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US, UK K-9 units build partnerships with joint training

Senior Airman Jason Soliz, a 100th Security Forces Squadron Military Working Dog Unit handler, and MWD Gina, conduct a sweep of the passenger terminal on Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, June 16, 2015. Members of the 100th SFS and Central Region U.K. Border Force conducted sweeps of the building with their working dogs to strengthen detection methods and learn potential training techniques. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christine Halan)

Senior Airman Jason Soliz, a 100th Security Forces Squadron Military Working Dog Unit handler, and MWD Gina, conduct a sweep of the passenger terminal on Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, June 16, 2015. Members of the 100th SFS and Central Region U.K. Border Force conducted sweeps of the building with their working dogs to strengthen detection methods and learn potential training techniques. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christine Halan)

A Central Region U.K. Border Force member conducts detection training with her working dog at the passenger terminal on Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, June 16, 2015. The U.K. and U.S. performed demonstrations for each other, highlighting the handlers’ differences in detection methods and training. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christine Halan)

A Central Region U.K. Border Force member conducts detection training with her working dog at the passenger terminal on Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, June 16, 2015. The U.K. and U.S. performed demonstrations for each other, highlighting the handlers’ differences in detection methods and training. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christine Halan)

RAF MILDENHALL, England (AFNS) -- Members of the 100th Security Forces Squadron Military Working Dog Unit and the Central Region U.K. Border Force trained alongside one another June 16, on Royal Air Force Mildenhall.

The two agencies worked together conducting training in the passenger terminal, detecting drugs within suitcases that were scattered throughout the facility. The U.K. and U.S. performed demonstrations for each other, highlighting the handlers' differences in detection methods and training.

Alison Bailey, the Central Region U.K. Border Force dog unit team leader, explained the basic principles of training are very similar, but the teams work slightly different. The border force handlers work within closer parameters in a more controlled environment, with a working dog on the leash, rather than letting the working dog work further afield from the handler.

The training also enabled the U.K. Border Force dog team to work in a different environment.

"The use of someone else's training samples is really nice, because (the dogs) do get used to the same samples used." Bailey said. "It's more difficult for them to pick up other ones. Dogs generally give a different indication. The scent they come across is different to them, but they're not necessarily sure. Whereas if we use other people's samples, they'll think 'I'll get awarded on that, since its similar', they'll freeze a lot quicker if they continue to use the same samples all the time."

"Different locations (help) as well," said Lesley Meanley, a Central Region U.K. Border Force higher officer. "We work in similar environments every day, and in that you get used to working, so here is something different."

The border force team uses a variety of dogs including springer spaniels, cocker spaniels, Labrador retrievers, sprockers (cocker and springer spaniel mix) and springerdors (springer spaniel and Labrador retriever mix).

They search for drugs, cash, tobacco, cigarettes, clandestines and fire arms in airports, freight ships and mail distribution centers. Teams can also be called out for house searches if requested.

The joint training also brings benefits to the 100th SFS MWDs.

"This joint training project affords us, as a military working dog section, a direct vision into how our U.K. civilian counterparts perform," said Staff Sgt. Joseph Serrano, the 100th SFS MWD kennel master. "This opens a training channel, aimed at gaining insights into both agencies capabilities while simultaneously addressing each other's challenges. Therefore enabling both of our organizations the ability to pitch derived solutions, solidifying techniques and procedures with our four-legged companions."

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