Paws on the frontline: Air Dogs in action

The RAF Police Dog Capability Display will be at DFS Crufts 2010 on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th March, at the NEC Birmingham.

RAFFrom Basrah to Camp Bastion – wherever the Royal Air Force is deployed there will be some four legged personnel; the Air Dogs of the RAF Police. Today the RAF Police are the only Service police force to employ Military Working Dogs (MWDs), deploying them around the World in a variety of roles, with several dogs currently serving in Afghanistan.

Flight Sergeant Arthur Sargeant holds the post of Provost Marshals Dog Inspectorate, responsible for the welfare, training, standards and licensing of all MWDs. “The work undertaken by RAF Police dogs in theatre is invaluable, and they are considered a key asset for the Commander. Providing specialist arms explosive search capability and Force Protection, they act as a Force Multiplier, allowing the Commander greater flexibility with their personnel. In some situations the MWD team can do the same amount of work as ten personnel."  

For the first time, the three main roles of the MWD team will be on show to the public in a capability demonstration at this year’s Crufts. Arthur explained: “The audience will see a scenario where a team of personnel and dogs will work together to provide a safe working environment for both the Military and the civilian population in an operational theatre. They will see our capability in Area Clearance, Vehicle Searching and restoring public order with a Police Dog team.”

RAF dogThree Air Dogs have just been awarded a special 'Dogs In Action' bravery award for their service overseas. Presented by the charity Wetnose Animal Aid, the award was accepted by Corporal Heather Lacey, who returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan a few weeks ago. Heather, normally based at RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire, was reunited with Vehicle Search Dog Duke, a collie cross spaniel, her constant companion during the several months served in Iraq in 2008. "At Basrah Air Station we were searching everything from sand trucks to personnel cars and water trucks. We also spent 3 weeks with the Household Cavalry in the desert, carrying out snap Vehicle Check Points around the outskirts of the marsh land. Duke and I were together 24 hours a day for most of the deployment, with him sleeping next to me or on the bottom of my sleeping bag."

“Being back with Duke is great, he was not only a work partner but a friend whilst I was away on operations, and no matter what was going on he was always there for me. I owe him a lot as he kept me safe for my time on tour. We had to have complete trust as you can't afford to get it wrong when looking for weapons and explosives” said Heather. “I was out in Afghanistan as a Vehicle Search Handler with another dog called Dex, who is now having a rest in Cyprus before coming back to the UK. We were based at Camp Bastion, searching around over 1000 vehicles a month, working as part of the RAF force protection element alongside the United States Marine Corps.”       
Now 35, Heather joined the RAF in 1997. “The best thing about the job is knowing that the more you put in, the more the dogs give back without any questions. They work unconditionally, and whilst you might be having a bad day, you take your dog out and everything changes as they are always happy to see you. In Afghanistan the dogs are an added aid in searching as they can get into places that we can't reach. They can also help to keep everyone safe as just the presence of a dog can sometimes be enough to deter enemy action. “

The RAF Police Dog Capability Display will be at DFS Crufts 2010 on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th March, at the NEC Birmingham.


Editors Notes: 

RAF Police Dogs provide an essential Force Protection component to military operations worldwide.  Since 1945, RAF Police Dogs have been employed in the protection of RAF Airfields and Military assets, the recovery of evidence, public order, used in the detection of drugs and on anti terrorist operations.  On an operational front, RAF Police dogs have served or are currently serving in: Masirah, Singapore, Aden, Hong Kong, Northern Ireland, Falkland Islands, Bosnia, Kosovo, Diego Garcia, Gibraltar, Cyprus, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The RAF Police MWD Capability Display demonstrates that the RAF Police is capable, agile and flexible to meet the demands placed upon it by expeditionary nature of modern day conflict and that it is more relevant now than it has ever been. It is able to provide the following:

A deployable Police/Patrol dog capability which offers the security of installations and personnel and also a crowd control capability (1 X Patrol dog can be equal to 9 Guards).

A deployable Arms Explosive Search (AES) dog area clearance capability (1 X AES dog is the equivalent of a 9 man Search team).

A deployable Vehicle Search dog capability (1 X AES dog is the equivalent of a 9 man Search team).

Elements of the RAF Police can normally be found wherever the RAF is operating - for example, in Afghanistan, they provide policing and Force Protection support to the main operating bases, and they are also involved in Afghan National Police mentoring, close protection duties and the Counter Improvised Explosives Device Task Force.

For more information contact

Media and Communication
HQ Air Command
RAF High Wycombe
Bucks HP14 4UE

Lesley Woods
T: 01494 496131
F: 01494 496077
M: 07768 598987