrain safely, but each day is a new challenge for him.

When they are not needed for a patrol or other type of mission, these two  partners spend several days checking vehicles coming through Forward Operating  Base Sharana’s entry control point for traces of explosives. If any vehicle  carrying explosives were to get past these two, it could spell disaster for  everyone on FOB Sharana.

“Every day we are on our toes. I know that Bono  is important to the mission here. He helps make sure that soldiers don’t walk  into an IED, and because of that, he helps soldiers return home to their  families,” Martinez said.

So far this deployment, Martinez and Bono have  conducted numerous missions outside the wire. The pair has searched fields,  creeks, houses, villages and the like alongside units including the Polish Army,  U.S. special forces and the 82nd Airborne Division.

Being a dog  handler is not all fun and games during the off time. Being responsible for a  military working dog is a 24-hour job and has its  own unique set of challenges.

“Having a dog as a partner requires you to think differently.  Every day you have to make sure that you are ready for each mission and that the dog is ready. The two of us are the most  effective when we are the same page,” said Martinez.

The grooming and  health standards for a military working dog are  also much higher than that of your average canine. Bono undergoes unique health  checks every morning and is groomed from head to toe every evening. Regular  training is a must for Bono in order to maintain the dog’s keen odor sense and to avoid complacency.

Despite being tasked with this extraordinary job, the two enjoy every minute of  it. They play an important part in the safety, security and well-being of those  in their care.

“Bono is a priceless asset to the fight against IEDs [and  he] gives U.S soldiers an unmatched capability in detecting explosives out on  the front lines and keeping soldiers safe,” said Martinez.

Man has yet  to create a mobile device as effective as the Army’s canine partners in  Afghanistan, and Martinez and Bono are a true testament that wars are won by the  men, women and dogs on the ground


Reprinted with permission from Kevin Hanrahan 



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