Vigilant Ace 16: MWDs, handlers practice evacuation

by Senior Airman Kristin High, 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Osan Air Base

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Vigilant Ace 16 is an exercise designed to challenge different sectors of the defense system. One of the challenges faced is protecting the four-legged Airmen along with their handlers.

The military working dogs and handlers practiced an emergency evacuation of the kennels. Although real-world causes for evacuating would vary, the process is very real.

Staff Sgt. Joshua Carbajal, 51st Security Forces Squadron MWD handler, along with two other handlers swiftly gathered up the seven MWDs and drove to their secondary location.

"We simulated a fire at the kennel," said Carbajal. "Fortunately many of the dogs were posted in the field, so we had less at the kennels to evacuate. We make sure the dogs are moved away from the smoke quickly to protect them from smoke inhalation.

"If there's ever a chemical attack, we would have to get the MWDs to a collection protective system facility so the dogs aren't affected. Their safety is just as important as anyone on our team."

Though very serious, the cause of evacuation is not the only thing handlers have to worry about.
In a real-world situation, the handlers would have to move more than 20 dogs from the kennels to a secure facility.

"The MWDs all have their own personalities," he continued. "With the more aggressive dogs, we try to have their handler move that particular one, although we are all familiar with the dogs and can move them if need be."

The handlers were able to move the MWDs to their safe locations and debriefed with the wing inspection team members.

"Overall I think we did really well," said Carbajal. "We were able to move the MWDs quickly and under our allotted time into our secondary location.

"We all became handlers for a reason, and taking care of the dogs is just as important as any other member of our family."

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