Airman joins Soldiers to facilitate K-9 training in Uruguay

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Heather R. Redman
  • 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Public Affairs
An Airman from 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) teamed up with two U.S. Army Soldiers from Joint Task Force-Bravo to facilitate K-9 certifications with the Uruguayan military from Aug. 1-12.

The U.S. service members instructed 19 Uruguayan participants in a variety of disciplines including on- and off-leash obedience, explosives and narcotics detections, patrol and detainment, search and rescue, naval drug interdiction and maritime drug enforcement, presidential security, and riot control.

“We were asked and entrusted by the U.S. Embassy in Uruguay to provide military working dog explosive detection and patrol training to the Uruguayan military to further their K-9 program,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Gerson Henriquez, who works in 12th Air Force (Air Forces South) Force Protection. “This training will ensure that the Uruguayans have the necessary tools to sustain and enhance their current programs' capabilities.”

The goal of the training was to not only increase the Uruguayan military K-9 program but to also increase their ability to integrate and operate with partner militaries in a joint environment.

“In my more than 15 years of service I've received lots of K-9 training by many agencies, but none as intense and as relevant as this,” said Uruguayan army 1st Sgt. Robert Alvez, the K-9 course director. “The training focused its attention on the joint concept, which is not a thing of the future, it's now.”

The recently acquired training will also enable the Uruguayan military to integrate into joint operations around the world.

“This was not just a training event for us, it was the foundation of interoperability,” said Uruguayan army Capt. Edgardo Meneses, the K-9 section officer in charge. “We, as partner nations, have to advance together if we ever plan to work collectively abroad.”

According to Henriquez, these skills could be used in the near future.

“Drug interdiction and enforcement is a never ending battle in the Americas,” he said. “Therefore, the military working dog training will advance the dog team’s performance in a positive direction, which in turn serves as a deterrence. (To) this day, with all the technology we have, nothing outperforms the nose of a trained military working dog.”

Part of the U.S. Southern Command’s mission is to help build regional security through sustained engagements, in order to deter adversaries, and cooperate with others to address common security challenges.

“Through this effort we are cementing the already established partnership relationships with the Uruguayans,” Henriquez added. “With the helpful resources and coordination provided by the U.S. Embassy in Uruguay, we were successful in bringing two weeks of sound field tested K-9 training material.”

AFSOUTH serves as the air component to SOCOM and is responsible for providing air and space capabilities in support of U.S. military partnerships across Central America, South America and the Caribbean.