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Saturday, October 27, 2012
The 180th MP Detachment will command military working dogs and their handlers.
FORT LEONARD WOOD — Sgt. Marcus Bates loves the challenge of working with military dogs, preparing them for anything from domestic narcotic detection to searching for explosives in Iraq and Afghanistan. He likes the thrill of going between different dogs with different personalities and advancing their detection skills to search deeper, faster, and more effectively.
Bates, who is now the acting kennel master, has been interested in working with military dogs since his first year in the Army. While he was stationed in Korea, he spent a lot of time around the dog handlers. But because of Army requirements, Bates wasn’t able to become a dog handler until 2006, when he was eligible for reenlistment.
Fortunately for the new soldiers who are interested in working with dogs for their military career, things are starting to change.
On Oct. 16, the Army made a historical move with the activation of the 180th MP Detachment, a newly formed unit that will command military working dogs and their handlers, enabling the formation of a new military occupation specialty, called 31 K.
“With this activation of the unit, there also comes a new opportunity for new soldiers coming into the Army,” said Bates. “It allows new soldiers to come in and enlist as military working dog handlers, where as before, people interested in the position had to wait a few years.”
Bates said that this occupation will provide a special combination of skills for someone starting out in the military, and those skills will also apply to civilian jobs down the road.
“It’s a great career opportunity for people who are enlisting,” said Bates.
But the job isn’t for everyone, Bates said.
“It challenges your patience and personality,” said Bates. “It takes a special breed of person to be a handler, not all people have the patience of it. You have to be able to go from one dog to another dog and seeing what kind of personality and attitude that dog has and adjusting to it.”
According to the Army’s official website, dogs have served as an important resource for the U.S. Military for more than 100 years. The U.S. Military officially started training dogs in during World War II.
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