Who Let the Dogs Out?
Capt. Vance White
First published in
SFOR Informer#135, March 28, 2002
Cpl. Mandy Swanwick, Royal Army Veterinary Corps (RAVC) is
based at the Banja Luka Metal Factory (BLMF). She is the advisor
to the Multinational Division Southwest (MND-SW) unit on military
working dogs, and a qualified handler of arms and explosive
Banja Luka - The dog unit at BLMF is home to many dogs that
are trained in different disciplines, including arms and explosive
searches (AES), explosive detection (EDD) and crowd and riot
control (CRC). To more easily serve the entire UK Battle Group,
there are also dog sections located in Sipovo, Mrkonjic Grad,
"Many people don't really understand the jobs that the
different dogs do," said Swanwick. In fact, each type
of dog gets specific training. "The AES dogs and EDDs
each get about six months of training in explosive detection
before they start working."
AES dogs are extensively used for Project Harvest - where
SFOR troops search civilian houses for illegally kept weapons.
These dogs are trained to detect explosives (TNT, C4, PE4,
Semtex, etc.), weapons, ammunition, magazines and the like.
The use of AES dogs increases the speed of a search and the
dogs are less obtrusive in a home than a soldier conducting
a manual search. AES dogs indicate a find by sitting still
and looking toward the specific point where the scent is detected.
Explosive Detection Dogs (EDDs) are relatively new to Bosnia
and Herzegovina, but have quickly established themselves as
an important part of mine detection operations - mainly due
to the speed at which they can 'proof' an area, or in other
words, to ensure a location is clear of mines. In this way,
the RAVC handlers and their dogs work hand in hand with Explosive
Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams - experienced teams can clear
an area of more than 600 m2 in a day. EDDs are normally Labradors,
as they are intelligent and have a calm temperament. The EDDs
are trained to detect TNT in quantities as small as a pinhead.
Their sensitive noses can therefore recognise all types of
anti-personnel and anti-tank mines.
When they recognise a scent, EDDs will indicate to their handler
by sitting or laying down 'frozen' until the location is marked
by the handler and the spot can be prodded by qualified EOD
personnel. Their role is to proof areas and routes to allow
for the movement of military personnel.
Patrol and CRC
The 16 patrol dogs are the most common RAVC dogs in BiH. They
are employed as an essential part of camp security as the
dogs are an excellent deterrent to would-be intruders. Most
of the patrol dogs are German Shepherds; there is one Rottweiler
and one Belgian Shepherd (or Malinois) that recently arrived.
The more aggressive of these dogs are also used for crowd
and riot control (CRC). Taking their deterrent role further,
the CRC dogs can be an effective way to assist with crowd
dispersal. If a riot becomes too violent, the dog and handler
will be withdrawn - they don't have four- or six-foot shields
to protect them, as do the personnel in CRC units.
The dogs' are a definite help to many of the SFOR efforts
carried out around the divisional area. In roles such as protection
from intruders and mine detection, having an RAVC dog or 'man's
best friend' nearby can mean the difference between life and
death in a theatre of operations.
Nations of SFOR: UK