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Detection saves lives; MWD roadway training

Senior Airman Ricky Wilson, 30th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, leads Hugo, 30th SFS military working dog, down a trail during a roadway detection training April 15, 2020, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. During the training, military working dogs and their handlers were faced with a simulated roadway situation, where six training explosive devices were buried for teams to find. Teams were evaluated on their ability to efficiently detect the roadside explosives. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Aubree Owens)

Senior Airman Ricky Wilson, 30th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, leads Hugo, 30th SFS military working dog, down a trail during a roadway detection training April 15, 2020, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. During the training, military working dogs and their handlers were faced with a simulated roadway situation, where six training explosive devices were buried for teams to find. Teams were evaluated on their ability to efficiently detect the roadside explosives. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Aubree Owens)

Senior Airman Ricky Wilson, 30th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, leads Hugo, 30th SFS military working dog, down a trail during a roadway detection training April 15, 2020, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. During the training, military working dogs and their handlers were faced with a simulated roadway situation, where six training explosive devices were buried for teams to find. Teams were evaluated on their ability to efficiently detect the roadside explosives. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Aubree Owens)

Senior Airman Ricky Wilson, 30th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, leads Hugo, 30th SFS military working dog, down a trail during a roadway detection training April 15, 2020, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. During the training, military working dogs and their handlers were faced with a simulated roadway situation, where six training explosive devices were buried for teams to find. Teams were evaluated on their ability to efficiently detect the roadside explosives. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Aubree Owens)

Hugo, 30th Security Force Squadron military working dog, assigned to Senior Airman Ricky Wilson, 30th SFS military working dog handler, waits for the next task after successfully detecting an explosive ordnance during a roadway detection training April 15, 2020 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Military working dogs and their handlers were faced with a simulated roadway problem where six explosives were buried for the dog and handler teams to find. Teams were evaluated on their ability to efficiently detect roadside explosives. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Aubree Owens)

Hugo, 30th Security Force Squadron military working dog, assigned to Senior Airman Ricky Wilson, 30th SFS military working dog handler, waits for the next task after successfully detecting an explosive ordnance during a roadway detection training April 15, 2020 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Military working dogs and their handlers were faced with a simulated roadway problem where six explosives were buried for the dog and handler teams to find. Teams were evaluated on their ability to efficiently detect roadside explosives. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Aubree Owens)

Staff Sgt. Stephen Sanchez, 30th Security Forces Squadron trainer, takes notes during a roadway detection training April 15, 2020 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Roadway detection is one of the many trainings that handlers and military working dogs receive monthly that are designed to simulate situations that might occur at home station, while deployed, or when supporting Secret Service missions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Aubree Owens)

Staff Sgt. Stephen Sanchez, 30th Security Forces Squadron trainer, takes notes during a roadway detection training April 15, 2020 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Roadway detection is one of the many trainings that handlers and military working dogs receive monthly that are designed to simulate situations that might occur at home station, while deployed, or when supporting Secret Service missions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Aubree Owens)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --

The 30th Security Forces Squadron Military Working Dog Flight conducted a roadway detection training April 15, 2020, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

During the training, the 30th SFS MWD and handler teams faced a test of endurance and readiness as they rucked approximately two miles from the MWD kennels towards Wall Beach and back.

“The ruck helps handlers understand the dog’s fatigue level,” said Staff Sgt. Stephen Sanchez, 30th SFS MWD trainer. “Handlers can be dispatched at any moment to a threat and need to know how long their dog can effectively work before needing to take a break.”

Before the ruck, each handler geared up with equipment vests, helmets, water, for both them and their MWD, an arrangement of leashes, a thermometer to check their dog’s temperature, a muzzle, and toys. With the dogs prepared and equipment in hand, the teams began their journey.

Once teams reached the halfway point, they were faced with a simulated roadway training exercise, where six training explosive ordinance devices were buried for the teams to find. Each teams was evaluated on their ability to efficiently detect the roadside explosives.

“You never know what you’ll be tasked to do,” said Senior Airman Ricky Wilson, 30th SFS MWD handler. “The rucks keep us prepared for a deployment, as well as being able to work as a team under difficult circumstances where the stakes are raised.”

According to Sanchez, in order to maintain their mission readiness, each training is designed to simulate situations that might occur at home station, while deployed, or when supporting Secret Service missions. During these situations, the team’s ability to come together is vital for the success of the mission and to save lives.

“A dog doesn’t understand that what he’s practicing for could save his handler’s life, or possibly others’ lives,” said Sanchez. “He knows that if he finds an odor, he gets rewarded, but big picture is he’s saving lives.”

The work the MWDs and handlers put in, not just during training but every day, makes them more lethal, ready, and prepared for mission success.