Military working dogs (MWDs) are of great value in Counter-IED operations, and the pooling and sharing of this capability at the European level has long been a subject of discussion among C-IED experts. Late last month, the European Defence Agency organised the first Ad Hoc Working Group on MWDs at the Austrian Military Working Dogs School facilities of Kaisersteinbruch, in Austria.
Twenty-two participants from Austrian, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden gathered for three days to discuss national capabilities and their respective level of ambition. The C-IED Centre of Excellence and representatives from academia also took part in the event.
Several training opportunities were also staged on the margins of the meeting. Four MWD teams (each comprising a dog and its handler) from Hungary and the Netherlands attended the event, as well as teams from host nation Austria. Capabilities of Labrador dogs were also demonstrated, while a full day was dedicated to training at the Austrian MWD school. Attendees took the opportunity to train teams with specific innovative explosive conditioning materials in a pure multi-national environment.
The Working Group also had the opportunity to receive lectures on innovative solutions for MWDs preparation as well as on previous operational deployment experiences and lessons learned. Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) experts from the Austrian Armed Forces provided support by preparing specific scenarios for military search performance by the teams.
Big interest was showed by all participants and planning for the next Ad Hoc Working group meeting is currently on-going. It is envisaged that MWDs teams will participate in further multi-national C-IED related exercises in 2016. Thus, such a capability will be fully included within the planning process and subsequent execution of C-IED related tasks at the mentioned events.