Photo Information

Cpl. Derrick Priest, a military working dog handler with Military Police Support Company, II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, uses a radio to give his military working dog, Shandi, commands during road way training for smelling out explosives aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., June 9, 2010. While Shandi searched the road environment for explosive odors planted by the handlers, Priest radioed to her which directions to go and exactly what she needed to do.

Photo by Cpl. Katherine Keleher, II Marine Expeditionary Force Public Affairs

MHG military working dogs perform explosive detection training

17 Jun 2010 | Cpl. Katherine Keleher, II Marine Expeditionary Force Public Affairs

Fifteen Marines and 19 military working dogs from Military Police Support Company, II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, participated in explosive detection training at Training Landing Zone Dodo aboard Camp Lejeune, June 9.

The service members and their MWD partners partook in the training to help prepare themselves for future deployments.

“We’re out here doing explosive detection training in both open areas and road ways,” said Cpl. Benjamin Shaffer, the chief MWD trainer with MP Support Co.

The Marines and their canine co-workers practiced scanning roadways for roadside bombs by having the MWDs smell for explosive odors. After the service members finished on the roadways, they then continued on to their open area training.

The handlers and their MWDs walked through an open area of vegetation to give their dogs the opportunity to practice smelling for weapon caches.

The entire day was performed as if the service members were currently deployed.  Everything from the performance of the training to the gear the Marines and their dogs wore was the same as it would be if they were on the battlefield. 

“We have them do everything the right way because we always have to be ready to deploy at anytime,” said Shaffer, an Amity, Pa. native.  “We also have them wear their full gear to help them with their muscle memory and body conditioning.  If they always wear the stuff, their bodies are going to stay conditioned to it, and that keeps them more comfortable.”

Although the Marines and their MWDs perform daily training, they still feel as though there is always room for improvement.

“The more time we get with the dogs the more rapport we have,” said Sgt. William Niepert, the MWD 2nd squad leader.  “With detecting explosives you have to be able to trust your dog.  You have to know what your dog is thinking before he even thinks it.”

Aside from the difficulties of daily training, the Marines still believe they have the best job in the Marine Corps.

“Every handler whole heartedly agrees we have the best job.  K9 to us isn’t a job, it’s a calling,” said Niepert, a native of Mulberry Grove, Ill.  “I do for work what most people do for fun.  I go to work and get to work with dogs all day.  Most people go home to play with their pets.”