MWD handler shares experiences in patrolling, providing security

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Gary Magnelli
  • 823rd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron
Editor's note: This is a part of the weekly submissions from the 823rd Security Forces Squadron, which is currently providing security at the Toussaint L'Ouverture International Airport in Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince.

On Jan. 29, along with approximately 70 other 823rd Security Forces Squadron members, five military working dog handlers including myself, were deployed to Toussaint L'Ouverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, for Operation Unified Response.

The other handlers were Staff Sgts. Jack Carr, Kandall Emile, Jacob Schultz and Mckinzie Nash and our canine partners were Gitta, Sid, Luca and Fules. As soon as boots and paws hit the ground, we rushed into action assisting federal agents and Haitian police.

Our canines deterred crowds from overwhelming airport entry and exit points, along with assisting U.S. Customs, and Border Patrol and Immigration enforcement agents with searching the luggage and cargo of the U.S. citizens being evacuated back to their country.

Our involvement assisted with the 100 percent security of Haiti's only operational airfield, providing the United Nations with a reliable logistics hub that supported more than two million pounds of humanitarian relief supplies. Additionally, our MWD teams conducted more than 500 hours of foot patrols, searched 3,000 vehicles and 2,500 pieces of luggage.

When individuals drive through the main gate going to work in the morning, they might observe a MWD and its handler standing watch and searching random vehicles. Many don't see MWD teams, so it's usually an "out of sight, out of mind" sort of situation.

Many individuals may not know how vital the role of MWDs is or how they contribute to the ever-changing continuum of force protection. Simply seeing a working dog team could deter would-be criminals from committing an offense while entering the airport.

Simple visibility is just one of the tools the working dogs and their handlers provide. Psychological deterrence is one of the physical abilities the dogs and handlers have that make them an invaluable asset to Joint Task Force-Haiti.

In base force protection operations, many pieces are involved to ensure airtight security is achieved. Our MWD teams guarantee security by providing a safe area for relief forces to begin restoring Haiti back to its pre-earthquake status and ultimately back to a position where it can stand on its own.